I chuckle when I recall M$ claimed GNU/Linux cost more and when mud-slingers commented here that GNU/Linux would be too hard for teachers/students to use or that GNU/Linux lacked necessary applications.“Switching to Ubuntu has let the school tick many items off its list. It allows it to stay within its IT budget. They are no longer forced to buy licences for proprietary office suites or operating systems, and no longer have to study price lists for other proprietary solutions. The Linux PCs are perfectly compatible with the two common proprietary computer systems. The school PCs are very easy to maintain, all applications are up to date and all PCs run the same versions of software solutions. Moreover the flexibility of the free software licences allows the school to install PCs whenever they want, for example when they receive a hardware donation from the local administration.” Just ask schools that use GNU/Linux joyfully, freed from the EULA, malware, re-re-reboots, top-down IT people and whittling down the budget for IT and other things to afford more IT…
I worked in schools for many years and was able to gain much more IT for fewer dollars and a lot less effort than using that other OS and some people’s favourite applications. GNU/Linux works, LibreOffice works, GIMP works, Audacity works, etc. FLOSS works for education.
Consider a school librarian wanting a cluster of PCs for customers. Typically, the concept would be raised in a staff meeting or annual plan and have to percolate upwards through the chain of command where no budget for the request exists. That means either fundraising or “next year” in the budget. What is lost by teachers and students traipsing around the community raising a few $thousand for PCs? What is lost by shifting limited funds from salaries or other supplies to PCs? It’s all a disruption from the desired goal of preparing students for the future.
Send a memo home asking for donated PCs or acquire castoff PCs from businesses on the Wintel treadmill and skip the EULA by re-imaging with Debian GNU/Linux and the problem is solved in a few days from concept to execution. A few $dollars scraped from petty cash for cabling/power/switches is the entire budget. I’ve often been in schools where the necessary bits were just laying around unused, because some cluster was shut down or equipment died. I travelled for years in the North carrying a thousand feet of CAT-5 around because the government ordered a lab not up to specs be shut down. The cables were just dumped out back. I went out with a knife to fix the Gordian Knot. I bought my own crimping tool and RJ-45 plugs. A side-effect is that I was able to teach students how to do this at no extra cost to my employers. Using FLOSS does have synergies with hardware. Any school can get better performance out of 8 year old PCs used as thin clients using a few good machines as terminal servers. No CALs. No server licences. No special hardware. GNU/Linux is that flexible.