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Schools participating in the initiative will be provided with Red Hat software and services at no cost. Red Hat will assess the current and future computing needs of each school and then install the appropriate open source software and programs. Each school is providing its own hardware, and has agreed to meet the minimum requirements set by Red Hat.
"We replaced our proprietary servers with Linux and our school district now uses open-source software to run our firewall, mail, internet site, intranet sites, WAN administration and monitoring, file and print services, and student information systems," said Michael Williams, Network Technology Director of Haywood County Schools. "With the money we saved from not buying proprietary licenses, the school district purchased additional resources that directly effected the learning experience of our students and brought us into the 21st century."
The success of the pilot program will be measured based on regular reporting from each school. Schools can use Linux for infrastructure (Web, file/print, application servers), administration (database servers), or even an entire computer science lab environment, where Linux runs the central server, and Linux or any other operating system can run on individual workstations to check email, access the Internet and use productivity software.
At a Red Hat-sponsored kick-off on April 19, numerous local school representatives from the various counties, Red Hat and Dell executives, and State Education Department CTO Bob Bellamy expressed the need for open source technology in K-12 schools.
"DPI is pleased to be working with Red Hat to further the technology options for some local schools," said Bellamy. "We are conscious of balancing the technology needs of local schools with the funds available to support these needs. Open source initiatives are viable alternatives in certain instances and we want to take advantage of all options."
Typically, when technology budgets are available, a large share of a school's money is spent on costly proprietary technology and software licenses. The K-12 Red Hat Linux Pilot Program provides an effective, yet inexpensive, way for all schools to offer high-quality computer programs to students. Because open source software is inexpensive or free, schools can spend budget dollars on additional computers for the classroom or on hiring technical staff to teach the students.
"States across the nation face shrinking education budgets at a time when our educational institutions need to expand the the role of information technologies in schools," said Michael Tiemann, CTO of Red Hat. "Existing proprietary solutions cost our schools more money each year, while limiting choice and making it difficult for schools to meet new educational mandates in innovative ways. The K-12 Red Hat Linux Pilot Program provides the alternative. It extends the reliability and flexibility benefits of open source software to schools at a fraction of the cost, providing an equal opportunity to schools of any budget size."
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