Joel Kahn wrote:
There is one thing that I think would be helpful: if
someone out there in schoolforge land could sell me
cheaply (or donate) a laptop preloaded with a nice
stable Linux distro and equally stable versions of the
relevant apps. I'm not interested in raw power; in
fact, an older machine might even be a more impressive
way to demonstrate that Linux can do a better job than
Windows under the right conditions. With a laptop, I
would have a lot more flexibility in my own
self-training with FLOSS, as well as what I show,
where/when I show it, and who I show it to.
You don't need a specific computer to do this. Download an
education-focused live CD such as eduKnoppix or eduMorphix
(search for "education" at http://www.frozentech.com/content/livecd.php
for others you might find more suitable).
Once you have the CD, simply boot it in any computer that can
boot from a CD. The CD will boot a complete Linux environment
with a good selection of educational apps that you could
demonstrate. Make sure to explain that any perceived slowness
is due to booting from the CD and would not be seen if installed
on the hard drive.
The live CD will not touch the hard drive, so you can boot it,
demo it, then take it out and reboot to Windows. That alone
can inspire a bit of "Wow factor". It might even be fun to
find a couple of different live CDs that offer different GUIs
and/or apps to show how flexible Linux can be. You could explain
how you downloaded the CDs at no cost, and could give away
copies to anyone who wanted them for the cost of the blank CD.
You might also be interested in a slightly different approach.
Go to http://www.theopencd.org and download or purchase the CD.
Then you can demo various apps like OpenOffice easily and show
that they provide enough of the same functionality as their
MS counterparts, and that they could be used to save a substantial
amount of money. Hopefully, budget issues can overcome the
laziness that is locking in MS. Unless the decision makers
are benefitting directly from the relationship with MS, I'm
sure they have their own pet projects they would like to have
more money for. Try to use that fact to your advantage.