> They have decided that running Linux carries a significant level of risk to the stability and 'long-term security' of the school network.
Compared to what?
They should be challenged to support their opinion with independent studies showing that Linux is unstable or insecure, and to show that Windows is more stable (since that is what they are advocating in Linux' place).
Ask them how many current viruses, worms, network attacks, whatever security metric you like, are around which Windows systems are vulnerable to, and how many there are which Linux systems are vulnerable to, then ask them to repeat their statement about risk.
> They believe (and claimed to be speaking in terms of corporate strategy)
> that Linux carries this risk because it is used in a minority of schools
> and is in an absolute minority with the educational industry.
When I was at school, computers were used in a minority of schools. Is that justification that they were a bad idea and should have been rejected in favour of the blackboards, books and OHPs we had before them?
> They further believe that the lack of support and the lack of qualified
> staff in the use of Linux results in a solution that is unmangable in the
> situation that I leave the employment of the school.
Are they saying "lack of support from within the school's staff" or "lack of support from anywhere"? The former argument probably applies equally well to the school's heating system, but they don't seem to get bothered about that. The latter argument is complete bollocks, as simple Google search for, for
example "Linux consultancy support site:uk" (result: 456,000 hits) will show.
> Or, should we ever be in a situation where we have to outsource, or work in
> collaboration with an outside technical partner, that we will have to
> replace the solutions with Windows.
Er, no, just choose the right partner. Schools seemed to manage perfectly
well for years based on RM380Z non-standard PCs, or with Acorn RISC machines, which were hardly mainstream common computing equipment, so why the overwhelming need to use Windows just because lots of other people do?
> They then started talking about commercial support, and that as there's
> none with Linux (unless you use RedHat ES, or SuSE [which I don't]), that
> you're introducing a further level of risk.
What support do you get with Windows? I thought it was none, unless you pay for a support contract with a supplier. So, buy a Linux support contract from one of the Google hits above. And, what support do they need? System admin stuff, software development stuff, or just maintaining current versions and installing upgrades? Have they actually defined what "commercial support" actually means?
> So, to summarise, they believe that the risk is caused by: lack of
> corporate support for Linux,
Seek and ye shall find.
> lack of experienced Linux personnel in the education sector that can use
I suspect ditto, but even if not, try a Google search for "linux educational
support site:uk" (435,000 hits).
> lack of 'industry standard' through the use of Linux,
Challenge them to show that the alleged "industry standard" is good.
Microsoft software has risen to its level of usage around the world for three reasons: an enormous marketing budget, having been around since 1975, and Apple (its only serious competitor for much of the intervening time) getting too many things wrong (as well a helpful number right). Just because the world was using MS software when Linux started to become available doesn't mean that MS is inherently better. Secondly, challenge them about this "industry standard" - Microsoft may be the commonest desktop O/S, but you're talking about network servers, and Linux is at least an equal standard to MS in that area (it's a pity that http://leb.net/hzo/ioscount
hasn't been kept up to date, but even in 1999, Linux (31%) was ahead of Windows (24%) in terms of Internet-connected servers.
> Non-compliance with the 'Bigger Picture' of interoperability in schools and
> federated directories.
Try quoting a Grid for Learning which covers 12 Local Authorities and 2,000
schools, whose entire infrastructure is based on Linux and Floss: http://www.yhgfl.net/about
Check the Operating Systems installed on their systems at http://wiki.yhgfl.net/bin/view/YHPub...LevelAgreement
See their advice to schools at http://www.yhgfl.net/resources/free-...r-your-schools
> They have thus decided to inform the headteacher of this 'significant level
> of risk' and recommend that this is something that we resolve by means of
> replacing the solutions with Exchange, ISA and IIS.
Try quoting a risk assessment company (formerly a part of AEA Technology) http://www.esrtechnology.com/page_view.asp?InfoID=266
who decided that replacing their Windows systems with Linux was the best bet: http://business.newsforge.com/print..../05/17/1445208
> In addition to this, they suggested that the only reason that we use Linux
> (and, Moodle for our VLE), is that they're free. I was rather furious at
> this point, and almost told them to leave my site before I started jabbing
> them with a handy HB pencil.
What if that *is* the primary reason? It's good value for money, and if the things work, what's the problem?
> I strongly, very strongly, believe that we should not be in a situation of
> vendor lock-in, and choosing the pure MS network that they are suggesting
> introduces a similar level of risk as a result of being stuck with using
> one solution from one supplier. Certainly, performance and as a result the
> cost in maintenance would increase.
Why not show them Becta's report saying that Open Source software is good: http://publications.becta.org.uk/dow...fm?resID=25907
> I would be greatly appreciative of any help, any case studies of your own
> use of Linux/*nix, and any handy statistics, quotes, knowledge, or even
> offers of entering into a conversation/debate with my headteacher on this
I don't know if you have time to digest and use any material from: http://www.theregister.co.uk/securit...ndows_vs_linux
Summary from http://tinyurl.com/73acl
is "Base security: Linux is better - Application security: Linux is better - Standards compliance: Linux is better".
Hope this helps,
Technical Infrastructure Manager and Membership Secretary
The Open Source Consortium
Bringing Free and Open Source Software to the Public Sector