Could this be the trend for 2011? A school system wanting to save money, switches from Windows to Linux? It appears the Dysart School System in Arizona actually looked at some of their older computers, about 1/3 of their 3,000 (about the size of my school system), to keep them running. Obviously when you put antivirus and other background software on an older computer, it bogs it down to the point of taking 30 minutes just log in. So that will definitely keep older machines around, potentially saving even more money, since you will not need to replace computers as often.
I really hope technology directors and CTOs look at the positives outside of cost savings when thinking about a full or partial switch to Linux. Dysart Schools estimate they save about $100,000 on licensing, and they may, they may also save on open source applications, like Libre Office in place of Microsoft Office, but these are one time license fees. When switching to any new application or OS, there will be costs for training and professional development as well. While Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE, or other Linux desktops are pretty similar to Windows, they are different enough to warrant PD for teachers and students to use. You will need to open up a ticket for support as well, and most times, support comes with charges.
Yes, budgets will drive us to look at alternatives in 2011, but they should not be the only reason to look at Linux. Looking at compatibility, keeping older equipment lasting, and many other things should be looked at when wanting to make a switch of this magnitude. Hopefully, 2011 WILL be the year of Linux in the classroom, for all the right reasons!
image used under Creative Commons license from the Leslie Wong blog http://www.lesliewong.us