A recent article in OhMyNews.com discusses the results of a conference in Tokyo at which educators recommended converting aging computers running Windows 98 and ME to Linux. About 400,000 such machines exist in Japan's public schools and either can't run more up-to-date operating systems or the cost of upgrade is prohibitive.
Enthusiasm for the initiative has built after a successful trial of Linux with about 1000 students began in 2004. Under consideration are an education-centered distro of Knoppix, Debian, and TurboLinux, all of which can run with minimal system requirements.
The article highlights several similar initiatives internationally:
"The move toward open-source software within Japan mirrors similar transformations ongoing within educational institutions in numerous other countries around the world. An article late last month in Linux.com reports that "Linux and open source software are receiving increased interest within the educational sector as an alternative to Microsoft Windows Vista," noting that the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta), among others, warned of "lock-in" risks due to Microsoft's licensing programs. In Venezuela, the government has gone so far as to make it illegal -- by issue of a Presidential Decree -- to use proprietary software in public educational institutions, giving rise to several open-source movements. Meanwhile, Chinese government officials reportedly now regard the open-source community as "a key to its software industry" and plans to invest more resources in Linux-based systems."
Microsoft Student Innovation Suite, anyone?