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Education Build Linux

K12Linux + LTSP = .edu Terminal Server Distro 204

Paul Nelson, writing "We are educators who think using open source software in public agencies is the responsible thing to do," says "We have released a turn-key terminal server distribution based on RH7 and the LTSP packages. Simply install Linux and start plugging in your diskless terminals. Very little or no configuration is required. We've included some cool educational software and have (with permission) bundled StarOffice as part of the install. To kick things off we have 1000 Intel Celeron processors to give to schools building Linux terminals. We also have some Xeon processors to help schools building servers. Our goal is to have 1000 terminals in 100 schools by one day (July 4th.) For more info including links to download the CD-Install image (650mb) head for http://www.riverdale.k12.or.us/linux/." Any parents (or other aggrieved taxpayers) out there might be interested in showing this off at a PTA meeting. You may also be interested in the Simple End User Linux and the Debian Jr. projects.
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K12Linux + LTSP = .edu Terminal Server Distro

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why would I want to spend my time (and money, since time is money) setting up and having to admin a system when 99% of the students would rather use Windows or Macs? (Kind of hard to blame them, too.) Star Office? "The responsible thing to do?" Ugh.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    What the hell, I'll bite.

    Linux-based tech jobs may be less common, but they pay better and are easier to get (as the Truely Elite are still not easy to come by). Anyhow, Windows is easy to learn -- there are no deep skills needed for its use -- so it's better to give the kid something she can learn from and save the easy stuff for later. Hence, even if Windows were an easier OS to get a job with, it still wouldn't be as good for those whose goal is learning.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think you're missing the point. Kid's are not forced to buy Nikes and Reeboks, but they are forced to use whatever computer is available in their school. I like the idea that students may get an opportunity to see something other than Microsoft or Apple.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sorry to post this anonymously, I can't remember my password...

    Which could be a little poignant - I expect kids may do the same. However I do think that UNIX in schools is a great idea for a number of reasons.

    1. Even if you keep the windows boxes for the students you could have unix servers for web/home access.
    2. I think that kids would like the fact that Linux has a cute and cuddly penguin mascot. Really, I do ! Tux'll help them enjoy using Linux more that a corporate logo.
    3. It all comes down to cost. Look at all the free Unix's there are: Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, Solaris (for up to a million processors or whatever). The choice is huge and you don't need to pay for licences, etc. And they can run on cheap hardware. Perfect for schools !

    A friend of a friend is piloting a scheme to put Linux in a local school at a fraction of the cost and with fewer restrictions than a Windows based company. When he approached the school they were very interested.


  • seems the 'private' segment uses the 192.x.x.x networks range.

    I thought only 192.168.x.x was non route-able. For a full class A 10.x.x.x is the choice...

    maybe I'm wrong?
  • Actually, I think they are missing the ball also, unless they are nfs mounting a bit on the server.

    If you actually have some small media (even read only like a CDROM, that is dirt cheap, easy to upgrade, and drives are cheap) you have much more flexability.

    Xterminals can benifit from a bit of software, like ssh encription (which isn't used for security in this case, but for it's compression abilities).

    I'd definatly want to run X itself locally, not off the server, but that's only going to require Of course, your uptime for the xterminals may suffer, I don't think you can block off RAM as a replacement for a drive and not expect data corruption over a long period of time (months?), but a quick reboot once a week or so would solve that. And, what's it really matter if they need to reboot the xterminal... Really? You think a bunch of grade school kids will never hit the power button by accident anyway?

  • damn, my post got mangled... forgot to hit the plain text option, and quite a bit of the post is actually missing... and it's late, and I'm off to bed now... I'm sure someone will correct my comments for me soon anyway :-)
  • Uhmm.... Do you understand a terminal? The whole point is you manage only the server(s), and the users all work at terminals (that can in fact run off a CD and not even have a hard drive).

    Very retro idea, ala 1970's UNIX... What's shocking is that any system admin would want to do anything else.

    You have a VERY good point, why would anyone want to manage tones of work stations.... Which Mac's and Windows boxes demand... I just don't understand how you turned that around.

  • I mentioned this a week ago in the discussion on LBX and it was misunderstood. So I will try it again.

    Sun has released hardware called "SunRays" which are thin clients. These thin clients have something called "Hot Desk" ability which basically allows you to leave one terminal and have your whole session show up on another terminal in exactly the same state you left it. This would be a GREAT thing to have. I am hoping to be able to set something like this up in my new house. Does anyone know how Sun is doing this? Is anyone working towards something like this for the "Opensource" world?
  • There's quite a bit of work outside the US on using Linux for educational purposes; it must just be below your radar. In particular, there are thriving efforts in France, Germany, Mexico, and Columbia that I know of. Take a look at the links page and the regular Linux in education reports at SEUL/edu [seul.org] and you'll find out more about them. As for distros, I know of French and German ones targetted specifically at schools.

  • What I'd like to know is, if anyone's tried this before, have you run up against the same technophobia? And if so, any suggestions for getting around it?

    I've seen exactly this situation. My suggestion is to look for some other school or educational facility to put Linux into. If your public school won't accept it, look for a parochial school. If the parochial school won't accept it, look for a community center. What you want to do is get the first installation in somewhere where it will be accepted and used wholeheartedly. Then you can go back to the other places and point to your initial installation as an illustration of how well it works, how much money it saves, etc.

    I'm doing exactly this in my hometown. I approached a local parochial school to convert a number of unused M68K Macintoshes into Debian-based XTerminals running against a PC app server. The school administration was interested, but the parent's group was loud and Windows-biased.

    I thanked them for their trouble, agreed to take the Macs off their hands, and went to a community center in town with an offer of a computer lab for very low cost. We're currently in the process of putting that lab together

  • blockquote>We would love to start adopting Linux in the classroom, but until it has the application support that MacOS and Windows has, it's not going to happen.

    Then you'll never use Linux. I've talked to many educational software vendors about Linux support, and while many are interested and curious, they don't have the resources to do the ports without being guaranteed a market for the ported versions. The edusoft market is not terribly profitable. Many of these small companies are doing it for the love of education as much as to get rich. But the one thing they can't do is take a chance on products that they can't sell. And of course open source is right out.

    If you're willing to accept similar functionality, you can generally find Linux equivalents to many of the programs you mention (and more are coming along daily). But if you have to have Linux versions of exactly these titles, don't hold your breath.

  • Who is going to support this in the long run?

    If you're a Linux advocate and you succeed in getting your school to run Linux, then you are. Getting Linux into the schools isn't like going on a date, it's like getting married. You have a responsibility to the people that you've convinced to use Linux to support them and help them. That's why LUGs should adopt a local school or two as long-range, ongoing projects. Besides, they'll be growing new LUG members that way!

  • A graphics class teaching photoshop can't use the linux solution. A business class using MS Project can't use Linux or Mac.

    Any class that's teaching keystrokes or mouse clicks rather than concepts is doing a disservice to its students. I wouldn't want my son learning Photoshop, I'd want him learning art. I wouldn't want him learning MS Project, I'd want him learning project management and scheduling. If you're so stuck to specific applications, you'll inevitably be left by the wayside as the environment changes away from those apps (as it always does).

  • It's a little late for posting to this topic, but I'll put your request in the next Linux in education report that SEUL/edu writes and we'll see what we get from that.
  • We need more than access to linux. We need access to good quality educational software and resources to help train the teachers on how to incorporate the stuff into real learning experiences.

    We're trying to do both those things at SEUL/edu [seul.org]. We have a listing [seul.org] of over 200 educational programs (I won't vouch for the quality of them all), some of which are included in the K12Linux distro. We also have an on-going effort [seul.org] to create documentation for non-techie educators on how to install, maintain, and use Linux in a classroom setting.

  • I don't want anyone to think I'm disparaging this work, because I'm not. It sounds like a great thing. But a "terminal server" is something else entirely.

    A terminal server is a box that connects serial "dumb terminals" to a network; they are also commonly used for "reverse terminal service" for a network-attached host to connect out to serial devices.

    What the article describes is just a "server" or maybe a "boot server", supporting diskless clients.

    I don't see anything wrong with inventing a new term for this, but please don't overload the existing term "terminal server". It will only cause confusion and keep your message from getting across.

  • I haven't used it, so I'm not 100% certain, but isn't the point of StarOffice that its files are compatible with MS Office? So you should be able to send an attachement from it to anyone that can read word docs.

    Personally, I prefer plain text, or TeX.

  • You've never actually used Linux, have you? These days (with Gnome and KDE), it has about as friendly of a GUI as Windows, and even better in some ways.

    Of course you're not going to start 3rd grade students at a bash prompt, any more than you'd start them at a DOS prompt under Windows.

    Which is not to say that there aren't plenty of 3rd grade students smart enough to figure out how to use a command prompt effectively in either OS.

  • I have looked at the web page, and I don't see anything that convinces me that it behaves as a "terminal server", as that term is normally defined. However, they seem to also commonly refer to it as a "School server", which seems to convey the idea quite well.
  • that's right but 192.168 gives you 16 bits of freedom. That's up to 65K nodes. You definitely don't need any more. In fact I'd be surprised to see a school with more than 2-300 computers

  • In USA, there are lots and lots of good things coming out. However, outside of USA, there seems to be nothing.

    A big void seems to be accumulating in terms of open-source efforts outside of USA, particularly in the Latin American and Asia continents.

    Okay, here is my question ...

    Is there anyone out there who is interesting to role out similar effort to aid the students/schools in Asia / Latin America / Africa and elsewhere?

    Or can I use the whatchamacallit (a distro?) and repackage it to suit the regional schooling systems?

    I do understand that hardware - particularly if they are FREE hardwares - are hard to come by in Asia, but I'll ask anyway - Is there anyone from Intel or AMD or Compaq or IBM or Dell who are interested in sponsoring efforts in seeding the Asian / Latin American / African schools with Linux (or anyother OSS powered) computers?

    If there is, maybe I will see what I can do.

    Don't put too much hope though, I am just an individual, but then, everything (great or whatever) starts with one crazy guy (or gal, or whatever).


    Anyone interested in supplying suggestions / help / information / guidance?

    Thank you all.

  • Thank you much for your reply, and yes, thank you for telling me 'bout the SEUL effort.

    But my question remains - I am living in Asia - is there anyone (or group / organization) willing to take up the task to coordinate something much like what the (oregon?) Linux user group has done, and try to see if there is any sponsor willing to donate hardware so to see the schools / colleges with Linux (or any other OSS powered) computers?

    I have high regard for the SEUL and all the other effort, but in terms of coordination outside of USA (and Europe), there seems to be none.

    Not even in Japan, the world's second most wealthiest country.

    Hopefully you can give me a pointer or two.

    Thank you again.

  • LTSP is very impressive, on reading the docs a bit further - despite the name, it can actually support *both* local apps (running on the diskless workstation) and remote apps (server-based in Windows parlance, i.e. running on the server). The latter is the only option with Windows Terminal Server (or Citrix MetaFrame), so LTSP is much more flexible.

    If you have fairly old PCs (386, 486, Pentium), just buy a modern server and run the apps there. Even old Windows boxes or Macs will be fine - they just need to run an X server. More work to set up, but worth trying if the old hardware is still reliable and can run Linux without hassles.

    If you need to run more compute-intensive apps and have the budget, you can buy new diskless workstation PCs. This is probably easier to set up, too, but the key thing is you have a choice of models - and whichever model you use, the system admin load is very low, because only the server needs administering.

    See http://www.ltsp.org/documentation/lts_ig_v2.3/lts_ ig_v2.3-8.html for discussion of local vs. remote apps.
  • The Sun Rays are basically dumb, network attached frame buffers. There is VERY little logic on these things, the network requirements are very high for them, since all audio/video has to be blasted across the network (as opposed to X terminals, which send X events).

    They run pretty well, though, the more sun rays you hook up to a server, the beefier your network and servers need to be.

    Sun had serious issues with the Sun Ray's at JavaOne last year.

    (Man, I wish they still called them corona...)
  • Then you dont support any teacher. EVERY teacher forces their viewpoints and beliefs upon the students. You dont find christian schools teaching evolution, nor do you find Chemistry teachers teaching that chemical companies are evil.

    EVERY teacher teaches with their own bent on life. get used to it, it will be here until we get robotic teaching systems. Then we'll only produce robots.
  • I love it when someone that doesnt have a clue about linux speaks about it. :-)

    Linux has came a long way cince 1991 when you last used it. Anyone can install it now, Gnome is preconfigured to work great, and the joke of "you cant even use the floppy without obscure commands" is even vaporous. Put a floppy in click on the desktop floppy icon and Voila you're in the floppy looking around. and anyone that has ever used a real PC (including macs) that deals with filesystems correctly will already know that you unmount it before removing it (eject does the unmount, why do you think macs dont have a floppy eject button? I wish that drive was standard on the PC's too.)

    Please use linux before you bad mouth it. I use Windows products every day and have to administer them, I have the right and knowlege to bad mouth them.
  • Install several of these terminal servers. 1 for admin (the teachers) 2 in the library, 1 in the computer lab, and 1 more as the general student system. Now add 1 firewall/proxy, 1 web server/email server. most all apps you need for the school can be web based (tests ALA brainbench?) move the K-12 schools to where the universities have been for 3 years now.

    Only problem I have is that we need some automated hack notification tools for this. Kids will be kids, and running xroach on everyone' elses terminal is fun. Or running my script nohup hackdave & that triggers when dave is online and floods him are going to happen.
    (this stuff happens already in the winblows world. in my sons highschool there is a program that allows you to screw with someone by opening the cd drive, move the mouse or send keystrokes.)
  • Don't quote me on this.

    I believe that a lot of school districts have specific laws/rules prohibiting freelance efforts / improvements on the school grounds. Even if the deans want said efforts on their behalf, they may not be able to allow it (without bending some rules).

  • I use SOffice at home and in general I like it.

    WRT to compatibility, it's mostly there, but not completely there.

    From my perspective, it's good enough software (my fastest machine at home is a Cyrix MII 300 and it runs fine on that. The AMD 233 is a bit slower but that's mostly related to a lack of memry.
    (SO takes a minimum of 50MB.)

    The biggest problems are layout/typeface issues, and views.
    If I'm using Type 1 fonts on my Linux box, then move my doc to Office, the fonts probably don't translate well. Layout is affected.

    If I edit a powerpoint presentation in SO, I have the same layout issues and also have things like the outline view appear different when I open it again in Powerpoint.

    HOWEVER - it's good enough for schools and home! My wife uses SO exclusively for documents and presentations and finds it to be VERY helpful. If you're not bouncing back and forth between platforms it works extremely well.

    If you do need to preserve layout, there's always ps2pdf which allows you to lock down the layout in pdf format.

    Works for me. Just my .02
  • Personally, I think having Linux in every classroom is a great idea, a good low-cost solution for educational facilities that need computing power but can't afford the very latest hardware. My former high school chose mid-range machines running Windows 98 and Novell 4.11. Thus, they were able to offer CNA classes for credit during the school day. I wish they had had Linux running in every lab so they would have been more tempted to provide *nix training towards certification. I certainly would have gotten into it sooner if they had. Instead, I spent my time learning. Novell 3(eventually 4.11).

    It's not that they would really even have needed to change the servers at all, as there is plenty of IPX/Novell support in modern distros of Linux. I know that all the machines I hijacked and installed Linux on(muwahahaha!) during my high school years worked flawlessly, booting from the DHCP server, proxy setup, even mounting up Netware volumes.. and thanks to a bad ghost image, the shared Windows volumes of all the workstations in the district.. even the office and teacher machines. I got pretty decent grades, thank you very much : )

    Behold! The power of Linux!

  • I have heard this argument before and it indicates a total lack of critical thinking. By your reasoning, it was critical that 2nd graders in 1990 (who are graduating this year) use DOS 5.0 because of its market share in the business world. Guess what? DOS 5.0 skills are USELESS except in the most esoteric IS/IT jobs.

    Your argument does not hold water for most elementary and secondary students. ANY particular system they learn in grade school will be obsolete and off the market (at least in the business world) before they graduate high school. This is particularly true for grade-school students, who will see at least five iterations of Moore's law (60 GB * 2^5 = 1TB; 1.4 GHz * 2^5 = 50 GHz, Win2K * 2^5 = Win64K, etc.) before they graduate high school.

    Your argument might hold water for high-school juniors or seniors, if your goal is to educate them for a job that they will start immediately out of high school and if that job will require computer usage. Outside of IT, I'm not aware of any jobs for 18-year-olds that require computer skills.

    However, for any students planning on ANY kind of post-secondary education, whether technical, vocational, or academic, your argument again fails.
  • I agree. Hiding options that haven't been used recently, so that they are unavailable unless you know how the UI works, is completely trivial.
  • Here's your comment:
    But the differences between Win95 and Win2K are trivial, in terms of UI.

    Here's my sarcastic response:
    I agree. Hiding options that haven't been used recently, so that they are unavailable unless you know how the UI works, is completely trivial.

    I can understand how you thought I was talking about productivity and word processors by the fact that we both spent so much time talking about them. However, I really only wanted to point out one example of a nontrivial difference between the 95 and the 2000 UIs.
  • Trivial for you and me, perhaps; non-trivial for ordinary users.

    Consider this - the Start menu encapsulates Program Manager. Anyone who can start programs from Program Manager should be able to start programs with the Start button. Is this therefore a trivial change from the Win3.x interface? I would suggest not. 'Trivial', to me, implies that a user would find it intuitively obvious. Trivial for me is not trivial for my mother. If any training is required for the user base, then the change is not trivial. I'll grant you this...if a UI change generates calls to the help desk from the 10% of the user base that is the most stupid - and only from them - then the change is probably trivial.

    I stand by my statement that the default UI in 2K has non-trivial differences from the default UI in 95. Yes, you can admin these things six ways to sunday - I can set up the equivalent of Program Manager by using windows that contain shortcuts - but that's not the point.
  • Also - with regard to Linux vs VB - I don't necessarily believe that Linux is the end-all be-all (yet :), or that Linux should be used exclusively in schools. Rather, I don't think any decisions on what platform to use in schools should be based on what industry is using RIGHT NOW.

    I'll bet, BTW, that the Linux jobs paid better...
  • Take a look at my webpage (www.wirefarm.com) - I've been putting together information on how to do a SOHO network using Linux as the servers for Windows (also Mac and Linux) clients in a way that Windows people might better understand.
    It describes a typical home network with a Dialup or leased-line router (old 486/66 PC) and a SAMBA server (Pentium >133) providing Windows Logon and Network Shares.
    It also covers basic TCP/IP setup for a typical closed network, using 192.168.. IPs, most static, with DHCP for laptops and such.
    Where possible, I've provided the configuration files, with common settings.
    I'd love to get feedback.
    Jim in Tokyo
  • I heartily agree! -
    (what I meant was something that the casual user will see right away. A client program.)
    Creating a viable replacement for Exchange/Outlook should be a top priority for the community, if they really want to replace NT/2000.
    OpenMail from HP was getting close, I think, but not OSS and not being developed anymore - I really hope HP decides to give it to the community.
    Have you tried deploying a POP3 server in your network - It has the advantage of being familiar to anyone who has a home email account, offering a range of clients, but without the scheduling and groupware features.
    Maybe take a look at LDAP servers and clients - They may be more of what you need.

    Jim in Tokyo
  • Whilst playing audio files may be of some relevance in a school there is no reason at all for students to be using the likes of Napster, "ripping" CD's, etc.

    I disagree. I think that's exactly what they should be doing on the school computers, if that's what get's them motivated.

    The programs I mentioned are some of the best examples of what can be done with Linux - interoperability, usability and appeal. Why shouldn't kids see what's possible now with Linux?

    Think of the technologies involved in those activities - Sure, most kids in school would use them only for their obvious purposes, trading music, - But a few of them are going to open up the source code to see what makes it tick. The possible benefits of this happening far outweigh any of the possible downsides.

    If the kids have Windows in front of them, there is no source code - they will come to think of software as a commodity, not as a community.

    So imagine the kid uses Linux at school and thinks "This is great - stable, solid, open source! I should use this at home."

    Then he finds out that it won't do any of the cool things that people actually use their computers for, like making and listening to MP3s.

    Think of how Napster started - a college student hacking around with some well-documented protocols, cobs them together into last year's killer app and making people re-think the viability of what would seem to be an unworkable system. (Peer-to-peer, versus traditional client-server for reliable information propogation.)

    A high school kid in Europe wants to watch DVDs on Linux, so he cracks CSS. A 16 year-old changes an industry...

    A Finnish student wants to run Unix on his PC, so he writes Linux - need I say more?

    I would not be the one to say what is worthwhile for kids in school to be doing on their computers - I say, let them do what they want - Rip CDs, trade songs, find a way to get past the firewall to playboy.com - at least they're not shooting their classmates -
    and maybe one or two of these kids will be staying after school, creating a new industry.


  • OK, I sorta agree, but...
    It's changing:
    Using linux, I would miss a lot of Windows apps -like Winamp, Napster, CD Rippers - Until I found XMMS, Knapster and Grip - XMMS, in particular, has 95% of Winamp's niceties.
    Netscape 6 is almost as good as IE, but Star office still feels like a hack. (Sure you can read and write Word documents, but the formatting gets screwy.)
    I do wish my hardware were better supported and I could get USB to work and there are things I wish were easier, like playing DVD's.

    What Linux needs is something that it does BETTER than Windows - Something that the average user wants to do, but can't under windows.

    If there were a program that your average 14 year old wanted to run and needed Linux to do it, you'd see a LOT more linux users in the future.

    To capture a business market share, Linux could become the preferred CLIENT platform for databases. Get ODBC/JDBC to work on Linux in a manner like it does on NT - then make easier native interfaces.

    Create a Rapid Application Development language that is as easy to use as VB. Make it accessible to VB developers.

    Create an IDE for PERL/RUBY/Python/C++ that beats Microsoft's offerings. (KDevelop is almost there.)

    Make it brain-dead easy to configure Apache. Windows converts will want an applet in the KDE control panel, not a bunch of .conf files in /etc.
    Something that lets you check off a box that says "Allow PHP" - "Allow PERL" - Stuff that people want to do without too much trouble.

    Make SAMBA configuration look familiar to an MCSE. (Make setting usage quotas on SAMBA shares easy and you will win over a lot of NT admins.)

    Make IPChains/IPTables easy and safe to configure - a Windows style wizard that asks "Allow Napster?", "Block Common Attacks?" would be great. (I spent a couple of days at my last contract trying to get IPChains running, all the time wondering how badly I was leaving the network exposed while I did it.)

    Personally, I think that Single-purpose distros would get a lot of people using Linux - Remember "Internet in a Box"? (It was a $79 collection of TCP/IP shareware that was popular before Windows came with a TCP/IP stack.)
    How about "Mail server in a Box"? "Router (with firewall and proxy server) in a box"?
    You get the idea - Make them drool-proof to set up and maintain, even for a Windows user.
    (Freesco almost has it right - the setup for the freesco single-floppy router is fantastic, but I wish it had the menu option "Install to Hard Drive" and then "Install Proxy Server" or "Install Firewall with most common options".
    OK, anyway, I've gotten way off topic - You get the idea...

  • Boy, I thought we had it tough with the pointy stick and leaf of grass (see above post:)
  • You kids and your fancy CRT's and keyboards!

    Why back in my day, you had to use a pointy stick to jab a hole in a leaf. We didn't even have punchcards.

  • You might have been banging my sister (while I was banging your mom, son) but I guarantee she wasn't a hot chick.

  • Problem is, most schools got some money for a few machines (or a few donated) but never got the money for a decent admin, Linux or MicroSoft.

  • X is pretty damned close.

  • I don't think that the admins originally wanted a PeeCee on every desktop. That came from management types who were sold this bill of goods: "They are so easy to use, everyone can take care of their own computer, obviating the need to pay for professional administration."

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @07:19AM (#350802) Homepage Journal
    People, particularly kids, do not want to run the junk (sorry, but it's true) that passes for apps on Linux. If you're looking to turn them against Linux from a very early age, you're off to a good start.

    Kids are smarter and more adaptable than adults. Kids can operate the VCR, the computer and virtually every other kind of complex technical gadget in the house with a mastery their parents usually can only envy.

    A typical adult has simply stopped learning -- if you learn one thing a day you're unusual. Kids learn dozens of things every day. They aren't afraid that their superiors or subordinates will see they don't know something. Kids have to be taught shame of the process of learning the way they are taught shame over their bodily processes -- neither is natural. As adults we accept not only that having knowledge is a good, but we believe that ignorance is shameful. Once you believe ignorance is shameful, then real learning stops and pretension begins.

    Software marketers have latched onto this shame in adults the way they latch onto every possibility to sell to us. They have created a cult of ease. Of course there is no virtue in superflous complexity, but we have been brainwashed into making ease of use the highest and only value. It's a faustian baragin: to join the cult we have to accept disempowerment. Their vision of software is to free software what Club Med is to learning a language and spending time living in another culture.

    Children are more adaptible, faster and better learners than adults, because we do not allow them to shirk discomfort, whether it is learning multiplication tables or drilling historical facts. Their minds retain flexibility because we sanctimoniously deny them membership in the cult of ease. Computers, especially equipped with free software, are particularly rewarding for children because with the exception of people and the library, they are the only educational tool that matches and rewards their intellectual flexibility.

  • Looks like Archie and the gang are getting some really neat toys!

    Now, who do you think will be the most 'leet haxor? My guess is Jughead.
  • This seems to me to be a MUCH better solution.

    It is. I have two iOpeners set up this way, connected to a rather ancient (P166) server sitting under the stairs. Works like a charm. In a few weeks, some WebPlayers will arrive, also to be connected in this fashion. I set up the machines so they can run with and without a network connection (with reduced functionality in the latter case, using the available flash-disk storage and a small-sized GNU/Linux installation). For browsing, mail, music, video and other general applications this setup works and keeps on working. And, especially nice, you can just turn the thing off once you're done with it since there's no RW-mounted local storage when using the network-boot option.

  • You know, I started out getting upset about your response, but I have to admit that this is exactly the kind of feedback we need. Linux in the classroom is a reality. Mexico is converting wholesale, and much of the rest of the world will follow. In countries like ours, where we can afford to buy software, we assume that we should.

    Your comments are fair, though skewed by a lot of advertising. I think your kids are smarter than you give them credit for (check out this article [gnome.org] about a 16-year-old who's heavily involved in one of the most revolutionary movements in UNIX history). We can't move to using Linux in the classroom all at once, but certainly your computer courses deserve more than Microsoft Visual Studio. Linux offers 20 or so languages out-of-the-box, development tools for just about anything and the environment that businesses use.

    Also, if you're going to plunk a system into the library to be nothing but a Web browser, why run anything but Linux on it? The school's fileserver can be Linux. Educational software delivered by Web browser is just as easily accessed on a Linux box as Windows or MacOS.

    I think using Macs for younger kids is great. Using Windows PCs to show people how to use office makes sense. I just don't think Linux should be excluded from the educational experience, it's too important.

  • by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs.ajs@com> on Tuesday March 20, 2001 @08:30PM (#350807) Homepage Journal
    Having worked for a high school-focused company [highwired.com], I can appreciate how much this will help. A lot of schools need help in getting the latest technology to their students.

    Linux (and open source in general) is poised to do this. Schools are in need of large systems that students of all degrees of expertise can disect. What's more, a lot of students need to be given positive feedback on their work. What better feedback than having IBM ship the modification that you made to Apache or having Red Hat ship the documentation that updated for the GNOME login?

    Now, even better: which platform is more likely to support the privacy rights of these kids?

    You can go on and on. The only reasons schools use anything but open source software is marketing.
  • WHAT! I've got another reasone for you: How about learning to use the OS/environment that 95% of the colleges will they will attend and businesses they will go to work for will use?

    Unfortunatly some schools appear to lack the essential hardware (known as a "time machine") needed to even make this senario possible.
    Without one its simply not possible to know what 95% of colleges and workplaces will be using X number of years from now.
  • This is a noble effort, but the real focus of efforts should not be at administrators. As much as I like linux for my box at home, it still is not quite ready for prime time. The first time a teacher tries to plug in a new piece of hardware only to find that it isn't supported that box is heading for the closet.

    The above kind of argument actually applies even more against Windows.
  • Windows is easy to learn

    Or rather "someone who understand computers is probably going to be able to handle "Windows",

    there are no deep skills needed for its use

    Sort of, problem with Windows is that it is very fragile, expects the end user to perform sysadmin tasks and very hard to understand what the thing is actually doing.

    so it's better to give the kid something she can learn from and save the easy stuff for later.

    It's also better to give the "kid" something to learn on which is not easy for them to break. Otherwise they won't get a whole lot of learning done.
  • That's ridiculous. I wish people would keep activism out of the classroom.

    Problem is that's already there, from the POV of "Must use brand X, because they are brand X".

    The decision on what software/products to use should be based solely upon what is the best tool for the job.

    The problem is how do we get to that point. Currently we have schools using Windows simply because it's "Microsoft".
    Little consideration as to if it is a good tool. In many ways Windows is a poor choice, because of fundermental design issues. Claims of the form "it's the best because it's used in 'industry'" would be subject to critical evaluation in any other area of education. Quite possibly receiving a "so what?" response.

    I wouldn't trust my children to educators who put the interests of projecting their viewpoint over the interests of the children to learn with the best tools available to use.

    Maybe you are doing just that already.
  • But the differences between Win95 and Win2K are trivial, in terms of UI.

    As are the differences between Windows and KDE or Gnome.
  • Linux is extremely rare in the business place as a workstation, so I think that most parents would feel that the extra costs for microsoft would be worth it just so their kids can work in an environment more similar to those they use in a career.

    Very few parents posess time machines, so they are hardly in a position to know what their kids will use in a career.
    Also maybe you are actually looking at things the wrong way around, maybe they will use something similar to what they used in school in their "career". A kind of self fulfiling future...
    How long can Windows survive when Microsoft intends ramping up the already high TCO?
  • Why would I want to spend my time (and money, since time is money) setting up and having to admin a system when 99% of the students would rather use Windows or Macs?

    Well for starters because you'd have to spend less of your time and money setting up and admining such a system... As well as saving the time and money involved in admistering per computer software licences.
    Also the students are going to be just as unhappy with Windows on a LAN, compared with the standalone setup they may have at home. They might also be unhappy because it dosn't have the same version of office, they can't set it up how they like it and maybe can't use it at all, because the last student has managed to break it...
    More to the point what students would "rather do" is never an issue in any other area of education. Maybe they'd rather not do their homework, be somewhere other than school, etc...
  • People, particularly kids, do not want to run the junk (sorry, but it's true) that passes for apps on Linux.

    What makes you think they want to run the junk which passes for applications under Windows.

    or wonder why they can't use the same quality apps that they have at home on their Win/Mac machines.

    How many of the "apps" which kids might be using a home have any place in school in the first place? Most of these will fit into a catagory called "games".
  • Using linux, I would miss a lot of Windows apps -like Winamp, Napster, CD Rippers

    Whilst playing audio files may be of some relevance in a school there is no reason at all for students to be using the likes of Napster, "ripping" CD's, etc.
  • On the contrary, I learned the most about computers as a kid when I broke them and had to work out how to fix them.

    That's fine, so long as it's your machine. Not one 30 or so people a week also have to use.
  • by Bazzargh ( 39195 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @01:29AM (#350818)
    I took a look at the site, and while the goals are laudable, the benefits are buried several clicks through. If this is to take off they need press coverage so every PTA knows the relative cost of the systems their kids use.

    They could really do with a 'press release' page, which plugs the cost angle mercilessly, since that is what this one comes down to for most schools.
  • And with the advent of Citrix MetaFrame for the Windoze platform, and the promise of reduced administrative costs (even if one has to hire a full time admin to manage it), the focus once again swings around to the thin-client and diskless sytems. Wonderful how technology marketing works, isn't it?

    If PHB would just listen to us to begin with, we wouldn't have this cyclical path


  • by runswithd6s ( 65165 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2001 @10:58PM (#350821) Homepage
    The reason LTSP chose the name as it did was because it wanted to appeal to the UNIX-challenged and Micro$oft-influenced market. Windows Terminal Server is a version of NT/2000 that provides remote desktop environments for Windoze compatible clients. It's very spendy and very difficult to keep running efficiently for any period of time. You CANNOT depend upon ONE Windoze Terminal Server being up all the time. You have to do the good ol' server farm that Micro$oft is so famous for.

    Interested in providing big businesses an alternative to the cyclical licensing scheme of Micro$oft and it's cohorts, the LTSP crew thought the name Linux Terminal Server Project would appeal to these poor, Micro$oft inflicted Systems Administrators and IT Personel. Its name was not chosen for its more appropriate application in the UNIX and X11 world, referring to serial port dummy terminal servers.


  • Let's try again, industry publications pay good money to gather salary information all across the industry. The salary surveys regularly have Unix admins being paid more than Windows admins at all levels. This is objective evidence, not what you see, not what I see, what statistically valid surveys see all across the US. If you can't understand that, maybe you should stop working at CompUSA so many hours and take a statistics course.

    If you actually look at the evidence, Unix knowledge gets you better pay than equivalent Windows knowledge.

  • Thank you Mr. Exchange admin. As an MCSE, I'm quite ashamed that somebody could be so ignorant of statistics and still make it through training. Read my post again, I'm basing this on objective salary surveys that span years. Unix admins get paid more money. They always have. Linux is a good stepping stone to that highly paid Solaris, AIX, or True64 Unix job. The fact that you prefer your individual perceptions over industry salary surveys says a lot. Maybe you should go read "The Millionaire Next Door" as well. Ostentatious displays of wealth are atypical for those on the millionaire track.

  • Doh... That should be: "Ahhh... The pitter-patter of little penguin feet down the halls of our K-12 schools. *sniff*"

    Ugh. Need caffeine.
  • The only reasons schools use anything but open source software is marketing. WHAT! I've got another reasone for you: How about learning to use the OS/environment that 95% of the colleges will they will attend and businesses they will go to work for will use?
  • But the differences between Win95 and Win2K are trivial, in terms of UI.
  • Are you seriously telling me that you can't plunk a secretary trained on Windows 95 and office 95 in front of Windows 2000 and Office 2000 and they wouldn't be any more/less productive than someone trained on Linux/StarOffice? If so, you are on crack.
  • And I still say that is a trivial change. The structure of the start menu hasn't really changed. You can turn it off (administratively for all workstations on install, btw, or through SMS if you wanted to after the fact).

    You were talking about the changes between win95 and win2000 were SO drastic that any 95 knowledge is worthless, essentially. I was saying the differences were trivial.

    In summary: I want my school teaching on Windows first, because -- whether we like it or not -- that is the dominant system he/she will be using. Linux and stuff are gravy. Listen, I spent my youth being a "rebel" using macs. And you know what it got me? Access to very few &*(! jobs in my market. When I went to the dark side, my salary started increasing exponentially. Sorry, but I have a family to take care of. Idealism is for young, single people. I'll learn to use/program in Linux when I see the economic demand for it, and not ONE second sooner. I have too many other things to do with my time.

    Just for fun, I just went to Monster.com and searched my area for all jobs with "linux" in the description. It returned 9, only three of which were programmer/analyst (I'm not a network engineer). In contrast, there were 37 with VB or Visual Basic in the description -- and I limited that search to postings in the last two weeks so I wouldn't have to wait for a massive search to be returned).
  • Bullshit. I sat down at a Linux terminal with KDE on it and looked in vain for a place to change the resolution. I looked for ten minutes and never found it. Next question.
  • And when exactly will there be a *NIX equivilant to Citrix Metaframe?

    It's called X11. You might have heard of it.

  • Citrix is a cheap hack (originally for OS/2, later for Windows) to do what UNIX has been doing all along. It's kind of ironic that everyone bitches and moans about how horrible X is but THIS is what it was designed to do.

    And UNIX still does it better.

  • StarOffice blows some serious goats, from its nasty integrated user interface to the way it brings your entire system to its knees. I've run it on 600 MhZ machines with between 128 and 256 megs of RAM and it was just slow.

    LaTeX is nice, and you can make PDF files with it. Long live Emacs.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2001 @11:03PM (#350848) Homepage Journal
    If you want to learn about how computers really work, any flavor of UNIX is going to be a much better choice. Linux moreso because you can actually go look at the source code for everything you have on the system if you're curious.

    I haven't checked recently but last time I looked in to what schools were doing with computers, the computer had replaced the TV as a place to park the students when the teacher needed a break.

    If you're not interested in teaching computer related concepts and principles and just want a place to park the kids to vegitate, Windows is where it's at. You'll find lots of nice "educational" games they can play and they'll come out none the wiser for the experience.

    If you want them to actually understand what they are doing when they sit down at a computer, Windows isn't your best choice for a first OS. And someone who understands what they're doing can sit down and work with a Windows based PC or a MacOS based PC because they have a good grounding in the fundamental concepts that make it all work.

    Of course all that presupposes teachers who know what they're doing and a school system that won't get all hung up because all the Internet filtering programs mandated by Congress are only available on Windows. I'll leave how likely that is as an exercise for the student.

    Keep in mind that I am rather biased, since my first real OS coming off the cheesy TI/99 and Commodore class machines was a Sun version of UNIX. As far as I'm concerned, Microsoft has been playing a rather poor game of catch up since then, and IBM's OS/2, while better, still didn't hold a candle to UNIX.

  • by donutello ( 88309 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2001 @08:18PM (#350849) Homepage
    That's ridiculous. I wish people would keep activism out of the classroom. The decision on what software/products to use should be based solely upon what is the best tool for the job. I'm not saying Linux is not the best tool for schools but this decision was not made on that basis.

    I wouldn't trust my children to educators who put the interests of projecting their viewpoint over the interests of the children to learn with the best tools available to use.
  • You can go on and on. The only reasons schools use anything but open source software is marketing.

    That's not true.

    I am the network administrator for Mad River Local Schools [k12.oh.us] in Riverside, Ohio. We use MacOS in grades K-8, and Windows in grades 9-12.

    We buy software based on the educational value of it. Linux lacks the support of most educational software vendors. Here's a quick list of the basic software packages we have on our network at the K-4 level:

    I could go on... those are just the titles that I can think of off the top of my head. (Thank you, Google!) In the older grades we have software like Microsoft Office 97/98, and HyperStudio [hyperstudio.com].

    None of these pieces of software have a Linux version. We would love to start adopting Linux in the classroom, but until it has the application support that MacOS and Windows has, it's not going to happen.

    But, but, I can hear you say "WHAT ABOUT STAR OFFICE?!" StarOffice may work in the younger grades, but not in the High School. We teach with the same tools that the business world uses. We don't have a "Microsoft Office" class, but we do teach our Business Administration classes using Office. Why? It's the same thing that businesses use. There's also a training issue - we offer training to teachers and employees on the tools we use. It wouldn't make sense for us to have to teach two classes, one for Star Office and one for Microsoft Office.

    Sometime the cost of "free" is too high...
  • Activism is already in the classroom -- commercial activism. Microsoft is 'giving discounts' to schools, Nike is buying add space in gymnasiums. Even some of our education is biased (it pretty much always is). This includes promoting our national history as 'good and right', glofifying Capitalism over other economic systems, and a presumption that our rather warped and minimal version of democracy is the best choice out there.

    You can choose what you teach, or you can let it be taught for you -- often by commercial interests. As long as it fits within the defined curriculum, there's nothing wrong with expounding your own thoughts on things -- as long as you identify it as your own opinion and not official dogma.

    I went to Junior high at a Catholic boarding school. The priests there were willing to discuss things like the gritty parts of the history of the Catholic church and creationism vs darwinism and why a literal reading of Genesis was problematic. Some of what we were taught was not completely flattering to the Catholic Church. When it diverged from the official church line, it was generally identified as such...

    I'm glad that my teachers were willing to 'step out of the box'. I think that it gave us all more room to think about things for ourselves.

    I think that exposing students to Linux is a great thing.. At least then they know that they have a choice. What they do with that choice once they get home should be up to them.

  • Those guys need a good domain name, a cool logo, and a decent home page. Somebody help them out, please.
    • "k12linux.com" is taken, but not in DNS.
    • "schoollinux.com" is taken, but parked.
    • "schoollinux.net" is available.
    • "linux.edu" is owned by a user group in Tucson AZ, although apparently operated by "linuxlabs.com". The site comes up "Forbidden".

    I'd suggest grabbing "schoollinux.net" for this right now.

    Most of the other obvious names seem to be warehoused by Pawel Wodnicki, who is at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He doesn't seem to be using them. Maybe he could be induced to give some of them up.

    This is such great PR for Linux that one of the Linux organizations or companies should help out. Probably tax-deductable, too.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @08:17AM (#350865) Homepage
    A bit off topic, but...
    I went to Junior high at a Catholic boarding school. The priests there were willing to discuss things like the gritty parts of the history of the Catholic church and creationism vs darwinism and why a literal reading of Genesis was problematic. Some of what we were taught was not completely flattering to the Catholic Church. When it diverged from the official church line, it was generally identified as such...

    They're not allowed to do that any more. There's been a crackdown at the Vatican. Read On the Vocation of the Theologian [vatican.va], by Cardinal Ratzinger, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (One the official titles that goes with that job is Grand Inquisitor.) Teachers must follow the official line, or else. "The freedom of the act of faith cannot justify a right to dissent. In fact this freedom does not indicate at all freedom with regard to the truth but signifies the free self-determination of the person in conformity with his moral obligation to accept the truth". This reads like something Orwell might have written in 1984. But it is real, and is enforced against teachers employed by the Catholic church. Cardinal Ratzinger has signed excommunications based on this rule.

  • but try teaching a 45 year-old english teacher Linux if all he's ever used is an old mac.

    The GNOME people call this phenomenon Baby Duck Syndrome [everything2.com]. Users believe that the first software product they use is how all software should work from then on, because like baby ducks and geese, they've "imprinted" on the first thing they saw.

  • hahaha...don't get me wrong, i have looked at the open office project and am eager to see what they come up with.

    BUT...i have also been disgruntled with that "take over the desktop" interface. i know of no windoz apps that do such a thing.

    really, i have hopes for the future of SO.

  • by small_dick ( 127697 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2001 @08:35PM (#350872)
    on that note, i wonder just how much Microsoft earns from all things government?

    Does anyone know if they are required to split out gov. buyers from com? is this public info?

    anyway, i think this is okay, as long as the kids don't suffer too much on the UI. i mean, i don't like staroffice at all, that whole "take over the screen cuz unix desktops suck" idea...kde and gnome have pretty much become the future of the unix desktop, it's just a matter of time.

    hopefully SO will improve after they break all the apps out, but we all know what happened to the "new improved netscape"...

  • Duuuuuuuuh Ignore me. Forgot that X does just that. I need a fucking beer.
  • by jailbrekr2 ( 139577 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2001 @08:20PM (#350875) Homepage
    And when exactly will there be a *NIX equivilant to Citrix Metaframe? Then and only then would I see these diskless thingys as a serious contender.

    Booting from a network server is nice and everything, but having the processing power moved from the client, and to the server, makes for dumber terminals, smarter servers, and less trips to hold the hands of the lusers.

    For some odd reason, I seem to have developed a wee bit of respect for the antiquated mainframe technology of the forgone years.......

  • by inquis ( 143542 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2001 @08:29PM (#350877)
    Remember all that buzz about the iOpener? It was loved here on /. because it made a good X client; a computer in your kitchen!

    This seems to me to be a MUCH better solution. Just set up a dedicated server in your attic running this Linux distro and buy two or three of those thin clients to put around your house. It may be marginally more expensive to do it this way, but if the server soft is as easy to use as the site proclaims, the ease of setup and use would more than make up for the price difference.

  • This is one of the greatest things I have seen. Not only is it making linux more accessible to students, it also give students more computers. Last spring I graduated high school and there are two things that many schools are missing; one is the lack of qualified teachers that know how to use any sort of computer, Windows, Mac or otherwise, and the other problem is the lack of resources to buy computers.

    One of my friends that I graduated with got a job at our old schools library and he is showing them the way of Linux by installing a server to get their Mac networks and their Windows networks to work together. So the willingness of school administrators to try out new things is there. Giving them easy access to these "new" technologies and incentive is necessary for them to make their way into the classroom.

    Apple made a big push to get their systems used in schools. One way they did this was by giving away computers. Today if you go into any public school you will find Macs in greater numbers than any other type of computer even though they are not used in industry as much as other computers.

    So this is a great step into getting Linux tough to students and getting more widely accepted by the majority of computer users that are not the computer elite.

  • What better feedback than having IBM ship the modification that you made to Apache or having Red Hat ship the documentation that updated for the GNOME login?

    I once had a job that required me to read a lot of bug reports. The bane of such a job is people who can't express themselves: "I did, like, you know, and it, like, didn't work." So I was always grateful to those who really tried to nail down the problem.

    One day I got a bug report filed by a student at (if memory serves) High School #2 in Chengdu, a provincial capital in central China. First she apologized for her English. Then she went on to describe, clearly and concisely, a bug in our virtual reality software.

    Right now my group is desperate for tech writers. If this girl were to show up, I'd hire her on the spot. Hey, like, her English is perfectly OK, you know?


  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2001 @08:35PM (#350887) Journal
    I am very happy to see this sort od solution for education. It solves a lot of issues with kids messing up configs, and allows for stable setups without teachers having to be experts.

    rumors to the contrary, it is simply not possible to be an expert in *everything*. so this is very worthwhile

  • This is a great idea. But it will probably take a bunch of talented people to volunteer their time to the local school to implement it. Nice side effect though, get people involved into their school, showing they have a personal stake. Hope it sells (metaphorically speaking of course :) BTW, where can you buy a diskless workstation with an lcd display? Kind of like an iopener, except you don't have to sign a contract for its isp service or pay $400 for one on ebay. Thanks, Ben
  • Don't have a hissy fit. The skills kids need to learn in school have nothing to do with particular brands of software. Kids take a long time to grow up and enter the workforce...ten years ago you would have been screaming for your kid to learn WordStar or WordPerfect under DOS, and look how relevant experience in those are now.
  • by the real jeezus ( 246969 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2001 @08:04PM (#350912)

    Microsoft's profitability makes it an ubiquitous brand name. Kids are inundated with all these brand names already. They will grow up thinking that it is how life is supposed to be. Isn't that called indoctrination?

    So now some kids can enjoy learning about computers while using reliable systems that don't draw (too) much attention to their brands. That's a positive step. Our government needs to stand behind this.

    If you love God, burn a church!
  • by the real jeezus ( 246969 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2001 @08:31PM (#350913)

    Now, now, don't be so defensive. I was merely stating that this decision was good. From the article, I didn't gather that any educators were "projecting their viewpoint". Your assertion that the decision should be based on "what is the best tool for the job" is rhetoric. Is Microsoft the best tool for the job? I wouldn't want to explain to little Timmy that the BSOD doesn't necessarily mean that he performed the illegal operation. Kidding aside, there are many factors to consider, not just ease of (adult) use and market presence.

    A little optimism and civility is needed here. Kids have an enormous capacity to learn because they don't have all the pre-judgements we adults have. These kids will be fortunate to learn from the *nix family of operating systems, which has the benefits of longevity, adaptibility, and reliability.

    To the AC who made the crack about burning reeboks & nikes in the gym--get a life. I'm not endorsing a backlash against consumerism, I just want kids to be given the opportunity to reach adulthood before making the decision to buy in to it or not. At present, that decision is made for the kids.

    If you love God, burn a church!
  • by Leonheart ( 246983 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2001 @09:52PM (#350914) Homepage
    Firstly, this is a great idea, and it deserves all the best. However, I see one major problem with getting it implemented - this might just be specific to .au, or smaller schools (my perspective), but I suspect not.

    The PTA's and school management's techno-literacy will be a real problem. Down here, at least, it's very much a Windows world - and the people who make decisions with regard to technology aren't always the admins. People who don't understand Linux will probably prefer that their kids use Windows (and Office, and Outlook, and IE - but I digress) because that's what they know and like.

    What I'd like to know is, if anyone's tried this before, have you run up against the same technophobia? And if so, any suggestions for getting around it?

    That said, more power to the project - and I'm beginning to think that it could well help stop what I just described. That, and the cost savings from going to Linux are always a good thing for (generally!) cash-strapped schools.
  • Linux has come a long way baby!

    My server network has been running redhat for years without issue (or reboots!) However, my desktops were running Winblows for using various office suite and embedded design apps.

    I had resisted moving the desktops to Linux for the (irrational) fear that I'd miss something. I was a fool.

    I switched over my primary design desk (Athlon 700) to RedHat 7.0. Installed Ximian Gnome and couldn't be happier. All the things I thought I might lose (ie Windows only) work fine. My DC_280 camera for article photos - works great on Linux. My TV TUner on my ATI All-in-wonder board (gotta keep up with the news! :) ) Works great with xawtv. ICQ to keep in touch with folks? GNomceICU. I can count the applications that I need to reboot for and they are dwindling fast: MS Money, and a couple of my embedded emulator applications. Thats it. Yes - I'm praying for a stable Mozilla 1.0 because it combines all teh things I like about Netscape Mail and MS Outlook into on package. But beyond that - I'm happy. Very happy and won't look back.

    Why should kids care if they use Windows at school? Games? Not happening. Browsing? Netscape works fine and doesn't crash much more than IE does if installed properly. Do you really think school kids need a full blown office suite - will they used the most advanced features of MS Office? Hardly - Staroffice would do fine.

    Kudos to this folks for doing this - things like this can revolutionize they way things are done. All I read about in teh paper today is how tight school budgets are. I'm sure many districts will look at the price points, what they spend on MS licenses (even at educational rates) and will jump at the chance. At the very least, they will allow them to co-exist with current MS desktops. And if they succeed, the MS desktops will fade away the next time MS releases a new OS version.


  • by yetiman ( 262330 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2001 @09:24PM (#350924) Homepage
    I'am currently going to high school in Canada and the school i attend recently received a $700 000 grant to make our school one of the most wired school's in Canada. The entire grant was sought after by students, the buying of the computer equipment was done by the students and the networking was done by the students. We added 117 computers to our already 149 computer-strong network...all done by students. It has been probably the most enriching and meaningfull "lesson" i've ever been taught in school. From learning Solaris on our Sun boxes to mandrake on our custom boxes to win98/me/nt/2000 on our Dell and Alienware boxes and MacOS on the Imac's i have learned more than i ever thought i would. All because some students were willing to take some initiative and were willing to put the time and effort into it. Now, how this relates to the article. After we received all of our new machines we had a huge amount of old 133's gathering dust. Some local elementary schools were wanting to get some free computers so we said we would give them what we had...on one condition...we hold "computer camps" to get the kids oriented on Linux. That's right...grade 6,7 and 8 kids working on linux. It's truly amazing how quickly these kids picked it up...much quicker than anyone at our school! Anyways...i'am not sure where i'am going with this but i thought it was a cool story to share.
  • by Jakob Sorrel ( 321598 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2001 @08:11PM (#350938)
    As a parent, I am always encourage when I hear about this type of program.

    I have a 12 year old daughter who has shown an interest in computers, and thanks to the efforts of a businessman who is a memeber of the local rotary, her school was recently able to aquire fifteen used computers, most of them Athlons. I was especially excited to learn that eight of them had Red Had Linux installed.

    One of the teachers at her school is also a long time Linux administrator and user, and it's simply amazing the progress and learning that she is making. Admittedly, I am far from an expert, but she has already passed me by!

    I want to encourage anyone who is considering donating computers to a school to please do so. They very much do make a difference in some of the technologically inclined children's education.
  • I like the way you put it. Techno Phobia. The reality is, Here in saudi. I've converted so many people from windows to linux. and to make things more interesting. saudis are computer illetirate by nature. how?. by convincing them that its not as hard as it sounds. maybe it was hard 2 years ago when i first started using linux but now in 2001. its as easy as windows. if not easier. SO. my point is, by doing a lot of talking with a lot of people. they dont want a crashless OS . They dont want a powerful one, They dont care how many features you pump it up with. The only thing they seem to care about is user friendliness. ask linus. "Desktop is the king"
  • ...to the techno-crack that is Microsoft is a worthy goal. If children learn early on about the benefits of open source software, it is more likely they will go on to contribute -rather than patent- ideas to society.

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard