As I've written before (here and here), the Linux desktop in danger of extinction. If operating systems could be placed on the Endangered Species list, I'd lobby for it. Perhaps this is a legitmate task for the Linux Foundation: Preserve the Linux desktop.
I'm not quite ready to give up on Linux as a Desktop operating system--though I feel that I'm in the minority on this topic that grows mootier by the day. I think there's still a glimmer of hope in the unlikeliest of places: Schools.
I know it might sound crazy but it's true. Schools are notoriously cash poor. They are also the perfect places to innovate and stretch one's imagination to its limits. Children are very creative and excited about anything that will help save money, preserve the planet and help their schools. Believe it.
What's more creativity inspiring than the concept of open source software?
Explain open source to a child, any child, and watch their eyes light up in delight. Alternatively, explain the concept of proprietary, closed source and expensive software to them and watch their eyes glaze over. You should also expect a "That's stupid," remark or two while explaining that concept.
Don't get me wrong. There's nothing at all wrong with making a profit but should our children suffer without working computers because they're too expensive? The cost of hardware is only part of the picture--software often triples the original cost of the hardware.
The adoption of open source in schools,
1. Decreases financial entry point into computing.
2. Teaches children to solve problems creatively.
3. Introduces children to new concepts.
4. Lengthens the life of aging hardware.
5. Promotes the use of the Linux desktop.
There are ongoing programs around the world to use Linux and open source software in schools.
For example, one of my friends who works for a publisher in the Kansas City area is starting an open source conversion movement in her daughter's school. To read more about it, check out her blog for future updates as the project progresses.
As I see it, the way to promote the use of Linux as a desktop operating system is to start small--as in children. Everyone knows that when you convert the children, you convert the nation. Fortunately, this is a positive conversion with lasting effect.
Write back and let me know about any schools that are converting to Linux and open source software. If you're directly involved, that's even better.