Red Hat, Inc. (Nasdaq:RHAT) has started the K-12 Red Hat Linux Pilot Program, designed it says to extend the availability of the Internet and computing technology to all schools, regardless of size or budget, improving the overall learning experience for all students.

As part of its open schools initiative, Raleigh-based Red Hat will assess the computing needs of participating schools, install open source software and applications, and provide technical support.

Seven North Carolina counties have already joined Red Hat’s program: Chatham, Clay, Durham, Lee, Orange, Scotland and Tyrrell.

Schools participating in the initiative will be provided with Red Hat software and services at no cost, the company says. Red Hat will assess the current and future computing needs of each school and then install the appropriate open source software and programs. Each school is providing its own hardware and has agreed to meet the minimum requirements set by Red Hat.

The success of the pilot program will be measured based on regular reporting from each school, Red Hat says. Schools can use Linux for infrastructure (Web, file/print, application servers), administration (database servers), or even an entire computer science lab environment, where Linux runs the central server.

Red Hat: www.redhat.com