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[vox] On cheap MS licensing for schools
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[vox] On cheap MS licensing for schools

At last week's meeting, someone mentioned they were speaking to head of
a large school district who was interested in Open Source, but didn't
see the point, since they get MS software for extremely cheap
(I think I heard $27/seat for the OS?)

If I understood, and recall correctly, the money coming in was probably
from somewhere like the Gates Foundation, and therefore could only be
spent on stuff like that.  e.g., if they decided NOT to use the money to
buy MS software, it's not like they'd suddenly have lots of left over cash.

I asked on the K12OSN (K-12 Open Source NOW!) mailing list, which is hosted
by RedHat.com, and got some feedback I thought I'd pass here in case anyone's

----- Forwarded message from "Christopher K. Johnson" ------

Date: Sat, 10 Jan 2004 09:47:42 -0500
From: "Christopher K. Johnson"
Subject: Re: [K12OSN] Argument against Microsoft?
To: k12osn@redhat.com
Reply-To: k12osn@redhat.com

[ << snipped quote of my own explanation of the situation; -bill! >> ]
[ << also, added whitespace between paragraphs for readability ... >> ]

First of all they presume that Gates Foundation money will cover as many 
copies as the school could use of whatever software the school would 
benefit from running.  That is not likely to be the case.

It ignores the digital divide, that is to say that some students have 
the same office software at home to use for homework, but others cannot 
afford it.  Some school systems are affluent enough to buy all the 
software they need and other school systems are not.  If a school system 
standardizes on OpenOffice which can be installed on any Windows or 
Linux and even some MAC systems in the school and in the community for 
free, it levels the playing field.  Students and teachers can take the 
software home.

Then there is the cost of administering systems within the school - and 
MS software for managing a network full of workstations, their software 
updates and configuration, is very expensive as is the cost of upgrading 
workstation hardware to meet requirements for running newer (supported) 
Windows OS's.  K12LTSP is efficient from an administration/labor 
perspective, and makes better use of existing hardware.

Then look at the cost of a Windows based firewall or other proprietary 
solution. Linux with iptables, squid, etc. offers a very secure, capable 
and effective solution for much lower cost.

Look at the cost of a Windows based web, application, and database 
server.  Linux with apache httpd, php, python, perl, Tomcat, Mono, and a 
range of choices for database as well is a much lower cost alternative, 
and the students and teachers can take the software home.
Look at the cost of provisioning a classroom for teaching software 
development.  Open-Source software includes IDE tools, compilers for 
multiple languages, access to source code for students to learn from by 
examination, and experiment with modifying, and the students and 
teachers can take the software home.

Linux provides secure remote administration using openssh and 
public/private key authentication.  Windows provides relatively insecure 
and less powerful remote terminal services at a cost.

Linux has a more powerful software package management tool - rpm.  And 
reboots are rare on Linux, normally not required unless you upgrade the 
kernel, and even then you can schedule when the reboot occurs.
Open-Source's community based model embraces the educational process 
allowing not only use as tools without looking under the covers (black 
boxes), but also allowing students to ask how and why and to look under 
the covers.

Proprietary, for-profit software confounds the educational process 
because they remain at best black boxes.

Tell such school district honcho's that MS software is an addiction, and 
Gates Foundation money is the freebee that gets you hooked.  Put them on 
a 12 step program to recovery with Open-Source software.

[ << snipped Chris' and mailing list's sigs; -bill! >> ]

----- End forwarded message -----

bill@newbreedsoftware.com                           Got kids?  Get Tux Paint! 
http://newbreedsoftware.com/bill/       http://newbreedsoftware.com/tuxpaint/

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