GNU/Linux Roll-outs in Schools

There is news of a “huge” roll-out in Brazil, 1.5 million notebooks running Mandriva GNU/Linux. That sounds like a huge number but in a population of 200 million people it is a drop in the bucket, about one machine per classroom. My impoverished-IT-budget school has 5 or 6 times as many GNU/Linux PCs. If the government of Brazil really wanted to make a difference they could spend a bit more and using GNU/Linux terminal servers and thin clients they could provide many more computers for students.

A Classmate costs between $200-$300 according to Google’s search for “intel classmate” and “price”. For that you get a notebook keyboard, no mouse, and a 9 inch monitor. One can buy 15 inch LCD monitors for less than $100. A keyboard/mouse combination can be had for $30 and an entry-level thin client can be bought for $50 and a $25 share of a server for a total of $205 for a much better system, performance-wise. If you want the lowest price you can get a 10.4 inch screen for about $50 and the total drops to $155. If you really want to work for the lowest per-seat costs, use multiple video cards and USB keyboards and mice.

The portability and compact form may be sufficient reason to buy notebooks/netbooks, but they could get much more bang for the same money with other choices. Here we can get old PCs for free and power is cheap (hydro-generation) so we use them as thick and thin clients at very low costs, essentially freight only. We get 1280×1024, 40gB and 512 MB for about $100 thanks to M$ making XP machines obsolete…

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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