Linux in Schools (and a local Linux Installfest)

amcpherson's picture

My first computer was a Commodore 64. I loved programming it, with my favorite program filling up the screen with “Amanda Amanda Amanda Amanda” when you hit the enter key. (A slight hint at future narcissism or just healthy self esteem? Hmm. You decide.) Anyway, this trip down memory lane was spurred by an announcement of an upcoming Linux Installfest at Bay Area schools. Sounds like kids today have quite a few more options.

On March 1, there will be a a great community effort to donate recycled hardware to underprivileged schools and students in the Bay Area. Part of the announcement is below:

“Untangle (http://www.untangle.com) and the ACCRC (http://www.accrc.org)are organizing a Linux installfest to donate hundreds of open source computers to Bay Area schools on recycled hardware. The goal is to donate 500 computers to underprivileged schools. They’re calling on the free and open source software community to help by installing Linux at one of the 4 locations: Berkeley (http://wiki.untangle.com/index.php/Berkeley), San Francisco (http://wiki.untangle.com/index.php/San_Francisco), San Mateo (http://wiki.untangle.com/index.php/San_Mateo) or Marin County (http://wiki.untangle.com/index.php/Marin_County).

Donating 500 computers to schools will divert approximately 25,000 pounds of toxic e-waste from our landfills.”

How You Can Help:

1. Signup and join the installfest (http://wiki.untangle.com/index.php/Installfest)

2. Help get the word out by blogging about the installfest, posting to Slashdot or Digging it

3. Donate an old computer at one of the 4 locations: Berkeley, San Francisco, San Mateo, or Marin County

This is just one of the many Linux in Education stories I’ve seen over the last few months. Installing Linux and open source apps and giving them away doesn’t mean that the kids are getting the dregs. It means they’re getting the best computing environment for them to learn in. Bar none. No vendor lock-in, a wide international community of contributors, free and open flow of information.

How is Linux doing in education these days? Around the world, Datamation predicts that primary and secondary schools and universities will spend $489.9 million on open-source software by 2012. (http://www.cio.com/article/175350/Report_Schools_Will_Increase_Spending_on_Open_Source) That figure represents a small portion of the $9 billion overall educational IT spending by the countries covered in the report, but shows growing interest. They didn’t expect such a high number, and neither did I, quite frankly. (This of course doesn’t begin to count all the unpaid usage going on at schools which is uncountable.)

A few more stories:

How open source saved a school district’s IT department (Sept 2007)

http://www.linuxworld.com/news/2007/092107-california-school-it.html

Russian OS to be installed in every school (Oct 2007)

http://eng.cnews.ru/news/top/indexEn.shtml?2007/09/14/266177

UK schools at risk of Microsoft lock-in, says government report

http://www.cbronline.com/article_news.asp?guid=BDD20D68-FDBF-4E1C-BA77-BBA4B7CA6061

Linux Makes the Grade (November 2007)

http://techlearning.com/story/showArticle.php?articleID=196604800