The UK government scheme to provide refurbished PCs is a great scheme. They seem to be downplaying the use of Linux on these machines which I think is a mistake. The only mention is in this BBC article
The cheap computers will run open-source software, such as Linux, and will include a flat-screen monitor, keyboard, mouse, warranty, dedicated telephone helpline and delivery
It is absolutely the right choice for new users to be introduced to computers and the Internet. Open source is a much better environment for new users to learn. I worry that this has the potential to be seen as purely a cost based decision, that these users don’t deserve a “proper” OS environment.
For example Three who are providing the network access for these computers have no support for Linux, and if you go into a Three shop and ask about using their dongles on Linux you will be told it doesn’t work.
I formally worked for Three, and I tried very hard to get the marketing bozos to recognise that they could easily support Linux all they had to do was list supported devices, and that this was a good thing to do, but without any success.
With the right messages behind the scheme it could provide a shift in awareness of the capabilities of Linux, and establish a new and vital userbase for Linux in the UK.