[Fsfe-ie] Ireland OA Policy

Bob Jolliffe bobjolliffe at gmail.com
Wed Jan 28 00:30:23 CET 2009

Hi Andrew

Mostly I think you are right - deployment of openoffice (and other
free software) on windoze are easy wins, easy to justify and
potentially cost saving.  To be fair, some of these are highlighted on
the NCTE website, but there doesn't seem to be any active promotion of
them.  But I do agree with your point that seeing free software
deployment in schools simply in terms of a complete free software
'stack' - operating system, desktop, the works - misses some key
opportunities.  I'm just a bit wary of pushing the cost argument too
far.  MS can drop the price of their software as low as it takes to
compete in schools.  I notice, for example, that it has recently
extended its offer of low cost software (Euro 5 for windows, office,
plus extras) to a wider range of Irish schools.

It might be worth extending the argument further than just the
immediate school environment.  With openoffice, pupils not only get it
free at school, but can also take it home.  As the broadband
penetration increases and with increasing numbers of computer owners
at home, pupils are being encouraged to do their homework on
wordprocessors, even submitting via systems like Moodle.  By providing
and encouraging the use of openoffice, schools might not only be
saving on their own budget, but also significantly reducing the cost
of learning to pupils - or pehaps reducing the 'piracy' rate :-)


2009/1/26 Andrew Clarke <andrew.clarke at dkit.ie>:
> Hi,
> I was pleasantly surprised to hear of this letter in the Irish Times.
> Whilst I fully agree with Bobs qualifying of the issues around the area
> of School ICT, I do think that there is room for improvement on this
> front. We are now clearly in deep recession and any reduction in budgets
> for Schools will of course also affect IT as well as other areas. If
> FOSS is more widely adopted in schools just simply to save costs, and
> without any understanding of the meaning / philosophy behind this type
> of software, then so be it.
> Going back to the original letter, whilst I think that the idea of
> saving money by using FOSS is a good one, and every euro saved reduces
> the possibility of job losses etc., I do think that switching OS is a
> huge change for users. There is an argument that every MS Windows
> upgrade is quite a large change, but I'm not sure that change is on the
> same scale as switching for instance to Linux. A ''softer'' target is
> application software and I have easily persuaded many users to use
> OpenOffice.org in place of MS Office. Again, Office 2007 was a large
> change for users and instead of this, a migration to OOo can actually be
> less painful for users.
> According to the governments own latest report on education funding,
> there are around 85,500 computers in education. If the political will
> was there, huge savings can be made without adversely affecting users
> too much. A back of envelope calculation on this would go something like
> this. If reduced / volume license / educational license is averaged as
> low as 30 euro, this still amounts to 2.5 million euro which would go
> some way to reducing the strain on educational budgets. If it simply
> saved a few jobs, it would still be worthwhile.
> Money talks, especially in politics and especially in recession. Asking
> government to justify unnecessarily spending money on software which has
> an equivalent which is cost free is the right question to ask. It simply
> cannot be justified.
> I realise that I have over-simplified the situation in order to
> highlight my point, but I do think that at it's core, this is a simple
> decision and we should take our lead from some of the many governments
> adopting FOSS widely within the public service. Any lobbying of
> government to this end is welcome.
> kind regards,
> Andrew Clarke
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