Note to Tesco: Why not open source your "Computers for Schools" scheme?

Schools across Britain have gained over £100 million worth of free computer equipment due to Tesco’s annual Computers for Schools campaign which if you consider it is a very laudable action from a company often scrutinized for being monopolistic. To clarify: for each £10 purchased, Tesco provides a coupon, which can then be redeemed by the customers' choice of educational institution against computers or software packages.

This is a great campaign, but I would also like to encourage Tescos to invest the money collected more wisely. For example, all the software packages that were on display were closed and proprietary. Since learning Open Source software is limited, it would probably serve a better purpose if Tesco invested part of the fund in an Open Source incubator. Open Source learning tools could then be developed and distributed to schools.

Likewise, Open Source volunteers could be employed to teach students to use computers in suburban or impoverished areas of UK. As for the computers, instead of looking for brand new models, why not refurbish slightly obsolete ones otherwise disposed of in landfills.

I have written previously on how Linux and Open source software generally run very well on older hardware and with the forthcoming Windows Vista operating system, a whole generation of early Pentium 4 with 256MB of memory is now going to become obsolete overnight.

Rather than taking a laid-back approach, Tesco could rapidly become the biggest Open Source proponents in Europe, providing needed beneficial PR, and much better value for its customers’ pounds.