[Fsf Education] Free Software Platform for School Education

eiid eiidp@md3.vsnl.net.in
Fri, 6 Dec 2002 23:00:04 +0530

Here is the news appeared in New Indian Express on 5th Dec 2002

Kannur varsity students help reduce hardware cost

KOCHI: Even as talks between the State Government and Microsoft are deadl=
over the issue of using legal software, the hardware optimisation for sch=
in Kannur parliamentary constituency is being implemented on a free softw=
platform - GNU/Linux.

The IT@School programme will be taught in Kannur schools utilising this=20

The usage of Etherboot on GNU/Linux has helped in reducing the hardware c=
of the project to less than 66 percent and will help schools to have more=
computers. All this was possible because of the technical support rendere=
d by=20
a bunch of students of Kannur varsity's MSc Computer Science course and t=
Social Entrepreneurship Promotion Society on Information Technology (SEPS=
the charitable society they floated recently for promoting use of softwar=
under General Public Licence (GPL).

The money for the project comes from the MP's fund and the savings can be=
to buy more than 50 additional computers, says Manoj T R, a third semeste=
student of the MSc Computer Science course and director of SEPSIT.

The organisation, which has the backing of the faculties of the Kannur=20
University MSc Computer Science, aims at enhancing social entrepreneurshi=
among IT professionals and nurturing technology education geared to creat=
of public intellectual property in IT. The society, which has the active=20
participation of nearly 70 software professionals, will operate throughou=
the State from its office in Dinesh Software Park.

SEPSIT had to work overtime to convince the officials of the National=20
Informatics Centre which is the nodal agency for approving computerisatio=
projects under the MP's fund. The order for 140 computers worth Rs 26 lak=
was given to Keltron Controls, Aroor, only after it was convinced of the=20
technology utilising Etherboot on GNU/Linux platform. Keltron Controls is=
supplying 43 server configurated PCs and 97 nodes for the project.

Each school will have a server and four or five diskless nodes. The drast=
cost reduction is possible because devices like hard disks, floppy drives=
, CD=20
drives and UPS can be cut down in the client server mode. There is a savi=
of Rs 9000 per school and the money can be used for purchasing more=20
computers. Around 185 computers in Linux platform can be purchased using =
Rs 45 lakh pledged by Kannur MP A P Abdullakkutty against the 130 that ca=
n be=20
bought while using proprietary software.

Keltron Controls has also bagged the order for computerisation of schools=
Alappuzha district from V M Sudheeran MP's fund. The order for over 700=20
computers (5 PCs for one school) using proprietary software is pegged at =
Rs 2=20

SEPSIT has now formulated a strategy to train the teachers of these schoo=
ls in=20
Linux Administration, usage of free software tools like Open Office (and=20
other free office tools), Xine (and other multi-media applications), and=20
BASIC programming on GNU/Linux platform. SEPSIT also has the computerisat=
project of Kannur University using free software tools in hand.