Every student at Penn Manor High School has been given an Acer TravelMate laptop loaded with Ubuntu 13.10. That’s over 1,700 laptops being distributed to the student body and, what’s more, all of the students are being provided with full sudo access to their computers. What this means is that they are granted effectively superuser level security privileges to do as they will with their TravelMates.
In fact, the school is encouraging students to “install software and lift the hood of the system to better understand what makes it tick,” said district technology director Charlie Reisinger. “Linux offers so many opportunities to explore computing, programming, and the arts.”
While this move could prove to be something of a hindrance for students when they need to transition back into a more mainstream computing environment, the experience and knowledge could be great for students who move on to careers in IT, like systems administration or work related to web servers. By encouraging them to tinker, students may be better equipped at solving their own problems, as well as collaborating with a larger (open source) community.
It’s not too shabby that the district stands to save at least $360,000 in licensing fees alone either.