SchoolNet Namibia chooses Linux

From The Register, quoting Executive Director Joris Komen:

“It became imminently clear that the development of a potential Microsoft alternative to our viable Open Source LTSP refurbished LAN solution at five pilot schools in Katutura would incur considerable cost for SchoolNet, given the revised understanding that Microsoft would not be paying for the refurbished hardware, but would only provide the software platform at some unknown Research & Development (!!) cost resulting from co-opting expertise from other third-party Microsoft partners.

“Such a change of direction would result in SchoolNet having to pay out in the order of US $4,500 per school to provide Microsoft with a significant educational branding opportunity in Namibia, coupled with free technical support service obligated by SchoolNet to all its school clients, in an extraordinary deviation from SchoolNet’s commitment to provide skills development, technical support and helpdesk services to its Open Source LTSP LAN school clients and Linux-PC teacher clients.”

Slashdot Thread

Linux is the right choice for schools. The key requirement in countries like India is the support for local languages.

Secure Open Linux Desktop

The Register writes about the decision by the European Commission to award netproject a contract to “study the issues of migrating government computers in member states to a Linux / Open Source environment.

The work will draw upon a pilot netproject has been doing for the UK Police IT Organisation (details PDF).

Eddie Bleasdale, a director at netproject, calls it the “Secure Open Desktop Architecture.” The user-facing part of the West Yorkshire police system consists of an ultra low cost machine being supplied by the Telford office of Taiwanese company GCI, price 299, including a smart card reader.

The system, which can include legacy Windows systems, making it easier for customers to transition to open source. The clients themselves are ‘stateless,’ so a user can log on with their smartcard from any machine on the network, and get immediate access to their personal desktop, which includes Openoffice.

It seems to be like what we talk about with Emergic Freedom – terminal/server computing, based on Linux. What is new is the addition of the smart-card for access and the positioning as a “secure” solution.

Open-Source ERP

Writes Internet Week:

A startup company called OpenMFG recently began delivering an enterprise resource planning system for small and medium businesses based on open-source components and an open-source mindset: Customers and integrators are free to alter the source code as their needs dictate.

OpenMFG’s software includes virtually all the standard features you’d expect in a high-end ERP system: definition and planning applications, execution, supply-chain management, and reporting.

“They’re bringing Tier 1/Tier 2 functionality down to the Tier 3 marketplace,” said Phil Perkins, president and CEO of Richmond, Va.-based Acumen Corp., a consulting firm that has struck a partnership with OpenMFG that will include recommending its products. “They really studied the big boys and are including functionality that has heretofore been pretty expensive in a much more meaningful value proposition for low-end manufacturers.”

This is exactly what our Emergic Enterprise software product is planned to be. We should look at OpenMFG.

Linux v Microsoft

Is Microsoft losing ground to Linux, asks News.com:

Open-source software gave Microsoft a one-two punch this week, with the European Union and an African nonprofit educational organization showing preference for Linux systems.

The European Union awarded on Thursday a $249,000 (250,000 euro) contract to U.K.-based system-integrator Netproject to study the feasibility of moving the information systems of several member countries’ governments to the Linux operating system from Microsoft’s Windows OS.

Microsoft’s expensive licensing terms and its push for customers to speed their software upgrade cycles are driving the European Union’s interest in open-source solutions, said Eddie Bleasdale, Netproject’s CEO. Describing a meeting with representatives from several EU member countries, Bleasdale said Microsoft’s current licensing terms had governments looking for other options.

Adding insult to injury, SchoolNet Namibia, an organization providing computing resources to that sparsely populated country, has turned down a Microsoft offer to put Windows systems in their schools and decided to stay with its Linux systems. In a very public letter, the organization lambasted Microsoft for a plan that would give the schools a $2,000 break on Office software but make them pay $9,000 for Windows XP.

“The real issue for schools is not the cost of proprietary software licensing, but the challenges and costs of deployment, maintenance and skilled human resources,” Joris Kamen, founding executive director for SchoolNet Namibia, stated in a letter to Microsoft’s East and South Africa regional manager. “Conventional Microsoft products have rapid product cycles and quick obsolescence, along with expensive long-term maintenance and support implications.”

Technology’s Next Markets will chose Linux and open-source. The other decision they need to make is to recycle PCs, so the cost of hardware also comes down.