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Convincing someone to switch to Linux

I seem to have a small problem that maybe someone on the list can help with.

I belong to a small organization on campus. We currently have some very old (circa 1995-1996) PCs running Win95. These machines have Pentium 150-166 CPUs and 32 MB RAM.

They are in need of replacement for several reasons. Including speed (they are just too slow now), software problems (many problems with viruses and people installing all sorts of crap on the machines), and some of the hardware has begun to fail.

The budget is $1000-1200 (max). My solution (I was asked for my opinion, as I am seen as pretty computer savvy) was for us to go to Walmart and purchase 4 to 6 Linux boxes for $200-$300 each. My rationale was:

1. Cheaper (all of the CRTs are just fine and can be reused)
2. Easier to control people's access (i.e., individual user accounts or very restricted "guest" accounts)
3. Security (enough said)
4. More than sufficient for the tasks (web browsing, checking email, working on assignments with word processor/spreadsheet and presentations)

The "solution" that they decided on (not yet implemented) is to keep the aging machines and purchase one new Dell machine with WinXP/OfficeXP. Their rationale:

1. Unwillingness to give up familiarity of MS Windows interface

I explained that if that was the inly concern, we could install a Win9X desktop theme over whatever window manager we used. I even demonstrated the import/export features of OpenOffice.org (to assuage another concern about not being able to open/use MS formatted docs).

Their response: Oh well, that's nice, we are getting the new Dell.

It troubles me that the organization is throwing away money that we don't have.

Obviously, I am a proponent of Linux. But, I feel quite strongly about this because of the financial impact. If we had a $6000 replacement budget and another $10000-$20000 in the bank, I would not be as concerned if they wanted to stick to MS (I hardly use the computers myself). But the leadership refuses to budge, and I feel that they are just throwing money away and not doing anything to solve the problem.

Has anyone encountered this? How was this handled? What was the outcome? What can I do?

-Roberto Sanchez

MSN 8 with e-mail virus protection service: 2 months FREE* http://join.msn.com/?page=features/virus

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