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Re: [school-discuss] Some questions about OSS in education:
> 1 Suppose in the future most of the k12 schools us OSS as ICT tool,then
> when we look back,what is mark of the beginning of OSS in education?
The entire Free Software Foundation was founded at MIT in 1984 as a result
of the non-academic/non-open/restrictive nature of commercial software; that
software went against the grain of the open, probing quest for knowledge that
is typical in higher education, thus spawning a reaction.
> 2 Which Linux distribution is the best for school?
The one that you know, which works, and which does what you want. :-)
Seriously, a big issue, IMHO, is tech support in schools. Tech support in
schools is routinely underfunded and is typically a fraction of what you'd
see in a commercial environment. When advising schools, I knee-jerk advise
to go with the OS that you know. In the next breath, I advise to make a plan
to take some of those licensing costs and to sink them into GNU/Linux
training for tech support people because it'll be a one-time (more or less)
cost hit and a lifetime of license savings.
But to get back to more of what I think you were asking, my preference is
for Debian-based solutions. With Debian-Edu and Skolelinux now on the scene,
I feel more strongly about that than ever.
I think there are many advantages to Debian -- the huge size, the many
commercial spinoffs, for example -- but the biggest thing I'm leery about is
the increasingly commercial stance of "big" commercial GNU/Linux distros.
For example, Red Hat now seems to be aimed strictly at the enterprise -- and
SuSE seems to be following down the same path; that may be appropriate for
some schools, but for many it's overkill, creates a sort of de-facto lock-in,
and it eliminates some cost savings that are attractive to schools.
> 3 Which country is the most active in applying OSS in education now?
> It is said that Latin American countries are more interested in using OSS
> in education than the other parts of the world, is that true?
Sadly, there's relatively little formal, gov'tal activity going on in the
US that I've seen (I imagine this is a result of many factors, including the
nationalist bias towards Microsoft, the decentralized nature of the US
educational system, and the overall pro-privatization, anti-gov't, or
There certainly is a great deal of formal activity going on in Latin
America and especially in Europe, that's clear. Whether it's driven by sheer
brains, a desire for cost savings, a revolt against Microsoft, or what, I'm
unqualified to say.
> 4 Which is the most important paper that advocates OSS in education?
I don't know of anything that's really equivalent to Raymond's paper. I've
made lots of analogies in talks at how schools could cooperate to develop
enterprise-type software (e.g. library automation systems, school
administration/attendance/grading systems, etc.), but I've been thoroughly
unimpressed with the results from such presentations. I'm not sure if it's
the poor quality of the presenter (me) or the lack of enthusiasm among
educators to change and see possibilities (most likely, all!).
> 5 What is the percentage of the k12 schools that use OSS instead of
> Microsoft's product now in your country?
From what I've seen in US public education (I'm in New England), GNU/Linux
use is small. Far, far below half use some GNU/Linux on the server side of
things (typically web serving; minor amounts of mail but little file
serving). The desktop usage is so small I'd say it's statistically
insignificant. It's sad, because while there is huge savings and benefits;
I've found that most schools just generally aren't interested.
There's no such thing as "Intellectual 'Property'". All ideas are owned by
the public and are in the public domain. The creator of an idea is granted a
temporary monopoly called a copyright (or patent) before the idea returns to