Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-edu (46 mails)

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Re: [suse-linux-uk-schools] article on GNU/Linux in schools and universities
  • From: Tony Whitmore <tony@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2006 17:28:21 +0000 (UTC)
  • Message-id: <443D388F.7000008@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Richard Smedley wrote:

> Apparently LXF readers want to know the buying practices of
> UK educational institutions; their patterns of OS and software
> use; what pressures they are under; and what budget restrictions;
> how they are grouped (in a university's case, whether policy is set
> across depts, or across the entire institution); what's the budget;

That will vary greatly from school to school, particularly when a school
has Specialist status in ICT or Business Studies. There are also the
issues of devolved budgets - much is strapped up in SLAs and broadband
charges. A figure of £XX,000 isn't much use if you don't know the
context of the school and what it's priorities for ICT development are
over a number of years.

Microsoft continue to slash their prices to the education sector, either
through Campus agreements or discounted schemes like the Local
Government Authority scheme. Under the LGA scheme, copies of MS Office
Pro cost less than £40. That's enough of a discount for school
management to prefer it over cheaper offerings like Star or

> what versions of MS windows and office are still in use?

We use Windows 2000 and XP, along with Microsoft Office 97 and XP. We
use plenty of FLOSS on Windows, and have a mostly Linux server room.

> I'm also interested in what needs to be done to change things?
> Where can influence be exerted? What can individuals do?
> The example of the BCS's blessing from the above-mentioned thread
> was very interesting.

I have found that most of the restrictions come from "higher up", the
LEA or DfES. Documents and software distributed in Windows-only format
(Fisher Family Trust software distributed as MS Access 2000 files,
Assessment tracking software for Windows only), websites that only work
in IE or that rely on propriatory plugins, the provision of E-learning
credits which can only be spent on propriatory software (and most of it
not very good software at that).

Another example is the compulsory KS3 "online" testing which requires a
Windows client machine to run on. QCA are responsible for commissioning
this software and it is propriatory software vendor RM who are
implementing it. Schools running Linux thin clients have been told to
"get Citrix" at the cost of thousands of pounds. The backend for these
tests are either Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2003 Server or RHEL4. So
there's no option to run it on a SUSE or Debian or anyone other flavour.
Sure, there are issues of support from their perspective, but it
requires outlay on behalf of the school. Bringing a network up to meet
the specification could set schools back £50k.

The large bodies assume the availability of Windows and don't really
work to be all inclusive. Until this is changed, FLOSS in education will
continue to struggle - and I really think legislation is needed to
enforce it.



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