AMS: I'm sure Castle would give me a discount, but I'm not certain that's the whole answer. I'm not actually short of cash here and the TCO question is only part. What is the best answer in the overall educational picture?
I've ordered an Alpha for appraisal. At a guess it will lead to at least a dozen orders over the summer from those who would otherwise have bought ordinary laptops.
I've looked at Citrix, but the Acorn client end is simply not up to scratch.
The rot set in when Acorn declined to port Macromedia Director, so the CDROM scene left Acorn behind. We were able to bypass that problem by showing that equal or better resources were available free on the internet, and the era of CDROM education is really past now, but we are still being stymied, at this time by the lack of a really competent browser.
On the other hand, I know no other school with GCSE results anywhere near ours, which can be directly attributed to the _reasoned_ use of RiscOS applications like O-Pro, DataPower and Artworks - a situation which I should be mad to abandon without very good cause.
Even if I bought a complete of Iyonixes or Omegas, we're still short of
(1) a proper browser
(2) Word input/output for O-Pro (I know all about Techwriter and we use it as a transfer medium, within quite severe constraints)
(3) Excel 7 input/output for any spreadsheet.
In A Level ICT we teach: What is the job? What class of software do I need? What is the best software in its class? what hardware do I need to run the software?
The choice of hardware is the 4th element. What chance is there of getting the software right, before we even consider hardware at all?
In fact one of the greatest advantages of the RiscPC platform is hardly mentioned now, which is the ability to lock everything up solid, a bit like a thin client. That's what really makes all the difference to support costs.
The more I think about it, the only way to retain any foothold in education is for all the parties to work together, solve the problems in the above order, and make the OS platform-independent (and also lockable). Then produce a modular hardware platform with a wide choice of customised elements.
Thinking heretically, does the underlying processor actually matter? In ordinary use, can you tell Debian Linux on Intel from (Debian) ARMLinux - or on anything else?