The HeliOS Project is now.....

The HeliOS Project is now.....
Same mission, same folks...just a different name

Search the Blog of helios and all comments


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A letter to a Texas Senator

I couldn't keep my mouth shut. So what's new about that?

When there are obvious things missing in an argument, it's ridiculous to let both parties continue without making them aware of this absence.

So it was with Texas Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa of McAllen Texas. He stood on the Senate floor and decried the use of Vista, pushing instead for the upgrade to Windows 7. Do they not know they have a choice in this?

They do now.


Dear Senator,

I read with interest your opposition to upgrading to Vista and instead favor an upgrade to Windows 7.

My name is Ken Starks and I am one of the most active Free Software advocates in the United States. Senator, the state of Texas is paying tens of millions of dollars a year to Microsoft when they have a free, virus-free and stable alternative at their fingertips, literally. Sir, let me pose a question. Why does the state of Texas insist on purchasing a product that proves to be more expensive to maintain than it does to purchase? Anti-virus software, defrag and registry fixers, malware protection...why? Why are we paying for software that demands we purchase other software in order for it to work? That is a question that I would honestly like answered.

I will tip my hat to the obvious influence of the powerful Microsoft Lobby. They have been there and gone, and their impact on State software purchases is obvious. I am curious to know if the dollar amounts we taxpayers spend on Microsoft software is available for public consumption. Again, Microsoft has lobbied you successfully. Entire nations, states and municipalities across the globe have switched to GNU/Linux and Free Software, yet the US remains the last bastion of Microsoft strength.

And Senator, the excuse that Linux is too hard to learn is incorrect. I hold Linux Learning Center meetings on a weekly basis with 10 and 12 year old kids. They are picking it up in 30 minutes or less. Should any of our House or Senate Members have problems with it, I am sure their parents would not mind dropping them off at the Capitol and giving them a hand.

Ken Starks

I dunno...will it matter? Who knows. The Senator's email address is there for all to see. Maybe I don't need to be the only one letting the Senator know that he has choices.

All-Righty Then


Anonymous said...

Been reading your blog. I think it's all commendable. I think that it might help if you let him know that you are also a voting Texas resident. Just my 2 cents. Got Ubuntu on a dual boot. Rest of the family will not use it.

Erick Descoteaux said...

Hi Ken,

I'm in Quebec, Canada and the minister of education have ordered, without other quote, for $1,400,000.00 (1800 licenses) for Microsoft Office 2007. The reason the government gave us, "Only Microsoft produce Microsoft Office 2007!"

I only hope the government won't decide to go with BMW as their cars supplier's. They will probably say to the taxes payer's : "Only BMW produce BMW cars !"


Anonymous said...

If Texas becomes a Penguin State I'll move there and buy a big hat too!

Randy Meyers said...

Well, Guy of the Sun, you certainly don't mind kicking the bee's nest do you? You do it well.

You raise some points that the Senator or anyone for that matter will feel quite uncomfortable answering. You point out the obvious and well-known corruption without coming right out and saying it, that was done well. There were other points you could have mentioned but when staffers with third grade reading levels see long emails, they tend not to read them. I understand your brevity.

I do not however, agree with your closing statement about children teaching our political leaders, you were incorrect in doing so.

I don't think they let kids in untethered by a parent or adult.

Randy Meyers

Anonymous said...

@ Rest of the family will not use it.

Tell me you are not silly enough to fix their computers when they get virus ridden or lock up...I believe helios himself refused to fix his own wife's computer when she insisted on using Windows.

If you are fixing their computers when they are just too lazy to learn a better way, they deserve to wallow in their own mess.

DW said...

Also @Rest of the family will not use it:

My wife has a laptop that was running XP exclusively on it. About a month ago I installed Ubuntu and now finally removed the Windows option from the GRUB menu (I can still enable it if I want to but don't see any reason to).

She has been using it without any problems or complaints - Firefox, Open Office etc., and she is NOT a technical person.

I would say create a "guest" accout on your linux partition and comment out the Windows partition in your /boot/grub/menu.lst file :-)

einfeldt said...

Here is a letter that I just wrote to Senator Hinojosa:

Dear Senator Hinojosa,

I just read that you are advocating that the State of Texas adopt Microsoft Windows 7, but that doesn't make sense, because 83% of businesses are not planning to move to Microsoft Windows in the first year, according to a survey released in the mainstream computer magazine Information week. In fact, 50% of businesses surveyed said that they are considering moving to some other operating system, such as Linux or the Mac, rather than move to Microsoft Windows 7.

In case that link breaks, here is a shorter link to the same story:

In light of the tough economic times that our country is experiencing, doesn't it make fiscal sense to save money by moving to the more stable, less expensive operating system called Linux? Many governments in the US and overseas are moving to Linux. Please consider what it would do for Texas to move to Linux, rather than the more costly Microsoft Windows 7. Eighty-three percent of businesses can't be wrong.

By the way, I found out about your support for Microsoft Windows 7 here on this article by Ken Starks, a Texas journalist:

If that link breaks, you can click on this link:

Thank you for considering this letter.

Respectfully yours,

Christian Einfeldt

Anonymous said...

The Senator is misinformed, 7 is no more better then VISTA, in fact it IS Vista.

$1.4 Million, travesty! I wonder if there was some integration required, for example ACT! will not function with OO V3, I tried to create some CLSID's, but my programming skills are lacking in SAGE will not do it.

Helios, KICK that BEEs nest!...Repeatedly!

@ Rest of the family will not use it.... I have had that same problem with family, friends and customers. When I show them Linux, some still refuse and I flatly state that I will be seeing them shortly again, as Windows is insecure.

stiiixy said...

I have in the last 12 months come to the same conclusion regarding supporting MS products. It's to much of a buzz-kill, time-waster and life-style killer.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken:
Great job as usual. One comment though, I worked for the state as a network admin. for 8 years. During my time there, I repeatedly made suggestions that we use linux instead of MS for the same reasons you listed in your letter to the senator. I kept getting the same responses the "linux was too difficult" and made the same arguments you gave to the senator.
What finally dawned on me as the real reason was all the MCSE's at the state, not to mention the Novel guys (yeah,they use both) do not want to give up their positions. This, even though DIR has officially sanctioned the use of Linux.

@Ax_D_WhiteMan said...

Well said. I live here in Austin also. I think the state could do well to "ease" into open source by simply using Open Office as a drop in for MS Office, saving the state 10's of millions without almost no disruption.

I'm going to write the good Senator also, maybe a couple of email's will get his attention.

Anonymous said...

"If you are fixing their computers when they are just too lazy to learn a better way, they deserve to wallow in their own mess."

I take you do not have a SO and children? Love really is a strange thing and it does make us behave foolishly.

Ken, keep up the good work.

The problem with politics (actually, all inter personal relations) is that you have to react to only what they say, but you know well sure that this is NOT what they really think.

Your letter goes some way to addressing in words to what they say and in spirit to what they think.


Anonymous said...

Helios I am a recovering Texas politician and no, I am not saying who, and yes if I did, you would know who I am immediately. I have followed your blog with interest for two years and I've never been moved to respond but now I am certain I have no choice.

The system stinks with moral corruption. While some of the "laws" state that such behind-closed-doors are legal, they ring as corrupt, dishonest agreements where politicians get what they want and corporates get fat from state contracts. In the end, the taxpayer gets screwed because he or she is never considered in the equation.

It isn't about caring about your constituency helios, it's about getting re-elected and the only time you will hear one of these people talk like they care is when they need your vote. That is why I have not run for office since I retired from politics a few years ago.

I am going to email you with my contact information. I believe I may have some information concerning this matter that you will want. I think it will surprise even you.

Anonymous said...

Chad Wollenberg, an IT admin for a Virgina school district, recently did a presentation to a group of school finance directors focusing on the benefits of Open Source Software. A recording of this talk is in the latter segment of his Linux Basement podcast #37. While I doubt a group of Virginia school directors will be much more responsive than the Texas Senate, it was still an interesting talk.

Anonymous said...

Very nice letter, Ken. We have a similar issue here in Indiana that I am getting ready to address.

Anonymous said...

I just hope that Texas Senator come to read your email Helios. It is a serious injustice to the people of Texas to spend taxpaper's money on software that don't really offer better value (and freedom).

Ken Roberts said...


Yes, I have an SO and a 7yo at home. She works at a church that will only use MS (due to management software and the pastor having issues finding Linux support besides me).

At home (and it has happened), I have Slackware on the desktop, and my SO laptop has Vista. I've already informed her that I no longer support MS, so if it breaks, she has to find other help.

So far, no problem. And she uses my Linux machine all of the time as well.

The 7yo? Except for a few things, he loves playing the games and going to PBS Kids on my Linux box, as well as running a word processor (OOo or Kate) to write letters.

I do agree with your other comments, though.

Emil Beli said...

Oh, I would really like to see the answer of good Senator. However, it is unlikely that it will come, ever.

Anonymous said...

What about government makes you think they are concerned with saving money? Buying microsoft licenses will stimulate the economy.
I to have refused to fix any more Windows computers in my house.

padrian said...

you are right. but m$ is multi billion business that can't die too soon. the government is sucking big money from m$ as taxes. imagine a big hole in the budget without m$. also xpvista7 is not selling only in us. eventually the m$ will die... but this should be taken in small poison steps. like encarta vs wikipedia.

Anonymous said...

@ Rest of the family will not use it.

Sometimes, patience works! After my using Linux exclusively for a couple of years, my wife finally asked me to "upgrade" her desktop to Linux. She was tired of the software instability.

Jim W.

Anonymous said...

The same problem exists here in Nebraska. When the new gov came into office, on promises of improved efficiency and reduced costs of government, the first thing he did was force the state into being a Microsoft shop. To do that he had to switch 10,000 of 13,000 state employees from IBM LotusNotes to Exchange, abandoning 200 non-importable databases in the process, to say nothing of the cost of abandon licenses and new Exchange licenses. Efficiency, network stability and security have been destroyed. Now, thanks to "Active" Directory, when one clicks or reclicks on a directory in Windows Explorer there is a 10-30 second wait for it to refresh before contents are displayed.
Oh, and he replaced one tax commissioner with two, and the department IT guy with a lawyer whose IT experience is what the MS sales rep tells her.

Jacob Weinstock said...

I understand the hesitation on helios' part to say it but I have no such inhibitions nor do I mind at all putting my real name to it.

Microsoft has paid corrupt politicians for years to keep their market share.
Abramoff’s guilty plea demonstrates the Microsoft corruption at the highest levels of our government. Oh, that isn't state politics? How about the fleet of lawyers that was sent to Massachusetts. Not only was a champion of Free Software, Peter Quinn personally liabled and slandered, he quit his job over the rough politics that Microsoft practices. All because the state wanted to explore using Open Source Software.

Politicians are taking money from Microsoft by the dumptruck loads. Now if any of them want to personally challenge my claims, let's rock and f****** roll you political maggot. The last thing you want is you or your comrades in corruption brought in the spotlight again. Just take your white envelope, send your kids to the private schools because the ones in your districts are poisoned with drug and gang activity and STFU.

If you take money from Microsoft or anyone, spit at your feet is the least of your worries.

Jacob Weinstock - Phoenix

Anonymous said...

Well, why don't we all write the same letter, obvious changes made, to our own Senators, and Reps, and Mayors and Governors?

We should be sending the same letter to school boards and Selectmen and Town Clerks, too. And Principals, and teachers and your accountant and his cousin Al over there in the Ship Yard. And your Father-in-Law, too. That stick-in-the-mud. He used to be fired-up over lesser things.

Sure I have. Sure they ignore them, but I'm only 1. When you, me and everyone else not full of BS do the same, then they have to address the 674,003 instead of ignoring the one.

Only takes about 30 minutes. You spend more time than that on the "John". Bring your laptop in there with you tomorrow. Kill 2 birds with one stone.

Then, maybe your kids can learn how to compute instead of to point-and-click on a Microsoft branded icon. And maybe our governments can stop wasting all our loot and we can feel good about paying taxes.

Does it get any simpler to effect change?

Happy Computing

Anonymous said...

Well, not wanting to turn this into a political blog, (it already is in a small way) You people who make your living in the Tech sector have Microsoft to thank for your pink slips and lowered wages (if you still have a job that is)

JA was implicit in getting Tom Delay to lobby congress to increase the number of non-American workers, thus cutting Americans out of their jobs. Specifically in the Tech Sector.

As was also stated in the previous Abramoff article, the largest contributor for financing the "Team Abramoff" lobbyist group was the software giant Microsoft Corporation. (Team Abramoff was hired by Bill Gates father's law firm, Preston-Gates.) At the time, Mr. Abramoff with other Washington DC lobbyists were very successful at increasing the number of issued H-1B visa's which are the key for high-tech companies to import low-cost, software engineering personnel. Due to the financial support of the Microsoft's lobbyists, they were successful in increasing the number of H-1B visas in 1996, 1998 and 2000.

So your letter to the Texas Senator, while maybe a shot across the bow, will do nothing but cause a few chuckles between his Aides. In reality, he will probably never even see it.

Colonel Panik said...

Sweet! Atta boy Ken.

I was just told that the university here,
ENMU, is m$ centric because of Outlook.
I guess the big dogs in administration
all have Blackberries and can only sync
with Outlook.

FelixTheCat said...

@Jacob in Phoenix:
Say what you really feel! :)

Manny Rodriguez - Miami Florida said...

I have to agree with the last couple of comments. Angry or not, I fear they are true. If this corruption has occured at the highest levels of US Government and the only real thing that happens is one fall guy goes down for 6 years, what has been accomplished. It remains business as usual for "the maggots". Senators and Congressmen making less than 80K a year are multi-millionaires the second year of their term and no one says anything.

Helios I would proceed here with caution. As right as you may be, these are powerful people that would not hesitate to either make your life miserable or turn you into the next Vince Foster.

Manny Rodriguez - Miami

Anonymous said...

Java was reporting "Windows 7" as "Vista" - as the version of O/S for Microsoft's "Windows 7", is actually "6.1"!

This is in the following bug report for the upcoming release 14 for Java 1.6.
System.getProperty("") reports Vista on Windows 7
Evaluation: Need to examine minor version to distinguish Vista from Windows 7 (ie: 6.0 = Vista, 6.1 = Windows 7).

Anonymous said...

Ballmer criticized taxpayers in his state for not "paying their fair share" because they didn't want to support a project he was behind. It didn't seem to bother him that Microsoft makes their products in Redmond but sells them through their Reno, NV, sales office, because Nevada does not have a corporate income tax. That tax dodge has kept over $500M out of the state's tax receipts, forcing Washingtonians to pony up more taxes to pay for public services to Microsoft employees and families.

Anonymous said...

@GreyGeek77, over here in Europe MS sales are invoiced from the Irish subsidiary, since Ireland has the lowest corporation tax around. So they do the tax dodge here as well ...

Anonymous said...

Senators and Congressmen making less than 80K a year are multi-millionaires the second year of their term and no one says anything.When a senator walks into his office for the first time with less than 80k a year in previous salaries, with bill collectors on his heels and then in two years,sports a net worth of 4.3 million dollars, something is wrong.

Now ask yourself how much of that is Microsoft Money.