Summer is on and of course as teachers we are doing nothing, right? This is that time of year where apparently we just sit around and do nothing and get paid, right? These months (July-Aug) are the reason why every teacher became a teacher, right? I am sure that if you are a teacher, or even thinking of becoming a teacher, you have probably heard one of these comments recently. If only that were true, huh? This is the time of year when I can get most of the physical work done! Without students I can refresh machines, move around ones that have broken, are breaking, or will just plain die any day now. Purchases are made, planning happens, and things keep going! If you are a teacher reading this post, remember this is our down time so relax and enjoy! :-)
OK, now that I have put away my soap box (thank goodness I don't have a large audience to worry about influencing!) I move on to the reason for my post. In a recent post from May I talked about setting up Ubuntu (Open Source, i.e. free) software and NComputing (Virtual computing, i.e. more computers without the equipment) hardware for a cheaper alternative to getting to a 1 to 1 ratio of computers to students. After having a discussion with reps from the company I do most of my purchasing from, I found out the licensing necessary to use Windows with the NComputing boxes. Basically, to be compliant (and legal) with the companies, I have to purchase a server license (2003 or 2008) for the host machine, a CAL (client access license) for each of the client machines, AND a RAC (Remote Access client license) for each of the client machines. Now, depending on which tier you are on with Microsoft, these purchases vary in price. Needless to say, it will cost approximately $150-$200 just for the OS licenses for me to put three computers in any classroom (1 host and 2 virtual). Of course, if I want other software, like Office or Publisher, or whatever, I have to pay for three separate licenses. So quick math tells me that if I want to do 10 classrooms, I have to put out $2000 for just the ability to run Windows on those machines. With a free operating system on the computer which is broken up into three machines (or up to 11 if you use the bigger x550 solution) it costs me nothing. Nada, zip, zero. Being under a tight budget, I like not having to put out that money (and my principal likes it even more)! It all comes down to what you want to do on that machine. If you are looking to get another lab just for Internet research, this solution might work for you. If you can use the open source program OpenOffice to do your word processing, spreadsheet, and presentations then this solution might work for you. It is, at the very least, something to look into. Let me be clear, I don't believe it will ever replace Windows, but it might be another option for teachers. Here is an article from THE journal giving a little more information.