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Doug asked for some discussion about the mission statement, and
maybe this will provide some fodder.
A mission statement, description of goals, project summary, etc.,
should be the boiling down of some more general, more vague idea
of definition. I don't think that exists either, so maybe that's where
There's two aspects I can see -- Linux, the operating system, and
Free Software (or Open Source) the concept.
We support Linux because it's a technically good OS. We all
know the reasons why. There's other good operating systems too,
and we're not supporting them. We're not talking about Solaris or
OS/2 in the schools. Of course Solaris is quite expensive
(hardware and software) and OS/2 is dead. So maybe they weren't
good examples... anyway, Linux is a good OS but that is unlikely
to be the only reason to pick Linux at this point (ESR aside).
Linux is really about the philosophies and software that exists for it
and inside of it. There's the Unix philosophies of transparency and
simplicity. There's the freeness -- speech and beer. There's the
noncommercial aspect -- as much as people try to talk about how
to make money on free software, and the commercial ports, the
spirit and soul of Linux held up mostly by volunteers. Finally, the
community aspect -- the internet, the miriad of mailing lists, and all
Each of these has a place. The Unix philosophy in its robustness,
the freeness in its, well, freeness, the noncommercial aspect
mirroring education's noncommercial nature, and the community
necessary to support any new effort well -- and computers on the
whole are a new effort in schools and education.
These are some thoughts on why we're doing this. Not in any good
order at all.
Then there's how we do it. By hook or crook I suppose. Mostly
find what's out there, document and adapt it as necessary. Write
what's missing. And maybe get a few commercial offerings ported.
I think it's also a valid goal to get Free Software on any operating
system, for strategic and idealogical reasons. It's easier to get
someone to use a new program than a new OS, and it's easier to
get someone to change operating systems if they don't have to
change programs. Curriculum, textbooks, and all that is probably
Sorry for being so rambly.
Ian Bicking <email@example.com>