Schools in the city of Kemi, in the north of Finland, are saving costs by switching to open source on their desktop PCs and servers. The move has increased performance of the existing hardware, the schools report.
This year all schools in the city will start using Linux terminals and servers. It will be one of the biggest such projects in the country, comprising about five hundred terminals and some 3300 users.
This summer the fifth school in the city, the local gymnasium, started using Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP) for its PCs and servers. One of the main reasons for the change, are positive experiences from another school in the city, that has been using LTSP since 2005. Other schools had been migrated to LTSP in 2009 and 2010.
The switch meant the schools could reuse its existing computers. "We could not afford to spend the money that would otherwise be required for a school PC", says Antti Turunen, and IT administrator working for the city of Kemi. "By using open source software for education, we also avoid forcing parents to purchase expensive software licences for use at home."
According to Turunen, feedback on the use of the open source systems is mostly positive. "Users are surprised how fast the existing hardware is. The systems boot really fast and it has made the computers much more available to the students and teachers."
According to the IT administrator using LTSP has made it safer to use computers at school. "Teachers and students now only have access to their own files and data."
However, Turunen also received negative comments. A few applications depend on proprietary software multimedia-software that does not run well on the LTSP. "However, alternative solutions can be found, so it is not a huge problem."
The names of the schools in Kemi are the latest that are added to a growing list of Finnish schools switching to open source. A list of schools in the country that are using LTSP, now contains the names of 86 schools. The list is managed by COSS, Finland's resource centre for open source. It started a project on open source in education, called Educoss.
Blog post on LTSP in Kemi (in Finnish)
Tietokone news item (in Finnish)
Kauppalehti news item (in Finnish)
Tietoviikko news item (in Finnish)