If Indiana is typical, free software can save the US billions when moving to one computer per child programs. In 2001, the state had good networks and about one computer for every four students. Despite that investment, most students got less than an hour per week using the labs. Were talking about more than a million students.
It was then that state officials knew each student needed a computer, and Indiana's one-to-one initiative was launched. But how were they to pay for such a huge project that would have cost $100 million a year in software licensing alone?
Today, more than 100,000 Indiana school kids (in all, 300,000 high schoolers are slated to receive one) have their own $298 computer and monitor with numerous free software applications, and, in turn, schools across the state have secure, reliable, sophisticated server systems thanks to Linux-based open source technology.
Did Indiana children mind? "Who cares?" one student quipped to Michael Huffman, special assistant for technology, as he surveyed the one-to-one program's success across the state. [He] estimates software costs total only $5 per machine annually, "It's the only model we've come up with that is affordable, repeatable, and sustainable. If you look at a lot of other states that have had laptop initiatives, I think there is a real breakdown. And there are a lot of them that aren't continuing. There are schools that have gone out and bought a lot of laptops, but there is no plan for four years down the road. That's why we went with open source."
The current state of Vista/Windows 7 and shrinking budgets made free software all the more attractive. States that have made the move are in much better shape for the current recession than states with a pile of laptops that run XP.
Boycott Novell details M$'s response to these programs, strategic and well advertised dumping.