Thank you, Martin Hansen, for a well written article. Juat to add a few comments:-
We got 35% A* and 40% A on top of the 35% A*, with no-one below C at GCSE.
I got simultaneously to retiring age and increasing demands of industry (of which more below), so I left Stonar, not without regret; it is a lovely working environment.
It was not so much specific objections from other staff, but the universal wall of ignorance, which was so difficult. Note that any common CSV file, loaded under Windows, is described as a 'Windows Excel Comma Separated Values file' so it's not surprising that although the examination boards are scrupulously non-partisan, people get the impression that all their stuff is Windows-based.
The web site is certainly simply constructed, although there are over 100 files. Curiously, there were many comments such as 'it's the only school web site easy to navigate and tells me what I want to know straight away'. So much for flashy sites.
It's actually this set of machines I mentioned here a few days ago and in which a number of respondents have expressed interest.
School is proposing a much smaller number of fixed machines and encourging pupils to bring their own to and fro and connect up inside the firewall
Yes, I know well, and school doesn't, what it's going to cost. BECTA guidelines suggest 2.5 teacher salaries for technical maintenance for a school of that size, ie 3 technicians, and at the moment they've only got one, who is aging daily.
network maintenance was trivial. All machines had locked hard discs. A little utility in the boot sequence made them log into the server and obey any upgrade file I had placed there, after which they created an empty file named for the last group of the IP number to tell me the message had been obeyed. Easy and effective.
RiscOS is useless as a server on any major scale. Stonar has a load-balanced pair of Linux servers. When I left there were 160,000 work files on the net. Girls can access their files at home through the Navaho system.
So what killed it? Firstly, failure to produce CDROM in RIsc format. We got over that by bringing in the web very early. We got to about a million fetches a week. But the lack of a modern browser was the killer. If Mozilla Firefox had been ported RiscOS would still be in there.
About 10 had their own RiscPCs and there are (I think) 4 Alpha laptops.
Anyway, to the industrial side: The name of the game here is not, can we run this month's Flash 5 CD, but, how do be keep the enterprise running when the Windows network goes down? There is a distict trend away from Windows in favour of Linux.
The timber-frame housing software, PanelEditor, runs in 2 companies. One has 2 emulated machines and 2 native; the other has two emulated. The advantage of emulation here is that it can run alongside AutoCad. Between them these 6 machines produce output to the value of 9 million pounds a year and rising fast. PanelEditor is probably the most expensive RiscOS software - a company licence costs 15,000 a year for a 5-year contract. Puts teaching into perspective!