Schools and the NHS: does Linux even get a look in?

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So the NHS has decided not to renew a large Microsoft licensing deal. Basically it had agreed a while ago to spend £500 million on Microsoft software in return for a £300 million discount.

What a bargain!

No more though, in this time of cuts, just when we needed the money the most, the deal has been ditched and the NHS faces a massive licence bill. But it gets better; according to sources on the ground ‘the only option would be to move to free open source software’...but wait for this... ‘the staff would not move to an unfamiliar system’.

So that’s it then.

Literally they will pay for MS products with money they would otherwise use for the good. That’s how hard it is to introduce FOSS onto the desktops, even when those desktops are running crummy old DOS screens within MS XP home!

Am I surprised? No, not in the least, my experience in education tells me that exactly the same problem exists there but am I disheartened? no I have a plan. It wont work for NHS but it will for schools.

Re-Modelling School ICT

Step 1 BIN THE LAN

The LAN in schools is an anachronistic nonsense that exists mostly to employ technicians. Think what it does.. within the school it provides a common user desktop experience whatever machine is being used, allows for shared centralised file storage and electronic messaging. Wow, so 1990’s I’m impressed. If you are very clever you can extend this network outside the school using a clunky slow VPN.

What a laugh, I have I GB of space on my Google Account which I can get to anywhere, can store all my files and share them with whom so ever I wish. I have word processing, spreadsheets, ‘powerpoint’, drawing, and photo albums, personal web sites and blogs as well as e-mail.

For a school community of 2000 students this equates to 2tb of storage, a common platform agnostic desktop and everything you need for daily computing...for free (for now).

All a school really needs within its walls is a good Internet connection and a FOSS web filter and proxy server (Dans Guardian and Squid maybe?) the rest is binnable.

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