Sun, Linux offer help in MS-kids PC flap

PCs for Kids, the Australian charity that is being challenged by Microsoft over software licensing, has been offered free installation of Star Office and Red Hat 6.2 on its old PCs.

SYDNEY (ZDNet Australia)--Sun Microsystems Australia and the Linux community have come to the aid of embattled PCs for Kids in its mission to donate refurbished computers to children in need.

PCs for Kids' ongoing and very public battle with Microsoft over the installation of older operating systems on recycled computers looks set to end with Sun and the Linux community pitching in to offer their support.

Sun has offered its free productivity software alternative, and Cyber Source in Melbourne--which is part of the local Linux community--has provided training to the charity, enabling the installation of Sun's Star Office and Linux Red Hat 6.2 on the donated computers.

"On one hand I understand Microsoft's need to protect its copyright, but on the other hand it is reasonably generous to other charities, so why are they being tough on this particular one?" said Sun's marketing manager, Denis Fairweather.

"Especially when the software they have been using is discontinued--it's not as if they're losing out on a potential sale," he added.

Assistance from the IT community will enable the organization to start shipping refurbished computers to disadvantaged children again. The first batch of 50 computers will be sent to East Timor next week.

"Having just entered Linux it is a whole new learning curve for the charity--and for the kids it will be like switching from football to handball," PCs for Kids director Colin Bayes said.

The charity has received overwhelming support from the IT community since its stoush with Microsoft first began. Bayes claims 2,500 emails of support have been sent to the charity from all over the world, of which just 29 were in support of Microsoft.

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