Linux Enables Safe Computer Donations to Schools

In an official announcement from the SchoolForge group today, spokesman Leon Brooks refuted statements on Microsoft's website which have been widely interpreted as a roadblock to the acceptance of donated computers by schools and other needy organisations. Using Linux, and other Open Source software, a school or charity can safely accept almost any donated computer, then use it as a powerful workstation or server.

The price tag is also attractive. School decisions are often dominated by cost; much Open Source software is available at little or no cost, and runs well on donated computers. Linux is easy to set up as a fast diskless workstation or `thin client', so many schools are rolling out networks using this robust technology with both donated and new equipment. The ecological advantage in keeping computers and toxic parts out of landfill speaks for itself. The most important benefits were outlined by Peruvian Congressmen Edgar Núñez, Daniel Estrada and Jacques Ackerman after sponsoring a bill to require State agencies to use Open Source where possible: greater autonomy, development of local talent, greater security, more complete accountability, and adherence to standards (interoperability). The Simple End User Linux group has dozens of case studies from real schools online showing the immediate financial advantages of this strategy.

The K-12 Linux Terminal Server Project group are also recording the extensive benefits of the thin-client approach. They have scores of real examples submitted from real schools by the people using it on the front lines. SchoolForge is a rapidly growing international coalition of over 70 schools and education-related organisations dedicated to enhancing communication, sharing resources, and increasing the transparency of development in the area. As well as providing documentation and experience, SchoolForge can arrange to field volunteers to help schools and charitable organisations get started in the stable, secure, safe world of Linux.