- By Robin 'Roblimo' Miller -
In a letter to University of the Philippines (UP) faculty and students posted on the UP Forum Online Web site last December, the university's president, Dr. Francisco Nemenzo, called for an institution-wide move from Windows to Linux. The final paragraph of his letter said, "Let us all join the Linux revolutionary movement. Good-bye, Bill Gates."
President Nemenzo's reasons for advocating the switch are simple: a major budget crunch has collided with high licensing costs for legal copies of Microsoft and other proprietary software, plus a constant call for expensive upgrades. In addition, there is a strong risk of substantial fines if members of the UP community are caught using unlicensed copies of proprietary software.
An article published in the Jan 16, 2003 edition of the weekly Phillipine Collegian student newspaper (not available online) says, "all the College of Engineering laboratories and the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy computer lab have converted to Linux," and mentions other departments that are also in the process of converting entirely to Linux.
The article didn't focus only on Linux's financial benefits to a cash-strapped university, but also quotes Professor Rommel Feria, director of the UP Computer Center, as saying, "Linux has the look and feel of Windows, but with a bonus: Linux is more reliable and stable than the latter."
In the article, standard complaints about Linux were mentioned. Author K. Luiz Alave wrote, "Critics of Linux... maintain that the system is too complex, too geeky for the average user who does not have the time and resources to customize their programs. But Linux advocates have a rebuttal: that's what they used to say about the internet and look what happened now."
The bottom line, though, is that UP simply can't afford 12 million Phillipines Pesos (about $223,300 US) to upgrade from MS Office 97 to Office 2000, and cannot afford to spend 8,000 Phillines Pesos (about $149) per computer to upgrade to the latest version of Windows.
These upgrade cost figures are from President Nemenzo's December letter to students and faculty, which we have not reproduced in full here because, in
an email sent January 20, 2003, he told us he'd rather we didn't post the full text of his UP Forum Online letter on NewsForge.
"Although I am a strong supporter
of Linux," he wrote, "I do not think it is wise for me to drag UP into the war with
Microsoft. Persuading the UP community to shift is the most I can do, but I
presume that is already big enough."
Thank you, Raffy Simbol, for the story tip!