[K12OSN] Microsoft's insidious domination in Australian schools

Huck dhuckaby at paasda.org
Thu May 4 15:21:49 UTC 2006

No way to get a windows terminal server in place and let them use 
Rdesktop huh?...just to show that they can run all of the windows 
software from the clients?


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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