A teacher has thrown a student into detention and threatened to call the police for using Linux in her classroom.
The teacher spotted one of her students giving a demonstration of the HeliOS distro to other students. In a somewhat over-the-top reaction, she confiscated the CDs, put the student on detention and whipped off a letter to the HeliOS Project threatening to report it to the police for distributing illegal software.
"I am sure you strongly believe in what you are doing but I cannot either support your efforts or allow them to happen in my classroom," writes the teacher, identified only as Karen.
"At this point, I am not sure what you are doing is legal. No software is free and spreading that misconception is harmful. I will research this as time allows and I want to assure you, if you are doing anything illegal, I will pursue charges as the law allows.
"I along with many others tried Linux during college and I assure you, the claims you make are grossly over-stated and hinge on falsehoods. I admire your attempts in getting computers in the hands of disadvantaged people but putting Linux on these machines is holding our kids back," she writes.
Not content with completely missing the point of Linux, Karen concluded by throwing down the ultimate insult to the Linux advocates: "This is a world where Windows runs on virtually every computer and putting on a carnival show for an operating system is not helping these children at all.
"I am sure if you contacted Microsoft, they would be more than happy to supply you with copies of an older verison of Windows and that way, your computers would actually be of service to those receiving them..."
The HeliOS project members were understandably upset, and quickly fired off a reply.
"Please...investigate to your heart's content. Linux is a free as-in-cost and free as-in-license operating system. It was designed specifically for those purposes...
"I don't know when you attended college Karen but the Linux of even two years ago pales in feature and ability to what there is available now... and that in turn will pale in a year's time. Linux is superior to Microsoft Windows in so many ways, they are too numerous to mention here."
The letter and reply can be read in full on the HeliOS Project blog.
HeliOS founder Ken Stark has apologised to the US teacher who threatened to call the police for using Linux in her classroom.
Stark's blog told how the teacher, known only as Karen, accused the HeliOS project of holding back children and committed the cardinal sin of encouraging the Linux advocates to contact Microsoft for old copies of Windows if they wanted to help children.
Stark says he regrets the media storm he created. "Instead of crafting a measured, count-for-count personal response, I chose to share her obvious ignorance with members of the Linux Community," he writes on the <HeliOS blog
"It was meant to illustrate the maddening ignorance and bias a Linux Advocate faces in a Microsoft Windows world. It was also meant to digitally spank the hand of the offender. It was a good direction to go I thought.
"Things pretty much turned to fecal flakes from there."
Stark claims he was contacted by journalists from all over the world, who wanted him to name and shame the teacher - one UK magazine offered to donate $1,000 to his project for her full name.
However, the call he wasn't expecting came from Karen herself, who asked the HeliOS man why he had "thrown her to the wolves?".
"Karen and I have talked on the phone now for a couple of hours, here and there," Stark adds. "We've come to understand each other more and had she said some of the things in her email that she said during our phone conversations... this black ink on white digital paper probably wouldn't exist. And neither would over 2,000 comments that were less than kind on one end of it and absolutely brutal on the other."
Stark concludes that misguided teachers aren't his real enemy. "Karen seems to be a good teacher, and as she stated to me today, she has learned more about the tech world in a few days than she's learned in five years. That's because she's trapped in a world of Windows. Most people are."