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Mission Statement

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 
to start.

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 <bickiia@earlham.edu>