Do you have old hardware and software the kids won't use?  Did you buy them a new computer knowing that you'd be repeating this again next year?  Stop.  You can end that cycle, make them even more technology literate and save yourself money all at the same time.

Today, the leading database, MySQL, is open source.  The overwhelming majority of web server platforms are open source as well.  I have every reason to believe that front-end software will follow suit.

If you haven't made the switch, here's a list of reasons why you should:

  1. LibreOffice, a fork of Open Office, is completely compatible with Microsoft Office (it can be formatted as .doc or .xls, etc) and includes additional features like a database program comparable to Microsoft Access.
  2. LibreOffice is free:  No subscriptions, no outlay for upgrades.
  3. GIMP does almost everything the overly pricey Adobe Photoshop does.
  4. GIMP is also free, just add talent.
  5. Tired of bad Windows upgrades?  Consider Linux an upgrade for your hardware.  Everything runs faster on Linux.
  6. Can't choose?  You can make your PC both Windows and Linux.

That's just the start of the list.  There's much more.  As I've had time to contemplate what the real issue with education and technology is, I came to the conclusion that the real issue is training.  Truthfully, armed with just an old PC and free software, I could run circles around those that have spent considerably more.  Ask my kids.  They love geek mom -- especially on the day before their big presentation is due.

If you need more proof it's the user and not the lack of expensive tools, take a look at this image in GIMP Magazine by Luciano Freitas.  It's one of many amazing graphics produced with open source.

Image created with Open Source GIMP

If you're wondering where to get started, here are a few links to front-end software and training for it.