A Canadian company called Userful claims that it has open source alternative for education establishments faced by the high cost of Windows Multipoint servers: Userful MultiSeat Linux 2011.

Userful claims that the Userful MultiSeat Linux 2011 has been specifically designed for schools enabling them to deploy large number of computer stations at low cost.

Based on Ubuntu, Userful MultiSeat offers the ability to turn one Linux computer into 11 independent computer stations, while providing users with the same set of features as Microsoft Windows MultiPoint Server 2010.

According to a Userful spokesman, the Multiseat can scale to more than 11 machines but to do so an organisation needs to use "fancy computer hardware which negates much of the cost benefit".

The company claimed that the Multiseat software reduced energy costs by up to 90 percent, enabling schools to recover the cost of their computers through electricity cost savings alone. On average, Userful said, its customers report saving 60 percent in up-front costs, and 80 percent in annual power savings as compared to their previous PC-per-station solutions. The software also comes with a variety of tools, including specialist education software.

The Userful spokesman said the product could be downloaded from the company website and was easy to install but any school that required additional hand-holding would be advised to use the Userful MultiSeat Linux 2011 bundle install DVD. "Users can simply put it in their DVD drive, and it will automatically install Userful MultiSeat, Edubuntu 10.04 operating system, and classroom management software all in a single seamless install," he said.