FLOSS Desktop For Kids Incubator Project

Last modified by Stefano Maffulli on 2023/02/17 01:52

Want to participate?
Quick start guide: First, join this wiki. Second, join the mailing list. Third, introduce yourself on the mailing list. If you're having problems contact one of the folks listed below...

MAKE Worksheets, including answer key, is available here. Have a question, contact Patrick Masson, Michele McColgan, or Kristopher Navratil

Start date: January 2015
Working Group C0-Chairs: Kristopher Navratil
Working Group Sponsor: Josh Simmons
OSI General Manager: Patrick Masson
Monthly OSI Board if Director Reports: Report Archive

Please note: the names and organizations listed here are provided for reference only, and include those who have engaged with the program at very different levels. These are provided here for reference only, and should not be assumed to support the FLOSS Desktops program, or the Open Source Initiative.

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SchodackKidsUbunutuScreens.jpgEach year school districts across the United States discard thousands of computers as the hardware moves off of commercial service warranties (typically after three or four years) or are no longer capable of running the latest proprietary operating systems and desktop applications. The majority of these computers are still functional (i.e. not broken or damaged). At the same time, many schools are looking for opportunities to increase STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) within their curricula. The availability of surplus equipment and FLOSS software provides a unique opportunity for schools, teachers and students to learn about computer hardware and software.

The FLOSS Desktop Refurbishment and Distribution working group will develop a program and resource guideline for creating student workshops (school clubs, groups, etc.) serving K-12 and potentially the broader community (senior citizens, libraries, community groups, etc.). These workshops will be open to school children and run by their faculty and/or community mentors in cooperation with their schools, providing access to a variety of project-based learning activities, including:

  • Hardware refurbishment: Students will rebuild and bring to operational condition decommissioned computers from local school districts.
  • Software Administration: Students will install and configure FLOSS software: operating systems and various desktop applications (LibreOffice, GIMP, etc.).
  • Mentorship: Students will develop a curriculum and teach "desktop literacy" to their peers and other members of the community using the refurbished FLOSS computers. After completion of the course, the participants will be able to take the computer home.
  • Peer Support Center: Students will create, manage and operate a "help desk" providing those who complete the course and using the refurbished computers a resource for ongoing support.


The OSI's FLOSS Desktops for Kids Incubator Project began within the Maple Hill Middle School of Schodack School District in partnership with the District's Business Incubator Program. The school administration identified the FLOSS Desktops project as a potential complement for furthering the District's academic goals in extending exposure to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) to students. Organized within the school as the Open Source Computer Club (OSCC) in the Fall of 2014, the program is managed by the school's Technology Teacher and meets after regular class. Since it's inception, the Schodack program has been a model for other districts and organizations (e.g. Boys & Girls Clubs).

Working Group Mission

  • Initially, provide school districts and other community organizations with professional development, educational programs and support services related to FLOSS for faculty, students and/or staff.
  • Create opportunities for school districts in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) using low/no cost, low barrier resources.
  • Develop and document an academic program, including educational, technology and staffing resources, as well as promotional and communications resources to help other districts across the U.S. understand and implement the program.
  • Extend the awareness of FLOSS and the OSI within K-12 education and the institutions that support it.
  • Create opportunities for regional "OSI Centers of Interest" within the K-12 system to extend the OSI mission and resources.

Alignment to OSI Mission

In line with the OSI mission to, raise the awareness and adoption of open source and build bridges between open source communities:

  • Many faculty and administrators working within K12 are unfamiliar with open source software generally and as an alternative to proprietary options. This program will introduce open source software as a resource to schools, increase awareness of open source alternatives to software traditionally used within education, highlight its value as both a tool to support education (i.e. a platform for educational activities), and as a resource for instruction (i.e. a set of learning objects enabling teaching and learning).
  • The program is designed to foster community development not only across districts, but across academic disciplines and administrative areas. Teachers and staff from different schools and districts will work together, as will Technology Teachers and Librarians, K12 instructors and university faculty, community organizers and school officers, etc., thus building bridges between various types and levels of educational institutions and even other types of community groups.


All academic resources, including those listed below and those under development, can be found the project's shared Google drive

  1. Press release explaining the OSI sponsored initiative (complete).
  2. Web page on OSI site (complete)
  3. Program/resource guide for developing local FLOSS student groups / clubs based on the Schodack School District model.
    1. Curriculum for instruction (in progress)
      • Learning objectives (goals for student learning through the project)
      • Learning activities (recommendations for instruction)
      • Schedule (recommended topics, activities, etc. toward learning objectives).
      • Hardware resource guide (how to obtain and manage donated equipment)
    2. Worksheets, session planning (complete)
    3. Staffing (recommendations for teachers, aids, volunteers required to support students and projects)
    4. Policies (issues to be aware of and address for establishing and running the program).
  4. Opensource,com Article (complete)
  5. Program "Sell Sheet" (complete)
  6. Project Sponsorship Proposal (in progress)
  7. Develop resources for the program to position FLOSS Desktops as a "pre-Google Code-in" activity (in progress).
    1. Note, this could be a significant step in achieving deliverable #8 as well as securing funding from organizations supporting programs like, Code-in, Hour of Code, Summer of Code.
  8. Identify a permanent host for the FLOSS Desktops for Kids program.

Additional ideas, development status, and assignee(s) is captured in the, "Working Notes: Task List".

Current Activities

If you're interested in helping, see our list of current activities and how to start.



The group will primarily communicate via the working group wiki page (and related discussion forum below) and the FLOSS Desktops mailing list.

If you have questions about the group, please contact Patrick Masson, the sponsor, or Kristopher Navratil, the working group chair.

Target Completion Date

  1. Pilot program: June 1, 2015 with annual renewal. The initial project--designing and delivering a K12 course on open source software-- was completed on schedule with the organization of the Open Source Computer Club at Maple Hill Middle School in the fall in 2015. The program culminated with a presentation by students of their work at the University at Albany's Open Source Festival.
  2. Program/resource guide: June 2016 with annual renewal. A comprehensive curriculum conforming to the ITSE standards was developed along with teaching and learning resources to, 1. ensure the program was in line with U.S. national standards, 2. give adopting schools/districts confidence that the educational program, is comprehensive and complete, 3. help schools just starting with the program deliver a standard course, and 4. provide a launching point for further development based on unique local needs.
  3. The final goal is to find a qualified and supported organization to hand the incubator project off to.

Ongoing OSI Support

It is expected that once the Incubator Project achieves critical mass, it will either, 1. become self sustaining, or 2. will be adopted by a permanent sponsor whose work is in line with the educational objectives/outcomes of the FLOSS Desktops for Kids program. Until that time, the OSI will continue to support the ongoing work of adopters as well as promote continued growth.

Additional Resources

Case Studies / Reference Implementations

This table is provided to index schools currently providing FLOSS Desktops.

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School NameContactReference SourceFLOSS UsedNotes
Maple Hill Middle SchoolKristopher Navratil, Technology Faculty, Maple Hill Middle SchoolMiddle School Students Present at University at AlbanyLinux (Ubuntu), LibreOffice, GIMP, OpenShotFLOSS only used in the School's Open Source Computer Club as part of the FLOSS Desktops for Kids program.
Mirman SchoolMichael Taggart, Education technologist and writer. via a Tweet from @mttaggart.LinuxLinux in the Library (rPi kiosks) supporting digital signage, for VMs in CS classes, as a desktop for one faculty member.
 Siena CollegeMichele McColgan, director of Siena Urban Scholars  UbuntuOngoing summer camp


oscc03.pngGeneral 2015

Albany Open Source Festival, 2015

General 2016

Games in Education 2016

Albany Open Source Festival, 2016

General 2017




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