Something not being discussed, is that there can be any amount of take
up of open source platforms within a school - you don't have to go 100%.

Way back in my sixth form days (1996) between the Head of Learning
Resources, a former student who was now at university and myself - we
replaced the ageing Econet/SJ MDFS network with Ethernet and Slackware
Linux fileservers over a period of several months. The Acorn Archimedes
and Risc PC boxes all had Omniclient to NFS mount the Linux filestores,
and the Win 3.1/95 PCs used Samba. The Linux boxes also provided the
usual central network services such as DNS, DHCP, email and a proxy
server to allow internet access. Later we managed to convince the local
cable TV company to give us a 2Mbps/G703 circuit between us and the
local university for next to nothing to replace the ISDN line coming out
of one of the servers.

With the central infrastructure changed it really didn't matter what the
machines ran. At the time it made sense that the rooms teaching
vocational courses used Windows OS and Microsoft applications, and other
areas could continue to use the Acorn machines as the software was
perfectly up to the job. If you could format a document in say,
Impression Publisher on an Acorn, then using Microsoft Word or
Wordperfect on a PC afterwards really wasn't a big learning curve.
Although some of the Acorn Risc PCs did have Intel coprocessor cards so
could run Windows 95 as well as Risc OS. Quite what they are using now I
don't know, I expect Active Directory has made things a little more
complicated to maintain the single sign on environment we had set up

Things have moved on in the last 12 years, but I think if Acorn were
still in existence then schools probably would still be using them, as
the skills are transferable - and the machines are designed to be used
in an classroom environment. But once they were no longer available
schools had a choice, either bring in another platform to teach
'transferable skills' (Mac, or PC/Linux), or get the PC/Windows platform
and teach the 'correct' skills first time. As has already been
mentioned, the knowledge of the staff has to be taken into account so
chances are PC/Windows was the comfortable choice. But schools have
already made a transition away from Risc OS to Windows, so another
transition may not be out of the question.

IMHO if the Linux environment was as well developed as it is today when
Acorn closed down, then I can see how a lot of schools could have moved
straight across. As it was common practise to teach 'transferable
skills' from a non Windows platform then. Now I think there would have
to be some very clear cut benefits to convince schools and parents that
it was a good idea.

Gareth Davis | Production Systems Specialist
World Service Future Media, Digital Delivery Team - Part of BBC Global
News Division
* * 702NE Bush House, Strand, London,


> -----Original Message-----
> From: 
> [] On Behalf Of Mr I Forrester
> Sent: 09 February 2009 14:24
> To: BBC Backstage
> Subject: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used 
> in state schools free and open source
> Seen this in my mailbox a few times today, sure you will all 
> find this interesting...
> "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Make the 
> primary operating system used in state schools free and open source"
> -
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