Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Texas can future proof education

This is one is simple.  The Texas legislature, or even the Texas Commissioner of Education can give schools around the state a $50 million  boost, without spending a penny. (It may actually be a lot more that that.

Here's the setup: there are thousands, I'm guessing close 100,000 old Windows XP machines running in school systems through out the state.  Last week, Microsoft came upon it's hard deadline to no longer support Windows XP.  

That makes XP machines pariahs because users will no longer get updates, including security updates.  Schools have to have security updates because the law requires them to be secure if students use them.  Many of these machines are used for little else that state sponsored programs for helping students with reading, math and the like.

Simple, you say (if you know a lot about computers), "why don't you just convert them to machines running Linux.  Linux is a lot less demanding on old machines and will run fine, especially if you run those programs in a browser."

That's the crux.  Those 3rd party programs, that Texas pays for and provides to the schools for free, don't run in browsers.  They run in the Windows operating system -- not on Linux.

If Texas tells it's software providers, these must run in browsers or we will look for other software sources, the old machines can be spared for another few years -- schools won't have to run out and replace maybe as many as 100,000 machines at $500 a piece -- $50 million.

"But," you say, "students will have a hard time running a completely new operating system."

That's where Zorin OS comes in.  (see this link )  It has the look and feel of Windows XP.  It can even run many Windows programs thanks to software included with the Zorin distribution that handles that. 

A enormous added benefit is that Texas future-proofs its software buying -- software it buys will run on browsers in computers, tablets, cellphones, chromebooks... anything with a browser.

I am awake, aren't I.  I am not still dreaming, yes?