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Open Source Hardware: Strategies for Providing Free (or Low Cost) Computers for Classrooms

This is how you can get more computes for your classroom.

How does this work?

Since the operating system (Linux), productivity software (Open Office™), and Web Browser(Firefox™) is Open Source (completely free), the cost of the computer is decreased by a huge amount. You can use the operating system, productivity software and Web Browser for as long as you want without having to pay, ever.

Better yet, this operating system software can run on older computers, computers that businesses are not using any more. Computers that they will donate to your school district.

Be sure to work with your school district's IT Department, because they get very protective about equipment that is connected to their network.

This is because...

  • Security: Equipment that they cannot control could be used to hack into the district's network
  • Licensing Agreements: The district may pay for Content Filters (the software or services that protect children from accessing inappropriate sites)
  • Network Connections: Pulling additional network drops in classrooms is not free or cheap
  • Firewall:
  • Content Filtering: All computers must be configured so that the content that they provide to students is safe and appropriate. These computers cannot bypass this protection because the protection is required by law. [Children's' Internet Protection Act (CIPA)]

With a large-scale operation such as a school district's IT Department, nothing is “free” because staff have to be paid and because infrastructure is expensive.

Other links to Open Source Hardware for Education Sites and Blogs:

Refurbished Dell Optiplexes for Schools

Older computers that work just fine for students.

Linux Thin Client Solutions

Computers that access productivity applications information that are run from a server. This means that the “Thin Client” computer does not need to be updated and managed separately.

Free WebStation Software

These computers are just attached to a network connection. The operating system boots from a CD disk, and the browser runs from the CD. These computers don't even need a hard drive

Disaster & Shelter WebStation Software

A project to provide computers for schools that lost equipment due to the Katrina and Rita Hurricanes
A regional computer Recycling Effort in Texas
An effort of the Region 3 Education Service Center. If you know of any other regional initiative, please let us know.