[K12OSN] Microsoft's insidious domination in Australian schools

Doug Simpson simpsond at leopards.k12.ar.us
Thu May 4 14:57:04 UTC 2006

You are not alone!

We have lots of computers laying around that could be used for this, and I 
already have the servers configured for it, but they (administration at 
our local school) won't allow it to be utilized.

"Throw money at it, it'll work!" seems to be the philosophy.

M$ costs a *lot* of money unless you illegally pirate it (we don't here) 
but even with the newer versions, pirating is getting harder (GOOD! If you 
are going to succomb to the master, PAY HIM his due!).

I  am a strong advocate for K12LTSP in schools, especially with money 
getting tighter all the time.

Doug Simpson
Technology Specialist
DeQueen Public Schools
DeQueen, AR 71832
simpsond at leopards.k12.ar.us
Tux for President!

On Thu, 4 May 2006, Gavin Chester wrote:

> (This email is written with many concepts explained that may already be
> familiar to you because I am sending this as an open letter to readers from
> a wide range of backgrounds and interest groups).
> I write with heavy heart and a good dose of old-fashioned rage at the
> injustice meted out to the next generation.  Okay, that's maybe a bit over
> the top, but I encountered a ludicrous situation that came to a head today
> at my local government primary school of around 75 students (K-7), located
> in a rural area of Western Australia.  It's under-funded and
> under-resourced, as you would imagine.
> Through contacts I have in the local Linux user group (PLUG), I had tapped
> into a supply of up to 15 PII PCs about to be cast-off by a large company.
> They were more than happy to donate the lot, plus spares, and deliver them
> more than 100km to our school.  These PCs are useless for running any recent
> version of Microsoft, but they are great for running Linux.  I presented a
> proposal to our school Principal of the concept of making use of these
> computers in a teaching lab, utilising one or two of their high-end desktops
> as a server.  The latter part of the concept was a short-term solution and I
> aimed to beg, borrow or steal a purpose-built server once I got the lab up
> and running, and proven.  I also was going to donate my time to setup the
> system and administer it and asked nothing of the school staff in this
> regard.
> Underpinning the concept was that it was to be a K12LTSP lab, since I have
> been following the project for about three years and run a small setup at
> home for my kids.  For those who don't know, K12LTSP is an offshoot of the
> LTS Project that allows low-end PCs to be used as thin (i.e., no hard drive)
> clients running off a central Linux server.  Another, similar Linux project
> is 'Edubuntu', which is based on Ubuntu Linux, itself based on Debian Linux.
> Those of you in the know will realise that there are other projects out
> there that do similar things and also are tailored for an educational
> setting, but K12LTSP is the one with which I am most familiar.  The beauty
> of any of these projects is that all the software is very worthy and it is
> FREE and you get to recycle old PCs, which not only saves them from
> polluting at landfill but also means that the hardware is usually FREE.
> Moreover, you can run a large PC lab (30 or more PCs, or clients) with only
> one server to administer instead of lots of separate PCs with their own
> operating system.  See these links for more information if you're not
> already familiar with these software projects:
> http://k12ltsp.org/contents.html
> http://www.ltsp.org/
> http://www.edubuntu.org/
> Despite being cash-strapped, the school did have some cash to spare for
> incidentals so I was going to be able to buy some missing bits, like basic
> networking gear.  I was even prepared that the lab be isolated from the rest
> of their system with no access to their existing server and internet link
> (the reason for this will be soon be apparent).  Well, today I was told that
> thanks, but no thanks.  Apparently, higher powers in head office dictate
> that every computer located in any government school across the whole State
> MUST run Microsoft - even if the hardware on which it runs is donated.
> Also, every computer in the school must be powerful enough to run XP.  It
> simplifies administration and help-desk support, you see.  That's despite
> the fact that no one from head office ever comes near the school's PCs, and
> despite the fact that the school can't afford to have more than about one
> working PC for every six students in the school because of the hardware
> requirements of XP.  I should point out that the ratio is an estimate, since
> I've only anecdotal evidence of how many PCs are used regularly in the
> school.  If I've erred, I believe I've been generous regarding the ratio of
> students per PC.
> As you would imagine, I was aghast at being told this today.  I
> incredulously stated to the Principal and the school administrator that "it
> is our responsibility to teach our children computing, not Microsoft".  But
> my pleas fell on deaf ears because they are bound by head office policy,
> apparently.  I don't write this open letter to serve as a means to 'vent my
> spleen' and rant like some Linux zealot at a ridiculous situation.  Instead,
> I ask that recipients consider the implications of it and then act.  If you
> are able to contact someone who may have some influence, or know someone who
> knows someone else who may have influence, I want to see if we might effect
> a change in education policy to stop this happening in West Australian
> government schools.  Just where are our tax dollars being spent in
> education?  Into the pockets of Microsoft and Intel, I think.
> I see the use of free software and recycled hardware as another opportunity
> to better our next generation, yet it is being shot down by FUD (fear,
> uncertainty and doubt) emanating from the halls of (educational) power.  The
> teachers here at the 'coal face' don't seem to mind too much because "we
> don't have to pay any licensing fees out of our budget - head office pays".
> I was dumbfounded that such an attitude can exist.  Contact me if you have
> any ideas or similar sad stories to relate.
> Regards,
> 	Gavin Chester
> 	962 Williams Rd (PO Box 62), Dwellingup, Western Australia.  6213.
> 	Tel: (08) 9538 1102
> 	E-mail#1: mailto:sales at ecosolutions.com.au
> 	E-mail#2: mailto:gc at gwchester.com
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