UK school switches to Linux

The Mall School in Richmond has replaced its aging Windows 2000 PCs with a state of the art Linux thin-client network, offering access to a wealth of educational software at a fraction of the cost of an upgraded Microsoft-based solution. Educational organisations, including BECTA, have recently been pointing out the enormous potential benefits to schools of open source software such as Linux. The Mall School is starting to make these benefits a reality.

A preparatory school with 350 pupils aged from five to thirteen, the Mall School has an excellent academic reputation and is keen to offer the very best IT facilities without blowing the budget. The new system, which came fully installed for less than £15,000, offered an estimated 60% saving over an equivalent proprietary solution. Installation took less than a week and the system is proving very easy to use and administer.

Sirius Corporation, the UK's leading Linux and open source consultancy, installed the new network of 28 workstations connected to a high-powered server running the LTSP Linux terminal server. Eighteen of the machines, used primarily for teaching, are small footprint, fanless, thin clients which run completely silently with very low power consumption (the Mall's electricity savings alone are likely to be in excess of £1,000 per year). Use of the thin clients enables staff to control what software is available on the pupils' desktops from the server, reducing administration costs and the chances of misuse. If a machine breaks it can simply be swapped out, with no further maintenance required. Ten of the machines installed are “fat clients” (though also small footprint) which can be booted up either into Windows XP to run the school's existing administration software or into Linux for classroom use.

The school was running a number of Windows-only applications, including its administration database, so the new system had to offer seamless compatibility between Linux and Microsoft technologies.

The open source software provided includes office, drawing, desktop publishing and web design applications along with a wide range of educational programs and games. All of the software is free of proprietary licensing and can therefore be used by pupils with no restrictions at home.

For further general information about Sirius Corporation visit

For further general infomation about the Mall School visit