Why should we teach students Linux??

Alma J Wetzker almaw
Tue Mar 6 11:34:19 PST 2007

Roel Bindels wrote:
> Vu Pham schreef:
>> On Tue, 2007-03-06 at 09:14 -0800, Bill Campbell wrote:
>> [...]
>>> One of the major differences between folks competent in Linux and Unix and
>>> Windows ``experts'' is that the *nix people usually start by trying to
>>> analyse and fix problems while MCSEs only know the Three R's of Windows,
>>> Reboot, Reboot, Reinstall.
>> Hmm, I was an MCSE ( expired already ) and I would like to correct you :
>> those three R's are : Reboot, Register, and Reinstall. You do not have
>> to reboot twice :)
>> Vu
> Ok, but don't you guys have some fact I can build a case with?? I don't
> think that my college's will take me serious if I come with this store,
> even it is true ;)

In spite of the hype, Windows does not dominate the high end server
space.  Nor the high end workstation application space.  If students are
going to be exposed to these types of systems, you do them a disservice
by not preparing them, in some way, to navigate those systems.

Most large servers run some sort of variant of *nix.  Linux is an
excellent way to expose student to the concepts and basic commands of
those systems without the expense (or security exposure) of having
students get on the big iron boxes.

In my field, Electrical Engineering, many of the high end applications
are written for Solaris.  If I ever need to use one of those
applications, I will be prepared by using linux.  (Applications like
HSpice, for circuit analysis, or some of the chip design apps.)  Some of
the IEEE student group members that complained the loudest about using
linux, instead of Windows, came back to thank me for the exposure after
working a few months at their first job.  Even though they have a
windows computer, they spend most of their computer work day logged onto
a *nix system.

Windows is NOT the only system on the market or in use.  Pretending that
it is in an academic setting is dishonest.  As a student I have to
conform to standards of academic integrity, ignoring a significant and
ongoing operating system for instructional ease, seems like it is a
violation of academic integrity standards for instructors, at least, it
does to me.

    -- Alma

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