[TOS] FOSS & Research in Scottish Universities

gordon dunlop astrozubenel at googlemail.com
Thu Sep 3 13:36:47 UTC 2009

Hi All,

My name is Gordon Dunlop and I am the administrator of the Dundee & Tayside
Linux User Group and a U.K. Fedora Ambassador.


 I received a forwarded email today via a member of my LUG from M.J. Ray
asking about information on UK University FOSS research groups. I realized
that he is also a member of this list so I am posting this reply on FOSS in
Scottish Universities here as I think the other members might find the
information interesting.

 The Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow & Aberdeen has large or adequate
research and development programs using FOSS (through competitive external
funding) by their scientists/lecturers within their Schools of Computing.
This filters into their teaching curriculum and is actively encouraged
reflecting the direct correlation between research funding & skill sets of
the University staff and the teaching of FOSS. The University of Edinburgh
won an Open Source Scotland 2008 award.


 At all the other Scottish Universities, where there is little or no
research funding within their Schools of Computing, the use of FOSS tends to
be minimal. In my home city of Dundee there are two Universities, namely The
University of Dundee and the University of Abertay Dundee. The prestigious
School of Life Sciences at Dundee University does use Red Hat clusters for
their scientific research projects but their School of Computing teaches
only a small amount of FOSS, a Linux module by one of our LUG members. The
University of Abertay Dundee did not use FOSS within the School of Computing
until 2007, this was due to our LUG being based at the University and some
students, who were members, started using FOSS as part of their studies and
was adopted by the other students and staff e.g. The use of backtrack and
VirtualBox in the laboratories on the B.Sc. Ethical Hacking &
Countermeasures course. So the influence of having a number of students
using FOSS can have an impact on the course if the tools enhances it. There
is a bit of a struggle in getting more FOSS adopted as Microsoft and the
local gaming software companies, Dundee is the hub of the gaming software
industry in the U.K., has close links with the University of Abertay through
its Computer Games Technology & Computer Arts degrees. Our software freedom
day is in two weeks time at the University where we hope to get more
students interested in FOSS.


 My main argument for FOSS is that all the Universities within Scotland
should be including FOSS, especially Linux operating systems, within their
curriculum due to the growth rate of FOSS within IT infrastructures e.g.
Cloud computing, clusters & servers, the adoption of virtualization
technology enabling the use of FOSS. FOSS skill sets are now in greater
demand by the IT industry and will see an increase in demand as time goes
on. If the Universities do not meet this potential demand a skills shortage
will ensue.

 Best Regards,

 Gordon Dunlop
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