Recently, a friend of mine who was in the process of making plans to
computerize his correspondence school; for the last fif* years, their
operation has been handled entirely by hand by staff with long file boxes
full of alphabetically-sorted 3x5 cards with student info on each card.
Everything was hand written. And they're now taking on about 2500 new
students per week.
Having asked for my advice (knowing that I've done similar jobs before),
I immediately suggested a Unix system with a cache of terminals, connected
to one or two main servers on which all the information would
be stored and available via dialin, network or terminal. Perfect, eh?
Linux would do the job well, I mused.
I knew what he was thinking, though: 486's for each desk, complete with
"Windows for Workgroups" and some database package advertised in PC World.
"Well, we've always seen Unix as being the high-end of data processing, and
I'm not sure we can commit to such an investment."
Ooh, I thought -- here's my chance.
"Well," I prepared my speech. "I use a free version of Unix, called Linux.
It's been developed by hundreds of computer scientists all over the world,
and is fully capable to do your job, quite inexpensively." By this point,
I could see what he was about to say in his expression.
"Your purpose for computers isn't really ours, though; if something fails
for us, we'd have a very hard time catching up. No, I don't think we're
going to skimp on this system."
He'd yet to decide exactly what he wanted to do, or how he was going to do it,
and, though regarding Unix as a high-end, powerful, capable operating system,
he was unwilling to accept that a `free' system would be capable of their
That, and experiences like it have lead me to one conclusion.
Linux must cost money, or, at least, be available for a very high cost, and
thus gain instand respect. Very few people would actually pay that price for
it, but having such a price tag would give it a certain prestige heretofore
Mark R. Lindsey  Information Technology; S.Ga.Digital Research Institute