I’ve got an idea in my head… my daughter goes to a private christian school, and my wife works as the secretary there. Unfortunately, they’re married to Microsoft technology, and I doubt they even realize why they are. They’re using an Active Directory-based authentication system and they keep having trouble with it… new systems were donated to the school this year, and have are unable to login to the domain…. for no explainable reason. File and print sharing works, but it’s not seamless as it should be. I poked around a bit on it, but know nothing about AD or how to manage it. They’re also using Microsoft Office, all the workstations are mix of anything from Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows 98, or something in between.
Today I’ve been reading a bit about about the increasing adoption of open source solutions in government and schools. For instance, in Russia, ALT Linux will be installed on every school system by 2009, replacing Windows.
Closer to home, the Canadian Labour Congress is switching from WordPerfect to OpenOffice.org, saving themselves about $60,000 in licensing fees (if they had switched to Microsoft Office).
I’ve also found that some of the technologies and methodologies used in the school are horribly ineffecient. Things like using MSN for inter-office instant messaging. Things like using Word documents to store little tidbits of info and placing them in shares for everyone to access. Things that a good database with a groupware or wiki frontend would nicely handle.
Maybe I’ll setup (and donate) a server with a nice LAMP stack to provide some of this stuff… a jabber server for inter-office IM (no loss of service if their ISP goes down), a MediaWiki install, maybe phpGroupware or something similar. Teachers have too little time as it is, and for it to be wasted doing inefficient and repetative tasks doesn’t sit well with me.