Open Source Software for Schools

Open source principles are fundamental to our educational technology philosophy. Penn Manor School District has deployed more than 3600 student computers running free and open source software exclusively. Every middle and high school student carries an Ubuntu Linux laptop and has root access to their computer. Our high school 1:1 program is documented in this TEDx video.

Based on our experiences, we have created a list of powerful free and open source applications for the classroom and the school server room. This list is by no means exhaustive and additions are welcomed. If you have an open source application suggestion for schools, please leave a comment. Note that a few of these programs are for Linux only.

Free audio editor and recorder:

A virtual classroom with video, whiteboard, chat and desktop sharing:

Blender is a powerful 3D drawing and animation program:

An elegant open source code editor for web designers and front-end developers:

Career Day Sorting Program
A web applications supporting student sign up and sorting for Career Day style events. Algorithm and code developed by Andrew Lobos, UX Design by Ben Thomas, both former students at Penn Manor High School. Available on GitHub:

E-book management for teachers and students; available for Linux, Mac and Windows.

A groovy multi-platform music player:

An advanced digital photo management application for Linux, Mac and Windows:

Fast Linux Deployment Toolkit (FLDT)
FLDT is a system imaging toolkit. Developed by Penn Manor High School students and IT staff, it has been used extensively to support the Penn Manor High School 1:1 Student Laptop Program:

Write without distraction. FocusWriter helps students and teachers stay focused on the task at hand.

Similar to the “Jump Start” titles, GCompris offers a suite of engaging activities for math, language arts, science and other subjects.

Geometry and Algebra software for learning and teaching.

A rich photo editing and manipulation program and can serve as full replacement for Adobe Photoshop.

Useful podcast manager; manage subscriptions across multiple devices:

A powerful and easy to use personal and small-business financial-accounting package.

An advanced drum machine for Linux:

Similar to Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape is a vector image editing program.

Kazam Screencaster
Simple desktop video and audio recorder. A great tool for creating tutorial or training videos.

A powerful free and open source non-linear video editing program:

The first free and open library automation program:

Kojo Learning
Play with math, programming, music, and art in this wonderful learning environment:

A wonderful digital painting application:

An excellent, no-cost replacements for Microsoft Office. The program includes high-quality word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing and equation editing tools.

An open infinite world building game and simulation. If you like Minecraft, give Minetest a look.

The Penn Manor LMS of choice since 2004!

Free cross-platform music notation software:

Create digital paintings with this slick application, works with pressure sensitive tablets:

Open Broadcaster Software
Free and open source software for video recording and live streaming:

OpenShot Video
With an easy-to-use but feature-rich interface, OpenShot is a rising star in video editing.

Why trust your student data to third-party vendors? Build an in-house cloud storage system and take control of your school files. A Dropbox alternative, OwnCloud runs on local district servers:

A traditional 2D animation and cartooning application:

A visual novel engine that helps you use words, images, and sounds to tell stories. The software facilitates visual novels and life simulation games. The easy to learn script language allows you to efficiently write large visual novels, while its Python scripting is enough for complex simulation games:

A fantastic programming environment for students. Consider Scratch as an alternative to tiresome PowerPoint presentation assignments:

Professional page layout, design and publishing, replaces InDesign:

An open unified communication and PBX system. Free yourself from proprietary phone systems:

An outstanding, free planetarium program:

Shutter is a screenshot tool used to capture a full screen, window or portion of the desktop.

Sweet Home 3D
Interior design program:

Synfig Studio
A free and open-source 2D animation software, designed as a powerful industrial-strength solution for creating film-quality animation, replaces Flash:

Tux Type
TuxType offers a fun introduction to typing for young students. Like commercial programs such as Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, students learn keyboarding while playing interactive games.

Tux Paint
An alternative to Kid Pix, Tux Paint is a creative drawing program for kids. Students may use stamps, magic wands and other colorful tools to create works of art suitable for hanging on any refrigerator door.

A our Linux distribution of choice, Ubuntu is fast, easy-to-use, fun and elegant. Learn more here:

More than the world’s best blogging engine, WordPress is your first step to publishing nirvana:

An application for notetaking, sketching, and keeping a journal, use this for marking up PDF files:

5 Replies to “Open Source Software for Schools”

  1. Great list- have you used Atom at all for coding projects in languages like Python? Also, what are the barriers to other high schools adopting your program? Seems to me this is the way to really teach our kids about tech.

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