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<nettime> Linux ... in schools
Frederick Noronha on Tue, 9 Mar 1999 02:39:45 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Linux ... in schools


     [now that all the big players are busy throwing their
     weight behind linux (even MS, according to Simson Gar-
     finkel) there are signs of an identity crisis in the
     open source movement: questions about trademarks and
     domains, is it capitalist, can it stay 'alternative,'
     etc. but those questions are for overdeveloped areas;
     for underdeveloped ones, open source will offer ways
     to dispell the 'mysteries' of the latest versions of
     neocolonialism: the technical domination of binaries,
     the economic domination of software valued according
     to G7 markets that forces 'piracy' on national or re-
     gional scales, the linguistic domination of software
     manufactured only in 'major languages.' this is when
     we'll begin to see software constructed according to
     totally different cultural frameworks.  --cheers, tb]


>From Jan 1999 issue of CONNECTIONS, a news publication of The Commonwealth
of Learning (an international organisation created by the Commonwealth
Heads of Government to encourage the development and sharing of open
learning/distance education resources and technologies) http://www.col.org
and info {AT} col.org

LINUX, A LOWER-COST OPERATING SYSTEM

There are many factors that make it difficult for educators to implement
computers in schools, including the cost and availabilityt of electricity,
phone lines, hardware and software.

In the software area, educational institutions are looking at alternatives
to the high cost and restrictions of licensing software from companies such
as Microsoft Corporation. As an alternative to Microsoft's Windows
operating system, Linux software has become a serious contender.

Linux is classified as "open-source" software as it is developed and
improved collaboratively by thousands of volunteer programmers around the
world. Unlike proprietary operating systems such as Windows, Linux
developers and users have access to the system's underlying software code
and can modify the code under certain conditions.

This, however, can be a drawback in that there is a limited (although
increasing) supply of applications software that can be run on Linux
workstations -- and this does not restrict its popularity.

The Mexican government plans to install the free Linux operating system in
140,000 elementary and middle-school computer labs around the country. Over
the next five years, the government's ScholarNet programme will furnish
Mexican students with access to the World Wide Web and e-mail, as well as
word processing and spreadsheet applications.

The Linux in Schools Project, in Oregon, USA, also operates an extensive
web site as a service to schools that have adopted Linux as a network
operating system. The site provides advice on implementation and ongoing
support.

The main progress that Linux is currently making is at the server level;
not as much headway has yet been made in the desktop/workstation area. 

With Linux also being adapted for use in some educational institutions in
countries where English is not a first language, and with the open-source
code, it is being suggested that sudents in the school might become the
frontline of programmers in developing Linux software applications.

Linux software is available as a free download (through the World Wide Web)
or from distributors such as Red Hat Software that distribute Linux at a
cost of US$50 for a pair of installation CDs and a manual. Red Hat's
version of Linux can be copied from system to system as many times as
necessary at no extra charge.

Linux is a Unix-like programme that is said to be more reliable, adaptable
and efficient than commercial operating system software. These qualities
also make Linux a good choice for use on older, less expensive equipment
(after checking Y2K compliance!)

Using Linux software, COL has been able to host its Pan-Commonwealth Forum
virtual conferences and other e-mail forums on an old 486/66 server.

Linux Online: http://www.linux.com

Red Hat Software, Inc: http://www.redhat.com

ScholarNet programme in Mexico: http://www.nuclecu.unam.mx/~arturo/scholar

Linux in Schools Project: http://www.riverdale.k12.or.us/linux/k12linux
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