On Mon, 2009-02-09 at 16:12 +0000, Christopher Woods wrote:
> Given that many schools' IT infrastructure development was so organic and
> self-funded throughout the 90s, they are now in the situation where it is
> almost completely impractical to start from scratch with a FOSS OS and FOSS
> software, making sure that interdependencies aren't broken, networking
works
> as well (or as expected) as prior to the switch, and students - and staff
> alike - aren't 'de-familiarised' with the setup. With any major transition
> such as an OS move, there's a lot of retraining needed for staff and
> students. When you run to such a tight timeline as most schools do, there
> just aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish this.

You seem to be saying that although the status quo is not good (indeed, it
is delivering a second-cless education), there's no easy way out, so let's
leave things as they are. If I have mis-characterised your argument, I
apologise, but let's sidestep that. After all, you're barking up the wrong
tree.

The model of maintaining individually-installed apps over several discrete
PCs was all very well in the 80s, and possibly the 90s, but how long
before schools catch up with the rest of the world. PCs in schools are
mandated to teach curriculum areas - this can easily be delivered through
500 - 600 web apps. The whole curriculum.  A small investment from
government (less than 1% of the UK's annual school IT spend) would get all
of these apps written. Released under the GNU GPL, they would be tweaked
and improved by thousands of teachers and students.

Given web apps, designed to work with standards-compliant browsers, it
becomes irrelevant which platform is used to view them, save on grounds of
cost and maintainability. The obvious choice then is LTSP.

> I believe the sad fact is that much FOSS isn't as well or reliably
supported
> where it matters because there just isn't as much money in it. Again,
> chicken and the egg.

Schools are a difficult market for a support company. Maintaining
two or three is easy enough for anyone. Beyond that it won't
scale well until you're covering all of an LEA :-(

> How as a FOSS company are you going to maintain a
> well-staffed callout team and helpdesk if the software you are providing is
> essentially free?

Why is that a problem? My companies have never had a problem
charging for support for Free Software. All software needs
support.

> You can't justify far higher support contract charges for
> that reason alone, and schools will either bring the required talent
> in-house

Schools don't pay enough to attract good suport staff :-(

> or source it locally - and bingo, just like that, your company is
> out of business.

So think local. How many schols are there within
40 miles of you?

 - Richard

-- 
Richard Smedley,                                         r...@m6-it.org
Technical Director,                                     www.M6-IT.org
M6-IT CIC                                        +44 (0)779 456 07 14

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