Cool Solutions

Commercial Versus Open Software in Education


November 30, 2007 10:52 am





By Rodney Donovan



Abstract for Breadth

Why is it so hard for an organization to facilitate change? To be competitive in its endeavor, business must keep ahead of its’ competitors. To do this, it must be able to effect change. Processes need to be updated. Methods need to be improved. People need to be trained towards the direction of change. Yet, management can feel hesitation, and then resistance.

The purpose of this research is to analyze difficulty in organizational change, and to solutionize these cognitive factors as seen from different view points. The works of Bridges, North, Tushman & O’Reilly, Neilson et al., will be explored. A person’s psychological make up may also contribute to a resistance to change. This is a whole area unto itself, and will not be discussed in these writing due to content limitations.

When people get used to that warm fuzzy feeling of doing their job a certain way, it provides encumbrance to the change process. Management has certain tools that can render support during the conversion phase. Good communications reduce any misconceptions employees may have about the events ahead. Public relations are a good tool. It provides structure to human interaction, and establishes a path for easing the evolution process.

Abstract for Depth

Are there any benefits in changing to an open source system of computing? Can the use of open software such as GNU/Linux and other open source applications compete with the Microsoft standard? The perception that free software equates to money saved has some merit.

For every major Microsoft application, there is an open source suitable substitute. This makes for an attractive alternative to proprietary and closed software. A disadvantage of closed ? proprietary software is that when bugs arise, it can take some time to prepare a fix. An advantage of open source software is that the user can modify the source code to meet required needs. When there are problems in the software, the open source community rallies to provide a fix at no expense to the user.

With increasing incentives to reduce operating costs, not just educational institutions, but corporations, and governmental agencies search for ways to affect saving resources. The state of Massachusetts has gone to open source software in an effort to save money. Other states are also investing in open source as a money saving solution.

Abstract for Application

The change to open source software in government, business, and educational institutions is gaining wide spread attention. In an effort to conserve resources i.e. money, instituting open source software makes sense. Open source operating systems and applications are free to the public. This concept of free software brings the people closer to those governing. No longer will a person need specialized software to access public files. No longer will certain companies manipulate the software market.

It provides for better student participation in education since the software is universal, and free. An advantage is that it produces an obtainable uniform standard across different platforms.

In this section, the application, commercial software will be replaced with open source software in a computer lab setting. Grades 1st to 5th will be affected with the use of OSS. Open source software that mimics commercial software will be used in an educational environment. Specific OSS such as keyboarding, math, science, and educational games will be used to stimulate student behavior.

Borrowing from the breadth and depth sections, the end conclusion should accept the hypothesis that OSS is a viable alternative to commercial-closed software. This application will provide insight, and hopefully produce an economical alternative to costly commercial software.

Overall Purpose

This KAM’s learning objective is to present a directed cognition of organizational change. The psychological, and pecuniary variables associated with changing from commercial to open source software will be explored.

The breadth portion will evaluate the difficulties associated with transformational theory. Theorists Neilson, Pasternack, and Van Nuys, (2005), Bridges, (2005), and others (as time and space permits) will be studied. The analysis accomplishes findings on change, and what can be done to smooth a transition.

In the depth portion of the KAM an evaluative analysis on whether change from commercial-closed software to open source software (OSS) is beneficial. The pros and cons of such a transformational move started a movement in state governments, and educational institutions.

In conclusion, the application will provide for a demonstration. An analysis of transformational processes will be developed on migration from commercial-closed systems to OSS. Key variables such as software acceptance and transformational costs will be addressed through the use of a computer laboratory model. The methodology includes students from a local elementary school, and an institution of higher learning providing the environment.


Life is a constant change. Yet, with change all around us, why do people have problems adjusting to change? People tend to get a warm and fuzzy feeling after doing certain processes for an extended length of time. No matter how inefficient the process might be, people become comfortable with it. When we speak of change, we envision arriving at a destination. We change to reach a certain destination. Your old home is in need of repair. Instead of repairing it, you decide to buy, and move to another house. In
this scenario, you attain a mindset that will let go of the old house in an unencumbered way. There are no hard feelings. Yet, you look forward to being in the new house with new and better amenities. This is a change.

The psychological fear of change may not be with the change itself, but rather with the process. “People do not have problems with change itself, but rather with transitions” (Bridges, 2005). Unlike change, transitions are different. There is no change if there is no transition. Transition lies in between change. We can say that a transition begins with an ending. Sure, you bought another house, but you still have to get your belongings, furniture, etc., to the new house so as to make it a home. It is in letting go of the old house and making the transition to the new home that we achieve change.

It is the same in the business world. Changing from one type of business software to another is a change. How it is done is the transition. The outcome of this is that change has occurred. There again, organizations must have a good transitional plan if change is to be effective. If their people are willing to change, the better chance of success for the business entity. Here in lays the crux of the problem. What methodology would offer a good blend of processes used for effecting change? Bridges proposes three processes in his “Launching a New Beginning” method. The processes are: How to get people to let go; leading people through the neutral zone; and launching a new beginning. Each of these processes is composed of subroutines that lead to change.

Change is about people letting go of old ways. The incorporation of new, or unique methods and processes pose certain anxiety in the minds of those trying to let go. In this letting go of the antiquated processes, people must be given time to address their sense of loss. This unique period can be a good time to assess certain compensations which can ease the path to change. Compensation is important to transition management. The transition to change is an un-traveled road you must be able, and willing to manage. Transition management”… is a way of dealing with people that makes everyone feel more comfortable” (Bridges, 2005).

When people let go of the old processes and methods of doing their work for new ones, they enter into a fragile area. Old ways meet new ways. People take time to adjust. This is where management must use their skills to lead people. If the principals locked into the transition do not know what they are doing, it can cause psychological damage. Is it me? Is it the process or method that does not work? Have I been instructed properly? Will I get fired if I don’t learn this? Second guessing is not a good thing to do when everyone should be on the same page so to speak.

Leading People through the neutral zone is the delicate part of a transition. In this section, those learning can develop good habits, or bad habits. If poor processes and methods rule the day, it can bring the transition to a halt. Management is more than willing to stop this transition before it is set in stone and change has occurred. It would be a monumental task to go and redesign the processes and methods adopted after the transition, if not done right the first time around.

The Neutral Zone effectively encompasses communications as a major part of change. Good communication better prepares the principals in that there is aforethought of a new methodology about to take place. Change should not take everyone by surprise. It is the art of communication that persuades people to accept change. Miscommunications plays a negative role in change. Inaccurate information will lead changes astray, or down the wrong path. Perception of information is crucial. Do you understand what you thought I said? You want people to be aware, and fully committed to the success of the business in order to plot a new or different course. “People have to bring their hearts and minds to work” (Bridges, 2005), if change is to succeed.

Once people are committed to change, more than half the battle is won. Leading them through the new changes will start a new beginning. Those leading must be knowledgeable with the ongoing processes. Good insightful trainers can ease the pain in organizational transition. The only thing worse than following unknowledgeable leadership, is failing to accomplish the new beginning.

Bridge’s launching a new beginning, contains four P’s. ” … explain the purpose, paint a picture of the outcome, lay out a step-by-step plan, and give each person a part to play” (Bridges, 2005).

If people are to change, they must understand the rationale behind it. They must know what to expect, how it will affect them, and how it furthers the companies overall goals. The purpose of change must be made tangible. An explanation as to the logic of change will give people a different outlook. It will provide an understanding of why the change is necessary.

People need to understand the purpose and the logic behind any change. It must be real and specific. The picture can be as simple as a floor plan, an organization chart, a video, or a visit to the new site. (Bridges, 2005)

What is the expected outcome of the new conversion? This lies heavily on those affected by change. Anxiety, frustration, indifference, and fear may work to cancel the benefits of change. Management must espouse a positive outcome to this impending alteration. By embracing this new change, leadership abilities are enhanced, and a new vision is afforded to the principals who are to accept it. Not to mention, it provides confidence and strength to those about to begin the transition.

It would be foolish to attempt even a small transition in business if the plan is run off the cuff so to speak. The transitional plan for change must be in place before the processes are to be accepted. Everyone in the organization must know their place in the scheme of things. Awareness of individual expectations is to be common knowledge. This will minimize any misconception, or negative content of what is to be expected. Hand holding, training, or mentoring will move people with ease through the path of change. With out these helping assets, you can be assured that the transition will be chaotic. To simply say, “Here is a guide book, read it” would be to alienate the user. This goes against the grain where there is to be change.

Every person in the organization must have a role to play. This role playing assigns duties and responsibility to the individual. Each person knows what their function is, and their end product expected by management. Any problems occurring are plainly visible, quickly studied, and effectively solved. In the end, you do your part, if not it will show.

Although these sub-processes work hand in hand with each other, there are rules that need to be adhered to in order for change to be successful.

Be Consistent. All polices, procedures, and priorities should send consistent messages. Your actions must match your words, and rewards (both monetary and non-monetary) must match what you preach.

Ensure Quick Successes. Look for sure wins to reassure the believers, convince the doubters, and confound the critics.

Symbolize the New Identity. Understand why small things can be symbolically very important to people, so you can use it to your advantage and not get tripped up by it.

Celebrate the Successes. This can be small or large, behind the scenes, or in public, with mementos of transition progress. (Bridges, 2005)

Consistent means to be uniform in the treatment, policy, and rewards, across the board. To a certain point, consistency provides for an equality variable. This variable is important as it gives people a sense of evenhandedness. Certain people will not be treated better, or worse than the rest. Everyone is treated the same according to the rules and guidelines followed in this transition.

To ensure quick successes, there must be team play. Management must convince those still unsure of change to work together. It must also reassure those on the team that have been doing good to keep up the good work. Those detrimental to the team should either be moved or replaced. A little praise goes a long way in insuring conformity.

In symbolizing a new identity, a feeling of belonging begins to permeate the team. The feeling of togetherness can be a good motivator during the transition. A new beginning; starting with a clean slate; a ride through the unknown; all work to increase camaraderie.

Celebrating successes small and large alike invigorates the people involved with change. It shows that their troubles are worth something. It demonstrates that change produces rewards for people who embrace and succeed at it.

These rules provide for an interactive conduit which strengthens the possibility of success. They bring a sense of equality into the change equation. The “we are all on the same boat so let’s help one another out” scenario fosters togetherness, and a sense of belonging. “The employees? knowledge becomes available to decision-makers, and since employees play a part; they are more vested in the outcome” (Bridges, 2006).

Bridges makes for some valid points in his rendition of organizational change, or “transition” as he calls it. Yet there are many other underlying factors that pose problems, and pitfall to a changing organization.

An organization in transition is in a precarious place. External variables may have a positive, or negative impact on its developmental processes. Fluctuations in an organizations environment can upset the ongoing transition if it does not react quickly. Neilson, Pasternack, & Van Nuys (2005) state that a company that reacts quickly to change is said to be “resilient”. These companies not only modify their methodology and processes to take advantage of change, but can also bounce back quickly if mistakes are made. The management teams of these companies receive good financial backing, and accurate-timely information. Decisions made are based on the best overall scenario that befits their organization. As markets evolve, companies that promptly adapt to changes to remain profitable are said to be “healthy” companies. A healthy endeavor is one which will flourish even in times of hardship.

Unfortunately, an on-line global poll by Booz Allen Hamilton reveals that less than 1/5 of about 30,000 respondents felt their companies were not resilient, or healthy. The respondents felt there were certain pathologies that restricted their company from better coping with change. These pathologies are labeled passive-aggressive. “The category takes its name from the organization?s quiet but tenacious resistance in every way but openly, to corporate directives” (Neilson, Pasternack, & Van Nuys, 2005).

Passive-aggressive organizations start out as small entities. Employees for the most part know one another fairly well. They perform their duties with minimal adherence to company policy. As long as work is being accomplished and the boat is not rocked, there is little, if any harsh consequence for not following policy or directives. Subordinates put in just enough drive to get by. “Making matters worse, senior management has left unclear where accountability accurately lies, in effect absolving managers of the final responsibility for anything they do” (Neilson, Pasternack, & Van Nuys, 2005).

The organization gradually develops, and inefficient processes are instilled. As the company continues to evolve, other layers of ineffectual change are added. With time, these companies, now large must compete in order to survive. Strong, if not harsh measures must now be taken to better the company. Trying to undo all the old layers of ineffectual change so as to be productive is met with strong resistance. In these organizations, company directives are paid little more than lip service. “It?s a place where more energy is put into thwarting things than starting them, but in the nicest way”
(Neilson, Pasternack, & Van Nuys, 2005).

Not having 100% accountability greatly reduces the successful nature of progressive change. If responsibility is not forthwith, directives are thereby unenforceable. When irresponsible employees do not adhere to new directives, harmful forms of behavior may materialize. This not only puts the employee?s job at risk moreover, it has a detrimental effect on the newly placed processes which are to be followed. This intern has a negative effect on management. If they can’t control their people, how is the company to benefit from change? As you can see, not following the rules and procedures in a transitional plan has a cascading effect that is far reaching.

Either too much or too little control is responsible for an unhealthy organization. Too much control at the top can leave managers without enough power to properly manage employees, authorize, and execute change. Too little power at the top with most of it concentrated at the bottom leaves change at the direction of the managers. This is not satisfactory since managers may not concur on changes, or the depth of changes. Eventually, employees and managers alike become frustrated, demoralized, and ineffectual. They quit due to the futility, and thanklessness of their efforts. A state of failure becomes established, and commitments are not met. This makes a passive-aggressive organization hard to recover from a downward slide.

This downward slide can be caused by one of the three classic failings. These failings ” … unclear scope of authority, misleading goals, and agreement without cooperation” (Neilson, Pasternack, & Van Nuys, 2005) are an impediment that will neutralize positive change in an organization.

Unclear scope of authority leaves management in a state of flux where decisions and power lie. The line managers do not want to second guess middle managers. Middle managers do not want to fail in their enforcement of enacted policy. Top line managers do not want to steer their company into bankruptcy. The CEO, or owner of the company should not micro-manage. In many of these “unhealthy” organizations, the CEO, the Board, or owner of the company made most of the decisions affecting change rather than forming a transition team to analyze and evaluate end results. This thwarts the efforts espoused by top line management who are fully opted in day to day operations. In other scenarios, there were transition teams formed only to gather information rather than help form the transition process. In these scenarios, the CEO, Board, or owner predominated recommendations from the transition team.

There must be clear scope of authority if the company is to be successful. Clear decision rights pave the way for change. In a healthy organization approximately 93% of employees have a sense of who has what decision rights.

Line managers are responsible for production. Middle managers are responsible for organizational adherence to directives. Top management is responsible for presentfuture overall policy design, and implementation. The CEO provides approval to the changes before going to play a round or two of golf. When these layers of management operate in harmony, resistance to change is minimized. Managers know where they stand on policy issues, and their realm of influence. There is no second guessing. Actions are implemented post haste with approval of the next higher level of management.

This is an excellent example of team work and communications. The teams know their place in the transition scheme. The communications factor becomes the oil in the machine so to speak. Good communications work at smoothly paving the way for change.

Misleading goals are a cause of corporate confusion. A company can empower down line employees to better serve customers. Managers think that this may further company goals by enhancing profits, and boosting productivity. To a certain extent, this is possible. Sales people will sell merchandise at discounted prices. This increases sales, but has the opposite effect of lowering profit margins. Increased sales produce more productivity. This increased productivity can have a negative effect on profits. If the manufacturing portion of the business is not ready for the increased volume, over time, equipment purchases, and material costs, the company’s health can be adversely affected.

Goals should be reasonable and attainable. It is disheartening to set lofty goals which employees know cannot be met. Depending on economic variables, it is sometimes better to take baby steps to reach a reasonable goal than it is to take large strides. Goals should be in-line with company directives. These directives should have a predisposed set of procedures to follow. Conveying these goals through out the organization informs the employees of the end result. Outlining newly implemented procedures describe the vehicle which will help the company attain those goals.

The third classic failing involves agreement without cooperation. This happens most often to large multi-national companies. Headquarters may initiate an innovative program to simplify the way it does business overseas. A small committee is empanelled to over see this program. As the committee members set off to assist the company’s overseas departments on change, they are met with lip service from the departments? management team. All is well, and things are moving right along is the dialog. There are other programs higher up the ladder which carry more weight. This leaves the simplification program with just a gesture of improvement rather than an actual in-depth change occurrence.

Consequently, the committee feels comfortable that there are improvements coming down the pike. Headquarters on the other hand is given a false sense of security about this issue. As time continues, improvements blur, and the overall plan fails. “Over time such shotgun arrangements outlive their individual rationales and the organization loses all vestiges of a coherent over-all plan” (Neilson, Pasternack, & Van Nuys, 2005).

Unhealthy organizations have poor motivators. To induce change, an organizations people must be motivated. What reward systems are in place to track high, medium, and poor performers? Are the different levels of performance receiving commensurate compensation? Compensation need not be only about money. It can be in the form of receiving a portable computer to assist in work, a company car, a nice room with a view instead of a cubicle. “Perks” as they are called play a large part in the compensation package given to an employee. “Incentive systems communicate to the organization as a whole what really matters to upper management” (Neilson, Pasternack, & Van Nuys, 2005).

A person who is a high performer may drop his-her performance level if reward expectations are not met. It is the high performers that are at greater risk of dropping down to poor performance status. Working to excel while receiving nothing extra in compensation can have a demoralizing effect not just on the person, but on those around him-her.

On the other hand, it is harder to motivate low achievers to increase their performance than it is to reward the high achievers. These low achievers have been performing poorly for a specified amount of time that it has become the standard at which they excel. Employees such as these do just enough work to keep from being addressed, or disciplined. These low achievers are also bad examples to new hires that are more willing to excel, and somewhat of a stigma on other hard working employees.

The medium performers are the ones who believe they do good work for a fair price. They carry the company for the most part. Also, they tend to be in agreement with their work/pay schedule. Medium performers will occasionally go above and beyond what is required to test the waters of promotion and rewards. If they are lucky, management will see the value of their efforts and hopefully merit a “bone” (incentive, bonus, or promotion). This can have a good effect on company moral. It also bodes well for the company as it is seen as an organization that values hard workers and compensates them for a job well done.

Yet, in organizations preparing for change, there must be those who will champion the cause. It is not always management that requests change. Down line employees who are in the trenches doing the grunt work have a bird?s eye view of the inherent mechanics which move the company. Although they may not be at the management level of operations, innovative ideas do materialize. Ways to streamline processes can add value to the end result. This value can be reduced time, less cost, more efficient production, better quality, etc.

Trying to convince management is another matter. In many organizations, there exists a culture. Take Apple Inc. for example. This technology company of blue jean and casual dress is the antithesis of computer giant, IBM Corp. IBM Corporation employees are required to dress conservatively in semi formal fashion. This means, coat and tie. Culture transcends into a life style that can be hard to change. Steve Jobs president of Apple Inc. wears blue jeans to meetings. Samuel Palmisano, president of IBM wears a conservative suit. Because of corporate culture, Jobs will not wear a suit to meetings; Palmisano will not wear jeans to meetings.

Changes can be easily made when it comes to company structure. Positions can be added, eliminated, or moved around an organizational setting. Because culture is a very persuasive mindset, changes are not easily made. The old adage “This is the way it has always been done, and this is the way we will do it,” is a strong influence which today, is finally coming to an end. Pressure to meet expectations, increase profits, and effect change can be a daunting task if managers are to be successful.

Managers, faced with changing competition, new technologies, and shifting markets often feel as though they are meeting challenges never dealt with by their predecessors. They are right in that markets and technologies are changing, often in new and unpredictable ways, but the fundamental dynamics of these changes are largely the same across industries, countries, and time. (Tushman & O’Reilly, 2002)

Managers must continuously analyze the efficiency and the functionality of the processes and methods used in their organization. It is even recommended that they delete and replace good working methods and processes with different ones to fine tune an organization’s survivability factor. “We have to be willing to cannibalize what we’re doing today in order to ensure our leadership in the future. its counter to human nature but you have to kill your business while it is still working” (Tushman & O’Reilly, 2002).

These new pressures facing management become beneficial when management’s back is up against the wall. By beneficial, I mean that they are more responsive to new and innovative ideas. First tier workers who are at the front lines have better chances of effectively bringing about change if it happens to re-mediate problem discussions with management. On occasions, management has no alternative but to adapt and accept remedies brought about by others.

There is no more delicate matter to take in hand, nor more dangerous to conduct, nor more doubtful in its success, than to be a leader in the introduction of changes. For he who innovates will have for enemies all those who are well off under the old order of things, and only lukewarm supporters in those who might be better off under the new. (Tushman & O’Reilly, 2002)

This may go against culture, but in finality, the ends justify the means. Changes are made, processes are streamlined, methods are upgraded, and culture evolves to a higher level.

Tushman and O?Reilly offer a congruence based problem solving approach. This simple to use diagnostic tool requires no outside intervention such as counselors, consultants, or any other type of sophisticated technology. Simply, it is based on alignment, or congruence of four organizational building blocks. Critical tasks and work flow, people, format organizational arrangements, and culture make up the building blocks of this methodology as illustrated in Figure 1.

The Illustration in Figure 1 is pretty straight forward. It shows the roots where performance gaps can materialize. Managers must clearly understand, and know these roots if they are to manage an effective and efficient management team.. Problem solving will be incomplete and the ability to seize good opportunities will be compromised if there is a lack of knowledge in this area. “Incongruence, a lack of alignment, or inconsistencies among these elements is almost always at the root of today’s performance gaps.” (Tushman & O’Reilly, 2002)

As the management entity, the management class must act like leaders, not only as motivators. Remember that people always look up to management to get a pulse of where the company is going. Therefore, if managements back is up against the wall, then there is certainly something wrong with the way an organization is being run.

People always look at the leader when they want to take the pulse of an organization. Example says a lot. Do they see a boss they can believe in? Can they have faith in whom they follow? Dose the fire inside the leader burn hot enough for them to warm from the heat of that flame? (Pritchett, 1996)

Managers should move around the complex. They should spend time with their employees. A good tap on the back of an employee goes much farther than a letter of reprimand. The concept here is to get people motivated. Motivated employees not only produce more, but they do it with a willing conviction to perform. Change becomes inconsequential. “Give these same people a ?cause,? though, and watch the place come alive. Folks who are fired up by causes are energized. They put their hearts into their work. They ?buy in? to change.” (Pritchett, 1996)

Pritchett provides 5 concepts about organizational change that managers need take into account, and find solutions for.

  1. Change often kills people’s faith in the future.
  2. Unable to make any promising connections between a troubled today and a vague tomorrow, they fall in to a weary pattern of doubt, cynicism, and disillusionment.
  3. The organization asks more of everyone, but fails to tie that request to the heartstrings of employees.
  4. Your job is to justify the struggle. To aim your people towards something special.
  5. Never underestimate the power of purpose. (Pritchett, 1996)

During organizational change, people mostly affected by it tend to loose faith in their abilities to perform. Assuage fears by letting those affected know that management is committed to the success of the new methods and processes. “Give them a dream to identify with, and watch commitment climb” (Pritchett, 1996). Paving the way into a new tomorrow is management?s job. Company success depends on getting employees on the band wagon of change. As employees become motivated with management?s commitments, the transition can follow in earnest. Pritchertt (1996) states: “build your cause around concepts, or principles that can inspire people to go beyond their present limits.”

I have discussed why there is resistance to change. I have commented on management’s function in the process of change. We must now evaluate if change is occurring. How can we gage if the implemented methods and processes have taken root. Is the transition to a different level of environment actually promoting organizational success? Has evolution strengthened the survival of a business in this transitional process?

Total Quality Management (TQM) is ” a social movement started in the United States ? by W. Edwards Demming, Joseph Juran, and Kaoru Ishikawa” (Hackman & Wageman, 1995). TQM is not only concepts in the transformation of an organization but, also provides a prognosis on its successes, and failures. During the TQM?s run, processes are constantly being checked for performance. The idea behind it is that when part of the process is failing, it can be pinpointed and enhanced for a better success rate. Padhi Nayantara (2007) states “To be successful implementing TQM, an organization must concentrate on the eight key elements: ethics, integrity, trust, training, teamwork, leadership, recognition, and communication.”

Total quality management is customer centered for the most part. It is customer driven. It is the customer, not processes, or methodologies that come first. Basically the organization will change to increase customer satisfaction. This increase in customer satisfaction positively influences the bottom line of the company. “The company believes it will only be successful if customers are satisfied” (Stark, 1998).

Another factor in TQM is user satisfaction. TQM involves everyone in the organization. With everyone in the organization involved, there is a certain belief that the work is shared. There is a focus on the well being of the organization. Everyone has a hand providing input in company operations. This mobilization includes quality teams which gage the quality of change being introduced.

Figure 1

Architecture: A Congruence Model of Organizations


  • Bridges, W. (2005). Managing transitions: making the most of change. Retrieved July 23, 2006 from
  • Hackman, J. R. & Wageman, R. (1995). Total Quality Management: Empirical, Conceptual, and Practical Issues. Administrative Science Quarterly. 40/1995
  • Nayantara, P. (2007). Eight elements of TQM. iSix Sigma. Retrieved January 20, 2007 from
  • Neilson, G. L., Pasternack, B. A., & Van Nuys, K. E. (2005, October). The passiveaggressive organization. Harvard Business Review, 11p. 1-11.
  • North, D. C. (2004). Institutions, institutional change and economic performance. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
  • Pritchett, P. (1996). Firing up commitment during organizational change: a handbook for managers. Dallas: Prichett, LP
  • Stark, J. (1998). A few words about TQM. Retrieved January 30, 2006 from
  • Tushman, M., & O’Reilly III, C. A. (2002). Winning through innovation: a practical guide to leading organizational change and renewal. Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Press.



Table of Contents

Annotated Bibliography

Acohido, B. (2003). Linux took on Microsoft, and won big in Munich. Retrieved December 18, 2006 from microsoft-linux-munichx.htm

  • Research question: Can Linux compete internationally against Microsoft Corporation?
  • Research methodology: The City of Munich, Germany replaces Microsoft products with SuSE Linux and open source software.
  • Major findings: The City of Munich, Germany is progressing with the use of open source software. By replacing Microsoft’s products with open source software, the city has complete control on updates, software, and hardware changes. They are not locked into any one product, operating system, or platform. This provides for true savings and cost reductions as time progresses.
  • Value of the article: This article ends the myth that only Microsoft Windows products are viable in the governmental sector. Because opens source software is written in many languages, it has become a viable candidate for organizations wishing to cast off, the closed or commercial software chains.

Adelstein, T. (2004). Linux in government: the government open code collaborative.
Linux Journal [electronic version]. Retrieved December16, 2006 from

  • Research question: Can the open source software thrive in a governmental environment?
  • Research methodology: Several state governmental entities collaborate to study open source software feasibility.
  • Major findings: By forming a collaborative organization called the Government Open Code Collaborative (GOCC), governmental entities have the use of an open source repository. This repository located in Rhode Island hosts the open source software used by these states. On staff programmers can make adjustments to the software so as to be a better fit in a governmental environment.
  • Value of the article: The introduction of OSS to state government will bring it closer to its people, and save money doing it. The citizenry will be able to access state documents without the cost of purchasing closed or commercial software.

Alfonsi, B. (2006). Open source in the classroom. IEEE Distributed Systems on-line, vol.
6, no.6, 2005.

  • Research question: Why is education lagging behind government and business?
  • Research methodology: Alfonsi analyzes several school districts and papers from the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) Ed Tech Industry Summit.
  • Major findings: The educational community is taking notice of the inroads made by OSS in government, and business. School districts in Ohio, Michigan, New York, and other places have begun changes to open source software. This change is increasing collaboration between student and faculty as they both are learning new ways to solve problems and get things done. The school districts instituting OSS are beginning to realize savings in software licensing fees and hardware upgrade costs.
  • Value of the article: As school districts upgrade to Linux and open source software, they are pioneering new frontiers in technology. If they continue, they might just surpass government and business organizations.

Attwell, G. (2005). What is the significance of open source software for the education
and training community? [Electronic version]. Marco Scotto and Giancarlo Succi

  • Research question: What is the significance of open source software for the education and training community.
  • Research methodology: Attwell goes behind the scene to examine initiatives promoting open source software. He reviews the writings of 15 authors. He explains case studies conducted in South Africa and Europe.
  • Major findings: Open source software in disadvantaged schools in South Africa and Europe has flourished. OSS provides a means to develop and maintain a communications and networking infrastructure. With a low cost factor (free software, older computers, and cheaper hardware), schools need not abandon technologies freely available to them. On the contrary, the use of OSS enables these disadvantaged schools to better use office automation tools such as word processing, email, spreadsheet, presentation graphics, and Internet access, etc. to be seamlessly featured in a free environment.
  • Value of the article: This article gives strength to the OSS concepts and movements throughout the world. Because OSS is written in many languages, and provides a host of technological resources, there is no need for any government, business, or educational entity to pay for expensive software. The use of OSS brings the learning collaboration closer together.

Bezroukov, N. (2006). Open source software development as a special type of
academic research (critique of vulgar raymondism). Retrieved July 23, 2006 from

  • Research question: Is open source software better than closed-proprietary software?
  • Research methodology: Explores theories of open source vs. closed-proprietary software.
  • Major findings: Deciphers differences between both types of software.
  • Value of the article: Provides in depth analysis between open source and closedproprietary software, and provides key concepts in the acceptance-rejection of open source software.

Greenemeier, L. (2004, March 18 ). Massachusetts builds open-source public trough.
Retrieved December 11, 2006 from

  • Research question: Will government entities change to open source?
  • Research methodology: Explains the rationale for going open source in Massachusetts.
  • Major findings: A collaboration of several states is spearheading the move to open source software in government.
  • Value of the article: This article espouses concepts for going open source in government.

Microsoft Corporation. (2006).Thank you for your interest in obtaining updates from our
site. Retrieved December 11, 2006 from thankspage=5

  • Research question: Does Microsoft use its influence to further their software?
  • Research methodology: Proceeded to download updates for Windows? and MS Office? using different browsers.
  • Major findings: The only browser allowed to update this commercial software was Internet Explorer?, a Microsoft product. This prohibits the use of OSS from updating Microsoft software.
  • Value of the article: This article proves that Microsoft uses Internet Explorer to enhance its long list of products while denying open source products those functions.

Moltzen, E. F. (August 16, 2006). Hoosier daddy? in Indiana schools, It’s Linux.
[Electronic Version]. CRN Magazine.

  • Research question: Can the State of Indiana’s Department of Education Affordable Classroom Computers for Every Secondary Student (ACCESS) program succeed in replacing commercial software with open source software?
  • Research methodology: Indiana’s Department of Education provides grants to schools going open source. This means Linux and other Free/OSS.
  • Major findings: By moving towards OSS, the State of Indiana is not only saving millions of dollars, it is incrementing technological changes that require collaboration between students and teachers. Students tend to be curious about new technology to a point where students surpass the teacher in certain technological areas. Another matter is that the state is refurbishing and reusing older equipment that would not run Windows XP optimally. This is a gain in savings. Cheaper equipment can be used that will not run the new Vista Operating System from Microsoft. This savings can be used to enhance other areas of need.
  • Value of the article: School districts are using OSS and supplanting Windows dominated systems. Educational organizations are finding that the change over is not as bad as they thought it would be.

On-line Educational Database. (2007). How the open source movement has changed
education:10 success stories. Retrieved March 13, 2007 from movement-has-changededucation-10-success-stories

  • Research question: How has the open source movement changed Education?
  • Research methodology: This article sites 10 success stories of open source successes. These success stories include educational institutions, open software consortiums, operating systems, browsers, and individuals.
  • Major findings: Universities such as MIT, John Hopkins, Notre Dame, Utah State, and others are offering free on-line courses based on open source initiatives. Open Courseware (OCW) will offer university courses with on-line materials. Free education on-line is now available.
  • Value of the article: As time marches on, the popularity of OSS is becoming more entrenched in our society. It is now a viable solution for replacing expensive programs and operating systems. Getting a free education is also an option.

Open Source. (2006). Open Source Initiative. Retrieved December 12, 2006 from

  • Research question: What is the idea behind open source?
  • Research methodology: Through the use of the World Wide Web, collaboration is used in the development, and upgrading of opens source software.
  • Major findings: The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a non-profit corporation which dedicates it self to furthering and overseeing open source definitions and licenses. There are many programmers who devote their time, and programming efforts to bring society free software. They follow OSI rules to ensure compliance to the open source movement.
  • Value of the article: it gives insight on the Open Source Initiative.

Perens, B. (1999). The open source definition. Retrieved July 23, 2006 from

  • Research question: What is open source?
  • Research methodology: Bruce Perens, Treasurer of The Open Source Initiative details rules for being open source.
  • Major findings: “The Open Source Definition is a bill of rights for the computer user” (Perens, 1999).
  • Value of the article: Points out the beginnings, and concepts of open source.

Ray, B. D. (1997). Strengths of their own?Home schoolers across America:
Academic achievement, family characteristics, and longitudinal traits.
Salem, OR: National Home Education Research Institute.

  • Research question: Is home schooling inferior to public schooling?
  • Research methodology: Dr. Ray collected data on 1,657 families and 5,402 of their children who home schooled.
  • Major findings: Home schooling produces higher achieving students than the public norm.
  • Value of the article: Home schooling opens up a new avenue for free and open source software in education.

Tong, T. W. (2004). Free/open source software education. Elsevier: New Delhi
Research question: Can Linux provide cost savings in third world nations of the Pacific

  • Research methodology: Linux is installable in the major languages of the world. This makes it usable and transparent on different platforms.
  • Major findings: The implementation of Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) has several advantages to that of commercial software. First of all, it is free. You can copy and distribute the software at will. You can obtain the source code and modify it to fit your needs. You can also use older hardware that will not presently run Windows XP and provide for a productive machine. In the developing nations of the Pacific rim, this concept of free software running on older hardware provide a large cost savings over commercial software.
  • Value of the article: This article shows the inroads Linux has made in developing countries of the Pacific rim. Because these countries are in dire need of hardware and software, the use of free/open source software is a natural progression in their technological evolution.

Weber , M. (2005). Open source savings for school districts. Retrieved March 7, 2007

  • Research question: What can a disadvantaged school district in Montana do to keep up with technological concerns? With an ever shrinking budget, what can be done to upgrade computers and teach technology issues to students?
  • Research methodology: Weber co-wrote a $ 150,000 grant that provided the means for purchasing several servers, networking hardware, training, and technical support.
  • Major findings: His team was able to set up several labs using open source software, and a networking infrastructure that catered to about 270 students. Once installed, the network and labs were mostly self supporting. There was no cost in acquiring software. Cost comparisons were made between the use of commercial software and open source software. The results tended to be that once open source software is installed, it will run cost free including updates and upgrades to newer versions on the same hardware.
  • Value of the article: This article show that even disadvantaged school districts can save money while upgrading their technological environment. This change works in the school districts favor ad it brings people together in a new learning environment.

Wikipedia. (2006). Microsoft windows. Retrieved December 6, 2006 from

  • Research question: What is Microsoft Windows
  • Research methodology: Wikipedia provides a definition of the operating system.
  • Major findings: A new operating system from Microsoft is about to replace Windows XP.
  • Value of the article: Microsoft stands to make millions if not billions of dollars by replacing the current operating system used on 80 percent of the worlds PC’s.

Zetter, K. (2002, June 4). Schools cry bully over Microsoft licensing fees.
[Electronic version]. PC World.

  • Research question: How does Microsoft force license compliance?
  • Research methodology: A journalist interviews a school district’s CIO, and Assistant Superintendent.
  • Major findings: Microsoft uses strong arm tactics in its licensing operations
  • Value of the article: Demonstrates various tactics used by closed-proprietary companies to force license compliance.


Change is about improvement. Change for the better is a well known concept. I don’t know anyone who would want to change for the worse. What would be the underlying purpose to change? Would it be to become economically enhanced? To make money, or save money are two well known variables. To sell a better product would be to make money. To build a more efficient product would be to save money.

In the area of education, making money is much harder than saving money. To make money, you must raise taxes. This is not a popular situation with the paying public. Saving money on the other hand can be more readily achieved. An area where savings are feasible is in the technology domain. Technology can be a real money pit if not properly managed. To be efficient requires knowledge of the domain tasked. Education has lost its way where technology is concerned. Educational institutions take for granted pricing of technology hardware, and software. School districts send a teacher who can turn a screwdriver to a technology seminar and viola! A technologist is born. This is wrong. The expertise of a technologist takes years of hands on experience, and many hours of seminars, classes, courses, and studies. Technology is ever changing. One seminar will not do it.

An example of this is a situation that occurred with Dell Computer Corporation. A local University decides to buy laptops from Dell. Dell quotes the laptops at $1,300 each. Management and purchasing personnel review the quote, and are satisfied with the cost of the laptops. Before ordering, an on-board technologist is asked to review the purchase. The technologist feels the quoted price to be excessive. He investigates pricing from other laptop vendors such as CompUSA, Wal-Mart, and Best Buy. Laptops with similar specifications are being sold by the aforementioned vendors for $500 – $600.

The technologist informs management, purchasing and Dell that their pricing per laptop is way too high. Dell re-quotes the laptops for $1,100. Management and purchasing personnel are pleased with the $200 reduction. The technologist informs Dell that the university can acquire laptops for $600 from local vendors. The $600 ballpark is what the university will pay. So as not to loose a sale, Dell replies with a $681 price per laptop with a three year warranty. The technologist communicates the new price to management who approve the quote. Purchasing intern orders not sixteen laptops but twenty four laptops, and a mobile storage cart with the money saved. Technology does not have to be a money pit if you know hardware, software, and pricing. This is but one of the many strengths of a technologist.

A fact about hardware is that there is only a one time charge. You pay for your hardware once at the time of purchase. Software on the other hand needs to be replaced more frequently. This is the area where savings can be truly realized. Microsoft operating systems are found on the majority of the world’s PC’s. “At the 2004 IDC Directions conference, IDC Vice President Avneesh Saxena stated that Windows had approximately 90% of the client operating system market” (Wikipedia, 2006).

Software driven costs are predominant in the computer field. It is this endeavor that fuels bigger and better PCs. As software matures, more features, and functions are added. This makes the software more desirable in that it has more utility. Consequently it also becomes bloated. This bloat ware now requires more memory, faster processors, and larger hard drives. This may mean upgrading the hardware, or getting a newer PC with the facilities to run this software in a prescribed manner.

Microsoft’s new Vista? operating system is now being sold to replace XP?. Where as XP? could easily operate with 256 ? 512 megabytes of memory, Vista? requires at least 1 gigabyte, or more than double what XP? requires. This makes computer hardware upgrades necessary. If there are many computers that need to be updated, then it also becomes expensive.

There are ways to reduce costs, and circumvent expenses. Let technology competent people provide input on hardware purchases. In this process, you can “get more bang for the buck” so to speak. “What if you didn’t have to pay for software, got free upgrades, and could use it on any number of computers without licensing”(Perens, 1999). For a large school district containing approximately 11,000 PCs, “… cost of
licensing would run about $500,000, which for us is the cost of 10 teaching positions” (Zetter, 2002). In the previous example by simply changing to open source software, the net savings of half a million dollars is put back into the system.

The concept of replacing commercial software with free software is not perfect, but it can be done. There will be collateral costs when changing to open source software. Training costs will be incurred during the migration from commercial to open source software. Other ancillary costs such as supplies, maintenance, and programming should be taken into account, and added to the cost mix before actually
crossing over.

There must also be software equality. This means that the software being replaced can be substituted with OSS. The hardware must be able to support this operating system with the various software packages to replace the existing commercial environment. In so doing, learning tasks such as using a word processing program can render the same amount of educational content as commercial products. Web sites need to be checked for proper display since there are differences in browsers. Microsoft Corporation for example, requires Internet Explorer for downloading their content. “Thank you for your interest in obtaining updates from our site. To use this site, you must be running Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 or later” (Microsoft, 2006).

Using open source software will break you free from the bonds of Microsoft’s grasp, and also from commercial software companies vying for your money. The ends justify the means in this case. There is a large variety of OSS available for free downloading from the Internet. Also, the different distributions of the GNU/Linux operating system comes bundled with hundreds of free titles. During the installation of Linux, you can specify what additional software is to be added. As the new release of Open SuSE 10.3 Linux debuts this summer, an additional 300 applications for education will be added.

The concept of using OSS is not new, but it has grown rapidly in recent years. As an example, governmental entities are seriously looking into open source software. There are factors behind move to OSS. In order to access any government documents, the public must buy Microsoft’s software. By using open source, It brings governmental documents within the publics reach without having to pay for commercial software. The public can use open source software to access documents by its government thereby bringing the government closer to its people. Simply put, you don’t have to pay $200 for an operating system, and another $300 for the office suite. “… embracing open source
lets the commonwealth cut IT costs while opening up its systems to greater innovation” (Greenemeier, 2004).

Another factor is money. It takes a lot of money to purchase software for each personal computer used in an organization.

What if you had the right to get a free upgrade whenever your software needed it? What if, when you switched from a Mac to a PC, you could switch software versions for free? What if, when the software doesn’t work or isn’t powerful enough, you can have it improved or even fix it yourself? What if the software was still maintained even if the publications that produced it went out of business? What if you can use your software on your office workstation, and your home desktop computer, and your portable laptop, instead of just one computer? You’d probably still be using the software you paid for years ago. These are some of the rights that Open Source gives you. (Perens, 1999)

Let me elaborate on the previous quote by Perens. On Open Source software, updates are free. Although Microsoft’s software provides free upgrades for their operating system, other commercial companies provide updates for a fee. Using GNU/Linux, you can switch to different platforms without any added costs. Different platforms mean that the software will run on different processors from different companies in a most seamless manner. This allows the versatility of using other high powered processor hardware that can utilize the same software compiled for their platform. OSS provides software, and operating systems for numerous different platforms. Linux, Free BSD, Solaris, and other operating systems are available to platforms that do not conform to Windows Operating System specifications. Bottom line is that if you learn a program well, you have the ability to download it onto a new operating system, or different hardware at no cost.

If you have used an accounting program for several years, and would like some new features, you have to purchase a newer more updated version in the commercial world. If you use open source software, there are several alternatives. You can make changes yourself, hire a programmer to make changes, or you can address the situation to the software group maintaining the program where they could easily incorporate the new additions on the next release version. The fact is that there are options available to the user. Either way, the software is yours to do as you please provided that you do not resell it. That is the essence of opens source. You can use it, make it better, give it back to the open source community, but because you did not pay for it, you cannot resell it.

The basic idea behind open source is very simple: When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, and people fix bugs. This can happen at a speed that, if one is used to the slow pace of conventional software development, seems astonishing. (Open Source, 2006)

In order to get around the pitfalls of commercial software, the State of Massachusetts in 2004 decreed to go open source. This entails Linux, and Open Office. This is a bold first step for a governmental entity.

Massachusetts on Wednesday took the wraps off a new software repository designed to let government agencies make more efficient use of open-source software. The repository will be managed by the Government Open Code Collaborative, a newly formed group of seven states and four municipalities that will contribute and download opensource software and proprietary software designed by government agencies for their use. (Greenemeier, 2004)

As previously stated, the State of Massachusetts in collaboration with six other states formed the Government Open Code Collaborative (GOCC). Rhode Island is the home of the repository. This software repository will also serve to augment, and develop software that better meets governmental service. The states of Massachusetts, West Virginia, Utah, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Colorado, Kansas, and Rhode Island formed the GOCC on June 30, 2004. This is an independent organization which ” … has banded together to collect and distribute freely the costly software that normally runs taxpayers $100 billion annually” (Adelstein, 2004).

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) which uses older HP-UX servers has seen bruising increases in maintenance outlay. These older Unix servers become more expensive to operate as they age. Parts become scarce. The more scarce the part the more it costs. Software has to be updated yearly so as to take proper advantage of new tax rates, changes in governmental law, and patches to fix inherent problems. Therefore, yearly software, and hardware updates become progressively expensive.

The OEPA made a decision to move into a more mainstream environment. The use of high powered Intel based platforms, and SuSE Linux provides the needed path for migration. Instead of paying $20,000 for RISC architecture computers, OEPA paid $5,000 per Intel server. “The cost savings meant the agency could buy additional servers, increasing its fail-over options and bolstering its disaster recovery plan” (Loftus, 2006).

Another benefit for using the x86 platform and Linux, is that as new hardware becomes available, it can be incorporated into the up and running Linux operating system. Open source software can also be downloaded and installed as needed to meet user demands. Both the hardware and software are continuously being refined and improved. There is no obsolescence to worry about. “Today, there’s new hardware out every six months, and you don’t want to be stuck on old hardware … So far, with Linux, we have been able to roll in new Intel processors whenever we want” (Loftus, 2006).

Since OEPA already used Novell products on their old hardware, they were comfortable with Novells level of support. Switching to SuSE Linux was not a bad ordeal. “By going to SUSE Linux, we were able to perform that training within the state [with Novell], and since [2003] we have been able to buy additional training materials, and train our staff in house” (Loftus, 2006). These in-house training sessions bolster up their new environment, and get employees to become comfortable with the software used in daily operations of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Internationally, the city of Munich, Germany decided to go open source on May 28, 2003. Microsoft’s products were already in place during their evaluation time. At first Microsoft’s bid for software upgrades was $36.6 million. When SuSE Linux entered the bidding fray, “Microsoft subsequently lowered its pricing to $31.9 million and then to $23.7 million” (Acohido, 2003). This was a 35% price reduction from the original cost.

Other incentives were thrown into the mix to better prop up Microsoft’s offer. Microsoft agreed to a six year software life span instead of the usual three or four year upgrades. The sales of unbundled applications meant that the city of Munich could buy Word, without Excel, Access, or Power Point, or in any combination needed. This would help in reducing costs for the city as it did not have to buy the entire Microsoft Office System. Also on the bargaining table were millions of dollars worth of training, and support.

After exhaustive research from their IT department, the city council chose the more expensive SuSE/IBM Linux proposal for $35.7 million. There is quite a bit of rational behind this move by Christine Strobl, a Munich council member.

Though Microsoft underbid IBM and SuSE by $11.9 million in Munich, city officials were concerned about the unpredictable long-run cost of Microsoft upgrades … With open-source, it is possible for us to make our own decision as to when to change our software. (Acohido, 2003)

For all practical purposes, Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) can be cost efficient if well received, well implemented, and well supported. In the Pacific rim, countries such as Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, and Indonesia see the use of Linux as being a good alternative to expensive commercial software. Information and communications technologies (ICT) have the ability to improve the quality of teaching and education in public schools. Using free/open source software on file, mail, and application servers provide added advantages than using closed or commercial software.

Lower costs are not the only reason why the use of FOSS for servers is prevalent. FOSS is considered to have better performance, and security. The administrators of educational institutions should take these into account when making decisions in the ICT infrastructure of their institutions. (Tong, 2004)

The philosophy of FOSS is similar to the freedoms in academia, where the open dispersion of knowledge and ideas are common. It is ironic that we as human beings have arrived at this juncture of intellect through the free sharing of information. Where FOSS is a predominant factor at an educational entity, people participate to find answers to problems encountered in every day use. ” … where FOSS is prevalent will encourage staff and students to tinker and experiment with, and participate in the development of FOSS that may eventually lead to innovative solutions” (Tong, 2004).

This sharing of information also leads to sharing of applications. It is widely known that pirated software is rampant in the far east. It is at this juncture where free and open source software makes sense. Any information or data obtained from the use of FOSS can easily be used by downloading these FOSS applications. Pirating becomes a non-issue under these circumstances due to the GNU-GPL (General Public
License) which provides for free general use and alteration of opens source software.

This free use also negates selling the software.

The use of FOSS also discourages piracy by students, any of whom can ill-afford the purchase of licensed copies of proprietary software. If proprietary software was used for teaching, students would have not choice but to use illegal copies of the software to do homework and assignments at home or on their laptop computers. In contrast, there is no restriction against making copies of FOSS for use outside institutions. (Tong, 2004)

In Indiana, a state grant program provides monies to school districts installing open source software. This is to include the operating system and programs used in curriculum. ” … schools in the state have added Linux workstations for 22,000 students over the past year under the Affordable Classroom Computers for Every Secondary Student (ACCESS) program” (Moltzen, 2006). It is expected that Linux installations will grow from a deployment of 24 high schools up to 80 high schools by the end of 2006. This growth is expected due to the lower costs of software acquisition, early on successes, system stability, and the higher functionality afforded by many open source

The switch to open source software has brought teachers and students together in a common learning experience. Students take to Linux quite well. After the initial look on it. When students were surveyed, they were asked what they ” …thought of using Linux Desktop vs. a Windows desktop, and the student responded with ‘ Who cares?’ ” (Moltzen, 2006).

Not only are students interested in Linux, the teachers themselves have not responded negatively. ” … with everything we’re doing in the classroom, teachers don’t bring up Linux, … they bring up curriculum” (Moltzen, 2006).

With this type attitude addressing education, Moltzen expects a huge market shift in the next five years to GNU-Linux and open source applications. After all, in Indiana, the schools that received the grant from ACCESS, were successful in their deployment.

We have a million kids in the state of Indiana, … If we were to pay $100 for each machine, each year, that’s $100 million for software. That is well beyond our ability. That’s why open sources is so attractive. We can cut those costs down to $5 [on each computer] per year. (Moltzen, 2006)

The use of Linux in the school districts has improved and furthered the open source concept in that as problems crop up, both students and faculty alike look for solutions. This concept of problems solving and solution finding fosters an enhanced learning atmosphere. Both teacher and student interaction produce a higher learning index than if just the teacher was the problem solver. The more advanced students who learn to code, are often in a better position to assist others and make for more usable applications. This software problem solving and development approach is producing students advanced in computer technology and application programming. “Linux … has bred more technologically savvy kids” (Alphonsi, 2005).

Even though Linux does have a growing following in government and education, it is the need to excel within tight budgets that are the driving factors towards open source software. Mike Webber is the Technology Director of Noxon School District in Montana. The schools service a population of about 270 students. The technology budget for the entire district being rather tight was able to actually thrive on OSS. Using 4 of his newer and more capable computers, Mike was able to set them up as Linux Terminal Servers. These 4 servers serviced 125 client terminals made up of old PCs whose life had just about expired under the Windows? OS. A summary of the savings on software and hardware from Noxon School District is detailed in Table 1.

Budgets may change. There may not be enough financial support for new hardware and software from one year to the next. This makes the use of OSS more appealing. Doing more with less resources, is a management goal that can be accomplished with open source software and a little planning.

” … the budget changes every year, often the changes are as much as 40% from one year to the next. What this means is that you really cannot plan a five year project because likely the funds will not be available.” (Weber, 2005)

Why then do many school districts prohibit free software? Only the use of closed or commercial software bought by the school entity is allowed in most districts. Some concerns affecting implementation of OSS are lack of expertise in this field, lack of documentation, and the future issue of the legal status of the GNU license.

The market on the other hand has provided solutions for these problems. More and more people are being certified in Linux. Novell, IBM, Red Hat, and CompTIA are but some organizations offering Linux certification. Costs can be very reasonable and comparable to that of taking a course at a local community college.

While documentation has improved and become more forefront, the large community of developers will still be there long after a commercial company quits supporting its software. Simply stated, ” … it may be sensible to choose open source products which are relatively mature and for which there is a large user base and support” (Attwell, 2005).

The future legal status of the GNU license remains firm. Under the law suit SCO vs. IBM, the presiding judge struck down 187 of 289 allegations brought fourth by SCO as having no merit in the case. Presently the case affects only SCO and IBM. Other Linux users will not be affected since Caldera Systems who bought SCO started out as a Linux distributor, and was a participant in the use of the General Public License.

In times of hardship, school districts can use this open source software for free. It can distribute the software as the organization sees fit without the fear of illegal copying. A nice feature of OSS is that the source code is freely available for programming needs.
Changes can be made to fit a particular situation without the legal manifestations that closed or commercial software encumber. There is no illegal copy per say. You can change it to suit your needs. As stated earlier in this research, you cannot sell it.

If the author is not sympathetic to your suggestions, or if you want to take the content in a different direction, you can derive a copy and begin a new work based on the original. The original author will still get attribution for his or her work. Note that your new content will not automatically be updated if he or she makes changes to the original. (Attwell, 2005)

Weber (2005) states “Open Source is software that is provided under a license that allows people to copy and distribute software freely as long as they distribute the source code so that all people have equal access to technology. “

Universities such as MIT, John Hopkins, Notre Dame, Utah State, and others are offering free on-line courses based on open source initiatives. Open Course Ware (OCW) will offer university courses with on-line materials. Although these courses do not give access to faculty, or receive college credits, is nonetheless free education. If this route of thinking continues, there will be no reason why anyone can not get a good education on the World Wide Web. “MIT announced that that the OCW program, a free and open educational resource (OER) for educators, students, and self-learners everywhere, is on-line and will be completed in 2008” (on-line Educational Database, 2007).

The use of earning Management Systems such as Blackboard and WebCT are in service by most of the colleges and universities in the U.S. This Web-based learning application makes it possible to take courses at the learning institution. This on-line system provides the features for the instructor to post class syllabus, provide course content, interact with the students, upload/download files, monitor student performance, and assist in collaboration. “However, the existing proprietary systems … are expensive and beyond the reach of many academic institutions. Fortunately, several FOSS Learning Management Systems are now available” (Tong, 2004).

The open source community provide a software called Moodle. This acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment, has features to promote site, user, and course management. The instructor can provide for class assignments with due dates. Students provide feedback on completed and uploaded assignments. A chat forum is also included for student to student or student to teacher interaction. Quizzes with multiple choice questions can be created. The software can be programmed to shuffle the questions and choices around to make it difficult for those trying to cheat. Also, a maximum number of times a student takes the quiz can be set. This and many other functions provided by this software make it a valuable open source asset.

This brings up another concern. With free open source software, the Internet, and low cost computers, why are many being denied and education? Due to the volumes of information on the Internet, free on-line classes, and available software, is there any reason to make school attendance mandatory? Home schooling is now a feasible option for those families with children who either don’t agree with the public school curriculum, consider public schools unsafe, or just prefer to home school their children.

Brian D. Ray, Ph.D. from the National Home Education Research Institute released statistics in 1997 about family?s home schooling in the U. S. This collection of data was from 1,657 families, and 5,402 of their children who attended schooling at home. Some interesting test scoring information is found in Table 2. Also, the relevance between achievement and some independent variables are noted. “The purpose of this specific study was to examine the academic achievement, social activities, and to assess the relationships between student achievement and selected demographics of their families” (Ray, 1997).

With almost two million children being home schooled, the use of open source software is expanding. Parents no longer have to purchase expensive curricula packages for home use. SuSE Linux sees a growth in this direction. Novell is adding over 300 educational packages to Open SuSE in release 10.3. Presently, there are astronomy programs, math programs, keyboarding programs, plotting programs, and programs for making your own quizzes and tests. This does not even begin to address all the other educational sites on-line which are free to use, or free courses available from specialized and higher learning institutions.

With all this presently ongoing in the free and open source market, do not think that Microsoft is lying idly by. Microsoft is a company with deep pockets. Its managers are committed to protecting their turf by any legal means possible. Presently Microsoft has taken a bold step in reducing piracy by providing an update for your computer that actually validates your Microsoft operating system and other Microsoft products. Any pirated software will not work, or the user will be required to purchase an alphanumeric key from Microsoft.

The company will strive to keep losses to a minimum by investing heavily on its own products. Any loss of clients from major market segments such as government, education, or business will negatively impact Microsoft?s bottom line.

Windows and Office run on more than 90% of the world’s desktop and command gross profit margins of up to 80%. The company has $46 billion in cash and will spend $5.2 billion this year, up 20% from last year, on research to improve its offerings. (Acohido, 2003)

To be sure, Microsoft is keeping a watchful eye on the open source movement. When a client from the major markets migrates to OSS, Microsoft loses its share of business. Worse yet, this migration might influence other organizations to look into the feasibility of going open source. This is a dangerous scenario akin to the domino theory. When one domino starts to fall, the others will follow. As open source becomes more main stream, more and more entities will migrate from commercial products to OSS. This will save the major markets money in software-hardware costs, and provide a level playing field for those who prefer to go the way of open source products.

Table 1


  • Office Suite
  • OpenOffice Cost for 185 computers = 0 ($0 over 10 years)
  • Microsoft Office Cost for 185 computers = $11,936.20 ($50,000 over 10 years)
  • Anti-Virus Software ? ClamAV:
  • ClamAv Cost for 185 computers/servers = 0 ($0 over 10 years)
  • Other Anti-Virus Vendors – $4000 ($40,000 over 10 years)


  • Red Hat Enterprise 3 servers – $150 ($1500 over 10 years)
  • SUSE, Slackware – $0 ($0 over 10 years)
  • Microsoft $7889 (10 Year estimate $23,667)
  • Novell Yearly Subscription $1000 (10 Year estimate $10,000)


  • LTSP Server and 100 workstations – $4500
  • 3 additional LTSP Servers – $4000
  • 100 New Computers and Server Hardware for Microsoft Product $78,500.00
  • 10 Year Cost Estimate (upgrade 3 times) – $225,000
  • Total Open Source Savings for Setup – $92,675.20
  • Ten Year Savings – $338,667.00

Table 2

The social activities of these were quite varied; for example, 47% were involved
in group sports, and 77% participated in Sunday school.

These students scored, on the average, at high percentiles on standardized
academic achievement test [The national average is the 50th percentile.]:

  1. total reading – 87th
  2. total language – 80th
  3. total math – 82nd
  4. total listening – 85th
  5. science – 84th
  6. social studies – 85th
  7. study skills – 81st
  8. basic battery (typically, reading, language, and mathematics) – 85th
  9. complete battery (all subject areas in which student was tested) – 87th

Several analyses were conducted to determine which independent variables were significantly related to academic achievement. There was no significant relationship between achievement and

  1. whether the father was a certified teacher.
  2. whether the mother was a certified teacher.
  3. family income.
  4. money spent on education.
  5. legal status of the family.
  6. time spent in formal instruction.
  7. age formal instruction began.
  8. degree of state regulation of home schooling.



Table of Contents


The application portion of this research will not reject the null hypothesis: that
open source software is a viable and cost saving solution to technology expenditures in
education. The costs savings is proportional to the number of personal computers, and
software utilized within an educational entity. “The Linux operating system features
associated freeware Linux applications, and utilities. It presents the opportunity to
provide a significant part of a School?s computing infrastructure with less software, and
hardware costs” (Sutcliffe & Kuypers, 2000).

This application is conducted in a Texas A&M University of Corpus Christi,
College of Education Computer Laboratory, and the Early Childhood Development
Center Elementary School. This research utilized hardware from Dell Computers. Open
source software (Linux 10.2) was provided by Novell. This laboratory is located on the
second floor in room 211 of the Early Childhood Development Center. It was assembled
by Master of Science Rod Donovan, Systems Support Specialist II (Picture 1), and
Master of Science Preetham Swaminathan (Picture 2), Graduate Assistant. Although
there are thirty two computer systems in the laboratory, 26 desktop personal computers,
and 6 laptops, only the desktops will be used in this research Pictures 3-5). The
specifications for this hardware are posted in Appendix I.

There are approximately 355 distributions of Linux. Debian, Linspire, Red Hat,
Ubuntu, SuSE, Yellow Dog, Slackware, and Mandriva are some of the more common
and well known distributions. The open systems software being tested is SuSE Linux
10.2. This OSS (operating source software) is complete with operating system, and a
large number of software applications. Other applications can be downloaded as
required from Novell, Source forge, Freedom Foundations GNU Project, and others.
SuSE Linux is the operating system of choice in this research. Its parent company,
Novell, provides excellent support for this product. There are many enhanced software
titles that can compete one on one with commercial software. “The question of whether
it is better for school systems to use open source software or commercial software
products” (Rustin &Moses, 2002). It is thought that free software is usually shallow in
depth of features compared to closed software. This is a matter of speculation. There
would have to be a comparison of both types of software in order to reach a conclusion.
Even if a conclusion is reached in favor of commercial-closed software, the true
question is can the OSS still deliver on the end result, and save money doing it?

All operating system and application downloads are easily accessible from
Novell?s site at: Having used SuSE Linux
since version 7.3, I am impressed with the stride, and improvements made to its overall
quality, and usability. Version 10.2 is a revolutionary break through. The installation is
logical, and easy to follow. This product can also be downloaded from Open SuSE at

Downloads consist of five CD’s with an add-on CD, or one DVD, or a live DVD
disk. We will use the general x86 Intel based platform. The first two are installation
mediums. This signifies that upon boot up, you will be queried if you’d like SuSE Linux
installed in your computer. If you just want to try linux without installing it, booting up the
live DVD would work as a good trial. Understand that the performance of the live DVD
will be somewhat slower compared to an installed system. This is due to the much lower
speed, and data transfer of the DVD compared to the hard drive.

Installation of SuSE Linux 10.2 is straight forward. The Installation should pose
no problem. Once installed, you will need to reboot. Grub will load, and display
operating systems options. You can boot SuSE Linux 10.2, Windows XP, Linux in safe
mode, or floppy. Selecting, and loading Linux may take about two minutes or so. When
the KDE desktop is displayed, your computer is then ready for use. The special attribute
of SuSE Linux having several windows available to a user is a welcomed feature. The
user can have as many as twenty windows set up for use. This aspect of the Desktop
provides for different programs to run in the different windows. The word processing
program is running on window one. The Internet browser is running on window two. A
game is running on window three, while you do a spreadsheet sort in window four and
so on. The students could copy data from the browser, change windows, and past on
the word processing document. They found this procedure faster than minimizing, or
maximizing the different running programs on one screen.

Due to the nature of Linux, “true multi-user, multi-tasking,” all programs running
on the different screens run seamlessly and stable. The Linux operating system and
KDE graphical interface are truly stable. There have been no lockups, or system
crashes on the twenty six test machines. “My primary Linux web server was up 336
days as of August 20, 2001 which is far longer than any other computer I’ve ever
worked with” (Shaffer, 2006). Windows XP crashes, or locks up with regularity. Although
both operating systems have a network of down loadable updates, and
patches. Patches for Linux tend to solidify its stability. Patches for Windows XP tend to
make its operations more fragile. “Patches released … are causing system hangs,
Windows crashes and the appearance of strange dialog boxes” (Naraine, 2006).

This stability issue which is mission critical for servers, sees Linux with a 30%
overall gain in value over Windows servers. Servers using Linux also shipped over 20%
more hardware than did servers installed with Microsoft server software. It is no wonder
that Linux is becoming more popular.

Table 1 contains commercial software with its’ open source equivalent. The
Microsoft Windows XP? Operating System is installed side by side with Novell’s SuSE
Linux Operating System. This is done to facilitate the use of specialized Windows XP
software used in other classes. Upon start up, Grub, the Linux loader presents a screen
depicting a menu option as displayed on Picture 6. The user can select either of the two
operating systems.

Once Linux is selected, run level 5 will commence. There are other run levels that
can be used.

“Linux operating systems utilize run levels to determine the services that
should be running and to allow specific work to be done on the system.
For example, run level one is designated single-user mode without
networking and is used for critical system maintenance and
troubleshooting. Run level three is multi-user text mode. Run level five is
multi-user graphical mode” (Novell, 2005).

Upon start up to the standard run level 5, a graphical loading screen is displayed,
KDE, the graphical user interface (GUI) of choice is loaded (Picture 7). Once KDE is
loaded, the computer is ready for use. It is similar to a Microsoft Windows XP screen.
The differences are on the icons. The term “similar yet different” fits the description.
Microsoft Windows XP has the “START” icon. SuSE Linux has the “Lizard” icon. From
the Lizard Icon, all programs, and functions are assessable to the user.

For a secure environment, SuSE Linux provides a standard user profile. This
standard user profile will be used by people logging into the system. Anyone using the
computer must have a user name and ID. Using Yast, all users can be added onto the
computer. The standard user profile cannot make any system changes. This means that
the user who is logged in cannot make any system changes. The user may change
his/her environment to suit their particular needs without upsetting overall system
settings. The user cannot destabilize, or damage the operating system for everyone.
Each user must log in with their own username and password. For administrative
functions, the user must log in as root, and provide the root password. The root user is
known as the administrator of the system. Root can change any and everything on the
Linux system. Simply stated, if you loose the root password, you will have to reinstall
the Linux operating system again.

In standard user mode, you are asked to provide the root password in order to
run administrative functions. You don’t have to log out, and log back in as an
administrator. This saves time. Changes can be made on the fly without interrupting the
user for a prolonged period of time. Users can also be part of different groups, and be
given different authority to run certain functions, and or devices. By this I mean that
users can be prohibited from using the CD-ROM, or the scanner, or any other device
connected to this PC. This keeps Linux sturdy, secure, stable, and trouble free.

SuSE Linux is bundled with two complete office suites. KDE Office is manually
down loadable during the installation process. For the most part Open Office is a more
standardized office suite. It is the main office suite in this package. It is automatically
installed during the operating system installation.

Some various differences between commercial and open source software
indicated in table 1 are stated. The Icons may be different. Yet, a printer still prints, a
diskette still saves your files, and a folder still opens your selection of documents. There
are many like looking icons that one for one mimic Window XP?. Although the feel and
look is different, they pretty much provide the same level of service.

The operating systems Windows XP? and Linux are vastly different. Linux is a
text based operating system. Windows 3.1 started as a text based system that evolved
into a monolithic graphical OS. When Windows XP? starts, its graphical user interface
(GUI) becomes apparent. Linux provides choices to the graphical user interface used.
KDE and Gnome are the two most widely used graphical user interfaces for Linux.

There are several less used GUI?s bundled with Linux. If these do not meet your
particular tastes, Linux provides programming tools to develop your own graphical user
interface. You can also modify the running, or installed GUI. This is not possible with
Windows XP? as it is a licensed and registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation. No
changes can be made to this operating system without Microsoft ‘s written consent.

Linux was designed from the ground up to be a true multi-tasking, multi-using
operating system. Windows XP will let up to 10 clients connect directly to it. A Linux PC
used as a server can directly connect to about 1000 clients. It used to be 3000. The
number was dropped due to the fact that Linux was mainly to be used on PCs, not
mainframes. These were issues several years back when PCs had less speed and
processing power.

Problems arise from Window applications not running together in harmony.
Certain applications will try to use up most of the processor’s time, leaving other
applications less apt to run properly. This can cause stability problems in Windows XP?
that display the “blue screen of death” (system lock up). In Linux, it is the operating
system that controls the applications environment. Not vise versa. This makes multitasking,
and multi-using stable in the Linux environment. The “blue screen of death” is
used as a screen saver under Linux.

Microsoft Office? and Open Office’s word processor, spreadsheet, and
presentation software are major products from the two different environments. The word
processor Writer has an open source algorithm of its own. Yet it will
read, edit, and save Microsoft Word? documents. Once a file is saved as a Word
document, it can be fully edited by Word?. The features are comparable between both Writer, and Microsoft Word?. Although Microsoft Word has a slight edge
in functions, Writer fulfills daily writing tasks without difficulty. Also, it has
other functions not found on MSWord?.

Microsoft Excel? is the standard by which spreadsheets are judged. Calc is similar in functions to Excel?. The icons may differ in style, size,
and color, but they work in a similar manner. Calc will edit, and save as a Calc file, or
an Excel? file. Excel? has more options in creating, and displaying charts. Value added
packages, or add-ins are available, and easily installed on Excel?. Calc comes with a
Package Manager for later add-in software.

The presentation graphic called Impress, compares with
Microsoft Office’s Power Point?. It provides not just the standard features, but has an
impressive drawing tool box. Students from 3rd – 5th grades have had no difficulty using
this program. The learning curve between Power Point? and Impress is very short as
most functions are familiar between programs. Impress will edit, and save as an
Impress file, or a Power Point? file.

Mail clients are provided in SuSE Linux. One of the more popular is named
Kontact. Kontact runs under the KDE graphical interface. Evolution runs under the
Gnome graphical user interface. Like Microsoft Outlook?, Kontact and Evolution
contains mail boxes, contact information, calendar, to do list, and notes. Unique features
to Kontact are the anti-spam and anti-virus wizards. These wizards guide you in setting
up spam filtering, and anti-virus settings provided that anti-spam and anti-virus software
is loaded on your Linux operating system. This software can be found in your
installation CD’s, or downloaded freely off the Web.

The crutch behind computing is access to the World Wide Web via the Internet.
The standard commercial web browser is Microsoft?s Internet Explorer?. Although it is
the most popular of browsers available, it is also the most trouble prone. “The list of
serious unpatched vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser keeps getting
longer and longer” (Naraine, 2006). Mozilla Firefox is a browser from The Mozilla
Foundation which supports the Mozilla project. Their open source browser has recently
become very popular with the computing public. It is available to different operating
systems, and platforms including Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and Solaris. Firefox code
is tight, and execution times are less than the standard Internet Explorer browser. This
makes Firefox a faster browser. It is also very stable. “Firefox has been widely praised
for its stability, trustworthiness and innovative features including tabbed browsing, live
bookmarks, built-in pop-up blocking, and hundreds of available extensions” (,

CD burning hardware, and software is a must have option on any computer. CD’s
and DVD’s are used for archiving files, burning music, backing up your hard drive, erase
rewritable media, and other multi-media functions. Both Nero and K3b provide CD and
DVD R/W Rom burning utilities. Nero is a very popular commercial product used in
these multi-media processes. In the open source arena, K3b is the Linux standard. This
software will match closely match Nero in its functions. Being an open source product, it
is continuously being upgraded. These new iterations enhance K3b’s ability to stay
competitive, and meet the demands of today’s emerging multi-media technology.

Palm Desktop, a Palm One software used for synchronizing a Personal Digital
Assistant (PDA) is available for the Windows operating system. This software provides
the means to backup your PDA to your computer. If information is ever lost on the PDA
through a hard reset, you can retrieve it by syncing the PDA back with the PC. SuSE
Linux provides KPilot for this function. You will need to set up KPilot much the same
way you would Palm Desktop. Once the user name and the connection type are set,
you will then be able to synchronize with the PDA. Standard functions such as calendar,
memo, things to do, and contacts will easily update during synchronization. There are
other functions that can also be added, and programmed to tailor the users needs.

The volume control in Windows XP adjusts the loudness, and sets the audio
properties of a PC. A volume control is also included with Linux. There are several
mixers that control the audio qualities such as tone, balance, 3D, frequencies, etc. By
default, Kmixer is installed. The user may select any of several other mixers available in
the Linux package.

For making systems changes, the Control Panel is provided by Microsoft
Corporation for its operating system. Most of the OS?s system changes can be done
here. The use of regedit, another very powerful tool for Windows is provided for experts
in the field. Although it can be accessed by the administrator of the computer, wrong
entries in this management tool may render the Windows operating system useless.
SuSE Linux provides Yast (Yet another set up tool) for making systems changes. This
tool is a combination of many different sub programs that are used to make changes in
most facets of the Linux operating system. For the most part, Yast is the only tool you
will ever need for making changes to the SuSE Linux operating system. Unlike regedit,
which works with the Window’s registry, The Linux system files tend to be text based.
The use of a text editor will easily make manual changes to the Linux operating system.
Unless you know the controlling file that needs to be changed, it is best just to use Yast.

Networking and wireless networking are programmed through the use of the
control panel’s networking icon, or the network and wireless network icons, on the
lower right portion of the desktop’s tool bar. Similarly, Yast provides for setting up the
networking devices whether wired, wireless, or both. Network management is done by
the user selectable network manager, or Kinternet found on the lower right of the Linux
desktop’s tool bar.

To access multi-media rich sites found on the World Wide Web, Adobe’s Flash
player-plugin should be installed on the PC. This player-plugin provides the browsers
with the ability to display animation, and play sound. Flash player-plugins are available
for Windows, Mac OS X (both Intel, and Power PC platforms), Linux, Pocket PC,
Solaris, and HP-UX.

Microsoft Windows provides a basic painting program called Paint. Paint can be
used to create, bit mapped, and Jpeg pictures. This software provides rudimentary
controls for editing pictures. It is easy to learn, and use. Linux installs Gimp as its paint
program. Gimp is a full featured, powerful, picture editing program that requires a
learning curve. Gimp can be used for editing pictures, as its vast array of functions
covers any manipulations to be made.

Novell client is available for Linux. Students at a university or school can log into
their Novell hard drives from any computer on campus by using Novell client. This
software also provides for the backup of user data onto more secure and robust

An important program is Adobe Reader?. This Portable Document Format (PDF)
program lets you read any of the 200 million PDF files on the web. “To date, more than
500 million copies of Adobe Reader have been distributed worldwide on 23 platforms
and 26 languages” (Adobe, 2006). All media within the file is reproduced exactly as the
original. It conserves the authenticity of the program by making it readable, not writable.
Adobe Reader is available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Palm, AIX, Pocket PC, and
Symbian operating systems.

Microsoft’s Media Player is bundled with Windows XP. It plays a multitude of file
formats. The more common file formats include Windows Medial Audio file (wma),
Windows Media Video file (wmv), DVD video, mp3, MIDI (midi), Windows video file
(avi), Windows audio file, (wav), and others. SuSE Linux includes several players.
Amorok will play mp3 audiofiles. Kaffiene will play DVD, files. Real player will play
mp3’s, and Real media. Kaffiene uses the Xine engine back end. To run Microsoft’s
wma, and wmv files, Xine must be programmed by downloading some plugins. This
may have changed with newer versions of this program. Video on Linux is still trailing
behind the Windows, and Mac OS.

Depressing the right mouse button on the desktop will display the desktop menu.
Selecting properties at the bottom of the list will produce the Display Properties. Tabs for
Themes, Desktop, Screen saver, Appearance, and Settings are displayed. Selecting
any of the tabs will take you to its configuration menu. Here, you can configure how you
want your desktop to be displayed. When you right click on the desktop of a SuSE Linux
screen, an option menu is displayed. You can click on the Configure Desktop selection.
This will intern produce a small screen with selections for Background, Behavior,
Multiple Desktops, Screen Saver, and Display.

An honorable mention is the Multiple Desktops. This tab lets you select from one
desktop to twenty virtual desktops. This is a great feature as you can have multiple
programs running on each desktop. You don’t have to minimize, and maximize
programs. You just switch between desktops to view screen content.

To keep the operating system up to date, Windows Updates are provided for
Microsoft’s OS. SuSE Linux provides Online Updates to download patches for securing
it’s operating system. Windows Update will automatically download, and install patches.
This will at times cause the OS to inform you of a pending restart. This tends to happen
at inappropriate times. Unlike the automatically downloading of Windows patches, Linux
simply informs you of new security, and program updates. You must have
administrative, or root privileges to download Linux patches. If you are logged on as a
user, you will be prompted to enter the root password if you want to run Yast, and
download the patches.

Table 1 displays the comparisons between different comparable applications
found in Windows XP? and Linux operating systems. There are hundreds if not
thousands of other applications available in commercial and open source software that
mimic each other. The differences may be apparent between applications, but the
overall scheme is pretty close.

The use of OSS in the classroom and lab proved fruitful. Students from the Early
Childhood Development Center eagerly awaited their computer lab time. Third grade
through fifth grade students were given writing assignments to do. The use of Open
Office Writer faired well. Although there were other different options available with this
word possessing software, students had no problems dealing with the differences
between Writer and Word?. Page formatting, inserting pictures/clipart, and using the
spell checker were easily accomplished.

The use of different fonts, font colors, and background options resulted in colorful
written assignments. Tables were implemented to show the use of cells in a word
processing document. This usage gave way to instilling cell management concepts, and
paved the way for using spreadsheets.

The aforementioned students were lectured on the use of the spreadsheet.
Assignments were given for using Open Office?s spreadsheet software. Basic
mathematic functions such as sum, add, subtract, multiply, and divide were used to
demonstrate some of the uses of a spread sheet. The use of percentages and charts
were added on the next class period. Students were able to use column, bar, line, and
pie charts to demonstrate different types of data in their spread sheet..

Presentation graphics is a different matter. The differences between open source
and commercial software are more apparent. Similar, yet quite different is the scenario.
The students are used to Power Point?. It took a little bit of maneuvering to translate
the differences between both programs. Once the differences were exposed, students
were able to continue preparing their slides. The importation of pictures from the
Internet, clipart, and other sources enhanced the student’s presentation.

Upon completion of their presentation graphics project, students were to present
their slide show. With a laptop and projector, students enjoyed presenting their project to
the class.

First and Second graders were instructed to use the Firefox browser to reach This site has activities pertaining to math, science, social
studies, and language arts. “We’ll help you to learn, enhance your education, and show
you how to have fun doing it” (Kidport, 2006). First and second graders enjoy their
activities at this web site. This is extremely useful as it serves two purposes. First, they
practice the online tutorials. This is very important to young students as it provides the
concepts needed later on in their math, science, social studies, etc. It also develops,
physical abilities by enhancing hand/eye coordination when using a mouse. The fact
that it is a colorful graphics oriented site provides a good amount of stimuli to the
students while making it an enjoyable experience.

Recently, the Kidport site revamped their use of Flash software to Shockwave
software. This change has left Linux users at a loss. Presently, there is no Shockwave
for Linux. I have emailed Adobe Systems Incorporated on this development.

The Firefox Internet browser has been used with success with 4th and 5th graders
while searching for information on their assigned topics. This browser tends to be fast,
and solid. The tabbed browsing feature, keeps Internet pages tabbed within the main
body of the browser. This makes going back and forth between different tabbed pages a
breeze to use. It also saves time as it keeps the pages within easy reach of the
student?s word processing software. This easy to use software easily copied multimedia
files from the web which the students were able to incorporate into their Open Office
documents and presentation graphics.

Another issue about this browser is that it is more secure, and less prone to
viruses than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer? (IE). Firefox is also faster loading and
provides the functionality that IE does without the security headaches.

Free programs that were also used in this research were DigiKam and the Gimp.
Students were able to download pictures from a digital camera, and then edit the
pictures with Gimp. Pictures were enhanced by adding brightness, darkness, clarity, etc.
Once done, they could be sent to a color printer for print.

Kstars is another program that richly details viewing the universe on a computer
screen. The planets, constellations, major/minor stars, and anomalies can be zoomed in
for a detailed view. Students were asked to find several planets, stars, and
constellations on their display. They were to open a browser on the second window and
get information on the objects. On the third window, students were to copy and paste
the information on a word processing document. Once all objects were listed, the
students could print out their 1-2 page articles to a color printer in the lab.

On days where the lesson is finished early, Linux provides a good deal of free
installed games. A favorite game is bzflag. This capture the flag game is played on over
200 servers? world wide. The object is to capture the other team?s flag. The playing field
varies with the different servers, as do the type of capture the flag games. The object is
always the same, shoot the opposing tanks before they shoot you. Depending on the
playing field which can be customized, you either get the other teams flag for points, or
you play a chase the rabbit sort of game where a tank is classified as rabbit, and
everyone hunts it down, or you just shoot other tanks for points.

During technology days, the students were taught to format diskettes, use flash
drives, operate the cd player, listen to music using their headphones, and even burn a
few CDs. Students were able to configure their desktop to their liking. Albeit, some
desktops looked rather odd with background pictures of their favorite singer, or pop star.
The use of different themes brings out the individualistic properties of each student. I
must say that there were no two desktops remotely the same.

Printing color pictures and documents posed no problems. The Lab uses a
Lexmark C750 color laser. Print is clear, clean, and crisp. SuSE Linux has a program
called KjobViewer. This equates to Windows XP’s? print que. Jobs can be restarted,
deleted, paused, or resumed. The priority of the print job can also be upgraded or
reduced as needed.


I believe the hypothesis that states OSS is a viable and money saving alternative
to commercial software in education can be accepted as feasible. All required tasks
given by the teachers to the students were accomplished in an elementary school
setting using open source software . Because this is a dual role laboratory, the use of
certain statistical packages utilized by professors in their teachings require Windows
XP? to co-exist with Linux in this university lab. It is apparent that after 6 months of use,
the Windows partition of the hard drive was in need or extensive servicing. Disk
fragmentation, trojans, ad ware, cookies, and trash files had to be addressed in order to
bring back the XP? operating system to optimal performance. Linux had no problems in
these areas. The journaling, security, and optimization functions inherent in the Reiser
File System keep it optimized and secure all the time. If it was for no other reason than
college classes being held in the lab, there would have been no need for Window’s XP
or any other commercial products for our learning environment.


Appendix 1

Computer Lab PC Specifications:

Processor: Intel Pentium 4
Memory: 1 Gigabyte
Storage: 160 Gigabyte SATA Hard Drive
Display: 17″ LCD Monitor
Devices: 3.5 Floppy Diskette
USB Keyboard
USB Optical Mouse
Ports: 8 USB Connections
1 Gigabit Network Adapter
1 Display Adapter with 8 Megabytes Shared Memory
Audio: Line In

Speaker Output
Microphone Input

Table 1

Windows XP Operating system SuSE Linux 10.2/KDE
Microsoft Office XP Open Office
Word Writer
Excel Calc
Power Point Presentation
Access Base
Microsoft Outlook Kontact
Internet Explorer Mozilla Firefox
Nero DVD/CD Burner K3b DVD/CD Burner
Palm One Desktop KPilot
Volume Control Mixer
Control Panel Yast (Yet Another Setup Tool)
Wired/Wireless Support Wired/Wireless Support
Macromedia Flash Macromedia Flash for Linux
PC Paint Gimp
Novell Client Novell Client for Linux
Adobe Reader Adobe Reader for Linux
Windows Media Player Amarok, Kaffeine, Real Player
Screen Settings Screen Configurator
Windows Updates Linux Updates


Rod Donovan

Preetham Swaminathan

Grub Loader


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