I have begun to think that we need to focus attention on one group of key players in the attempt to get FOSS in Schools. That group is the integration vendors who support schools. Frequently, they are significantly involved in the early stages of a roll-out for new purchases of labs of computers or large upgrades. That involvement includes working with the school tech staff to install software on a single computer. The resulting hard drive is then made into an image from which the rest of the computers in the roll-out get made. The cloning saves a bunch of time and ensures that all the computers of a purchase are ready to go.

Somewhere during this process, the school/district makes the decision about what software to install. Usually the integrator/vendor helps get the software licenses (including the operating system), ensuring the school is compliant with licensing and the sometimes complicated pricing that applies. School tech staff typically is less burdened during the roll-out because of the vendor’s support.

I am wondering if there are integration vendors out there who have gathered expertise about free open source software (FOSS) so they can suggest or even recommend its inclusion in the images provided to the schools.

  • In your school/district, who is the vendor you most often use?
  • Is it the same one for hardware and software?
  • Do teachers get polled for their recommendations/needs?
  • Is open source software mentioned during the planning before a new roll-out?