Why More Schools Should Look Into Linux

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 14, 2010

As Mike Cassidy of the San Jose Mercury News notes, there are increasingly good reasons why schools should adopt Linux. We've written about the topic a number of times, and it tends to produce very polarized responses from educators. Those in favor of the idea argue that among the many Linux distros available, there are easy, free solutions that can render even very old computers useful again. Naysayers argue that training and support for what is, in many cases, unfamiliar software territory eats up any potential cost savings. But Microsoft's own moves with Windows are helping to bolster the case for Linux in schools.

Cassidy writes:

"My column talked about how the San Jose school (Davis Intermediate) was grappling with a problem that illustrates the struggle many cash-strapped schools have when it comes to computers. The PC lab at Davis is filled with computers that are so old they can't handle an upgrade to the Windows version they're running. The Windows version is so old that Microsoft will soon stop supporting it, leaving administrators worried about increased vulnerability to viruses. Replacing the computers isn't in the budget."

It seems that the principal of Davis Intermediate sees disconnecting the computers from the Internet as the only choice left, rendering the systems nearly useless. Cassidy argues that school systems struggling to pay for teachers, much less computers should look to Linux. There have been some good arguments for this type of solution, such as this one.

Some people who favor widespread switches to Linux feel that it could put inexpensive laptops in the hands of kids, and help usher in more paperless schoolwork, which might be a money saver. One thing's for sure: There is enough disagreement about Linux in schools that probably the best way to experiment with the idea is for teachers and administrators to try test cases with Linux on their own. As Cassidy reports, some teachers in cash-strapped school systems are already doing just that. Sometimes it's surprising how much impact a technology decision made at the departmental level can really have.