Why schools need to adopt open source software – Now

David Thornburg provides a very good explanation on how proprietary software is crippling our ability to use information and communications technologies effectively for education. My own experience with the DRM not letting me play a legally rented movie shows the absurdity of our present commercial situation. It’s why I’ve switched from Microsoft and Dell crippleware to the open source VLC Player.

Thornburg shows how proprietary software vendors are treating all of their customers like criminals and making, “NO, you cannot do what you want to do, even if it is legal”, as the default use mode:

How much of our energy is spent overcoming obstacles instead of enjoying or building creative works? There is little doubt that vendors of “protected” software must hate their customers. They want to look at our computers remotely, make surprise visits for license checks, and otherwise treat us as people who should be marched away in shackles. And, tragically, we buy into this nonsense by spending money with the very people who treat us like dirt.

Enter Linux and OSS. Imagine a software world where the answer is YES, not NO. Yes, you CAN give a copy of your presentation software to a child who wants to finish a project at home. Yes, you CAN play DVD’s from any region in the world on your computer. Yes, you CAN tweak a program to add a new feature, or even fix a bug yourself. Yes, you CAN use an operating system that takes less than a class period to boot up. Yes, you CAN have all your software updated automatically for free. Yes, you CAN make older computers behave like energetic teens by eliminating the software bloat associated with Windows. Yes, you CAN save enough money to bring even more technology into the hands of children. Yes, you CAN be part of a global community of educators who see technology as a tool of empowerment for ALL children, rich or poor.

Check out the many options at Make the Move or Software for Starving Students. I just installed Linux Ubuntu on one of our computers and it worked like a charm. There is a bit of a learning curve on the different model that Linux uses, such as the Package Manager, but if you have a teenager in the house it shouldn’t take long to figure it out 😉

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