Free Upgrade Southtyrol‘s Schools (FUSS) is a project that has been upgrading the computer systems in all Italian schools within the Autonomous Province of Bolzano since summer 2005, replacing the software with proprietary licence used in teaching with the GNU/Linux FUSS distribution, developed as part of the project and released under a free licence.
The basic idea of the project is to consider IT as a transversal teaching tool and not as a specific subject or simply for training in the use of a few software packages, when instead it is a valid learning tool. In line with this choice, we are giving out the software used in our schools to students, teachers and families, so that we might foster a knowledge of computers based on sharing and the dissemination of knowledge. The first and fundamental criterion used to realise the distribution of FUSS is that of only distributing free software. This stems from a series of different considerations:
- coherence on a philosophical and political level with regard to the choice to use free software.
- the possibility to install the software that is part of the FUSS project not only in schools, but also to distribute it amongst all students and families and to be able to do so legally.
- the possibility to edit and adapt the software and installation procedures to suit specific needs, which is only possible if the program is issued under a free licence.
The second criterion is that of maintainability. One of the great advantages of free software is being able to use whatever has already been created by the community. Therefore, we have decided to rely on an infrastructure that is already tried and tested, available and able to guarantee reliability and maintainability over time. The third criterion is modularity: it must be possible to assemble FUSS or take it apart and adapt it to various learning environments (for example, elementary, middle and high schools).