Monday, September 04, 2006

Results of Linux Laptop Pilot Are In!

I don't know how many people are seeking this information but the results are in. The delay is due to the inherent challenges of starting the school year in a school with a laptop program. This year we have 450 latops with SLED 10 (SUSE Linux) deployed. It is a departure from the framework of the study, which investigated Novell Linux Desktop 9, but is fundamentally the same. SLED 10 offered us many of the improvement we sought as a result of the study's findings.

OK. Enough delay. What did the study find? Linux laptops cost us less in acquisition, and year long support. They cost about the same to deploy. Faculty were resistant but became less so with time. Students found the Linux problems easier to troubleshoot (which was a surprise to me). Also, given the choice between Linux and Windows via Citrix, students spent a slight majority of their time operating in the Linux environment.

A Linux laptop program is no different than any other laptop program in that it brings about a change in the classroom that requires preparation and training. You can never do too much. User satisfaction was generally the same as those found in the Rockman Report, which is a hallmark of laptop program research.

Our conclusion: Linux offers a viable computing ecosystem for a school laptop program for significantly less money. The complete abolishment of Windows and/or Macintosh is probably not in the best interest of the school. Also a phased approach is most valuable because it provides a growing base of linux and open source experts for your community and allows you to more wisely and gradually reduce Microsoft expenses as your community becomes more comfortable with open source alternatives.

The white paper summarizing our findings can be found here or at the link on the left side of the page. We also promised not to hide behind papers. The question by question summary of Phase I data can be found here or at the link on the left side of the page. The question by question summary of Phase II data can be found here or at the link on the left side of the page.

This has been a pleasant challenge and we have decided to continue to use Linux in our laptop program. In fact, based off data gathered in this study, we have designed our image to accommodate more time in the Linux ecosystem versus the Windows ecosystem, as this is what our students have called for in their actions.

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