The number of schools in Austria that are considering to use or are using open source is increasing, according to school IT administrators and open source developers involved in education.
For instance, the number of schools using LinuxAdvanced, based on Debian Linux, is 'continuing to increase slowly', says Rene Schwarzinger, one of the developers of the Linux distribution tailored for use by schools.
He says that since the software can be downloaded freely, it is difficult to get accurate data on usage. However, the list of schools that are known to have selected the open source operating system, is growing: "We know of a school in the city of Wels using it for netbooks, and of schools in the cities of Amstetten and Tulln, that are using it in their computer science classes."
This September, a school in the city of Neulengbach will start using LinuxAdvanced for all students and teachers, replacing a proprietary operating system. A school in Spittal an der Drau switched to LinuxAdvanced on their netbook classes. A school in Lauterach is partly using LinuxAdvanced and a school in Zwettl has used it to build their own distribution. The College for Teacher Education in the city of Krems is also going to use the Linux distribution in September and school in Bruck an der Leitha is planning to start using it next school year, Schwarzinger says.
The 10.0 version of LinuxAdvanced was published on 28 June. It includes LinuxAdvanced Teaching System, offering teachers of computer science a management tool for classes as well as management of the PCs.
Schwarzinger finds that schools in Austria are increasingly turning to OpenOffice. The Austrian ministry of Education is supporting this move, paying the schools 10 Euro for every PC that uses this suite of open source office productivity tools.
The ministry is also involved in the development of a Linux-based school desktop and school server distribution, titled desktop4education and server4education. These are used in at least seven schools, including the school that helped its initial development, the Bundesgymnasium and the Bundesrealgymnasium in the city of Weiz, the Volksschule am Tabor in Neusiedl am See and the Volksschule in the city of Pregarten. A school in the city of Frauenkirchen is planning to migrate to the open source distribution, says Helmuth Peer, one of the main developers of the two distributions.
Lastly, Macher Christian, an IT administrator working on an open source content management system for a number schools in the Austrian state of Salzburg, in June reported being contacted by a school that wants to use Linux for its desktop PCs. "The one reason for schools not to move to Linux and OpenOffice is a lack of professionals that support it. However, it is good to see the increase in the number of schools moving to this type of software. I hope I can add one to the list this summer."