Municipalities in Finland that have switched their schools to Linux and other open source solutions are saving millions of euro, says Jouni Lintu, CIO of Opinsys. "Typically, our centrally managed open source computers are at least 40 percent cheaper than the proprietary alternative. The total savings could be 10 million."
For 43 municipalities, encompassing 175 schools, the firm maintains some 9000 open source PCs and laptops. These are used by in total 42,000 school children in primary and secondary education. "Many of these children are using Linux and other open source tools daily."
The project is one of Europe's larger open source installations in primary and secondary education. Several regions in Spain and Portugal also install Linux-distributions on their school PCs, in this way introducing open source to thousands of students.
The number of schools in Finland switched to open source has been rising steadily the past three years. For Opinsys meanwhile, the number has almost doubled: in 2010, the company managed the ICT infrastructure in 90 schools.
On its website, the company last week reported on its use of Puavo, an open source, web-based administration tool aimed at schools. "We are now managing IT systems for some 170 schools in dozens of cities around Finland. The schools have close to 8000 computers in total. The number of laptops is still relatively small, but approaching 1000. All of this is now managed with Puavo."
"Puavo has been built over the years to serve our use case: lots of nearly identical centrally managed systems that still need separate user directories and storage areas." Each municipality has a separate user directory and device inventory, and each school has local administrators (teachers) that use Puavo for some of their tasks. "We do not run separate instances of everything for every city or school, but all the management tools are hosted in one place. Only the functions that need to be within school LAN are there."
Linux is also used to turn school PCs into wireless access point, says Lintu. "Technically, that is one of the most-interesting features of our work." The company creates WLAN networks of dozens or often over one hundred access points per school, using dongles attached to school computers. It functions just like any other professional network and Puavo configures and monitors the networks. "It's all open source of course."