As the network admin at a fairly rural high school, I'm always looking for a bargain. Got a computer you don't want anymore? I'll take it! Are you using that old inkjet? No? I'll take it! My old colleagues from the private sector throw me a bone whenever they can and try to send out a few of the P2's and P3's their companies are discarding. As my operating budget this year was cut from $5000, to $4000, to $2500 (to pay for heating oil at the school), the allure of free and open source software became almost too much to bear. After all, how many times have you read in a blog just like this one how Linux is the answer to high software costs and obsolate machinery?
Finally, I succumbed to the siren song of Linux and OpenOffice and built myself a computer lab from old donated machines using only some blank CDs from WalMart, the latest Breezy Badger release of Kubuntu (www.kubuntu.org), and a bunch of very wary students. And guess what? It worked. Not without problems, mind you, but it worked. My Pentium 2 desktops weren't blazingly fast all of a sudden because I'd dumped all of the Microsoft bloatware and my students weren't instantly enamored of the brilliant interface, but it worked. And it was free (I bought the blank CDs myself, so that's close enough that we can round down to free). Did I mention that it was free?
In my next entry, I'll let you know what went right, what went wrong, and what my class next semester will be doing differently. In the meantime, keep in mind that almost half my students took home a Kubuntu CD and converted an old computer they had sitting at home because they decided they really liked this particular incarnation of Linux. Oh yeah, and it was free.