[geeks] Q: Regarding Linux in K-12 education
nate at portents.com
Sat Jan 16 19:20:40 CST 2010
> On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 03:38:42PM -0500, Lionel Peterson wrote:
>> In my community there has been a long-simmering debate on migrating the
local school district to Linux (all 1,700 computers, serving almost 5,000
users, including administration users). I have found myself arguing AGAINST
this idea for various reasons, not the least of which is a dearth of
applications on Linux to replace the current apps that run on Windows/OS X. My
question to the group is this - does anyone know of any public school district
of similar (or greater) size that has gone completely FOSS at least for
Not first-hand. I was curious, did some googling, and this is what I could
come up with, most of which date from a couple of years back, most of it in
countries other than the US:
Interestingly, here's a company that sells just Linux-based computers, and has
a sales pitch "For Schools":
On Jan 16, 2010, at 4:34 PM, gsm at mendelson.com wrote:
> If you follow down to the description of the IB, they have a requirement
> for profiency in "Mathematics and Computer Science", but AFAIK it does
> not include Linux.
> IMHO it's a bunch of crap. Not only is Linux not suited for large scale
desktop deployment for users of this level, it's not of any use when they
> get out of school. Look at the employment ads in your local papers. See
> how may say "experience in Micrsoft Office" versus how many say "experience
> in Open Offfice" or Linux.
I've heard similar lines of reasoning behind why kids shouldn't use Macs, and
I think it's a poor line of reasoning.
Also of note, as a graduate of one of the highest-ranked private boarding
schools in the US, I wouldn't say that I or any other student there during the
early '90s was somehow short-shrifted by the platform-agnostic approach of the
computer center (Mac, Windows, DOS, and a few Apple II systems all
> To be really blunt, the only large scale deployment of Linux systems in
> the commercial world was the early netbooks and they all have long since
> fade into oblivion.
Oblivion? Yes, they're not as high profile, but I'm not sure I'd say
'oblivion', and I'm sure a good deal of that has to do with under-the-table
pressure that Microsoft has (and does) exert on major OEMs.
> I'm look at a cheap "ruggedized" netbook for my
> youngest son, (900mHz celleron, 512m RAM, 30g HD), and while it would be
> suited for Linux, it comes with Windows XP.
> I'm sure I could install Linux on it but I would not get a refund for the
> XP license, and my son would not use it. He knows OO and FireFox, but
> not Linux at all, and would have to spend months to learn it.
That's a vague assertion, since I don't know the criteria you've established
for what it means to "learn" an operating system, or established why it would
be a bad thing to "learn" how something works. I've set up first-time
computer users with recent releases of Ubuntu, and they've had almost no
problems with it in common tasks (the biggest issue had to do with a bug in
the solitaire program that comes with Ubuntu where if change to full-screen
mode, it doesn't easily come out of it). I've also seen long-time Windows
users get along ok on Ubuntu as well. I'd also argue that whatever efforts
anyone has to make to get to know any operating system better, especially when
they are comparing it to other operating systems (and there will certainly be
plenty of opportunity to compare to Windows in this world), isn't a bad thing.
I think of operating systems to be pseudo-linguistic, yet I doubt many people
would characterize learning more than one language as a 'bad' thing or an
either/or proposal the way people seem to approach computer operating
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