Open Source Software in Education

This is only barely about education, but this is a topic that I am passionate about that I have not had much opportunity to post about here. This was written in response to some Windows versus Linux discussions my colleagues were having.

Yay! An open source software thread!

Let me respond to many items in this thread…

XP vrs. 2000 – XP is 2000, except that it’s faster (even on old hardware), more feature rich, more customizable (even if you dislike the default settings), more approachable to the novice (particularly on account of the included drivers), and more compatible with cutting edge software such as games.

Linux – At home I use XP, OS X, and Fedora Core Linux. Since I’ve got the others, there isn’t much reason for someone like me to use Linux, except to learn it. However, having become comforatble with it, I can highly recommend it to anyone that needs a low cost computing plaform, even for multi-media! Fedora Core 3 is a mature modern opperating system. (So are many other distributions of Linux, but Fedora Core is geared toward the end user and is seeing widespread use.) There is no more need to know the command line than there is with Windows and OS X.

Open OfficeOpen Office is Star Office, minus some copyrighted third party content. It is free. It can read and write Word, PowerPoint, and Excel Documents (as well as many other formats, including its own superior xml based format). It can serve as a front end to a SQL database (so no need for Access). And, it runs on most major Operating Systems including Windows XP, Mac OS X, and Linux. There is no reason in the world not to suggest that your students use this at home if they don’t own MS Office.

If you think that sounds good, check out The Gimp… this is basicly photoshop for free… on any of these operating systems. ;)

And of course you should consider browsing with Firefox. ;)