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356,800 FOSS Desktops For Brazil’s Schools

Canadian company Userful and Brazilian company ThinNetworks have partnered to deliver 356,800 Linux-based desktop systems to Brazilian schools, according to a their recent press release, Userful and ThinNetworks Announce the World’s Largest Desktop Virtualization Deployment – 356,800 Green Workstations.

Userful’s key innovation is to harness the excess power of current PC hardware and the multi-user nature of Linux operating systems. Multiple monitors, keyboards and mice are connected to one computer, giving each user separate but complete simultaneous access to his or her computing environment.

In the exuberant style of press releases, the two companies announce:

It is a historical achievement, being: the world’s largest ever virtual desktop deployment; the world’s largest ever desktop Linux deployment, and a new record low-cost for PCs with the PC sharing hardware and software costing less than $50 per seat. The decision to deploy Userful and ThinNetworks’ low-cost and environmentally friendly desktop virtualization solution establishes the Brazilian Ministry of Education as a global leader in computer education and provides other governments and institutions worldwide with a proven model for improving student to computer ratios while rolling out large numbers of desktops with minimal cost and environmental impact.

To my knowledge, all of their statements are factually correct, and the news is quite exciting, which makes it easy for me to overlook the typical annoyance of marketing speak.

Skeptics might assume this is vaporware, but in fact the first phase has already been implemented with 18,750 workstations installed and functioning well in rural schools.

The scale of this project and the prior successes of Userful and ThinNetworks are extremely satisfying to see. This is a huge success story for Linux and open source, and with luck it will quickly inspire similar projects in the US, where I might be able to see it with my own eyes (and save my own tax dollars from being wasted on proprietary alternatives).

One Response to “356,800 FOSS Desktops For Brazil’s Schools”

  1. Benjamin Horst Says:
    February 28th, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Based on feedback from Userful, the OOo community has learned that yes, each one of these machines includes BrOffice, the Brazilian version of OOo (rebranded due to trademark issues with another organization that already existed in the country).