The relevant part of my comment/response to Vicki Davis’ post regarding the cost of implementing a free software lab in her school:
I don’t know about the money. It sounds like the school can build a lab easily for that much…maybe two or three! There are several innovative laptop projects in the world right now driving the cost down tremendously. Remember that tech support costs may rise unless the school already has an educated enough community to launch such an endeavor. This can take time unless you are lucky. So, you may need to pay extra in the short-term to train/teach and/or acquire help.
If the school is thinking of doing this only to save money, I would suggest doing a detailed cost-analysis and then make a decision. If you pressure some proprietary vendors, you might be able to get a really good price for many years and actually save more money in the short-term than going with free software – especially if your school is a large institution. In fact, I suspect that as time goes on the world may see a point where even the most popular operating system software will become free (as in beer) as it adds OSI approved pieces around itself.
If the school desires to do this for ethical/pedagogical reasons (perhaps financial as well if that’s the case), then it will do what it needs to do to use free software. If the community has already made a decision to go with free software, then the hardware it buys (or already owns) may drive the software decision. In the free software world, there are choices. If your hardware won’t run a completely free system, you will have to go with a GNU/Linux distribution containing binary blobs. Or, if you feel the community needs time to adjust to some loss, the school may consider going with a distribution that makes installing (e.g. proprietary Flash) easy with an intent to work on weeding the garden over time. Often, a large community will turn in a direction while many members may not understand why. In that case, easing the resistance through compromise may be a better pay-off so long as the goal is freedom.