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The following is an archive of a post made to our 'vox-outreach mailing list' by one of its subscribers.

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[vox-outreach] 2nd Draft - letter to schools
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[vox-outreach] 2nd Draft - letter to schools



Many thanks to Richard Black, Jonathan Stickel, Lee Welter, Caleb Wagnon,
Terrell Prude, Steve Wright and others, for their contributions so far.

--- begin paste ---

School administrators and faculty, as well as government officials,
have the opportunity -- and fiduciary responsibility -- to consider Open
Source software in place of more expensive, less reliable, and more
restrictive products.

What is known as the 'Open Source' software movement began over 20
years ago as a formalization of the tradition of sharing information
that computer programmers had been doing since the 1960s.  Software
that is released under an Open Source license is available freely to
everyone.  The human readable source code behind the program is
available, permitting any interested user to fix bugs, add features,
and even create completely new software based upon the existing code.

Open Source provides to people an ability to share ideas and work
together freely.  It is much like the publication of research for free
discussion, criticism, verification, and further extensions -- a method
that works well for physicists, doctors, and others involved in the
advancement of science.  This process is ideal for software
advancement, too!

In fact, Open Source software is being embraced by schools,
governments1, corporations2, and individuals all over the world.  The
Internet itself has always been built on such open software, but today
more Open Source software is being created for non-expert users,
including teachers and children.

Along with cost (it's free), the Open Source model has a number of
other advantages over commercial software:

* Extensibility
  Authors of Open Source software are often amazed at the kinds of uses
  other people come up with for their work.  Apple recently replaced
  Microsoft's Internet Explorer in Mac OS X with their own web browser,
  based on an existing Open Source program.  IBM took the Linux
  operating system and made it run in a wrist-watch.

* Security
  Because the source is available for peer review, bugs and errors are
  found more easily.  Open Source software has a very good track record
  for having its problems repaired quickly.  (Even if the original
  creator of the software is unable or uninterested in fixing it, others
  are free to do so -- to the benefit of all of the users.)

* Interoperability
  Open Source software does not just mean programs for Linux!
  Countless Open Source programs are available for Windows, Mac, Unix,
  and other operating systems you've probably never heard of!  They run
  on all sorts of hardware, from the ubiquitous Intel-compatible PCs, to
  hand-held PDAs, to multi-million dollar mainframes.  And nobody likes
  software that won't work with other software; the Open Source movement
  is also about open file formats, that can be used anywhere without
  paying royalties or dealing with patents.

* Control
  Open Source, like Linux, can't be controlled by a single company.
  You are not at the mercy of a single vendor. There is no forced
  upgrading, and no pay-per-user licensing policy.  Your school is freed
  from the obligation of tracking license certificates, and freed from
  the risk of audits for improperly licensed software.  Open Source
  provides true free-market products -- an alternative to monopoly.

My name is Bill Kendrick, and I'm with the Linux Users' Group of
Davis, a non-profit group dedicated to the promotion and support of
the Linux computer operating system, and to 'Open Source' software in
general.  I would be happy to sit down with you and tell you more, if
you are interested.  Feel free to contact me via e-mail at:
bill@newreedsoftware.com; call me at home: (530) XXX-YYYY; or explore
our website at http://www.lugod.org/.

Aside from LUGOD, I am also involved with a non-profit organization in
Arizona, and with them, have created a number of educational Open
Source programs for children.  Later this month, I will be holding a
hands-on demonstration of one of them at the Davis Food Co-Op (Sunday,
October 26th from 11am to 3pm).  I would be more than happy to answer
any questions then, as well.

For now, I will leave you with a small list of some useful Open Source
software -- for Windows, Linux and Mac -- that you can download today,
and begin using on your computers tomorrow:

  [ Celestia, OpenOffice.org, Tux Paint, Tux Typing, Wikipedia blurbs ]

Thank you for your consideration, and enjoy


William Kendrick

--- end paste ---


Sounding better? :)

-bill!
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