Linux company chalks up success with teachers

One of the hits of this year's BETT trade show is a company selling an open source desktop operating system for schools
Written by Dan Ilett, Contributor
A three-person Linux company was inundated this week with requests for a product it had not expected to be so successful.

IT teachers attending the BETT educational technology show in London flocked to SchoolLINUX.com's stand to place orders for its desktop operating system (OS), called SchoolLINUX OS. The operating system, which runs from a CD-ROM and uses just 50MB of RAM, has interested teachers whose old PCs can't cope with the demands of Windows XP.

"This is the first time we've shown it to anyone," said Paul Jenkins, managing director of SchoolLINUX.com. He explained that he had expected to see more demand for a storage product aimed at schools, but estimated that 90 percent of enquiries and orders were for SchoolLINUX OS.

"I think this is because [the OS] gives people the opportunity to reuse old PCs. It lets schools do want they want -- keep computers," Jenkins said. 

SchoolLINUX OS costs £29.95 and includes Mozilla's Firefox browser and Thunderbird email client; word processing and spreadsheet packages that can read Microsoft files; and RealPlayer. The OS requires no hard drive, but can also be copied to and loaded from other storage devices, such as USB keys, and has full networking capabilities.

Jenkins said he was surprised that so many people had taken an interest in the OS as he and his two partners, both university computing students, were not expecting the interest.

The self-funded company is less than a year old, but has already turned over £80,000 in its first six months.

"My daughter's school is building a new library. They're using [SchoolLINUX] with seven-year-old Celeron 400 machines and it works fine," said Jenkins. "We had a guy come up to us who wants 200 in two weeks' time. Even the Jordanian government wants us to go over there and show them our stuff."

The company has also attracted organisations outside of the education industry -- it has just clenched a deal with home fittings company KitchensRus. "The owner there was sick of all the spyware and viruses. He wanted to switch over because it's just so simple to use. So we're ripping out all their Windows software and replacing it with this," Jenkins explained.

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