Best Computer Science School in Utah

Michael Torrie torriem at
Tue Sep 25 21:25:23 MDT 2007

Von Fugal wrote:
> I second that BYU is pretty Open Source in that they are very OS
> friendly. They have tons of linux boxen and a few classes that teach the
> n00bs a bit about them. As far as requiring a lot of open source though,
> not so much. As you say, there's a lot of squeeking by with Windows that
> goes on.

We have Frank Sorenson to thank, in large measure, for this.  He pushed 
really hard to roll out linux in the CS Dept.  At the time the 
department was about 2/3 windows workstations and the remainder split 
between aging HPUX and Crappy Solaris 8 Dell machines.  I worked with 
him on rolling out some test linux machines.  We installed 5 machines in 
a lab upstairs out of the way.  It was interesting to watch as people 
discovered them and started to use them.  People really wanted to use 
those over the solaris machines.  (Of course a lot of people discovered 
I had installed KDE on the Solaris machines and that made them happy 
too.)  I think we used RedHat 6.2 back then.

I also think, though, that OSS has really come of age in the last 5-6 
years.  Back when all we had were HPUX and the old bert machine (what OS 
was that again? VAX?) Linux just wasn't possible for the CS department's 

Plus we've now got a bunch of young professors that used Linux when they 
were doing their dissertations, and they've brought this experience with 

> /me is in 312 right now, and still needs to install visual studio, drags
> feet

Why do you have to install Visual Studio? Can't you design and develop 
your code using C# and Mono and then build it with Visual Studio in the lab?

As far as thinking we must have Visual Studio experience, I disagree 
completely.  I think that starting at first principles in a Linux 
environment, learning gcc, make, vim, etc, all serve one very well, even 
when you're forced to enter the Windows world.  Most Linux guys I know 
can easily move to Windows for work, etc.  Their *nix skills serve them 
well and are adaptable to Windows.  Dave, Byron, and probably many 
others program for Windows on a regular basis, even though their 
backgrounds are in Linux and Unix.  We learn techniques and tools on 
unix to make our code portable, and easily taken to any new OS out 
there.  Contrast that with Windows refugees who struggle mightily to 
develop anything in Linux, to say nothing of porting code from Windows 
to any other OS.

Most of us who program in Linux at some point or another get some 
experience in the lower-level stuff.  Low-level calls, etc.  System 
programming.  Very few Windows developers could say they are system 
programmers.  The best Windows system programmer I know (who actually 
wrote code for the Windows NT *kernel*, not just win32) is a Linux 
expert, in terms of administration, software development, and even 
kernel development.

But the department has to look good for the accreditors.  So we deal 
with Visual Studio and having to develop on Windows.


> Von Fugal
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