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I am a teacher. My schools has three computer labs. We have just converted one lab over to linux operating system with open source software. Here's my concern/question. If a student creates a document in the linux lab and then works in the windows lab the next day, will the document open? Vice versa, if a student creates a document in the windows lab and then continues to work on it in the linux lab will it open? If no....how do I solve this problem?
There is no native compatibility between Linux/Windows AFAIK.
One solution would be to have a common server where documents would be saved to from either OS. The file system would need to be readable by both OS's (eg FAT32).
that depends on the software which was used to create the document. When using for example Open-Office it will be no problem to exchange documents between linux and windows.
Documents which are created with MS-Office are more or less bound to the windows-world (can be opened in linux but windows won't get them back ;-)) since microsoft is not interested in exchange with the rest of the world.
I use OpenOffice and Microsoft Office on my laptop at work without any problems. I can open documents from either suite, save it in the correct format and open it in the other suite. Of course you'll have to be careful in what format you keep your documents. Office isn't very keen on the ODF format so it's best to always maintain the 'office' format as the principal since OpenOffice has no problem opening, editing and saving those files.
I've even had Word and Excel files from users that couldn't be opened any more because of errors and I could open them without any problem in OpenOffice apps and save them back to Word/Excel files.
Last edited by EricTRA; 09-02-2009 at 12:46 AM.
It sill depends on the applications being used and nature of data. If the data is produced with some windows specific application in some proprietary format, exchanging it between Linux and windows could make some issues.
But if they are just documents and spreadsheets, you could eliminate the issues by using open office on windows as well. This way the format on all the machines would remain same irrespective of the os on the system.
Text files are also usually transferable and usable without issues.
Open office can open and save docs in .doc format. But it is unable to save in .docx format which is used by 2007. And also it messes up if you open docx documents. And only simple formatted doc documents are reproduced.
I agree with teebones, this consideration should have been done before changes were made but anyhow now that migration is complete it would be easier to install open office on windows machines.
It all comes down to the tools you use. As pointed above, the underlying file system is irrelevant here.
Openoffice is just an example. The documents themselves are OS-agnostic, the only relevant issue is whether you have a tool that can read/write those documents on your OS. This is trivial to solve if the same program (again, for example Openoffice) is available natively for both OSes. But as long as there's an alternative that can read the document format it should work ok. For example, you have image editors that support jpeg in both Linux and Windows, hence, that will not be a problem even if in Windows you use Photoshop and in Linux you use Gimp. Jpeg is always jpeg.
The main issue here is "how open is the document format that you use?".
If a student creates a document in the linux lab and then works in the windows lab the next day, will the document open?
Yes, under the following conditions:
a) if the document was created under Open Office Write;
b) and was "Save As..." a .doc, .xls, .xlt, .rtf, .html or .xml file extensions that MSOffice understands.
Vice versa, if a student creates a document in the windows lab and then continues to work on it in the linux lab will it open?
Yes. Linux reads the .docs, etc, whatever Windows offers. Linux has broader "computing-mind" than proprietary microsoft when it comes to compatibility matters. I agree to Markush saying above: "microsoft is not interested in exchange with the rest of the world."
By the way, not only docs but myriad of file types Linux can handle if they are created from Microsoft systems.
Also, Linux can read from FAT and NTFS, while MSWindows cannot detect a spit of ext2, ext3 or other formats.
If no....how do I solve this problem?
In other cases where this problem can occur, you have to make a major decision.
I should say it is more advantageous to students to learn from open software than proprietary software: the population is not getting any richer. They will have wider opportunities ahead if they master using Linux and Open Office. But the decision is yours.