I am going to uni in September and plan to buy a Librem laptop to take with me. However as I am dyspraxic/dyslexic I will be getting DSA. As part of this I will be given money for a laptop and a suite of pragrams to help me as well as a printer. Alas the software is all proprietary. Of course naturally I wish I could rebuke the proprietary software but it is no small sum (I haven’t counted it up yet but I will Boston the list bellow). Should I try working with free alternatives or just give in and dual boot for work? Only one of the programs works with wine but not very well and not with the special features that make it really usefull
#Computer WKH15 laptop (screen size 15.6, i5, 5th gen (Broadwell), any processor speed, 4GB RAM, 320GB hard drive, Intel Graphics HD 4600, Windows 8.1 64bit, max weight 2.8Kg) #Computer accessories 19" Monitor Printer/scanner/multifunction devices Multifunction printer/scanner/copier #Software (Windows) Downloadable free version of Office 365 Dragon Professional Individual v15 (USB headset) TextHelp Read&Write Gold Sonocent for DSA Mobile Bundle (Audio Notetaker for Windows, Sonocent Link for iOS or Android, portable power pack, directional microphone and adapter for mobile devices) MindView Global Autocorrect Wyvern Training Portal DSA Student Edition - 4 years #Warranties and insurance length 4 years warranty and insurance Maintenance and Support (4 years) #Delivery and installation Delivery only (student install) #Non-medical helper Band 4 Specialist Access and Learning Facilitators: Specialist One to One Study Skills Support (SpLD) Band 4 Specialist Access and Learning Facilitators: Assistive Technology Trainer #General allowance Additional insurance costs Printing
I guess, if your boss allows you to work with free alternatives. Do it!
Using free alternatives might demonstrate to others that free software is also very capable. And might encourage them to switch to free software!
See the problem here is that it will be my own choice, its just the governments giving me a large sum of money to buy the software (and only those programs) and I would like to.use the because of that (also I’d feel guilty as it’d be wasting tax payers money
And in terms of software quality this is top notch stuff
I think if you are going to be using Free Software as an accessibility tool for uni, then you need to sort out exactly what software you are going to use now, before you start and things get busy. Try it out, try doing some writing with it, etc. Is it effective? Can you live with it? Does it have all the features you need? Does it integrate well with any specialist software you might need to use?
Also bear in mind that you might be able to use the proprietary accessibility software on university PCs, lessening the importance of running it on your own laptop, but there’s definitely an advantage in not being reliant on busy computer rooms.
Personally I would try to think of the DSA laptop/software as part of the course, like something provided by an employer, rather than a personal purchase. Yes, technically you might own it once it’s given to you, but that’s just a quirk of the system. This is the mechanism by which the education system is providing assistance with your disability. The choice you have is more along the lines of “take assistance” versus “take no assistance”, rather than “use non-Free software” versus “use Free software”. If they were saying “you’re on your own; we’re not helping you with this, sort it out yourself”, or if they were offering just the software rather than a complete solution including a laptop, then it would be different.
Yes, it would be better if they used Free Software, but you boycotting the disability support isn’t going to change that. It’s just going to potentially disadvantage you academically, if other dyspraxic/dyslexic students have more effective software aids. (Sadly.) Better to find allies and campaign for change if this is an issue that’s important to you.
Rather than dual booting, consider running Windows in a VM. It’s so much more convenient. With hardware virtualisation and enough RAM, the performance is a non-issue if you’re not gaming. The only issue I can see might be if you need to use unusual peripherals that require Windows drivers. USB pass-through can be a bit hit-or-miss. A USB headset or microphone should be OK though; just let Linux deal with the USB bit and pass it through to the VM using its virtual sound card. (Make sure it’s not muted or set to the wrong input on the host!)
Dual booting is useful if you’re gaming, or if you want to make use of the OEM copy of Windows that came with your computer, but otherwise a VM is the way to go, IMO. I needed to use some Windows software for my course and I did it all in VirtualBox.
With dual booting you end up stuck in Windows and installing all kinds of Windows programs and utilities to enable you to do the other things you needed to do, just because one thing you were doing needed Windows. With a VM you can just install the bare minimum in Windows and do the rest in the host OS.
To add some weight on a side of your balance :
When you’re getting something, independently if it’s you or the government paying for it, the giant takes the money and becomes even bigger.
Choose carefully who you support with your $$ (or with tax-payer’s $$ in this specific case).