This is a result of many things but to make a long story short and with broad generalizations, Oregonians are tired of getting gouged with taxes by ineffectual law makers who show time and time and again they do not have the citizens best welfare in mind. Couple this with an aging population, diverse state economies, and volatile tax base, you create a powder keg of politics that seem to leave every one angry and scratching their head.
Here’s where Linux comes in. According to this article in the Oregonian http://www.oregonlive.com/search/index.ssf?/base/news/105377817415280.xml?oregonian?ylccsd, Riverdale High School is running 80 computers with Linux and that saves them $40,000 per year. That doesn’t seem very significant but think of the wide spread implications if this were deployed on more systems and in more schools.
The problem in Oregon and many other states is that when government needs to do or buy something, they send out RFP (Request For Proposal). In the RFP they state exactly what the request is for and wait for bids. The problem with this however, is usually the decision is already made about who will provide the solution with what technology. By doing so, they get so specific, there is only one vendor that can do it… And guess which company that vendor chooses? Microsoft. There have been various bills in various states that have been killed that would have allowed Linux to be used in the public sector.
There are already several projects setup to address this budget crunch. For example there is the K12 project http://www.k12linux.org/. These projects allow schools to unshackle themselves from Microsoft. There are several ways to save money. First, computers that are donated to these schools, will not be required to have their licenses tracked. Second, licenses on other machines will not need to be tracked at all, since open source does not require you to do so. This saves administrators time and money in case of an audit.Third, as software is upgraded, new licenses will not need to be repurchased when newer versions are released. Fourth, older hardware can be reused. Terminal servers can be ran on thin clients. Lastly, Linux comes with plenty of mathematical and development tools. In addition to these packages, Linux distributions usually come with Open Office, a full suite of office applications and Mozilla, which is a web browser. Linux comes with several hundreds of applications and is ready for our schools. Please encourage your senators to promote Linux to save our schools!