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Matthew's Thoughts on Students and Linux

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Oct 15th, 2018
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  1. Hey there,
  3. After listening to Mike's trouble with university students' lack of Linux experience in Coder Radio 328, I thought I might be able to add a perspective. I'm a fifth year Computer Engineering student at the University of Florida and heavily involved with the Open Source Club here. As a club, we primarily work on student run open source project, as well as do workshops on different open source technologies such as Linux, Docker, and Mike's favorite language Rust.
  5. Though we like to nudge people towards Linux (and a quite a few have a Linux installation), most of our member's day-to-day OS is either Windows or macOS (around two thirds on Windows and the rest on macOS).
  7. There is not a lot of virtual machine use outside of a couple classes (they're just too slow on our machines, given the other options available). Most people with Macs are happy just using bash and homebrew. Windows is a little more mixed. Most people probably have the subsystem installed, in which case they will do a lot of their command line stuff there. However, those with a Linux dual-boot (around 20%) will switch to that for development purposes.
  9. I think a big reason most people don't use Linux daily, is because classes make it really hard to do so. Though there are some courses that require building code on Linux machines, most people will just go to the CS computer lab for that (it's called the dungeon).
  11. A lot of classes require the use of Windows or macOS only software like the LockDown Browser (it's an anti-cheating browser that prevents you from looking at other windows while taking quizzes and it reports you if it detects it's in a virtualized environment).
  13. It's also just annoying to switch back and fourth between OSs. So even the ones of us that do have a Linux distro installed, end up using Windows a lot of the time anyway. Not to mention, their is an understandable fear that if someone messes up a Linux install, they might loose their data.
  15. So I do think there are a lot of us with some Linux experience and who want more. It's just really hard to justify installing it and using it, when classes make it really difficult to do so on a day-to-day basis.
  17. Feel free to contact me if you want more info on this, the Open Source Club, or anything else. Have a good one!
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