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Ted / Conall,
In relation to the issue of IT in schools, I'd like to point you to
http://scoil.linux.ie. This site was recently set up by members of the
Irish Linux Users Group to "promote the use of Free and Open Source
Software within schools in Ireland". This site is configured so it can
be updated by members of the public, in the hope that it will be used
mainly by teachers to both ask and answer questions regarding IT in
schools. It will also be watched by members of ILUG to answer the
technical questions that crop up. It is hoped that, in time, it will
become a valuable resource of information for teachers in Irish schools.
The benefits of Free and Open Source Software can sometimes be
overlooked when thinking of equipping schools. However, I feel that it
should not be overlooked for the following reasons (among others) :
1) No licence fee -- the software is available for free, so there are no
large licence fees to be paid at the start, or during the project.
2) No vendor lock in -- the source for all the software is freely
available, meaning you will never be locked into a specific vendor to
access your documents.
3) No forced upgrades -- updates to the software are generally provided
regularly, and preserve full backwards compatability. If this isn't the
case, it's stated in the release, and tools are available to convert
between the old and new formats. This is in contradiction to Microsoft's
approach of "end-of-life"ing software, which forces users to perform
often complex upgrades of all software in order to stay supported.
4) Support readily available -- support can be obtained from one of the
many companies that currently support Open Source platforms, as well as
a wealth of knowledge available freely from Open Source Software users
in Ireland and elsewhere.
5) Making use of old hardware -- Open Source systems, based around the
Linux kernel, can provide services from otherwise "useless" hardware
(ie. hardware that cannot run the latest version of Windows), meaning
this hardware can be put back into use, instead of being binned.
I feel that these advantages, among many others I haven't mentioned,
put Free and Open Source Software high among the choices for an IT
rollout in schools.
GNU/Linux systems have been heavily gaining popularity among companies,
schools and governments around the world in recent years. Examples of
this can be found readily on news sites on the internet, or a simple web
search should turn up quite a few stories of migrations from closed to
open source systems.
Chat ya later,
BOFH excuse #1: clock speed
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