Why do we need to adopt Linux and FOSS in schools?

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Computer technology is becoming prevalent throughout our society and is playing a crucial role in all walks of life and technological advancements and automation that we are now witnessing. It is at the core of the rapid advances that are occurring in almost every field of human endeavor.

Open-source software and operating systems are well suited in educational institutions and if implemented, these institutions will be the biggest beneficiaries from the use of such software.

Particularly Linux in education could add further momentum to the development of open-source software and to its adoption over the entire spectrum of applications.

Computers have a beneficial role in classroom use by students and depend on how they should be used by students and to what extent. This can be broadly classified into the below-mentioned categories:

  • Using computers to study subjects efficiently
  • Learning how to use specific applications/programs
  • Studying computer technology
  • Using them as a research tool

Learning how to use specific application programs (such as word, spreadsheets, presentation programs, and graphics programs) is probably the most common use for computers in schools.

One reason is, the ability to utilize such programs is important for effective computer use. Another is that this category is the easiest for most teachers to teach, as relatively little understanding of computers is required to be able to instruct students on how to use a word program or surf the web.

Advantages of Linux for Use in Schools

There are numerous factors that make Linux preferable to other proprietary operating systems for use in educational institutions:

  • Zero cost of software acquisition (no cost of license renewals and upgrades) include a full-fledged office suite that is equivalent to, and compatible with, the costly office suite

  • No complex license management requirements Students can be provided with legal copies of Linux and other open-source software for use at home at no cost to the students or the schools

  • Linux allows older and less expensive hardware, helps extend the life of old computers

  • Administration and maintenance costs are reduced to very low levels for Linux systems after system administrators and other staff members attain a certain degree of expertise

  • Linux is highly resistant to viruses, worms, trojans, and other types of malicious code. Hence no need to buy an antivirus solution and maintain it annually very little time and effort needs to be devoted to applying security patches

  • Difficult for students to intentionally or unintentionally alter the system's configuration and easier for a technician to restore the configuration.

  • Reduce school administrative costs by being used for administration purposes in addition to classroom use.

  • Encourage/compel teachers to learn about Linux and create awareness about the open-source software

  • Prepare students for the real world in which there is a diversity of operating systems and platforms

  • Open source software is compliant with industry standards and thus protects school data from becoming locked into proprietary file formats that the schools do not own and which may become unsupported, obsolete, and even inaccessible in the future.

Finally, Linux is becoming increasingly easy to install and use. This is a result of the continued effort by the developers of the numerous individual programs that constitute a Linux distribution to make it suitable not only for technology-oriented users but also for ordinary people with little or no technical background.

Linux is easy to set up and maintain for educators who undertake even a modest amount of computer study. After proper setup, it is as easy for students to use as any other proprietary operating system.

Originally this article was written by DNS Chakravarthy and published here by the blog author

Photo by tribesh kayastha on Unsplash

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