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Teacher Questions Linux Legality

Teacher Questions Linux Legality

You couldn’t make this stuff up. A Texas middle school teacher, identified only as Karen, discovered one of her students demonstrating Linux on a laptop and handing out discs of the operating system. She had a conference with the student after class and confiscated the discs, feeling they might be illegal, before writing to the distributor.

In his blog, Ken Starks of HeliOS printed much of the teacher’s letter:

“Mr. Starks, I am sure you strongly believe in what you are doing but I cannot either support your efforts or allow them to happen in my classroom. At this point, I am not sure what you are doing is legal. No software is free and spreading that misconception is harmful. These children look up to adults for guidance and discipline. I will research this as time allows and I want to assure you, if you are doing anything illegal, I will pursue charges as the law allows. Mr. Starks, I along with many others tried Linux during college and I assure you, the claims you make are grossly over-stated and hinge on falsehoods. I admire your attempts in getting computers in the hands of disadvantaged people but putting linux on these machines is holding our kids back.

"This is a world where Windows runs on virtually every computer and putting on a carnival show for an operating system is not helping these children at all. I am sure if you contacted Microsoft, they would be more than happy to supply you with copies of an older version of Windows and that way, your computers would actually be of service to those receiving them…"

Starks also posted his response to her, which included the following:

“First off, if there was even the slightest chance that I was doing something illegal, it would not have been done. To think that I would involve my kids in my "illegal" activities is an insult far beyond outrage. You should be ashamed of yourself for putting into print such none sense.”

“The most disturbing part of this resides in the fact that the AISD purchases millions of dollars of Microsoft Software in a year’s time when that money could be better spent on educating our children. A dedicated School Teacher would recognize that fact and lobby for the change to Free Open Source Software and let the money formally spent on MS bindware be used on our kids.”

“Now. You give that boy his disks back. Aaron is a brilliant kid and he’s learned more using Linux than he ever did using Windows. Those disks and their distribution are perfectly legal and even if he was "disruptive", you cannot keep his property. I have placed a call to the AISD Superintendent and cc’d him a complete copy of your email. It looks like we will get to meet in his office when School starts again after the holiday. I am anxious to meet a person who is this uninformed and still holds a position of authority and learnedness over our children.”

The story will doubtless continue in the New Year…

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