Red Hat CEO Proposes Non-Profit Organization to Help Schools

Commercial Linux vendor Red Hat Inc., Durham, N.C. wants to establish a non-profit organization that would introduce Linux and open source software to the education market.

Speaking Aug. 30 at the LinuxWorld 2001 conference in San Francisco, Red Hat president and CEO Matthew J. Szulik said he would like to set up an organization modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corp. The CCC, as it was know, was a government effort during the Depression to provide jobs for Americans through improving and conserving the nation's natural resources.

In the organization proposed by Szulik, public educators and local school boards can work together to improve the quality of local technical education, bypassing proprietary, high-cost vendors, he said.

Szulik also railed against "proprietary software" vendors who "approach our schools as a marketplace, not as a responsibility."

"By extending their lock on the educational system, proprietary software vendors have restricted choice, institutionalized inefficiency, and imposed artificially high prices--often disguised as discounts," he said.

He contrasted the proprietary model with the open source community, where developers freely share program code, which have resulted in such projects as the K12 Linux Terminal Server Project, which recently released free ready-to-run Linux server software designed for schools.

Szulik said Red Hat's non-profit would accomplish four goals:

1. Make educational buying processes more open to open source-based solutions;

2. Target the "neediest schools ... not already locked-in by restrictive, proprietary software licenses";

3. Create a hardware exchange;

4. Create and share educational applications.

Red Hat is not the first Linux-based distributor to take an interest the education market. In April 2001, SuSE Linux AG, Nuremberg, Germany offered 2,000 free copies of its Linux version for distribution to U.S. high schools.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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