Friday, December 23, 2005

Schools Save with Open Source

Schools Save with Open Source

A lot of people ask about the real savings that Open Source can bring to school districts. Noxon Schools has used Open Source software for 6 years now and so I wanted to demonstrate the actual savings and philosophy of Open Source in a real life setting.

Noxon Schools is a rural school district in remote northwest Montana with a student body of about 270 students. The school uses 4 Linux Terminal Servers on separate networks to serve 125 Linux Thin Clients. In addition, the school has a Web server, DNS server, 2 Proxy Servers, Backup Server and a Samba server to provide all of the services the school needs in house. 60 computers run Windows 2000 or XP.

As Technology Coordinator I am provided a budget to manage each year for the school's total technology development K-12. The bad news is, the budget changes every year, often the changes are as much as 40% from one year to the next. What this means is that you really cannot plan a five year project because likely the funds will not be available. This factor was one of the primary reasons I began to exam Open Source, we need stability. The expectations of administration, students and community is that technological assets will be available to every student in increasing complexity.
The second primary reason for examining Open Source is the ability to manipulate the Open Source product to meet our needs, not someone else's needs. We need servers that are setup the way we need them to be setup with the hardware we have available. We need desktops that will do what we want, not want some corporation dictates. In other words we need freedom and options.

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