The Government of Kerala (my state in India) has passed a ruling that public schools in the state will base their computer curriculum entirely on Linux. Initially the idea was to give schools the option to choose between Microsoft and Linux, but later this was narrowed down to limiting any Microsoft related topics to that of migrating to Linux from Windows based operating systems. The state is currently ruled by a leftist party, and the leaders of the party are strong proponents of open source software, specially after a couple of visits by Richard Stallman in the last few years.
Now, personally, I feel that Linux is an excellent choice as an OS platform in high schools. It comes with an entire set of development tools, and while Microsoft gives away free editions of its compiler IDEs (the Express editions), they are limited in functionality, and the C++ version of the Express editions does not even support a resource editor. Also, the Linux OS comes with complete source code, and as a student, there can be nothing more exciting than to dig into the OS source code. And lastly, there are no installation costs for Linux (compared to Microsoft, even accounting for academic discounts). And in schools, there won’t be much of a maintenance cost either, because every school will have a few Linux geeks who’d help with maintaining the school network.
But, I still strongly disapprove of the decision to totally ban Microsoft software from schools. Kids should still have a choice, and they need to know that there are other options outside of Linux. By restricting them forcibly to a particular OS, without their explicit (or implicit for that matter) permission, you are virtually diminishing their chances of going into a successful professional career based on Microsoft products. The smarter geekier kids would obviously find their own way, and make their own choices, and would probably have multi-boot systems at home. It’s the ordinary kids that are doomed to a narrow career path due to a decision that was made by a short sighted government.
What’s ironic is that, just as RMS is losing popularity with most of the open source world, he’s gaining it in Kerala. And for all his principles of freedom, that’s the one thing that he’s helped to take away from Kerala’s school children – the freedom of choice. :hmmm: