Comments
yourfanat wrote: I am using another tool for Oracle developers - dbForge Studio for Oracle. This IDE has lots of usefull features, among them: oracle designer, code competion and formatter, query builder, debugger, profiler, erxport/import, reports and many others. The latest version supports Oracle 12C. More information here.
Cloud Computing
Conference & Expo
November 2-4, 2009 NYC
Register Today and SAVE !..

2008 West
DIAMOND SPONSOR:
Data Direct
SOA, WOA and Cloud Computing: The New Frontier for Data Services
PLATINUM SPONSORS:
Red Hat
The Opening of Virtualization
GOLD SPONSORS:
Appsense
User Environment Management – The Third Layer of the Desktop
Cordys
Cloud Computing for Business Agility
EMC
CMIS: A Multi-Vendor Proposal for a Service-Based Content Management Interoperability Standard
Freedom OSS
Practical SOA” Max Yankelevich
Intel
Architecting an Enterprise Service Router (ESR) – A Cost-Effective Way to Scale SOA Across the Enterprise
Sensedia
Return on Assests: Bringing Visibility to your SOA Strategy
Symantec
Managing Hybrid Endpoint Environments
VMWare
Game-Changing Technology for Enterprise Clouds and Applications
Click For 2008 West
Event Webcasts

2008 West
PLATINUM SPONSORS:
Appcelerator
Get ‘Rich’ Quick: Rapid Prototyping for RIA with ZERO Server Code
Keynote Systems
Designing for and Managing Performance in the New Frontier of Rich Internet Applications
GOLD SPONSORS:
ICEsoft
How Can AJAX Improve Homeland Security?
Isomorphic
Beyond Widgets: What a RIA Platform Should Offer
Oracle
REAs: Rich Enterprise Applications
Click For 2008 Event Webcasts
In many cases, the end of the year gives you time to step back and take stock of the last 12 months. This is when many of us take a hard look at what worked and what did not, complete performance reviews, and formulate plans for the coming year. For me, it is all of those things plus a time when I u...
SYS-CON.TV
Enterprise Open Source Feature Story — "FOSS 101"
A Reality Check on Linux and Open Source in Higher Education

Linux and other Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) enjoy a reputation for ubiquitous use in educational settings. While FOSS openness and low acquisition costs resonate with the approach and needs of academia, it's proving difficult to establish a clear adoption trend. Certainly there exists ample anecdotal evidence of adoption, school-by-school, department-by-department. Certainly a range of Open Source projects arise from and also target education. However, close investigation reveals a mixed reality for Linux and FOSS in education: perusing college course listings, at least in the United States, doesn't support the notion of near-universal Linux/FOSS use across curricula - either in computer science or as a platform across other disciplines. It's even more difficult to measure Linux and FOSS adoption in K-12 settings where course catalogs don't exist and where classroom IT closely tracks home computing use.

High Times or Hard Times?
In Hard Times, Charles Dickens introduces his monomaniacal schoolmaster Thomas Gradgrind as "a man of fact and calculations;" the character is most memorable for his constant exhortations to his charges of "fact fact fact!" in response to the slightest hint of fancy.

Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!

The goal of this article is neither to debunk notions of Linux and FOSS adoption in education nor to evangelize such adoption, but rather, in Gradgrindian fashion, to temper the often-unqualified enthusiasm that seems to surround the topic with sometimes sobering fact.

Let's start the investigation by breaking Linux/FOSS adoption in education into three focus areas:

  • University computer science curricula
  • Cross-discipline adoption
  • University infrastructure
and in each segment harmonize anecdotal and empirical evidence to begin to discover real adoption trends.

University Computer Science Curricula
For the past few years enrollment in computer science and related fields has been in decline in the U.S. This trend dipped further after the terror attacks of September 2001 and subsequent restrictions on student visas. Such attrition is having an impact on all kinds of IT competence, open and proprietary - fewer students mean fewer courses; fewer courses lead to scarcity of graduates to fill the IT and developer labor pool. While the impact is significant, computer science departments haven't shriveled up, just "right sized," and emphasized vocational offerings over computing theory.

In the U.S. published course descriptions belie the notion of Linux ubiquity in computer science curricula. Budding developers, IT managers, and ordinary users of productivity applications are more likely to find courses that explicitly target Microsoft Windows-family operating systems, Windows infrastructure (networking, administration, etc.), and Windows-hosted MS Office applications like Excel, especially in undergraduate settings or at junior colleges.

Table 1 illustrates the situation at six institutions of higher learning in Silicon Valley: two private schools (Santa Clara and Stanford), two California state schools (U.C. Berkeley and San Jose State), and two junior colleges (De Anza and Foothill). The table tallies the total number of classes offered by each CS department and summarizes the number of classes focusing on Windows, Unix, and Linux (based on examining course name, description, and when possible, syllabus). I chose the Valley because it's where I live and work, where I went to school, and a place whose technology culture is presumed to be well-attuned to Linux and FOSS.

Other findings included:

  • Most CS classes are not OS-specific (at least they're not publicized as such)
  • Universities emphasize theory while two-year college curricula veer toward pragmatic and vocational subject matter
  • Operating systems classes tend to use non-commercial/non-standard platforms (not Linux, not Unix, not Windows); they may or may not examine Linux or other FOSS OSes
  • A reasonable number of classes (at SJSU, Santa Clara, and De Anza) focused on Unix, but in most cases, Linux subject matter was promoted as "Unix/Linux"
  • No course descriptions at any of the institutions highlighted "Open Source" or acronyms like FOSS
Quick checks with academics of my acquaintance from other regions paint a spotty picture as well (with some notable exceptions like Oregon State University).

Beyond Course Catalogs: Finding Linux in Labs and Dorms
However, other anecdotal evidence at these six Bay Area schools indicates that study of core computer science subjects like C programming, operating system design, networking, security, Web applications development, and system management increasingly occurs on and for Linux. For example, several syllabi at Stanford made reference to assignments running on Linux; reading lists for computer security classes at multiple schools included texts centered on Linux-based firewalls; and data from university IT departments indicate that in many cases academic data centers that run on Linux also support it for individual students and cross-departmentally (see below).

As such, even undergrads are reasonably likely to find Linux in the lab and can install and use Linux on their own PCs and notebooks; this trend continues into graduate education, especially for supercomputing and other "exotic" disciplines. Owing to its openness, computer science graduate students today frequently conduct original research and write theses based on Linux itself or using Linux as an enabler, especially in areas like scalability, high availability, alternate scheduling schemata, queuing theory, etc. No metrics are available to substantiate such anecdotes.

The situation is reputedly different in Asia and across a range of developing countries. Conventional wisdom holds that in these countries by contrast, Linux explicitly forms the core of much official computer science curricula, especially in countries with under-funded public higher education and where governments see Linux as a means to local technology development and digital inclusion.

To test these assumptions, I visited the course listings for CESET - the Centro Superior de Educação Tecnológica at UNICAMP - the University of Campinas in Brazil, where IBM sponsors a Linux lab (I'm fluent in Portuguese, but not Mandarin Chinese!). There I found a listing of 45 courses and no references to any operating systems of any kind, open or closed, in the class listings and descriptions.

The obvious conclusion is that university curricula tend to emphasize theory and give minimal grounding in real platforms. Certainly my own undergraduate experience (decades ago) followed this tendency - at Cal I used versions of Berkeley Unix in most of my classes, but had zero training in the particulars of that OS; it was sink or swim.

This imbalance between theory in school and practice post-graduation doesn't bode well for Linux and FOSS. Graduates will arrive in the job market with ample theoretical knowledge of computer science, but scant formal exposure to Linux and FOSS. Without more visible focus on FOSS technologies and exposure to open community practices in colleges and universities, graduating seniors are much more likely to possess practical familiarity with the current dominant proprietary productivity OS - Microsoft Windows, even if they use Linux in some lab settings.

Linux and FOSS across Higher-Education Disciplines
If de facto Linux and FOSS use in the U.S. is occluded in computer science settings, it can be hard to see in disciplines further removed from the CS lab - but it's there. The situation is further complicated by the fact that Linux deployment across academic fields isn't predicated on the OS itself, but rather on the availability of domain-specific applications, both open and proprietary, hosted on the OS.

The good news is that Linux benefits from straightforward migration from legacy Unix, a path that ISVs and end users are taking in droves. As a result, we see the Open Source OS appearing in areas as diverse as library science to linguistics, from medicine to mathematics, and from industrial design to industrial control. The number of Open Source projects and applications addressing these fields speaks to the number of developers and users.

For example, Linux-based Open Source library catalog and search applications support library science curricula and school library operations, several from institutions in Brazil; AI and speech processing software built on Linux has emerged from schools like Carnegie Mellon, MIT, and the University of Pittsburgh. Medical and biology programs benefit from Linux-based gene-sequencing software that leverages low-cost Linux-based scalable clustering. Mathematical proofs and visualization also use software that runs on Linux. In fact, Linux has taken over most if not all legacy Unix workstation applications with ISVs porting their CAD, CAE, and CAM packages to lower-cost, more powerful commodity Linux hardware. And any and all disciplines that rely on embedding intelligence in complex systems, including automotive design, nuclear engineering, mechanical engineering, and robotics, today develop on Linux workstations and then proceed to deploy the OS in embedded form and require an introduction to it in preparatory education.

Linux and FOSS in University and College IT Infrastructure
OSDL has perhaps had the greatest direct exposure to the category of data center use by institutions of higher learning. In fact, OSDL membership roles boast a large contingent of Academic affiliates (see Table 2).

OSDL academic membership suggests a motivation for migration to Linux that echoes corporate IT - cost of acquisition, lower cost of management, and the ability to reuse or prolong the useful lifetime of legacy hardware.

Colleges and university IT staff doesn't look at Linux in a vacuum, but use Linux, the LAMP stack, and key tools like OpenLDAP to manage enrollment and school records and supply secure e-mail and Web access to their student and faculty populations. In this last area, Linux shines above and beyond competing solutions in terms of performance and scalability: even "enterprise-ready" Windows platforms and applications can't easily support bases of 50,000-250,000 user with a 25% turnover every 90 days!

One of the better-documented and longest-term university deployments of Linux and FOSS took place and continues to grow at Boston University. There the IT staff supports a mix of 40,000 students, faculty, and other staff by leveraging a mix of Open Source Linux and platform software sustaining a mix of open and "vendor source" middleware and applications. According to Gerard Shockley, BU assistant director of technical services, his IT department can provide services to a diverse user community and still engage in community-based Open Source development like OpenAIS, Tomcat, Kuali, and Eclipse. BU looks to a mix of resources to accomplish its goal of using Open Source for mission-critical applications: internal IT competence, some academic interface, a range of community resources, and IBM Global Services as a commercial supplier. Shockley emphasizes the benefits of the community interface - "Open Source," he says, "is like having additional staff."

Conclusion
One source for this article responded to the paucity of publicized courses by describing Linux and Open Source as "silent leaders" in academia. My own mostly positive view of the presence of Tux and friends on campus comes from interviewing and hiring dozens of highly qualified college interns for Linux and FOSS software development, QA, and technical marketing roles. However, many were called, few were chosen, and those chosen few brought their FOSS savvy mostly from self-directed study.

Warming to Linux and FOSS
The question of Linux and FOSS ubiquity in higher education resembles the on-going debate around global warming. Intelligent and otherwise well-informed sources proclaim that Open Source adoption, like average world temperatures, is on the rise. However, definitive evidence for such claims can be confusing or unavailable. Pockets of fervent adoption and development may or may not indicate a generalized climate that favors Linux and FOSS. Conversely, icy stares from CS faculty and tepid investment in curricula aren't proof that Linux and FOSS aren't HOT.

Rather than debating the issue of Linux and FOSS in academia, promoters of Open Source should instead return to their alma maters to ensure that adoption is occurring, and to evangelize and support adoption at their old schools through words and deeds and cajoling and (of course) corporate donations. And when your own children leave the nest for college, buy them a Linux notebook. Help them search beyond curt and cryptic course listings in computer science or any other chosen field of study. Help them find schools, departments, research centers, and curricula than include and emphasize Linux and FOSS. Encourage them to be Open-minded and Linux-literate. A mind is a terrible thing to waste on proprietary software.

About Bill Weinberg
Bill Weinberg brings over 18 years embedded and open systems experience
to his role as Open Source Architecture Specialist and Linux Evangelist
at the Open Source Development Labs, where he supports initiatives for
meeting developer and end-user requirements for Carrier-Grade, Data
Center and Desktop Linux.

Prior to the OSDL, Bill was a founding team-member at MontaVista
Software, and helped establish Linux as a favored platform for next-
generation intelligent embedded device development. In the course of
his career, Bill also worked at Lynx Real-Time Systems, Acer Computer,
and Microtec Research.

Today Bill is known for his writing and speaking on topics that include
Linux business issues, Open Source licensing, embedded application
porting/migration, and handheld applications. He pens columns in
LinuxUser and Developer, and Embedded Computing Design, and is a
contributor to periodicals like E.E.Times, Linux Journal and Elektronik.
Bill is also a featured speaker at conferences like Linux World, Real-
time Computing, and Embedded Systems.

More info at http://www.linuxpundit.com

In order to post a comment you need to be registered and logged in.

Register | Sign-in

Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 1

Linux and other Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) enjoy a reputation for ubiquitous use in educational settings. While FOSS openness and low acquisition costs resonate with the approach and needs of academia, it's proving difficult to establish a clear adoption trend. Certainly there exists ample anecdotal evidence of adoption, school-by-school, department-by-department. Certainly a range of Open Source projects arise from and also target education. However, close investigation reveals a mixed reality for Linux and FOSS in education: perusing college course listings, at least in the United States, doesn't support the notion of near-universal Linux/FOSS use across curricula - either in computer science or as a platform across other disciplines. It's even more difficult to measure Linux and FOSS adoption in K-12 settings where course catalogs don't exist and where classroom IT closely tracks home computing use.

Linux and other Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) enjoy a reputation for ubiquitous use in educational settings. While FOSS openness and low acquisition costs resonate with the approach and needs of academia, it's proving difficult to establish a clear adoption trend. Certainly there exists ample anecdotal evidence of adoption, school-by-school, department-by-department. Certainly a range of Open Source projects arise from and also target education. However, close investigation reveals a mixed reality for Linux and FOSS in education: perusing college course listings, at least in the United States, doesn't support the notion of near-universal Linux/FOSS use across curricula - either in computer science or as a platform across other disciplines. It's even more difficult to measure Linux and FOSS adoption in K-12 settings where course catalogs don't exist and where classroom IT closely tracks home computing use.


Your Feedback
SYS-CON India News Desk wrote: Linux and other Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) enjoy a reputation for ubiquitous use in educational settings. While FOSS openness and low acquisition costs resonate with the approach and needs of academia, it's proving difficult to establish a clear adoption trend. Certainly there exists ample anecdotal evidence of adoption, school-by-school, department-by-department. Certainly a range of Open Source projects arise from and also target education. However, close investigation reveals a mixed reality for Linux and FOSS in education: perusing college course listings, at least in the United States, doesn't support the notion of near-universal Linux/FOSS use across curricula - either in computer science or as a platform across other disciplines. It's even more difficult to measure Linux and FOSS adoption in K-12 settings where course catalogs don't exist and where classroom IT closely t...
Enterprise Open Source Magazine News Desk wrote: Linux and other Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) enjoy a reputation for ubiquitous use in educational settings. While FOSS openness and low acquisition costs resonate with the approach and needs of academia, it's proving difficult to establish a clear adoption trend. Certainly there exists ample anecdotal evidence of adoption, school-by-school, department-by-department. Certainly a range of Open Source projects arise from and also target education. However, close investigation reveals a mixed reality for Linux and FOSS in education: perusing college course listings, at least in the United States, doesn't support the notion of near-universal Linux/FOSS use across curricula - either in computer science or as a platform across other disciplines. It's even more difficult to measure Linux and FOSS adoption in K-12 settings where course catalogs don't exist and where classroom IT closely t...
SOA World Latest Stories
Both SaaS vendors and SaaS buyers are going “all-in” to hyperscale IaaS platforms such as AWS, which is disrupting the SaaS value proposition. Why should the enterprise SaaS consumer pay for the SaaS service if their data is resident in adjacent AWS S3 buckets? If both SaaS sellers and...
The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep...
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interout...
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann and Aruna Ravichandran have been named Co-Chairs of @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo Silicon Valley which will take place Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "DevOps is at the intersection of tech...
"We are a monitoring company. We work with Salesforce, BBC, and quite a few other big logos. We basically provide monitoring for them, structure for their cloud services and we fit into the DevOps world" explained David Gildeh, Co-founder and CEO of Outlyer, in this SYS-CON.tv intervie...
21st International Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced b...
Subscribe to the World's Most Powerful Newsletters
Subscribe to Our Rss Feeds & Get Your SYS-CON News Live!
Click to Add our RSS Feeds to the Service of Your Choice:
Google Reader or Homepage Add to My Yahoo! Subscribe with Bloglines Subscribe in NewsGator Online
myFeedster Add to My AOL Subscribe in Rojo Add 'Hugg' to Newsburst from CNET News.com Kinja Digest View Additional SYS-CON Feeds
Publish Your Article! Please send it to editorial(at)sys-con.com!

Advertise on this site! Contact advertising(at)sys-con.com! 201 802-3021


SYS-CON Featured Whitepapers
ADS BY GOOGLE