[OSGeo-Discuss] RE: Comparison between Proprietary and OS

Micha Silver micha at arava.co.il
Sat Apr 26 07:31:36 PDT 2008

Andre Grobler wrote:

> ...
> So the hurdles for me to OS were "acceptance" specifically for the following
> reasons:
> Free and easy access and training of ESRI at varsity. Autocad did the same
> and look where that got them.
> Linux, just mentioning command lines has me a little nervous. (I know this
> is changing, but the field calculator is enough programming for me, thanks)
> ...
> So in short I am doing what somebody already suggested, get ESRI for day to
> day soft landing and learn OS GRASS and OSSIM meanwhile for real work;-)
> Hopefully in a while I'll wonder what the fuss was about... and possibly
> contribute, if only to the dummies FAQ section.
> André Grobler
I had the privilege recently to give a short beginners course in GIS to 
a small group of undergrads in environmental science.  Before the 
semester started I had decided to give the course based on FOSS tools. I 
first sat down with the network technician, who told me that they have 
ArcGIS 9, network licence, but he don't know where the disks were, and 
was concerned about space on the server, network traffic, bogging down 
their Terminal Server etc, etc. So I (rubbing my hands together) told 
him, no problem, we're going with Open Source Software.  Turned out some 
of the students had MACs and one was using Ubuntu, so the choice to go 
with OSS tools was a no brainer.
To my surprise, by the forth lesson we had gotten to watershed analysis, 
and students were running the GRASS modules (within QGIS). Admittedly we 
leapfrogged over some stuff, but still I doubt I could have reached that 
level with Arc* tools in such a short time span.
The "comfort zone" problem is well know and likely the most difficult 
hurdle to overcome when trying to migrate to OSS tools. But to some 
extent it's nothing more than a matter of perception. Proprietary 
software vendors have surrounded us with distorting mirrors.  Once you 
step away, things look quite different.

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