For educators who don’t know what is “open source”.

Open Source in Education

Today, schools across the country are making an effort to implement technology. This
effort is being hindered by issues of money, time, support and others. The author looks at
Open Source and how it effects these issues. The paper begins with a history of Open
Source and then looks into its implications for education.

Jomyr I. Alipio

Athens Academy

Open Source College June 2007

This informal essay is designed to help educators better understand Open Source
software and what it means to schools using technology. While a complete
understanding of Open Source is beyond the scope of this paper, you will gain enough
knowledge to get started. This paper is meant to be a primer for educators who are
looking for better and more efficient ways to use technology in schools.
Open Source!? I don’t even know what Source is?
Before we look at Open Source, we need to look at what source actually is. Any
software that runs on a computer is created using a programming language. These
languages were created by humans as a way to tell the computer what to do. These
instructions to the computer are known as a program’s ‘source’. Before the computer can
run these instructions, it has to compile the source code. Compiling is the process of
turning a programming language into binary form (a string of 1s and 0s). Computers
only understand 1s and 0s because at their fundamental level, they are just electrical
switches that are either on (1) or off (0). This might seem like a restriction until you take
in to account that modern computers can make millions and even billions of these
manipulations in one second. Instead of communicating with the computer in binary, it is
many times easier to use a human created language and then translate (compile) it. C++,
Java, and Python are all examples of different programming languages . A great resource
for learning more about a program’s makeup is How to Think Like a Computer Scientist
by Allen Downey, Jeffery Elkner, and Chris Meyers. It is available online at To give you an idea of what these languages look like,
let’s look at a little bit of actual code. It is tradition for every new programmer to start
with the ‘Hello World’ program. It is a simple program that simply writes the phrase
“Hello World” to the screen. I have provided code for C++, Java, and Python to give you
a look at the different ways the same issue can be addressed.
Hello World Program Code Output
#include <iostream>
int main()
C++ programming language { Hello World
std::cout << “Hello World\n”;
return 0;
Hello World Program Code Output
class helloworld
public static void main(String args[ ])
Java programming language {
System.out.println(“Hello World”);
Hello World Program Code Output
Python programming print “Hello World”
Hello World
As you can see, this simple task of printing the words “Hello World” to the screen
can be done many different ways. There are many programming languages out there,
which all have their strengths, weaknesses, and purposes. However, they all are designed
to do one thing, take your directions and turn them into a form the computer understands.
To better appreciate how complicated and unreadable binary is, just look at a simple
binary-word translation. The phrase “Hello World,” in binary is
00110110001100100.” As you can see, this is not something that anyone can read, let
alone write anything as complicated as a program. Now that you have a better
understanding of what a program’s source is, we can look to what the open part is all
What is Open Source anyways?
Before we look into how Open Source can help educators, we first need to look at
what it is. In short, Open Source is a way to develop a project that allows anyone to look
at its progress and make changes. More importantly, for this essay, it is the ability to
look at a computer program’s source code, modify, and redistribute it. This is the basic
premise behind Open Source.
On the other side of the fence is closed-source development. This is when a
company creates a program, releases it, but keeps the source to themselves. For example,
you can use the Microsoft application Internet Explorer, but you cannot see the code that
makes it. Hopefully you are asking, “So, why do I need to see it?” or “Don’t they have
the right to keep their intellectual property to themselves?” Instead of answering those
questions directly, I will let you find them on your own when you discover a little more
about Open Source.
Welded Hood or Free Engine
Imagine you are in the market for a new car. You decide to visit the two
dealerships close by to decide which you will buy from. You walk onto the first lot to
see what they have to offer. The company puts a lot of effort in advertising and letting
everyone know that their cars are superior over all others. Being a smart consumer, you
decide to dig a little deeper to see what their cars are all about. You discover that they
sell their cars with the hood welded shut. They are the only ones who have access to how
their cars work. Upon further investigation you also find that you wouldn’t even be
buying the car. You would instead be licensing the privilege to use the car. The
company has a detailed license process that restricts their cars use and if you break the
license, they will hit you with a severe lawsuit. Being a little disappointed from your
discoveries you decide to go to the other dealership in town hoping to find a better deal.
The first thing you notice at the second lot is that the variety of vehicles is
enormous, much more so than the first lot. You soon discover that the hoods are not
welded shut, giving you or anyone else freedom to change anything about it. Even better.
the engines this company has are free. You can replace your old car’s engine with a new
one at no cost. You also have the choice of buying one of their new cars for a fraction of
the price of the other dealer. Which one do you choose?
Any person would choose the second lot over the first for obvious reasons. This
story is meant to get you thinking about what you should expect when buying a product.
How many rights do you think you should have as a consumer? Now apply this story to
computer software. Does your decision change? Most likely, it won’t.
In the Open Source culture, software is seen as a tool rather than a way to make
money. While some Open Source projects turn a profit, the main driving force behind
the development is to create a really good program. This high priority on the software
and not the profit is enough to make some people jump on the bandwagon. However, it
might not be enough for some and there are even more compelling reasons to use Open
Probably the most popular reasons to use Open Source software is that you can
see the source code of the program you are using. You may (some restrictions may apply
depending on what license it is under) freely change the code to your needs. Assuming
you have the skill to do so, you can customize the source code to do anything you want.
At first glance, this means very little to the non-programming populous. You might ask,
“I have no idea how to program, so what is the point?” I would go back to the car story
and retort, “Would you buy a car with the hood welded shut just because you don’t know
how to change the oil?” Just because one does not have the skills to program (which are
relatively easy to learn), does not mean that they should settle for a closed-source
Where did this come from?
To better understand the Open Source culture and how and why it exists we need
to look at its past. Looking at its root will help you understand how it works and where
the movement is going. Since my space here is limited, I am able to only cover what I
view as the most important points in Open Sources history. If you would like to learn
more, there are many great books and websites, which can be found in the resource
section at the end of this essay.
In the 1960s, the personal computer was not even heard of and computers were
mainly used by the military and universities. It was unheard of for software to make
money. Instead, hardware is what actually made the money. There were many
manufacturers of computers and they were all different. They all had different hardware
architectures and had their own operating systems (the software that makes a computer
work). This meant that software written for a computer would only run on that computer.
The software would have to be rewritten to work on other platforms and when computers
we upgraded. This process wasted time and money on coding and training. These
inefficiencies hindered technology from moving forward just because of the costs
associated. The answer to this problem came from, of all places, New Jersey.
In 1969, Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson of AT&T Bell Labs had developed Unix, an
operating system designed to be able to run on different architectures. This meant that
software could be run on different computers without having to be rewritten. It also
saved time in training because it was basically the same OS running on a different
machine. Unix was originally developed just for use at AT&T, but soon other people
wanted to run it. Even though it was never meant to be a commercial product, AT&T
released Unix and the source code for a very small licensing fee. It was common in the
day to release source code for no other reason than to let people see what is going on with
the computer and to let them fix their own problems.
Time went by and Unix transformed into a powerful and flexible operating
system. Since you could basically buy the source code, many universities and
corporations made their own customized distributions of Unix, which all had different
tools and programs. These distributions were then licensed commercially as the personal
computer market started to rise. The availability of source code started to disappear as
well. Unix had transformed into what other commercially available projects were –
expensive and closed-source. This left a void for people who wanted an operating system
that was powerful, low-cost, and had the source code available. In steps the next major
player in the annals of open source, Richard M. Stallman.
In 1979, RMS (as he likes to be called) was working in the Artificial intelligence
Laboratory at MIT. This same year the lab received the first laser printer from Xerox.
While the printer was nice, it tended to jam. This required employee intervention, which
was not that big of a problem except for the printer did not let the user know when it was
jammed. Seeing this as a problem, Richard Stallman thought he would go about fixing it
himself, as was custom in the AI lab. When he asked for the source code from Xerox his
request was denied. The story goes that RMS went to Xerox himself to get it and was
rudely sent away. This laid the foundation for Stallman’s belief that software should be
free. “Free as in freedom, not as in free beer,” Stallman once said regarding which
definition was meant when using the word free with software.
Eventually RMS resigned from MIT to spend his time creating free software. He
founded the Free Software Foundation (FSF) in 1985 to do just that. Some of the most
popular products to come out of the FSF were the GNU (pronounced guh-noo, standing
for GNU’s Not Unix) suites of free products. This included the GNU C compiler and the
Emacs text editor, which are still widely used today. Even these products are
overshadowed by what is arguably Stallman’s greatest contribution to the computer
world, the GPL.
Free software in itself was a commendable act but it was not enforceable. With
the source code available there was not any way to prevent people from hording this free
code and taking advantage of the work of others. RMS solved this issue with the GNU
Public License or GPL. It created the legal backbone to free software that granted certain
freedoms. These are as follows:
1. The freedom to use the software and have access to the source code.
2. The freedom to modify the software.
3. The freedom to redistribute the software.

4. The freedom to ensure that all modifications must be redistributable.
(Pavlicek, 2002)
This license created an avenue and protected people who wanted to create free software.
It also did not prevent people from making money off software either. Instead of taking
the idea of selling some secret intellectual property, the document aligns itself with
selling the convenience of providing the freely available code in and easily accessible
form. (Pavlicek, 2002, p. 20)
Even with all this free software, there was something missing: an operating
system. The FSF was working on making their own OS, but its development was slowed
by a number of reasons. One being, GNU was mainly used only in academic circles,
businesses ignored the FSF as a bunch of weird idealists. Another was that even though a
person could download the source for a GNU program and even change it, they had no
say in the development of the programs themselves. This was done by the small team at
the FSF. By 1990, a GNU OS seemed like it was never going to be released. The fill to
this void came from an unlikely young man in Finland.
Twenty-one year old Linus Torvalds, a student at Helsinki University, began a
project that would spread to become the poster child of Open Source. In 1991, Linus got
his first 386 computer (which would later become what we call a PC). He didn’t like
MS-DOS and the other Unix’s were all commercial based and beyond his means as a
student. He wanted a Unix-like operating system that was fun to work on. Since
programming was his forte, he began writing his own operating system for fun. This
emphasis on fun is key to understanding why people use and develop open source.
Linus posted his work on Usenet groups and slowly other people started to notice.
They looked at the code and started suggesting changes and submitted patches. Linus
took these ideas and put them into his project and gave credit where it was due. This
process caught on like wildfire and before long there were people from all over the world
helping in the process. Later that year, Linus released version 0.1 of the Linux kernel. A
kernel is the foundation of an operating system that controls base functions that make the
computer work. Programs like the GNU C Compiler and Emacs are the programs which
round out the Linux OS.
Linux gained in popularity and by 1994, when version 1.0 was released, it had
over 1 million users world-wide. (Pavlicek, 2002, p. 20) Since Linus began this project
for fun and wanted others to use it he released it under the GPL. Linus did not sell his
creation or get paid directly for it by anyone (though he did get stock options from
companies who used his creation which eventually got him seven figures). Time went by
and Linux started to become a major player in the OS market. In 2001, in his
autobiography Just For Fun, Linus Torvalds mentions that there were hundreds of
thousands of developers and a user base of 25 million.
There are many other projects and people that contributed to make Open Source
what it is today. It is not my goal to write a complete history, but instead to give you
enough to understand why Open Source exists.
Free Software versus Open Source
Even though it sounds trivial, free software and Open Source software are not the
same thing. The FSF used (and still does) the word free, meaning freedom. Their main
focus was on the moral and ethical reasons behind creating “free” software. On the other
side, Linux developers were only interested in the benefits of creating a free operating
system. Even though the goals were alike, the philosophies were different and a new
term was needed. The term Open Source was coined in 1998.
This also helped the Open Source community continue to grow. The “free” in
free software had become a problem. The media and others were always confusing the
free with the monetary definition. While lower cost is a byproduct of this type of
development it is not the main reason behind Open Source. The word “free” scared
executives who thought these people were crazy for giving their programs away. When
“Open Source” was used, it became easier to teach people why is exists and how it was
better than developing a closed-source product. According to Russell Pavlicek in
Embracing Insanity, there are four key benefits from the term Open Source.
1. Open Source emphasizes quality.
2. Open Source stresses flexibility.
3. Open Source decreases development time.
4. Closed Source is characterized ad non-competitive, rather than immoral.
This whirlwind tour of Open Source should give you a good start into
understanding its existence. If you would like to learn more, turn to the resources of this
paper for a list of the best print and web materials out there. Now that you have this base
knowledge, you should be able to apply its basic belief structure to education. As you
will see, there are many benefits of Open Source for education.
So What Does This Mean For Educators?
Now that you have a little background in Open Source, you may be able to think
of ways it can be used in schools. There are many issues facing educators who want to
use technology and I feel that many of them can be addressed by using Open Source.
Just so it is clear, I am not suggesting that Open Source is a silver bullet or that it is right
to use in every situation. I am just pointing out that it should, at least, be a consideration
when making any decisions about technology that can effect schools or the community.
Let’s now look at some of these issues and explore the effects Open Source can have on
Lack of Money
This is probably the biggest problem facing schools today. The current system for
funding schools is just not working well. The reliance on local taxes is always causing
huge budget cuts and technology is usually one of the first areas effected. A school can
save a huge amount of money by using Open Source.
The high cost of licensing software is the main issue at hand. One of the most
licensed products in schools is Microsoft’s Office Suite. The normal version goes for
$497 per license, as of May 2003. Teachers and students get a discount though, at $149
per license. At first look, this might seem like a deal. The only problem is that you still
have to pay that price for every computer you put it on. Well, technically, you could put
it on more than one computer, but that would be illegal. Let’s say a small K-5 school has
a total of 20 computers. To get Microsoft Office on them they would have to pay $2980
(not including taxes). To a small school this can be a heavy blow to the school budget,
let alone any technology budget they may have. One also has to take into account the
price of upgrading when a new version comes out as well. Another issue is the license
itself, which if you read will tell you that you have almost no right using the software. It
makes very clear that you do not own the software but are buying the privilege to use it. I
could list many other products that charge exorbitant licensing fees, but I think you get
the idea. If schools were to consider Open Source they might think twice before
spending money on a closed-source solution.
There are many programs in the Open Source world that are designed to be office
applications. One of most popular and most powerful is OpenOffice. It is a full fledge
office suite from It includes full-featured word processing, spreadsheet,
and presentation applications that can do the same thing that its Microsoft counterparts
can. It also has support for other file types, which means it works seamlessly with Word,
Excel and others. OpenOffice is certified Open Source and is free to download from It also works on all major platforms including Windows, Mac OS
X, and Linux. There are no licensing fees nor support fees. The only price you pay is for
the Internet connection to download it or you could even spend five dollars to have a CD-
ROM sent to you.
The Open Source world is full of these types of alternatives. Most of the big ones
do not even require you to be using Linux. I will discuss some these other Open Source
projects a little later on. It is clear with Open Source, schools can more wisely spend
their money while remaining current with technology. Whether rich or poor, every
school system should at least look into using Open Source, if only to spend taxpayer’s
money more responsibly.
Lower Cost Equals Better Spent Money
As you have seen, Open Source can save schools thousands of dollars. Where
should this money go? If you are an educator, I am sure you could create a list of at least
a hundred places.
Staying with technology, the money could go to buy even more computers. This
would give schools a chance to bring the ratio of computer to student down. Then maybe
schools would be able to get away from having only one central lab. Technology should
be integrated into the curriculum and having to sign up for lab time makes this difficult.
Teachers should have the opportunity to have the tools they need at their fingertips.
The money could also be spent on staff development in using the technology.
Training is usually the first thing to go in a technology budget. It is my personal belief
that fifty percent of a technology budget should be spent on training. Most of the time
schools figure they should get as many computers and as much other “stuff” as possible.
To these schools, staff development is seen as an extra. A school can spend a million
dollars on the latest and greatest technology, but it is worth nothing if the teachers do not
know how to use it and more importantly how to integrate it into their curriculums.
While time is still an issue with training, money no longer has to be.
The money could also go into paying teachers more. It wouldn’t be much spread
across a whole school, but it is something. There are schools in the United States that are
turning their savings into teacher salaries. In the United States, the average new teacher
is receiving $27,989 (EAN, 2000). There are avenues to raise this level and Open Source
is one of them.
The Digital Divide
The digital divide is a problem facing schools and society. For those without a
knowledge of this phenomenon, here is a great definition from
The term ‘digital divide’ describes the fact that the world can be divided
into people who do and people who don’t have access to – and the
capability to use – modern information technology, such as the telephone,
television, or the Internet. The digital divide exists between those in cities
and those in rural areas. For example, a 1999 study showed that 86% of
Internet delivery was to the 20 largest cities. The digital divide also exists
between the educated and the uneducated, between economic classes, and,
globally, between the more and less industrially developed nations.
Educators need to be aware of this when they use technology. One of the major reasons
schools do not have equal access to technology is lack of funds. The lower cost of Open
Source does a lot to bridge this gap.
Schools that are on the poorer side can use Open Source to get access to
technologies that would be impossible using the usual routes. Buying computer parts,
putting them together, then installing Linux can cost as low as $200. A comparable
computer through a vendor would cost around $900. A school that might think it can’t
afford anything, when taught about Open Source, might reassess their budget. A school
that takes this approach can and should also be a center for getting this word out to the
community. Low-income families might realize that they can afford a computer when
going this route and use the school as a support. Looking at these possibilities, Open
Source is most likely the best weapon we have against the digital divide.
Technology Support
One misconception about Open Source, it is that there is a lack of support for
products. This could not be further from the truth. Closed-source solutions usually have
a line of support that they either provide for free or more likely charge for. A lot of the
bigger Open Source projects also sell support, but the best support solution is usually the
Since it is in Open Source’s nature to have every facet of the project shared,
support is also for free. This support could either come from the developers themselves
or just other people using the product. Chances are that if you have a problem, someone
else has had it before you and their solution is out there. If you are missing a file, a
simple Google search will most likely return its location. The Open Source community is
full of listservs, mailing lists, and web sites devoted to supporting users. Linus Torvalds,
when he was developing Linux, was often known to release a fix within hours when
made aware of a problem. The community has only gotten more supportive in the years
since then. is a forum-based site designed to give beginners and advanced
users a place to give and get support. A post on one of the forums can return an answer
within minutes. If one does just a little bit of research and finds these places, they will
have many times more support than they would through a closed-source vendor.
Open Source Technologies
It is clear that the Open Source community has a lot to offer educators. There are
thousands of projects that are currently being used in schools and many more that could
be. Below is an overview of just a few of the Open Source projects that educators may
be concerned with.
Linux is an obvious Open Source solution for educators. It is free and can be
easily installed on almost any computer. Red Hat Linux is the most popular distribution
(version) of Linux in the United States. It offers ease of set-up, use, and maintenance.
Another popular distribution is Yellow Dog Linux. It is based on Red Hat and made to
run on Apple computers. Both of these methods can be used to breathe new life into an
old computer. Linux has a reputation of running very well on older machines. This is
good news for schools since a lot of the time they have older equipment.
As discussed earlier, OpenOffice is a great alternative to Microsoft Office. It runs
on all major platforms and is free monetarily and liberty wise. There are almost no
excuses for a school to spend money on MS Office when this alternative is available.
There are also other Office solutions as well. Koffice and AbiWord are two that are also
popular among the Open Source community.
The Gimp
The Gimp is an image manipulation tool. It is an Open Source counterpart to
Adobe Photoshop. This popular tool has been rapidly gaining features and support in the
last year. It is as powerful as Photoshop and some say even more so. As of this writing
the current price for a single copy of Photoshop is $609. That is a lot to swallow for a
school system on a tight budget. There is no reason they have to if they knew about the
In 1999, Apple computer was the first major computer manufacturer to build its
future around Open Source technologies. Darwin is the core Unix base of OS X. It is
Open Source and freely available. Apple realized the benefits of Open Source and now
have claim to the highest user base of any Unix based operating system.
Since Apple’s OS X is a Unix based operating, it makes running pure Unix
applications relatively pain free. Fink is a package management tool that allows a user to
install these Open Source programs on a computer running OS X. With this tool schools
running OS X have access to thousands of Open Source programs such as OpenOffice
and the Gimp.
Apache is most widely known as an http server, which takes care of hosting web
sites. It was created by a few hobbyists who were not happy with the closed-source
solutions available. They started “patching” (hence the name) a program together to fill
their needs. Long story short, as of May 2003, Apache serves 63% of all Internet web
pages. (Netcraft Web Server Survey, 2003)
This is a very incomplete list as there are thousands of Open Source projects
available. To find an Open Source project that fits your needs, visit some of the sites
listed in the resource section of this paper.
By now you should be able to see the implications of using Open Source in
schools. It cannot only save money, but it also provide an avenue to the latest in
technology. The community behind Open Source is concerned with creating the best
products possible and they do it for fun. This method of development brings out the
importance of the program, rather than the money that can be made off of it.
One of the most common arguments against Open Source in education is “In the
real world my child is going to need to know Microsoft Word (insert any closed-source
program here) so that is what they should be learning.” At first glance this seems like a
valid argument, but upon further though, it doesn’t align itself with good teaching
practices. It is far better to teach the concepts behind word processing than it is to teach a
particular program. Spell checking, cutting and pasting, margins, and tabs are all
concepts are implemented in all word processors. When a child is taught the concept
behind these, they will be able to adapt to new programs when they come along. For
example, learning to use Linux will only help a student get better at Windows and vice
Schools can benefit from Open Source in so many ways, it is hard to see why
more aren’t using it. The main reason behind this is lack of knowledge about Open
Sources. Most people do not even know what it is. I hope this paper has done its part to
introducing those people to Open Source and its possibilities.

Works Cited
Columbus Networks Corporation. Starring Teacher Salaries in Each State. Retrieved
May, 01, 2003, from
Netcraft. May 2003 Web Server Survey. Retrieved May, 01, 2003, from
Pavlicek, Russell C. Embracing Insanity. Indianapolis, IN: Sams, 2000.
TechTarget. Digital Divide definition. Retrieved May, 01, 2003, from,,sid9_gci214062,00.html.
Torvalds, Linus., and David Diamond. Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental
Revolutionary. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.
Books on Open Source
DiBona, Chris., Sam Ockman and Mark Stone. Ed. Open Sources: Voices from the Open
Source Revolution. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly and Associates, Inc., 1999.
A collection of essays from some of the most important people in Open Source
Negus, Christopher. Red Hat Linux 8 Bible. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley Publishing, Inc,
One of the many “Bible” books out there and it is very well written. It covers
everything you need to know to get up and running and then some. It starts off
Open Source in Education 22
with how to install Linux and ends up showing how to set up DNS servers and
Feller, Joseph., and Brian Fitzgerald. Understanding Open Source Software
Development. Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited, 2002.
A great book to start with. It explains the process and theory behind Open Source
in non-technical language. It gives a basic introduction and will give the reader
enough information get going in Open Source.
Pavlicek, Russell C. Embracing Insanity. Indianapolis, IN: Sams, 2000.
Another introductory book that is a little more on the technical side. It includes
explanations of licenses and different resources available.
Raymond, Eric S. The Cathedral and the Bazaar. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly and
Associates, Inc., 2001.
Includes a number of essays by Eric Raymond. He is pretty much the philosopher
of the Open Source world. His paper “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” was a
landmark in the world of Open Source.
Raymond, Eric S., ed. The New Hacker’s Dictionary. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press,
A dictionary of terms that is popular in the computer world.
Open Source in Education 23
Taylor, Dave and Jerry Peek. Learning Unix for Mac OS X. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly
and Associates, Inc., 2002.
The purpose of this book is to teach people who are familiar with OS X about its
Unix base. It is a good introduction, and the information gained is transferable to
other Unix based OSs.
Torvalds, Linus and David Diamond. Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental
Revolutionary. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.
The story of Linus Torvalds and his Linux kernel that is changing the way we
Williams, Sam. Free as in Freedom. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly and Associates, Inc., 2002.
The story of Richard Stallman and how he came to create the GPL and Free
Software Foundation.
Web Sites on Open Source (in no particular order)
Free Software Foundation (
The home of the free software foundation.
The KDE Edutainment Project (
The software that KDE is creating for education and descriptions of all of them.
Open Source in Education 24
Open Source Initiative (
A non-profit corporation founded by Eric Raymond to promote Open Source
through OSI certification. (
A site designed to bring the best Linux distributions in the world to one place. It
also contains a lot of information about what Linux is. (
A site aiming to teach the masses about Linux.
Freshmeat (
A site that hosts many Open Source projects for different platforms.
K – 12 Linux (
A collection of 3 sites that aim to help educators deploy Linux in schools.
Contains information of how to buy computers and how to install software.
Just Linux (
A site devoted to helping people figure out the problems. Great site for newbies.
Slashdot (
The “water cooler of geek culture.” A site where news and posting about all
things geek can be found. It is a great place for understanding the Open Source
Schoolforge (
Schoolforge is a cause for getting open source into schools. People making sites
or software for education through open source means, usually join schoolforge to
show that they are serious about creating good software for the right reasons.
Open Source Schools (
A news and reference site for educators interested in Open Source in schools. A
subsite of schoolforge.
Simple End User Linux/edu is a site dedicated to furthering the use of Linux in an
educational setting.
Sorceforge (
The self-proclaimed worlds largest repository of Open Source code and
Dr. Dobb’s Tech Net Cast (
A great site containing tons of net casts concerning technology. It is a great place
to learn about Open Source (and other technology topics) from the people who are
speaking out about it.
Netcraft (
Netcraft is a company that collects web statistics and reports them to the world.


Finally – Linus Torvalds Responds To Microsoft Patent Claims!

The holder of the Linux trademark suggests Microsoft should name the patents it alleges have been violated so the claims can be tested in court. 

Linus Torvalds, lead developer of the Linux kernel, has a sharp retort to Microsoft executives’ statements in a Fortune magazine article that Linux and other open-source code violate 235 Microsoft patents.

“It’s certainly a lot more likely that Microsoft violates patents than Linux does,” said Torvalds, holder of the Linux trademark. If the source code for Windows could be subjected to the same critical review that Linux has been, Microsoft would find itself in violation of patents held by other companies, said Torvalds.

“Basic operating system theory was pretty much done by the end of the 1960s. IBM probably owned thousands of really ‘fundamental’ patents,” Torvalds said in a response to questions submitted by InformationWeek. But he doesn’t like any form of patent saber rattling. “The fundamental stuff was done about half a century ago and has long, long since lost any patent protection,” he wrote.

Microsoft should name the patents that it claims have been violated so the claims can be tested in court or so open-source developers can rewrite code to avoid the violation, Torvalds wrote.

“Naming them would make it either clear that Linux isn’t infringing at all (which is quite possible, especially if the patents are bad), or would make it possible to avoid infringing by coding around whatever silly thing they claim,” he said.

“So the whole, ‘We have a list and we’re not telling you,’ itself should tell you something,” Torvalds said of Microsoft’s stance in the Fortune story. And for good measure, he added: “Don’t you think that if Microsoft actually had some really foolproof patent, they’d just tell us and go, ‘nyaah, nyaah, nyaah!'”

Microsoft would prefer not to actually sue anyone, particularly a Linux user who’s also a Microsoft customer. “They’d have to name the patents then, and they’re probably happier with the FUD [fear, uncertainty, doubt] than with any lawsuit,” Torvalds predicted.

Microsoft goes Open Source? – Desperate Company?

Microsoft is expected to show a new friendliness to the open-source community by unveiling plans to release the source code to a part of its Silverlight technology at MIX 07 next week, according to sources familiar with the company’s plans.

Sources said Microsoft will also release a beta of Silverlight, a recently unveiled browser plug-in that allows Web content providers to offer a rich video and interactive media experience from directly within Web sites. The technology leverages Vista’s new graphics framework, Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), and Microsoft is promoting it as a direct competitor to Adobe Systems’ Flash tool and delivery mechanism for rich multimedia content on the Web.

Specifics on which aspect of Silverlight will be open-sourced were not available, and Microsoft’s public relations firm declined to comment Friday.

Aiming for Adobe

The final version of Microsoft’s Expression toolset for building rich Internet applications (RIAs) also may make an appearance at MIX 07, according to sources, though Microsoft has two more months to work on the tool according to its schedule. The company has said Expression, another product it hopes will woo RIA designers away from Adobe, will be available before the end of June.

Microsoft is pitting Expression as an alternative to Adobe’s recently released Creative Suite 3, and the toolset is also key to Silverlight because the company hopes designers will use it to create applications to be delivered through Silverlight.

Microsoft’s rather unconventional move to embrace the open-source community could be a response to Adobe Systems’ announcement earlier this week that it will open-source the SDK for its Flex RIA development environment by the end of the year.

Adobe has a multiyear headstart on Microsoft in luring developers to its RIA tools, and open-sourcing components of Flex should grow that base, users have said. Microsoft likely sees a need to lure developers to Silverlight as quickly as it can if it wants to catch up to Adobe.

Microsoft hosted its first MIX show last year as an appeal to Web designers and developers of RIAs, an audience whose respect the company has yet to win. Microsoft has made several stops and starts in offering Web authoring and design tools over the years, but the company has had far more success among developers building desktop applications because of its Windows and Office products.

Tough Market

Keith Cutcliffe, IT developer and analyst for ProAssurance in Birmingham, Alabama, said he has reviewed tools in the Expression suite, and from what he’s seen it’s a solid product. “However, I stand by my belief that Microsoft just doesn’t know how to appeal to the designer crowd,” he said. Cutcliffe attended MIX in its inaugural year, but is not attending next week.

Strategically, Microsoft is trying to make the necessary leap to the Web as a platform for developing applications to compete not only with companies such as Adobe, but also Web services companies like Google and Yahoo. It’s important for the vendor to make inroads with developers using the most cutting-edge Web and multimedia design technologies, Cutcliffe said.

Adobe isn’t the only competitor Microsoft had to contend with on the RIA front. A small company in Silicon Valley called Laszlo Systems also has a sophisticated tool for building RIAs, and already has made available an open-source version of it, OpenLaszlo, which lets developers build both Flash- and Ajax-based applications.

David Temkin, founder and CTO, of Laszlo Systems, said Microsoft’s interest and entry into the RIA space is good for competitors, because it should stir up interest in related products.

Vista In Trouble?

Dell has announce that they are again offering their consumers computers with XP, instead of Vista. Recent results of polls from their IdeaStorm project revealed that their consumers voted for XP to be bundled with Dell’s computers, although not as high as the votes gathered by Linux and OpenOffice to be added to their PCs.

Microsoft announced earlier that except for system builders (smaller computer sellers who will be able to sell XP for another year) , XP sales will be stopped. Which is just another way of saying, “buy our new, overpriced OS because that’s the only choice we’re giving you.” By mid-February, XP computers were all but gone from store shelves.

But Dell is clearly not a small computer seller, and you can be sure that other big computer sellers will be moving to appease their consumers as well.

“That there is remaining demand from some segment of (the) consumer market points to the inability of Vista to resonate with consumers,” IDC analyst Richard Shim said.

Current Analysis research director Samir Bhavnani blamed low Vista sales on lack of marketing, noting that he sees more Apple ads than Vista ads. I have two opinions on this matter. First, can you really blame lack of ads? The hype and anticipation for Vista has been around for a long time, causing me to believe that marketing reach of Vista is not as insignificant as Bhavnani states. Secondly, the lack of marketing on the part of Vista seems to be a sign of arrogance for me. Does Microsoft really think of themselves so high that they didn’t need to market their product?

On my side of the globe, Microsoft recently launched their $3 Windows-Office bundles in China. In a country where the average income is $100/month, nobody’s going to buy a $200 operating system, especially since at $200 Vista starter has just the very basic features to get you by. And they’re definitely not going to pay $250 or more just to get Aero. In first world countries, people are crying foul and are demanding that the $3 Windows-Office bundles also be offered to students. And some view this move as first-world countries subsidizing third-world users.

Philippine Bayanihan Linux 4

The fourth version of Bayanihan Linux, a Filipino-based desktop system, comes out with new productivity tools, multimedia applications, and a lot more!

Quezon City – March 26, 2007 – Advanced Science and Technology Institute – DOST, After months of continuous development and rigorous testing, the team announces the release of the latest version of the Bayanihan Linux distribution. Download your copy now from

Bayanihan Linux…

…is a complete desktop solution
It’s a complete desktop in just one CD!
Installation is point and click.
Lots of applications are built in, and thousands more are available online for free to add power to your desktop!
Local Support is provided by the Bayanihan Team.

…comes Internet-ready with antivirus support
Whether you’re surfing the Internet, sending email or instant messages to your friends and family, do it safely and securely with Bayanihan Linux!
Keep your system secure the fast and easy way with the built-in antivirus software.

…has excellent support for mobile computing
Laptop-ready with support for various wireless devices allows you to connect even when you’re not in the office.
Instantly use your removable devices. Just plug them in — it’s that simple!

…offers extensive multimedia and graphics applications
Do more with Bayanihan Linux! Listen to your favorite music and watch movies.
Save all your important data to CD’s or DVD’s.
Release the artist in you with the creativity tools we’ve included. You can even create your own 3D animated movie!

…includes an integrated full-featured office suite
Get your job done easily using the built-in word processor, spreadsheet software and tons of other office applications!

For more information please visit

About Advanced Science and Technology Institute

The Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) is a research and development agency under the Department of Science and Technology (DoST). It is mandated to conduct scientific research and development in the advanced fields of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Microelectronics. Please visit for more information.

Lists of Operating Systems

TROUBLESHOOTINGCommon questions and answers to operating systems in general can be found on the below operating system question and answers. All other questions relating to an operating system in particular can be found through the operating system page.

Linux / Variants
IBM OS/2 Warp
Unix / Variants
Windows CE
Windows 3.x
Windows 95
Windows 98
Windows 98 SE
Windows ME
Windows NT
Windows 2000
Windows XP
Windows Vista

Linus Benedict Torvalds- “The man behind Linux”

Linux TorvaldsLinus Benedict Torvalds (pronunciation ; born December 28, 1969 in Helsinki, Finland) is a Finnish software engineer best known for initiating the development of the Linux kernel. He now acts as the project’s coordinator.

Linus was inspired by Minix (an operating system developed by Andrew S. Tanenbaum) to develop a capable Unix-like operating system that could be run on a PC. Linux now also runs on many other architectures.

Early years

Linus was born in Helsinki, Finland, the son of journalists Anna and Nils Torvalds, and the grandson of poet Ole Torvalds. His family belongs to the Swedish-speaking minority (roughly 5%) of Finland’s population. Torvalds was named after Linus Pauling, the American Nobel Prize-winning chemist, although he prefers to claim he was named after Linus in the Peanuts comic strip.[citation needed] Both of his parents were campus radicals at the University of Helsinki in the 1960s.

Torvalds attended the University of Helsinki from 1988 to 1996, graduating with a master’s degree in computer science. His M.Sc. thesis was titled Linux: A Portable Operating System. From 1997 to 1999 he was involved in 86open helping choose the standard binary format for linux and unix.

His interest in computers began with a Commodore VIC-20. After the VIC-20 he purchased a Sinclair QL which he modified extensively, especially its operating system. He programmed an assembler and a text editor for the QL, as well as a few games. He is known to have written a Pac-Man clone named Cool Man. In 1990 he purchased an Intel 80386-based IBM PC and spent a few weeks playing the game Prince of Persia before receiving his Minix copy which in turn enabled him to begin his work on Linux.

Later years

Linus is married to Tove Torvalds (born Monni). She is a six-time Finnish national Karate champion, whom he first met in the autumn of 1993. Linus was running introductory computer laboratory exercises for students and instructed the course attendants to send him an e-mail as a test, to which Tove responded with an e-mail asking for a date. “Tove and Linus went on to have three daughters, Patricia, Miranda and Daniela.” ( They also have a cat named Randi (short for Mithrandir, the Sindarin name for Gandalf, a wizard in The Lord of the Rings).

Red Hat and VA Linux, both leading developers of Linux-based software, presented Torvalds with stock options in gratitude for his creation. In 1999, both companies went public and Torvalds’ net worth shot up to roughly $20 million [1].

Torvalds moved to San Jose, California and lived there for several years with his family. In June of 2004, Torvalds and his family moved to Portland, Oregon to be closer to Linus’ place of work.

He worked for Transmeta from February 1997 until June 2003, and is now seconded to the Linux Foundation, a Beaverton, Oregon based software consortium.

His personal mascot is a penguin nicknamed Tux, which has been widely adopted by the Linux community as the mascot of the Linux kernel.

Unlike many open source evangelists, Torvalds maintains a low profile and generally refuses to comment on competing software products. Torvalds generally stays out of non-kernel-related debates. He has been criticized for his neutrality by the free software movement, specifically for having worked on proprietary software with Transmeta, and for his use and alleged advocacy of the proprietary BitKeeper software for version control in the Linux kernel. However, Torvalds has since written a free-software replacement for BitKeeper called git. Torvalds has commented on official GNOME developmental mailing lists that, in terms of desktop environments, he encourages users to switch to KDE [2] and he explained why [3].

Torvalds often finds himself in the middle of competing ideologies: on one hand he is an established icon of open-source and free software, yet on the other he has supported the use of the proprietary software BitKeeper to help manage the Linux kernel and has stated that Linux may include technology supporting digital rights management for pragmatic reasons.

The Linus/Linux connection

Torvalds originally used the Minix OS on his system which he replaced with the Linux OS. He first named it Freax (a combination of “free”, “freak”, and the letter X to indicate that it is a Unix-like system), but his friend Ari Lemmke, who administered the FTP server where the Linux kernel was first hosted for downloading, gave Torvalds a directory called linux (Torvalds & Diamond 2001:88).

Authority on Linux

About 2% of the current Linux kernel is written by Torvalds himself. Since Linux has had thousands of contributors, such a percentage is very respectable. Torvalds remains the ultimate authority on what new code is incorporated into the Linux kernel.

Linux trademark

Torvalds owns the “Linux” trademark, and monitors [4] use of it chiefly through the non-profit organization Linux International. Linux’s wide and passionate userbase makes trademark abuse difficult as misuse is rapidly detected.