GNU/Linux is inside an innovative technology that enables rural deployment of GSM cell stations. The company, VNL, is from India. The equipment is designed to be easy to install. It runs on a solar-powered battery, and the technology runs on the MontaVista distribution of GNU/Linux. It isn’t mentioned on the front page of their site, but mention is there in the specification pages.

What does this have to do with education?

Rural third-world developing countries cannot afford to install electrical wiring. The rural poor may not miss the electricity, but there is no doubt that they will get connected as the portable computer replaces the desktop computer. Maybe the tool will be a smart phone, but that’s a computer. Many of the newest implementations of cell phones integrate data as much as they do voice. Being able to connect will make a difference.

Children for whom a subsistence existence is the norm, today having just limited chance to explore beyond their local village will have access to the world. They will be able to learn anything. They won’t be shy about it, I bet.

English is the default language of the Internet. What do you  bet you’ll soon see news about English classes in rural India, Rural Asia, rural Africa, rural Everywhere. What’s your second language? Can you still say two complete, sentences in the language you “studied” in high school?

Of course, Wikipedia has dozens of languages represented. Will it become the encyclopedia of the world? Is it already that? Are you ignoring it in your school?

Will One Laptop Per Child have a rebirth with this news? Not only will their innovative, power sipping computers be able to mesh for a connection, they probably can be set up to connect to the VNL “Village Station”, too.

Just today, the Linux Foundation announced that Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo are being merged into something called MeeGo. Both of these are based on GNU/Linux. Android is the Google offering for mobile platforms and is GNU/Linux based.

Are you teaching programming, and do you know what Qt is? (Hint: think the KDE desktop and Nokia Phones, Internet Tablets, TV set-top boxes, embedded control systems, …). Do you introduce your students to the ubiquitous programming language of the Web, Javascript?

Is it finally time to say this is the year of “Linux on the Desktop”, or more precisely, the moment when “Anything on the Desktop” became immaterial.

Technology Review article: http://www.technologyreview.com/communications/24511/?a=f

VNL Company Home Page: http://www.vnl.in/

One Laptop Per Child: http://laptop.org/en/

MeeGo from Linux Foundation: http://www.linux.com/news/featured-blogs/158-jim-zemlin/286723-bringing-the-magic-to-linux-with-meego-

Qt Cross Platform Development: http://qt.nokia.com/products

Most Popular Programming Language: http://www.insideria.com/2008/03/the-worlds-most-misunderstood.html

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