There was a day-long education mini-summit on Monday at this year’s Linuxcon conference in Boston. There were several sessions which I hope to cover in a series of posts. [[A very good summary here. Maybe I’ll skip the other posts because Mairin did such an excellent job and you can get more details from her blog post.]]

David Trask, a long-time educator in Maine, was faced with a server crash in 2000. He asked his principal to consider options with him and when they compared the long list of negatives for rebuilding the server and its proprietary software against the long list of positives for going for the open source alternative, the two of them agreed to jump at the open alternative.

Since then Maine has instituted a 1to1 computing initiative starting with giving middle school student a laptop, one that they carried around school each day and took home every evening. When the initiative was expanded to high school students, it was provided with a less advantageous financial support from the state. David initiated a plan to overcome that. He proposed that high school students get a netbook preloaded with a customized Linux solution. The site is an outgrowth of that effort. He and his team have devised a USB thumb drive image which can be easily installed to a netbook, laptop or other computer. The regularly updated Ubuntu-based image is generally taken from the site by a school’s IT staff and put onto approximately 20 thumb drives which the techs take around the school and install to the computers. It takes less than 6 minutes for a complete install and only requires a couple of initial keypresses.

Bug fix releases are put onto the site during the school year, and some schools jump to get them while others wait for the next school year if the bug is not a core problem.

Network install options are in development, and you can keep abreast of the progress at the Web site. []

The Free & Open Source Software in Education Conference FOSSED [] is another effort of David and his team. It is held annually at Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine. The $495 price includes everything; sessions, room and board. I’m planning to attend the next one in 2011.