Kiwi high school issues shot heard around the open source world

Albany Senior High School is ignoring a deal worked out between the National Party government and Microsoft and claims it is saving a bundle.

A New Zealand high school has defied the national government and struck a blow heard around the world of open source.

Albany Senior High School is ignoring a deal worked out between the National Party government and Microsoft and claims it is saving a bundle.

The high school opened just last year, and its IT system is based on Mandriva servers and Ubuntu desktops, supporting Moodle, Open Office and (most important) any client the kids want to bring in.

Open Systems Software of Auckland was the project's system integrator, and presented its solution at a Linux conference last week.

In their presentation they noted that when the school moves to new quarters later this year its server rack, designed to hold 48 servers, will instead need only four. The system also took less time to build than a Microsoft system would have, the school said.

One thing that makes this a political story, down under, is that under the nation's contract with Microsoft the software giant still gets paid for Albany's Microsoft software even though it's not being used.

New Zealand's opposition Labour Party has not yet commented on the Albany situation, but New Zealand is a relatively small country, and Labour's blog hasn't been updated since last December 9. (New Zealand has about twice the population of its namesake, which is part of Denmark.)

(CORRECTION: A reader correctly notes the country takes its name from Zeeland, a Dutch province now home to 300,000, rather than the Danish island of Zealand. Wikipedia says the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman called the place Staten Landt. The Maori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa. My apologies, and thanks for encouraging the exploration.)

Hopefully this won't turn out like last week's New Zealand story. Open source activist Jeremy Allison joined the talkbacks there to note he's given the same talk about Microsoft attacking open source patents for years. (Are stories just louder there, in an Internet sense?)

In any case, the Albany story has blown away San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's announcement of a new open source policy for the city, under which departments must "consider open source software" in developing new applications.

Maybe if he'd announced it in New Zealand.