One kindergarten in Heliopolis, a suburb of the Greek capital Athens, has successfully made the switch to free and open source. Following a break-in and the theft of four PCs last summer, a parent of one of the children attending the kindergarten donated two refurbished PCs, running Ubuntu Linux. The two PCs are now used by the staff, mostly for emailing with the Ministry of Education. They are also used in the classrooms for playing music, showing photos and playing videos as part of every day activities.
The parent Anastasios Kyrivozopoulos, in January told Kathimerini, an Athens newspaper, why he decided to donate PCs. "The kindergarten management had informed the ministry about the theft. The ministry replied that new PCs would be ordered and sent in due course, but we know that this may actually take up to one year. By then our kids will be in primary school."
Kyrivozopoulos: "I tested various solutions, and concluded that a Pentium4 with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS works with the least amount of tweaking." Pentium 4 PCs are readily available for free, he says. "At many companies, IT departments are replacing this generation of PCs, so you just have to ask around for it."
Using Ubuntu Linux is a good solution for public PCs, Kyrivozopoulos says. "Linux is not troubled by malware and spyware like the ubiquitous proprietary operating systems."
More parents should follow this example, the Kathimeriniu newspaper quotes Νίκος Katsalis, representing the Union Information Archive (Ένωση Πληροφορικών Ελλάδος, EPE). The organisation advocates the use of free software, such as OpenOffice.
Katsalis says he and several colleagues have resorted to using free and open source alternatives on school PCs. Katsalis and colleagues created a repository of programs that can be shared between schools. Without it, school infrastructure would have collapsed."
The Greek Free/Open Source Software Society (Eel/Lak) comments: "This proves that open source software can be combined with low cost hardware, in this case a Pentium 4 PC with 512Mb memory,a 20Gb disk, a pair of external PC speakers and an old CRT monitor, and cover all the basic needs of a school in Greece. There is no need for someone to be a Linux expert to perform the installation and resorting to open source can guarantee minimum cost with better stability and speed in performance compared to any other alternative."