Isn't EdUBudgie Linux just another Ubuntu clone?
This is most definitely a question which WILL be asked, and it is a valid one at that. As an English teacher it is my belief that for society to thrive, education must be free, available, comprehensive, and of the highest quality possible, regardless of physical location, age, gender, sex, race, religious affiliation, nationality, political view or affiliation, criminal or employment background, etc. My belief even extends to those who prefer Pepsi over Coke.
I was an English teacher from the United States of America who taught English for years in Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey at private schools. I have also had the privilege to work with students from an inner-city school in Upstate New York. I have witnessed the incredible variation in the quality of education offered to students from not only two different countries, but more importantly, from the perspective of more than a few very different socioeconomic classes as well. It deeply troubles me to see incredibly intelligent, talented, creative, hard-working students who do not have the same opportunities as other students simply because of money. I abhor the concept itself and find the continued practice to be troubling. A student, ANY student, will thrive given the right set of tools and appropriate motivations, regardless of socioeconomics. I believe that differentiating educational opportunities through technology solely based on income, something that I have witnessed in my brief experience as a teacher, is wrong. Period. We, as a society, are failing to do our best for our future leaders when we allow things like this to happen.
With that in mind, my general overarching philosophy, and by extension the philosophy of this project, is to give away whatever educational tools possible to as many students and educators as possible. If I could pay for each and every child's education up through and including higher education myself, I would, but that isn't within my abilities. What is within my abilities though is to offer this: a version of Ubuntu setup out-of-the-box with as many high quality educational tools as are available and appropriate. By its very nature and by definition FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) is of course free and is a great starting point. However, you will find non-FOSS and proprietary packages in EdUBudgie Linux alongside FOSS packages. This is a matter of the right tool for the moment and the audience. These packages will change over time, and I hope for a day where we can say that the education market runs only FOSS software, but we aren't there today and we won't be there tomorrow. EdUBudgie Linux, as of today, offers a bridge between the current atmosphere controlled by the tech giants and a FOSS-only future controlled by the schools themselves.
There will be Linux purists who believe that only FOSS software should be included with any GNU/Linux offering, a philosophy spearheaded by Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation. While this is a wonderful ideology to aspire to it is simply unattainable today in the education market when looked at from a broad perspective. Without a doubt, a FOSS-only solution can be had and used - a few schools do so now. But for the other 99% of schools out there using proprietary solutions from tech giants today, it is an enormous leap for them to move to FOSS fulltime. Proprietary software is in many cases very high quality. One could even argue that it is proprietary software which enables FOSS to exist in the first place. One puts food on the tables of developers and pays the bills of traditional software corporations, while the other advances society as a whole while being comprised of a community of hard-working developers who do their work out of a love for the process. I strongly believe that FOSS software can overtake proprietary software in terms of education market share over time, but I also strongly believe that as of today it is unrealistic to ask schools and school districts who are currently using Microsoft or Google to suddenly switch to FOSS-only solutions. I believe that it is a process and I am hopeful that EdUBudgie Linux will be a part of that process, but I also feel that it is unrealistic, irresponsible even, to expect schools to suddenly change what has worked for them for the past three decades because of our - the Linux community's - ideology. The metaphor which comes to mind is the idea of boiling frogs, which apparently one ought to do slowly (though admittedly I am not an expert on the culinary intricacies of frog cooking). If we in the community start to nudge schools towards FOSS solutions, then they will in time see the benefits of this alternative paradigm and will eventually have the momentum needed to finally cut the cord that tethers them to the tech giants - at some point. But again, I believe that broadly speaking this can only be accomplished when viewed and executed as an ongoing process; slowly and methodically, not rapidly and radically.
While the idea of a FOSS-only education-focused Linux project for the masses is something to work towards for the future, in practice it is not a realistic goal at the present time. First and foremost, this project aims to put the highest-quality tools into the hands of as many students and educators as possible and proprietary software is simply required in order to do that today. Only time can tell what tomorrow holds, but I am incredibly optimistic, having borne witness to the incredible advances that have been made in Linux in the past 10 years alone.
Your comments on this matter are more than welcome and anywhere that we can work towards a more-FOSS focused project, we at EdUBudgie Linux will strive to. Please see the contact page for how to get in touch with me about this and anything else that comes to mind regarding the project.
Below is a bit more about the philosophy which addresses some of the criticisms that exist about EdUBudgie Linux: