Five Icelandic secondary schools will begin using free software, as opposed to proprietary software such as those from Windows or Apple.
“Free” in this case does not necessarily mean “without cost”, although that is almost always the case. Rather, “free” means that the user is free to view the source code, alter, make copies of and distribute the software – something proprietary software companies such as Microsoft forbid for their products.
A statement from the Ministry of Education says that five secondary schools (menntaskóli) will start using free software.
Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík will be the first, adopting almost entirely free software in their computer systems at the beginning of the school year this fall. Framhaldsskólinn í Vestmannaeyjum is expected to do the same with the new year. Three other secondary schools – Menntaskólinn á Akureyri, Menntaskólinn á Tröllaskaga and Verkmenntaskólinn á Akureyri – are expected to adopt free software around this time as well.
The ministry points out that a number of secondary schools in Iceland have already started using free software in some capacity.
The motivation behind the idea, the ministry says, is to increase equality and make running a school more affordable. Free software almost always is without cost, with updates costing nothing or next to nothing.
The ministry has been advocating for free software in schools for some time. Last February, they held a conference called “Free Day,” wherein secondary and university teachers came together to discuss their experiences with free software.
For more on what free software entails, read the Grapevine’s interview with tech pioneer Richard Stallman.