In an attempt to bully schools into their latest licensing scheme, Microsoft(M$) has been demanding software audits of schools in the 24 largest districts in Oregon and Washington, in addition to schools in 35 other states. |
One of the questionalble terms of this new license requires schools to pay Microsoft $45/year for each and every computer, whether the computers are using M$ products or not. Essentially, the school would rent the right to use M$ products on all of its' computers on a per-computer basis, even if some of the computers were incapable of running M$ products. The new license also asks the districts to make "institutionwide commitments" to M$. In light of M$'s recent anti-trust lawsuits, it is downright arrogant they would propose such a blatantly monopolistic licensing agreement. While M$ has legal "right" to require software audits through copyright law, using such "rights" to attack schools with millions in budget shortfalls is simply stealing from the children.
Thankfully M$'s predatory tactics seem to be backfiring. Many school districts have started using viable alternatives such as the freely available and copylefted GNU/Linux operating system and other free software. Portland Public School district(PPS) has plans to install 16 new linux-based computer classrooms this fall. Projects such as K12linux have been facilitating linux in school systems.
Another interesting project was started by a joint relationship between PPS Environmental Middle School and a non-profit organization called Freegeek. Through a 6-week program, students learned about computer recycling and re-use, and built 5 linux terminals out of recycled parts, with new paint jobs of the student's design. This computer lab was built with 100% recycled parts, mostly with computers that are 5-7 years old otherwise destined for scrap materials, at best, if not landfills.
And just because they're old computers doesn't mean they're unbearably slow, since free software usually outperforms proprietary software on older computers. Free software is created and improved in the spirit of helping your neighbor, which is more likely to help someone out, even if it's not profitable in the financial sense.
Computer recycling and re-use is essential to ecological sustainability, since manufacturing a new computer can produce as much as 50 pounds of toxic waste, use 2,300 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 7,500 gallons of clean water. Mining for rare metals such as Coltan/Tantalum has devastated streams in the Congo and elsewhere. Inappropriate disposal of these machines may also create toxic landfills in third-world countries.
Considering the motives and predatory tactics of software companies such as M$, the ecological impacts of new computers, and the existence of viable free software alternatives, the time is ripe to End Corporate Dominance of computers- in our schools, homes, and the organizations we work with.
It's time to be "opposed to technology hurtful to the commonality".
this work is copylefted- terms as follows...
Copyright (c) Anonymous 2002 Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. a copy may be found at http://www.gnu.org/licenses/fdl.txt