My first thoughts...
Ok, my first thoughts are this;
Although I'd like to see a complete rip&replace of Windows (My own personal bias against Mr. Gates & co.) that wouldn't be a practical/acceptable solution. Therefore, I'd like to see a phased approach for adding Linux desktops to the environment and an immediate implementation of Linux as the OS of choice on any new file servers, routers, firewalls in the environment. Perhaps you can suggest some numbers 'cause I know nothing about server sizing a linux box in an education environment.
I would propose that phase 1 of the upgrade be to a) implement a pilot linux lab of ~20-25 lower-end machines. b) upgrade lower end hardware/software as far as budget constraints allow. c) Leave higher end machines virtually untouched. I would suggest that Win2K be used on all Windows desktops, and an undetermined distro (Fedora?
) for Linux Desktops.
On the server side, I suspect the planned Dell server (~$15,000cad) is a dual processor machine with 512MB or 1GB of RAM. And can be used as the main file server for all clients (SAMBA and NFS?). I would additionally suggest that one of the older machines (assumed pentium class) could be used as a filewall/router + ftp/http server. I think that if the Dell server is overloaded, that another regular PC would suffice as the NFS server for the Pilot linux lab.
Phase 2 of the approach would be to convert all lower end machines into Linux workstations split on a 1:1 ratio with Windows desktops.
I see some big holes in my solution so perhaps you guys can help fill in the blanks... Firstly, what software is available (budget budget budget) that will help control software installation on the windows machines.
How will the file sharing work? The users should have access to their data from both Windows and Linux desktops.
How will X be configured? Does each workstation have its own X server or is there one central server where X is booted from? I'm not too familiar how X servers are architected in an environment other than my standalone systems at home.
Software isn't really a big deal, I know java is available on both OS's, as are Office suites. Can you suggest any additional software for education?
By no means is this a solution I'm married to... it is just some first thoughts. Lets hear yours!