The Otago Daily Times reports on Saturday 21st June that “School opts for free Software”
The school has decided to stop using the ministry’s SMS (School Management Software) and it hope to be the first school “to exclusively use free ‘GNU/Linux’ software on school managment and classroom computers”
But the best thing about this statement is this. They are asking the Ministry of Education to give them the money they would have paid to software companies like Microsoft to employ locals to support the computers.
Absolutely Brilliant! Go Warrington! Well done Nathan Parker – Principal.
The Ministry of education provides schools with the operating system and access to the software available in the Microsoft deal. This includes server 2008 and alike but if we have a quick look alternatives are available.
Here is the list of software from the FAQ’s page
“The ‘core’ software listed below is included in the Microsoft Schools Agreement:
* Windows Vista Business or Enterprise (Upgrade Only)
* Office Enterprise 2007 or Works
* Student with Encarta Premium 2007
* SharePoint Designer 2007
* Visual Studio 2005 Professional
* Windows Server CAL
* SharePoint Server CAL
* Exchange Server CAL
* Systems Management Server CAL
* SQL Serve CAL”
So what are the alternatives (on the desktop)
- OS – Edubuntu – this is the Ubuntu Distro with 70+educational applications
- Productivity tools – Staroffice (Proprietory product but free to education) or Open Office
- Encyclopedia – The “web” is your oyster
- Visual Studio.net Express – cut down free version (PC only – I think)
I have not provided an alternative to Sharepoint designer and here is why. This is the product overview.
“Office SharePoint Designer 2007 provides you with tools to automate your business processes, build efficient applications on top of the Microsoft SharePoint platform, and tailor your SharePoint site to your needs, all in an IT-managed environment.”
This leads to another interesting point. You have to buy the server liciences, exchange and sharepoint server, software management system etc.
So what is missing from the free list…
- Server Ubuntu or any lunix distro server
- Web server – apache
- LMS – Moodle, LAMS etc
- encyclopedia – any wiki on the apache server
- email – open groupware, openXchange eGroupware
- Graphics tool – GIMP
- web tools – eXe, NVu
- Sound tools – Audacity
- Mind mapping software – c-map, freemind
- and so much more
You still have to buy the hardware, you still have to maintain the system, even though the software is free to start with there is still a Total Cost of ownership. But the Minstry is paying Millions for software – not support – for software. Could this money be better spent investing in ICT and using the vast selection of free alternatives? Here is another quote from the Otago Daily Times
“In April 2007, the Government renegotiated contracts totalling $32.9 million to supply computer software to all state and state integrated schools. “
If we moved would we be alone in this?