what to do when even microsoft windows isnt supported

The unimaginable happened today. In I walk to work and I have this lady ask for a copy of Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. This has happened only once or twice in the past six months. Just wait though. That wasn’t the unbelievable part. She starts telling me how come she needs this.

You see her son was accepted to Gettysburg College- a four year institution for higher education and the school requires it! I told her that can’t be. She must have misunderstood the IT person who told her that-or was flat out lied to. I told her I would check online to verify this information for her.

A few minuets later I find the information about network system requirements. She not only had it right- the school explicitly states that GNU/Linux amongst other versions of Microsoft Windows including Vista Home Premium would not be allowed on the network.

I attempted to contact the school regarding this asinine policy. As of this writing I have received no response. What were they thinking? I can understand limiting support for certain operating systems like MS DOS, Dr. Dos, OS/2, BSD, and others that have faded into oblivion or are otherwise not readily available for desktop use. GNU/Linux on the other hand is being used by a decent percentage of students at most schools- even the technically inept universities. In fact this school has a number of faculty and students who use it that I found just by searching the school’s web site. I don’t know how they are getting around this issue-or not. They shouldn’t have to in either case. The thing here is the school doesn’t just not support GNU/Linux or certain operating systems. They explicitly prohibit such operating systems. This isn’t just mindless discrimination against GNU/Linux users either. It discriminates against all ethically inclined users as well as those unwilling to cough up more money for an unnecessary upgrade. Yes- anybody running a Home version of Microsoft Windows Vista is required to upgrade.

I’m not only offended by this policy I object to anybody telling me or anybody else what operating system I am permitted to connect to such a network. They don’t even pretend to be honest about why they are prohibiting such connections. They state you must be able to “properly control the increased network security risk such systems present”. When was the last time any insignificant operating system (at least this is what is being suggested) wrecked havoc on a school network that was caused by an exploited security vulnerability? If you read on however such systems are explicitly prohibited from connecting to the school’s network altogether anyway.

I’m a recent college graduate from a university myself and while nobody put up such a resistance to non-approved operating systems demands were made before you could connect to the residential school network- or academic wireless network.

If you are in college, a recent college graduate, or otherwise aware of what is going on at other schools please comment on these policies. If you haven’t complained take the time to complain. We shouldn’t put up with this. If you are attending this school explicitly or would like to write a letter anyway contact information is below.

Here is what I found on the school’s web site specifically regarding this topic:

What if I am a Mac, Linux, or UNIX user; do I still get support?
IT does not support student owned machines running Linux, UNIX or Unix-like operating systems. Students should not run such operating systems unless they are technically capable of dealing with such systems and can properly control the increased network security risk such systems present. Macintosh users will be supported on a case by case basis.

Any computer intended to connect to the Gettysburg College Network/Internet MUST use one of the following operating systems:

Windows XP Professional, SP2

Windows Vista Business

Windows Vista Enterprise

Windows Vista Ultimate

Mac OX 10.4.11 or higher

Gettysburg College will not provide Network/Internet access for the following operating systems:

Windows 98; NT; 2000; XP Home; Media Center; Vista Home, Vista Home Premium, Mac OS earlier than 10.4.11, Linux; UNIX; or any other operating system not specifically permitted.

If you would like to contact the school to complain about this issue here are the details:

Janet Morgan Riggs

Interim President

riggs@gettysburg.edu

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2 Responses to “what to do when even microsoft windows isnt supported”

  1. Stephen Says:

    Can they do this legally? I don’t see how. Isn’t that called Discrimination?

  2. ixnotes Says:

    It all depends. I imagine if Microsoft offered them a deal it would be illegal. They would be abusing their monopoly status. An institution standardizing on something in itself is not likely illegal. I would call that unethical. We really should pass laws to mandate that any company that is able to achieve a monopoly in any market be forced to release its patents, copyrights, and other ‘intellectual property’. It is the only way we’ll get competition in markets where monopolies have an advantage to the market-without necessarily hurting the market. This way no company has an unfair advantage. If all operating systems had access to the copyrights, patents, blueprints, source code, and so on competition and innovation could prosper- or products be rightly devalued.

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