Open Source Software for Schools

Open source principles are fundamental to Penn Manor’s educational technology philosophy. Middle and high school students carry laptops running Linux and open source software as part of the 1:1 laptop learning program. And every student has root access to their school-issued computer.

With more that 4000 students using free and open source software, we’ve cultivated a list of great applications for the classroom and the school server room. Note that a few of these programs are for Linux only.

Atom
A hackable text editor: atom.io.

Audacity
Free audio editor and recorder: audacity.sourceforge.net/

BigBlueButton
A virtual classroom with video, whiteboard, chat and desktop sharing: www.bigbluebutton.org.

Blender
Blender is a powerful 3D drawing and animation program: www.blender.org.

Career Day Sorting Program
A web application for sign-up and sorting Career Day style events. Algorithm and code developed by Andrew Lobos, UX Design by Ben Thomas, both former students at Penn Manor High School. Grab the code: github.com/4ndr3w/CareerDaySorting.

Calibre
E-book management for teachers and students; for Linux, Mac and Windows:
calibre-ebook.com.

Clementine
A groovy multi-platform music player: www.clementine-player.org.

digiKam
An advanced digital photo management application for Linux, Mac and Windows: www.digikam.org/.

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: github.com/pennmanor/FLDT.

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

GCompris
A suite of learning activities for math, language arts, and science. For ages 2-10: gcompris.net.

GeoGebra
Geometry and Algebra software for learning and teaching. www.geogebra.org.

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

gPodder
Useful podcast manager; manage subscriptions across multiple devices: gpodder.org.

GnuCash
A powerful and easy to use personal and small-business financial-accounting package. www.gnucash.org.

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

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

Fedora Workstation
Fedora is a community-driven free and open Linux distribution sponsored by sponsored by Red Hat.  You should try it! getfedora.org.

Kdenlive
An excellent non-linear video editing program: kdenlive.org.

Koha
The first free and open library automation program: koha-community.org.

Kojo Learning
Play with math, programming, music, and art in this wonderful learning environment: www.kogics.net/kojo.

Krita
A professional digital painting application: krita.org.

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

Mattermost
An open source team messaging alternative to Slack: about.mattermost.com.

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

Moodle
The Penn Manor LMS of choice since 2004: moodle.org.

MuseScore
Free cross-platform music notation software: musescore.org.

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

OpenShot Video
With an easy-to-use but feature-rich interface, OpenShot is a terrific video editor: openshot.org.

Nextcloud
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, Nextcloud runs on local district servers: nextcloud.com.

Pencil
A traditional 2D animation and cartooning application: pencil2d.org.

Ren’Py
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: renpy.org.

Scratch
A fantastic programming environment for students: scratch.mit.edu.

Scribus
Professional page layout, design and publishing, replaces InDesign: scribus.net

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

Stellarium
An outstanding, free planetarium program: stellarium.org.

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

Sweet Home 3D
Interior design program: sweethome3d.com.

Synfig Studio
A 2D animation program and industrial-strength solution for creating film-quality animation: synfig.org.

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.

Ubuntu
Penn Manor students use the Ubuntu Linux distribution. You can too! Learn more here: ubuntu.com.

Visual Studio Code
A source code editor developed by Microsoft for Windows, Linux and macOS: code.visualstudio.com.

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

Xournal
An application for note-taking, sketching, and journaling; use Xournal for marking up PDF files: xournal.sourceforge.net/.

5 Comments

  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.

Leave a Reply