European Microsoft, er, Computer Driving Licence

The European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) calls itself “the international PC skills standard”, helping you to understand computers and get an “industry-recognised qualification”. Reading through the syllabus, you notice that it’s very carefully, at least in form, operating-system- and application-program-agnostic, teaching you “[how to] open (and close) a word processing application”, “[how to] shut down the computer using an appropriate routine”, that sort of thing. Well and good, until you look a bit closer. Section 2.3.5.3: “Empty the recycle bin/wastebasket”. Now, that’s funny. I haven’t got one of those anywhere, here on my Debian Linux machine. 2.3.6.1: “Use the Find tool to locate a file, directory/folder”. Again, a Find tool? Haven’t got one of those. I wonder how many marks I’d get if I said that shutting down my computer “using an appropriate routine” meant typing sudo shutdown -h now into an xterm? If I said that 2.3.3.5, “understand the importance of maintaining correct file extensions when renaming files”, was completely irrelevant on a Mac? European Microsoft Windows Driving Licence is what it is. Now, it appears that, in Germany at least, you can do the ECDL on Linux, using KDE and StarOffice, but we need special arrangements for that. Hardly a “computer” driving licence, is it?

Federico Pellegrin writes in Linux Journal how he ran a 26-hour course based on the ECDL, but on Linux machines, so it’s entirely possible to use the syllabus’ theoretically neutral prose in a genuinely company-agnostic way, which is reassuring.

Ironically enough, both the UK ECDL site and the ECDL Foundation site are both running on Linux boxes. I hope their site admins don’t need the ECDL

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