Linux for the Classroom — A compelling argument for using Linux in the schools, especially on recycled machines.

A Microsoft Example —
You receive a dozen systems as “donations.” However, there is no Microsoft authentication certificate pasted to the side (which every major dealer knows is important). Instead a version of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office is installed on the system with no verification it was ever properly licensed. So, because it was a nice donation you can simply ignore this issue because you had nothing to do with it, right? Wrong!

The government of Zambia, as one example, was given stern warning to crack down on piracy by Microsoft. We’re talking about the nation of Zambia in Africa. One of the world’s poor nations and Microsoft is asking them to cough up money for software licenses.

  1. Ima Fish says:

    One argument against Linux and Open Office in the schools is that “kids should be taught on tools they’ll use in the private sector.”

    But that makes no sense. First, the computer industry is very dynamic and we have no idea WHAT software tools will be used several years down the line.

    Second, even if we’re still stuck using Microsoft Windows and Office forever, it’s also a fact that both of those WILL change every few years. That’s how Microsoft makes its money, changing their software and forcing us to upgrade.

    Accordingly, if it’s a given that any software kids are taught on today WILL change by the time they are in the private sector, than it only makes sense to use the cheapest software, all other things being equal.

    And lastly, it’s just common sense that once someone becomes proficient using a point and click GUI, they’ll be able to use any similar GUI without difficulty. KDE, Windows, and OSX all use the same desktop metaphor, windows metaphor, task bar at the bottom, etc. People are NOT as stupid as we think. And the young are even more proficient at accepting and adapting to change than us old fogies.

  2. N says:

    Yup, that’s pretty good, I must admit. I’m never been a huge Linux fan personally, but it’s been quite a while since I’ve looked at it. I haven’t had a reason to.

    Funny, as I was reading your excerpt all I was thinking was how ridiculous MS was being charging poor African countries money for their software. It’s not enough that they roll in dough, they have to try to get more of it from the people least able to pay.

    But that’s irrelivent as it’s just business. If poorer countries moved to open source it would probably be better for everyone. (Of course then MS still wouldn’t get their license fees. Maybe they should think about that.)

  3. Miguel Lopes says:

    It’s actually a good point… I find it amazing that MS is still trying to get some bucks out of Windows installed on those old clunkers… I doubt many of those will be able to run XP or 2000… Maybe not even Win98… Maybe MS should just look the other way on these old machines?

    As for Linux in schools, I’ll be reading the article in more depth, but I though you could find SkolleLinux interesting

    The idea seems to be to use old PCs as intelligent terminals and a better one as a central server. Sounds like a good idea. Haven’t tested Skolle yet, though.

  4. Pat says:

    As I would believe most of these machines are older, and we are talking Win 95 & 98. I thought that M$ quit servicing those OSs with updates. HHhhmmm, if that is the case, then why would M$ insist on royalties for something it has scrapped?

    Ima makes several excellent points. I would add though that I believe Open Source to be the way of the future. I think that commercial software will become less and less attractive and profitable as time moves on. I also believe that it only get better.

    I can just picture explaining to my daughter in 15 years how in the old days we used to pay for Operating Systems and other software that continually crashed and allowed spyware, viruses and other malware into the computer.


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