GNU/Linux at McGill: Calling all users! Please join a support discussion board

A theme among my posts since 2011 has been the challenges of being a GNU/Linux desktop user at McGill University  but outside the departments (Math, Physics, Computer Science?) which support the OS.  I believe those departments have eschewed the central university’s services and support and run their own.

leaf graphicMcGill ICS (IT services) staff are always very friendly in trying to help, but that fact is that unless the University  breaks out of its full-body embrace with Microsoft software, a self-fulfilling prophecy is that there are not many of us open-source OS users who rely on central university services (email and printing and VPN) or support. Because it’s really frustrating.

There are some things they could very easily do better, though. Forcing us to rely on their online “knowledge base” for help with these services is cruel, when they have the ability to marshal community knowledge and support by hosting and advertising a bulletin board / discussion group.  This could accumulate correct information and up-to-date experience.

After the nth iteration of suddenly not being able to print anything, thanks to the Uprint system’s frequent changes and problems with its CUPS service, I need a different approach. I not only literally have to ask colleagues and assistants to print things for me, but waste time ascertaining that the problem must really be with McGill’s system rather than anything on my end.  Yesterday/today ICS was still coy or slow to acknowledge a problem. Only one other user (eventually) reported the same problem. They then took my complaint seriously and restarted their CUPS printer server (but without being transparent about it) and a week’s worth of my print jobs popped up in the print queue.

I would have rather been in touch with that other user from the beginning. Please, if you are a GNU/Linux user on campus, join this Google discussion group using your McGill email address, or with a message to help identify yourself as real faculty/student/staff:!forum/linux-at-mcgill

Please spread the word, and recruit your other  Linux friends on campus too.

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