One secondary school, 1500+ students, 350 Desktop PCs, GNU/Linux and a whole load of Free and Open Source Software… That’s right, you read that correctly! MS Windows and its Office suite do not star here!
In September 2012 Westcliff High School for Girls (WHSG), a selective Academy Grammar School (with a Sixth Form) located within Essex (UK), celebrated the start of a new technological era. The beginning of something new. Something daring, and to most, something rather unconventional and against the ‘norm’… The roll-out of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) to all of its 350+ student Desktop PCs and the declaration of ODF, PDF and HTML as the official school document standards; the most ambitious technological change (or advancement) of educational resources, tools and services that the school has ever undertaken!
At the time, it may not have been a change welcomed by all, but with the purse strings tightening, a continually evolving IT curriculum and an ageing network in constant demand, change was of a paramount importance.
Fast forward to present day (2022), and I am happy to report that WHSG is still going strong with FOSS in full force! With it continuing to provide a stable, reliable, resilient and cost effective IT solution for all, whilst without compromising on system security and performance.
To summarise! GNU/Linux CentOS, Debian and openSUSE are the chosen distributions used to power a variety of the school’s servers, with the latter (openSUSE) being used for client use; LibreOffice is the flagship office suite; Nextcloud provides the means to sync and share files/folders between multiple devices/platforms with ease; in-house Ice Warp (powered by GNU/Linux CentOS) provides E-Mail capabilities (and more); and Google classroom is the Virtual Learning Environment platform. Of course, it doesn’t end there! Each client is bursting with hundreds of FOSS applications, with a vast majority of them being carefully selected to ensure that they will work on a variety of platforms (including Windows and Apple) in order to allow students to continue with their studies both in and out of the classroom without any extra costs!
… Without a doubt WHSG’s switch to Free and Open Source Software has been an unmitigated SUCCESS! Proving that there really is life beyond the clutches of certain Independent Software Vendors!
For those who are curious to know more as to how the school executed the switch all them years ago, then head on over to Smashwords where you too can download your very own (free) PDF/EPUB copy of:
Written by one of WHSGs very own IT Support members. To provide a deep and meaningful insight as to the research, tests and analysis that were executed throughout the journey.
An interview with school’s network manager M. Moore at the time is available at dot.kde.org.
May the FOSS be with you!