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  • Migrating to Floss
  • Teaching FLOSS and Ethics

Letter to school

Dear juf ... meester.

I am mother of two kids in your school, ..

I would like to ask you to please consider using Free/Libre and Open Source Software (*) and Open Documents Formats for working on computers with children.

For example, to replace PowerPoint with Open Office. (**)

And not to use Microsoft Word but PDF / ODF (#).

Below is a long explanation and my reasons.

If you are interested, I am willing to give a lecture, or series of lectures, to both teachers/administrators and parents, and kids, about these topics.

Kind regards, Vesna

(*) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_and_open-source_software & http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/FLOSS_Concept_Booklet

(**) http://nl.libreoffice.org/

(#) http://bcn.boulder.co.us/~neal/attachments.html & http://en.nothingisreal.com/wiki/Please_don%27t_send_me_Microsoft_Word_documents


I work with computers and in the "Internet Industry" for the last 20 years, and I am professionally and personally familiar with both kind of software and services: commercial and "free and open". While being part of the "Free/Libre Source Software" community, I have been advocating it for many many years.

I have two kinds of reasons to ask you this: practical and philosophical.

Practical reasons:

- We have "Open Office" or "Libre Office" installed at home, and it works fine for what they need. It is "gratis", it works on all operating systems (Mac, Windows, Linux), and it is "Free and Open" (*)

- I do not want to buy Microsoft Office products in order for my children to prepare for their work for school.

- files made using "propitiatory software" such as PowerPoint can only be opened, read and modified using that same software, so children can not share it with their friends or with me -- unless we *all* buy the Microsoft products!

- my children have multiple houses, and multiple computers. In order for them to work on all those computers at the same time, we would have to buy multiple copies of the propitiatory software, and that is too expensive -- specially when the free (gratis) versions exist.

Alternatively, we would have to install illegal versions, and I do not want to teach my children to lie and steal.

- the same goes for "Google Documents". It is not legal to create accounts for minors at Google, Inc. (gmail, google docs, etc).

In order for Alisa to work on the documents remotely and to share them, we have created account for her on the free and open platforms such as hackpad or EtherPad.

- multiple "gemeentes" in Holland, and several governmental bodies have already embraced Free and Open Software (and operating systems, such as Gnu/Linux), to replace propitiatory software, because they have seen advantages (not spending tax-payers money on products that can be had for "gratis"; more flexibility; more security, rather then trusting commercial companies with their data...)

Philosophical reasons:

- I want to teach my children the values of sharing and openness and contribution, even when using computers and software. Those are the values that the Free/Libre and Open Source Software is build on (*)

- with Open Office children can share their documents with everyone.

- If someone does not have the program to open the documents, children can *SHARE* the program, without being considered criminals

- later on, they will be able to WRITE the modifications to the program itself, if they want to improve on it -- that is not possible with Microsoft software, unless they get a job there..

- I want my children to develop autonomy and independence, and that was not possible because they needed a lot of help from me to prepare work for school, because _you_ require them to use propriatory software.

(it so happened that I have a legal version of Power Point installed on my work computer, so I could convert Alisa's and Charlie's work from Open Office to Power Point -- but I prefer them to be independent and autonomous -- and they could be, except that they do not have programs that you require)

If you want me to give explanations about this, here are my credentials: