[Ubuntu-PH] [FLOSS WORLD EDUCATION] Is Linux only for the poor?An article Posted by Christopher Dawson

"Yosif ali" Roque Morales queroph at gmail.com
Thu Mar 26 07:14:26 UTC 2009


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: yosif <queroph at gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Mar 26, 2009 at 3:13 PM
Subject: [FLOSS WORLD EDUCATION] Is Linux only for the poor? Posted by
Christopher Dawson
To:
strategic-research-institute-philippinesdiscussion-groups at googlegroups.com


Last week, I followed a conversation on an OpenSuse Education newsletter to
which I subscribe. I didn’t have time to join in, but it did get me thinking
about open source in education more broadly. Regular readers will know that
my school district has made serious strides in the last couple of years,
particularly as it relates to technology. However, those same regular
readers will also know that the community is hurting like many other aging
mill towns and that I frequently at least explore open source solutions as
money savers.

For now, most open source use is among students. All of the elementary
schools use Open Office; we don’t have any Office licenses in place with the
exception of a couple secretarial power users who are able to exploit some
of the advanced features in Office 2007. Students throughout the district
use Open Office at home, saving themselves the trouble of using Works if it
came preinstalled on their computers or to avoid buying Office. I hand out
CDs and USB keys to students with dialup access loaded with OO.org 3.

An increasing number of students and teachers have turned to Linux as they
try to eek out a bit of extra life on their computers or decide that they
don’t like whatever version of Vista came preinstalled on computers they
recently purchased. I’m happy, along with a couple of my techs, to help
people get up an running with Linux. However, we haven’t yet rolled out
Linux formally in our schools. The only time we had a full Linux lab was
when we had absolutely no technology funding in my second year teaching and
I let my students build a lab from old donated computers.

Which leads me to the point of this post? If you have money in your
district, is there any reason to use Linux? The original conversation I
mentioned earlier was started by an IT staffer at an exclusive, well-funded
private school. They were a Windows shop and saw no incentive to change.
Licensing costs were a non-issue. Even we still largely use Windows and OS
X, despite my fondness for Linux. We’ve been granted the funding to do so in
the last couple of years and my primary goal has been instructional
integration of computing, rather than worrying about training for a Linux
rollout.

We’re hunkering down now budget-wise for a tough couple of years. While we
have solid technology in place, new acquisitions will be very carefully
scrutinized for cost and benefit; there are very few pennies to spare.
Saving $50 per computer on OS licensing just might be the difference between
funding a project and needing to wait for 1-2 years.

So again, is Linux only useful in a recession or in South American countries
trying to get as many computers into the hands of rural schoolchildren as
they can?

Cost will certainly give people a reason to switch, but I don’t think a
crappy economy or poverty in a developing country is the only reason to use
Linux and open source software. I won’t even get into the argument of
exposing kids to a variety of computing environments. I think the biggest
reason to use Linux (aside from potential cost savings if you can develop
some in-house *nix expertise) is simply the giant body of software that is
freely available.

The OpenSUSE Education project <http://en.opensuse.org/Education> is a great
example. Desktop software included with this
project<http://en.opensuse.org/Education/Applications/Desktop>ranges
from computer science applications for kids to the R statistical
programming interface. Server
software<http://en.opensuse.org/Education/Applications/Server>ranges
from OpenSIS to Joomla.

Whether your school has money or not, there is incredible value in the open
source community. Perhaps most important, though, is that word “community.”
We can talk all we want about global economies, but allowing students and
staff to be part of and participate in a community that drives the way we
use technology is an incredible opportunity. Keep in mind that there is
plenty of open source value for Windows users; we don’t all have to switch
to Linux to reap the benefits of FOSS.


--
Posted By yosif to FLOSS WORLD
EDUCATION<http://lamundofloss.blogspot.com/2009/03/is-linux-only-for-poor-posted-by.html>at
3/26/2009 12:11:00 A
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-- 
Yosif Roque Santos Morales
====================
School Administrator
Asian Academy of Business and Computers
Educational Management Consultant
Professor, Sociology, Strategic Studies and Islamology
Ubuntulinux user
Linux machine # 365046.
https://sites.google.com/a/ympn.org/memltd/Home
http://lamundofloss.blogspot.com/
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