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NZ School Goes Open Source Amid Microsoft Mandate

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the kiwis-and-penguins-sittin'-in-a-tree dept.

Education 305

Dan Jones writes "Kiwis have built an entire school IT system out of open source software, in less than two months, despite a deal between the New Zealand government and Microsoft that effectively mandates the use of Microsoft products in the country's schools. Albany Senior High School in the northern suburbs of Auckland has been running an entirely open source infrastructure since it opened in 2009. It's using a range of applications like OpenOffice, Moodle for education content, Mahara for student portfolios, and Koha for the library catalogue. Ubuntu Linux is on the desktop and Mandriva provides the server. Interestingly, the school will move into new purpose-built premises this year, which include a dedicated server room design based on standard New Zealand school requirements, including four racks each capable of holding 48 servers for its main systems. The main infrastructure at Albany Senior High only requires four servers, suggesting an almost 50-fold saving on hardware requirements."

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305 comments

Mandelbulb porn sighted! (2, Funny)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30886738)

IT Administrator who saved millions in licensing fees involved in scandal! Students used open source operating system to compile and publish their own unauthorized applications, which were of course sophomoric in character. Students were permitted to render mathematical constructs wihout let. Mandelbulb porn sighted!

The new administrator has promised to nip this in the bud: "Students will invent things within in the scope of propriety with the help of the new Microsoft systems that limit the scope of their endeavors." Further: "We'll have no more of this open scope nonsense. Our job is to teach them what to think, not to think" he said. "We'll have no more of this exploring the crevices of obscure mathematical constructs. It's obscene."

When asked, Timmy Blake responded "it's just a standard torus warped by budget figures. I didn't mean for it to look like a vagina. This is serious science."

Said IT Director Clemmons, "I didn't think it would be controversial to let the kids learn about the bare truth. My bad."

The tight time frame -- two weeks for evaluation, one week for design and two weeks for implementation -- didn't create too much disruption, Brennan said. "Although everything wasn't as polished as it could have been, when the school opened all of the core functionality was there. And it's been running for a year with no significant intervention. It hasn't really been touched in any fundamental way since then."

Clearly these are minds that have been warped by the freetards to measure things like Return On Investment and Time To Recover Investment in the scope of free software. It's not fair to measure commercial software in that context.

/ Reading the whole article is recommended.

Just as importantly, are they also... (1, Insightful)

KillShill (877105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30886804)

Inte£ free?

Huh? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30886820)

There is no mandate for NZ schools to use Microsoft software. There is a collective agreement (one of many agreements, including one with Apple), and the schools have always been able to choose the software they want.

Standard slashdot bias and hype. FUD FUD FUD

Re:Huh? (5, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30886870)

The contract stipulates that Microsoft gets paid regardless of whether schools actually use their software. So while the schools may not be forced through contract to use MS software, it doesn't matter to Microsoft as they still get paid for non-existent software.

Re:Huh? (3, Informative)

molnarcs (675885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887104)

The same thing happened (happening? I no longer live there) in Hungary. Collective agreement (officially: Microsoft Campus Agreement) with the government, Microsoft gets payed regardless of whether schools use their software. Teachers and students are allowed to use MS Office + Windows as long as they are part of the educational institution. On the bright side, the license is obviously still valid when you finish university - I still have my 7 year old copy of MS Windows that passes all authenticity test ;) Not that I use windows, but it comes handy when I install for friends. I know it's illegal, but who cares in SE-Asia? Besides, I only consider it fair, for throughout my studies, I used linux exclusively anyway - and yet, Microsoft still got payed for my non-use of their software.

Re:Huh? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887306)

Perpetuating the use of MS products is better for MS than switching to alternatives. Pirating a few copies of Windows/Office is a papercut to the beast. Your use of Linux (and related software) is the only hope of slaying the beast.

Re:Huh? (2, Informative)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887692)

Besides, I only consider it fair

There is nothing "fair" about Microsoft licensing agreements.

Nothing.

Re:Huh? (3, Insightful)

initialE (758110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887232)

For as many student that go through the school are students not bred into the Microsoft culture and not dependent on their software to be productive. This is not good news to them.

Re:Huh? (2, Funny)

ztransform (929641) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887700)

For as many student that go through the school are students not bred into the Microsoft culture and not dependent on their software to be productive.

Gladiators were taught to fight with heavy wooden swords so that the real sword would be easier to handle.

Surely it is better to give students crippled operating systems such as Vista so that their introduction to real world technology is a pleasant one? Rather than go the other way around?

Re:Huh? (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887350)

Its the same where I work. A rate is negotiated based on the number of systems (and in my case) vmware images running windows. But if we save on windows licenses it helps in the long term because future contracts will get buy with fewer licenses.

Re:Huh? (4, Insightful)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887386)

The contract stipulates that Microsoft gets paid regardless of whether schools actually use their software. So while the schools may not be forced through contract to use MS software, it doesn't matter to Microsoft as they still get paid for non-existent software.

which leaves those administrators who decided to use open source software vulnerable to claims of wasting valuable resources implementing other solutions when "Industry Standard" microsoft software has already been paid for

It *DOES* matter to them (3, Insightful)

Damnshock (1293558) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887660)

They get paid, that's right.

They are not being used!!! That's the first step for people to end using Microsoft products!

Have we not discussed that one of the main reason for the Microsft monopoly is that people don't know anything else?

Re:Huh? (3, Interesting)

styrotech (136124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887632)

Standard slashdot bias and hype. FUD FUD FUD

You're blaming slashdot for that statement? It was taken directly from the article on CIO magazines website.

Sounds like you've got your own set of biases going on.

50-fold savings? (4, Interesting)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#30886824)

The school only has 230 students. I have a hard time believing they'd need 192 servers whether they used Linux or not.

And BTW, as long as you're standing on my lawn, may I remind you that my own high school's expenditure on servers was exactly zero? How's that for savings?

Re:50-fold savings? (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30886916)

I have a hard time believing they'd need 192 servers whether they used Linux or not.

This is the same government that made a deal with Microsoft to pay them regardless of whether Microsoft's software was actually installed. That doesn't sound like the kind of logical decision making that leads to entertaining the notion that 230 students might not need 192 servers after all.

Re:50-fold savings? (2, Interesting)

WillRobinson (159226) | more than 4 years ago | (#30886926)

I agree, we had no servers. And I will tell you the access time to any students records was guaranteed to be less than the time it takes to log in. The gall if it! We actually used folders, and paper! Humm can we sue Microsoft for prior art? I mean folder, and object inside like Pictures and documents! When my kids ask what our generation did, I tell them where do you think the computers and internet came from? You think Al Gore invented it? Pufft

Re:50-fold savings? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887294)

yes I had a hard time believing they needed 4 servers, and I was assuming the school must be ten times as big!

Re:50-fold savings? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887454)

Our college (in 2000), with several thousand students and 500 workstations had a total of 6 servers...

Re:50-fold savings? (5, Funny)

club (1698284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30886968)

The school only has 230 students. I have a hard time believing they'd need 192 servers whether they used Linux or not.

Here in NZ, we're so technologically advanced that we're skipping laptops and going straight to "one server per child".

Re:50-fold savings? (3, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887704)

You shouldn't have listened to that Microsoft marketing droid so much. That's not the way Terminal Services works.

By the way, if you're having difficulty traveling between two points due to an obstruction, I might have a construction which will allow you to pass over it unhindered. For a modest price, of course...

Re:50-fold savings? (3, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887016)

Even if they were bigger... there is little cost saving in building a server room for one rack vs a server room for four racks, even though you expect to use only one rack. However having to expand the server room later to accommodate a second rack now that's not just expensive but potentially disruptive to the school (construction is noisy and messy).

So it sounds like a sensible requirement to have a slightly over sized server room. And this being the government requirement possibly regardless of the school size. So there may be hardware savings, to call it 50-fold is baseless.

Having four servers for 230 students and maybe 30 staff or so sounds overkill to me even. But then again that's possibly designed with some redundancy in place, or with room for immediate expansion. Or are these application highly server based? Can also require more server power.

Re:50-fold savings? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887528)

The school's roll is projected to grow to 1400 within 5 years.

Re:50-fold savings? (5, Informative)

slyall (190056) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887668)

1. The school is projected to grow to 1500 pupils over the next few years

2. The server room thing was the standard said they needed 8 racks of servers, instead they just needed 4 servers taking up less than half a rack.

Re:50-fold savings? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887022)

They don't need that many servers, they are saying there are 4 racks, each capable of holding 42sru. How many sru's does a ups take? 8? Switch? At least 1 each. How many 1sru patch pannels do they have? 10? San/nas? Voip phone system? Room for expansion? In a good network setup it's easy to use up 4 racks.

Does anyone on /. Work in networking any more?

Re:50-fold savings? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887214)

4 racks for a network serving 230 Students?? Sir, you ain't going nowhere near my network!!

Re:50-fold savings? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887388)

Server room gear tends to get smaller over time too.

Re:50-fold savings? (4, Funny)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887230)

Does anyone on /. Work in networking any more?

The majority of /.ers are now young republicans (sorry, libertarians)in their first year of college, studying debate/rhetoric 101 and javascript. They've also just discovered ayn raynynnd. Still fat and greasy though, so at least we're keeping to some of our roots.

Re:50-fold savings? (5, Informative)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887262)

Agreed. I don't know how big their network is, but I expect at least:

8 Us for Switch
8 Us of Patch pannels for Ethernet.
8 Us for PBX patch pannels
8 Us for the actual PBX + Accesories (Eg. ATAs, GSM -> SIP GWs, etc).
10 Us for UPS
6 Us for Audio system.
8 Us for Servers
4 Us for routers
20 Us for DIsplay/keyboard (2 Displays/kb on 2 different Racks)
10 Us for Power strips (across all racks)

And I'm missing a lot of things, probably.

That is 90 Us.

Off course, the first 10 or so Units in a Rack are rarely used, since they are not comfortable. If you add some space between equipments (It's good practice, also, many systems are not rackable, and they take up more space). That can take you to, let's say, 120 Us. Plus, some room for expansion.

4 Racks seems like a good setup to me.

Re:50-fold savings? (4, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887094)

The school only has 230 students. I have a hard time believing they'd need 192 servers

Ah, you've never used NT. :)

Re:50-fold savings? (3, Informative)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887158)

I was thinking; 4 full racks is just good foresight. My office of 20 people had one full rack, and it had a display unit, a PBX unit, a 48 port switch, and the UPS near the bottom. You can stick one or two racks in a former broom closet, but if you're building at a new site, you might as well future proof it while you're at it.
 
The city of seattle has 400 fiber optic strands going to each municipal building, but only uses one. Does the author of this article suggest that since FiOS only sends one strand to the home, data compression has increased 400 fold since 1996? No -- it's because it's cheap, and you can future proof for only about 10% more.
 
I hate marketing.

Re:50-fold savings? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887272)

That was clearly the weakest part of the article, yes. First of all, there's four racks of space, not proof that any school actually is using all that capacity. Perhaps even there aren't four racks, just four drawn in on the blueprint as possible to cram into the room, ignoring HVAC and such. I think it's more likely someone wanted a server room, and that is as "small" as they'd reasonably get. Yes, perhaps today a broom closet is enough but having an actual room is practical in many ways for the people that should install or upgrade or rewire or otherwise work on it. So maybe a few square meters wasted but compared to the total floor area I suspect minimal.

Re:50-fold savings? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887358)

The school only has 230 students.

Thats a pretty average school by southern hemisphere standards. My sons primary school in Australia has 100 students. A big secondary school might have 500 or so.

192 Server Capacity? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30886834)

OK, 4 racks * 48 servers/rack = 192 servers at new location.
They say they are getting by (right now) with only 4.

Is is because they just over built the location, or are they expecting to do something which needs more power on the back end?

Ah, just hit me while typing. Server Capacity might be better read as rack units available. 42U is about a 7 foot rack.
So maybe the someone assumed 1U servers (42/rack capacity) when it might end up being multi-unit NAS boxes or something?

Re:192 Server Capacity? s/42/48 in above post... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30886892)

I can't do math right now.
So when I say 42 I mean 48.
Since 7 foot = 84 inches. If 1U = 1.75inches, 84/1.75 = 48.

Re:192 Server Capacity? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30886894)

I suspect that the more servers that were used, the more MS gets paid in the deal. Combine that with governments' tendency to buy a lot of stuff that it doesn't need and the reasoning for using 192 servers becomes all too clear.

Re:192 Server Capacity? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887402)

OK, 4 racks * 48 servers/rack = 192 servers at new location

No wonder we are running short on IP addresses.

FTA (3, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30886852)

a long-standing contract with the national government means the software giant is paid for technology for the school even though none has been used.

Well isn't that lovely. Demonstrably corrupt.

Re:FTA (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30886930)

Umm not really. New Zealand like many educational institutions license Microsoft and other software on behalf of the schools to provide them with a huge discount.

For example, here in Queensland, Aus, EQ (Education Queensland) have licensed microsoft software for all schools as well as limited 'take home' licenses for staff. The end result being XP, Office and Server software costs the school less than a few dollars per machine. Given 99% of schools run MS software I think this is a pretty great deal.

- Adrian.

Re:FTA (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887078)

It's called a 'loss leader'.... the kids produced by this system will not know that there are alternatives and be on the hook for full priced retail software for life... so yes, it's a very good deal... for MS.

Re:FTA (4, Interesting)

WeirdJohn (1170585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887352)

The catch in Queensland is that unless you are using the MOI (mandated operating interface) you are screwed. Using Firefox? Sorry, can't help you. OO.org? Same thing. Not Outlook? Then it's your fault you have an email issue. Does AVG show a virus? Not a mandated scanner, so you are NOT infected. Try using squeak in the classroom, and you get slapped. Don't use linux, or cygwin etc. In fact any non-approved software can (and often will) be deleted if your laptop is dropped into Information Services, as your problem is put down to "non-mandated software" as the 1st option.

This clearly makes support simpler, but can make teaching more challenging, especially if you want the kids to use computers as tools for thinking, and not just document management systems.

Re:FTA (3, Interesting)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#30886948)

Demonstrably corrupt.

Not really. It's a volume license agreement for schools, etc. I don't see how "not-necessarily smart decision" == corruption, unless you know something we don't? And it could be a good business decision if the majority of the schools use Windows, etc - the volume discounts can be significant.

Re:FTA (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887278)

Volume licenses are normally something like 60% off if you buy over 50,000 licenses. Not... give us 50million and you can use w/e you like. Not a huge deal still but easily avoided and kinda crappy for the open source advocates.

Re:FTA (2, Insightful)

Nightspirit (846159) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887074)

It makes more sense to me to blanket license a country than negotiate licenses for individual schools. While some schools may not use MS software, the country probably still saves money in the long run compared to negotiating for each school.

Re:FTA (5, Interesting)

thoughtfulbloke (1091595) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887380)

And you would be exactly correct. To provide some added context, when the government was negotiating the 2007-2009 volume licence period, it was not economical to get a full New Zealand wide licence for schools for Microsoft Office for the Macintosh so that part of the licence was dropped. The recommendation [minedu.govt.nz] was to substitute iWork (via an NZ wide licence negotiated via Apple) or Open Office (or buy individual MS for Mac licences). The Ministry of Education works out how many copies are in use, and if it is worth a nation-wide site licence.
Keep in mind that, in New Zealand, the software that is used in schools will ultimately be paid for by the Ministry of Education either through a general licences or as part of the budgets devolved to schools, so it is in the Ministries interest to minimise the overall cost.
And, as a semi-aside New Zealand has been the least corrupt country on Transparency International's index pretty much every year since 2003 (some years were ties with Denmark), and the volume licence was an example of the Government serving the needs of individual schools well (who were going to use MS stuff anyway), rather than a corrupt deal.

Not There Yet (-1, Troll)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30886918)

I just installed Ubuntu on my kid's computer, and I must say it still has relatively poor UI design. It's still a geek toy half-ass trying to be "user-friendly". Common things are not made easy and intuitive. I had to type text paths to set up folder shortcuts on the desktops, for example, and once set up could not change the paths without starting over. Setting up a place for common desktop items, equivalent to Windows "all users", was a bear.

It needs some real hands-on user-in-action observations rather than features that geeks THINK users want. Geeks know technology, but they don't know users. I was generally disappointed. Sure, Windows sometimes has stupid conventions also, but in order to unseat Windows you have be better, not a mere peer in annoyingness.

Re:Not There Yet (2, Funny)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30886970)

Common things are not made easy and intuitive. I had to type text paths to set up folder shortcuts on the desktops, for example...

Right-click the item/folder of interest, "Make Link", drag new "shortcut" to Desktop, rename as desired.

Re:Not There Yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887586)

So, just like you would in Windows, then?

You did it the hard way (4, Insightful)

Old Man Kensey (5209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30886974)

There's an easier way to create folder shortcuts on the desktop, which doesn't involve typing text paths: Right-click on the folder you want a shortcut to. Click "Make link". Drag the link to the desktop. Rename it if desired.

I'm not sure if the lack of "all users"-type functionality is a deficiency in Ubuntu, or an annoyance in Windows. For a single-user desktop, "All Users" is completely unnecessary, and on multi-user desktops I've more often seen it lead to annoyances than actually be useful. Google Chrome's Windows installer actually installs the program to the user desktop only by default, which will become more common as UAC-type enforcement on the Windows desktop becomes more common.

Re:You did it the hard way (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887314)

I'm annoyed by All Users.

A couple times now games have half-crashed my desktop. When Explorer starts up again, anything that was in All Users is missing. That's half the desktop icons, and most of the start menu. A reboot fixes it, but the first time it happened I was scratching my head for a few minutes. :P

It really isn't necessary, especially since Windows security is starting to line up with Linux. (Installing apps per profile and stuff)

Re:Not There Yet (5, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 4 years ago | (#30886982)

Your argument is that because Linux is not like Windows, it will never supplant it. But, a copy of Windows will never be as good at being Windows-like than Windows itself, so attempting to mimic Windows is a losing strategy.

IMHO there are many ways in which Linux is better than Windows. I am able to work much faster under Linux than I can do under Windows and I find doing almost anything under Windows an exercise in frustration.

You're doing it wrong. (5, Insightful)

a0schweitzer (1702404) | more than 4 years ago | (#30886986)

The idea behind Ubuntu (and desktop linux in general), is that it is a multi-user OS. Multi-user in the sense that the administrator determines what a user can do, and the user can do anything they want within these limits. There is no need for easily accessible multi-user desktop-shortcuts, because each user should be allowed to set up their own desktop the way they want it. You just have to shift the way you think about your desktop environment a little bit.

Re:Not There Yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887008)

An even bigger problem is people who try Linux expecting it to be an identical clone of windows.

Re:Not There Yet (3, Informative)

cr_nucleus (518205) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887138)

As stated in other replies, you can right click to create a link, but you can also press shift+ctrl while dragging and the drop action will be to create a link. This kind of behavior modifier is standard in windows, osx & linux.

No Idea How To Configure Home Folders Dumb Ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887216)

you obviously have no idea how to properly configure home folders to be shared though out multiple users....
you just set up the users to use that folder as that home folder, make sure that all the users belong to the same group, and apply group permissions to the folder.... duh.

Re:Not There Yet (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887220)

wtf? thats easy. Read a book on ubuntu.. any book, you can choose it.
Your just2use to the windows way of doing things (aka the gay way, but not the good kind of homo gay way.. the one with all the dancing that isn't love based, i.e., old gay (akaka gay gay))
You'd have probably had the same complaint moving to OS X, just because you know a way of setting something up doesn't mean thats its the only way nor does it mean its the best way.

Re:Not There Yet (2, Insightful)

hughbar (579555) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887274)

Pretty nearly. Two recent experiments:

1. I didn't tell a houseguest that my desktops are Ubuntu now (used to be XP) and they managed to login/surf without any help
2. Computer drop in for older people using Ubuntu, I had to tell one user where to find the word processor and I now have a one page 'manual', everyone fairly happy

None of this is statistically significant, of course, but these users certainly aren't 'power' users. Actually there are two other points here:

3. You can arrange the desktop to look pretty much like XP, if you really really want (to quote the immortal Spice Girls)
4. Knowing a couple of desktops enables you to generalise, an important education theory win

Windows has some _really_ big no-nos (4, Insightful)

Casandro (751346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887298)

There is one _big_ minefield with Windows, and that is software distribution. How on earth can a non-geek ever find out if a software package he downloads is legit or a piece of malware? This is probably the single biggest worry about amateurs using windows systems. (to some extend the problem is the same with the Mac)

Most Linux distributions solve that by having a package manager. I can safely tell a person to search for software in there and be assured that the chance they download malware is very slim.

As long as Microsoft refuses to address this problem and make all files downloaded instantly executable, I just cannot recommend Windows to the average user.

Re:Windows has some _really_ big no-nos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887496)

There is one _big_ minefield with Windows, and that is software distribution. How on earth can a non-geek ever find out if a software package he downloads is legit or a piece of malware?

Proactive/on-access AV software does the trick (avg and avast both do this and are free, the later regularly scoring detection rates comparable to the paid-for leaders).

Not downloading warez helps.
Downloading from trusted sites helps too.

None of these option require any kind of geekery, and I don't know about you, but all versions of Windows I've used in the past six years require me to expressly 'okay' the execution of a freshly downloaded binary.

"average user" please. In three short sentences you've demonstrated that you don't know what that constitutes and that your recomendation is worthless.

Re:Windows has some _really_ big no-nos (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887652)

what a load of crap. there's nothing preventing you violating a license on linux either. wine anyone?!

Re:Not There Yet (3, Funny)

mgblst (80109) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887420)

Don't worry, your kid has probably figured it all out by now. You can go back to Windows.

Re:Not There Yet (1)

Pastis (145655) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887432)

> I had to type text paths to set up folder shortcuts on the desktops

with the mouse, it works the same as on Windows: click the folder + CTRL+SHIFT drag it on the desktop. Rename it if you need later on.

Or right click, Make link, move/rename it.

Contextual menu is there to help, in most case.

> Setting up a place for common desktop items, equivalent to Windows "all users", was a bear.

There doesn't seem to be a GUI for it.

http://library.gnome.org/admin/system-admin-guide/stable/menustructure-2.html.en [gnome.org]

I personally don't have the need for it. On my setups the programs I install all have their .desktop with them. I.e. the package of the program comes with the menu.

What are you trying to achieve exactly ? which programs are missing in your menus ?

Maybe you're trying to do something that comes from your Windows experience, and thus should be doing in a different way on a Linux system ?

Fifty fold savings in servers? Awful writing. (2, Interesting)

rdunnell (313839) | more than 4 years ago | (#30886920)

So the article basically says that they have a machine room with four somewhat standard racks. That's pretty small. Figure that at some point you'll need some network gear which will likely take up at least one of the racks (switches, patch panels to other areas of the building, routers/firewalls), hopefully some UPS gear, a few servers.. four 48U racks doesn't go very far. And it only makes sense nowadays to have a couple larger servers hosting a bunch of virtual machines for mundane things. They would be wise to do that no matter what OS they run, and that more than anything is why you can cut down on the number of physical machines that are installed.

Re:Fifty fold savings in servers? Awful writing. (1)

Old Man Kensey (5209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887012)

And it only makes sense nowadays to have a couple larger servers hosting a bunch of virtual machines for mundane things. They would be wise to do that no matter what OS they run, and that more than anything is why you can cut down on the number of physical machines that are installed.

So much this. The latest virtual-desktop stuff from VMware is pretty spiffy. It really is now possible to run both useful virtual servers and useful virtual desktops, and at the same time simplify all the support infrastructure (backups, AV, server/desktop config control, etc.) considerably. A couple of 5U PowerEdge servers running vSphere can probably do everything a 230-student school needs quite handily.

It also would be nice in this instance especially as it would allow students to flip effortlessly back and forth between a Linux-desktop VM and a Windows-desktop VM -- because let's face it, Office and Windows are not going away anytime soon, and students need to be at least minimally conversant with them if they're going to survive in the modern computing world.

Fifty fold usage of servers? Awful writing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887018)

The writing implies that a Windows solution will take 48 servers.

Of leaping we go... (3, Insightful)

Johnny Mnemonic (176043) | more than 4 years ago | (#30886978)


including four racks each capable of holding 48 servers for its main systems. The main infrastructure at Albany Senior High only requires four servers, suggesting an almost 50-fold saving on hardware requirements.

That is a frankly hilarious leap of inference. If you have a 4 door car, that means that you always travel with 5 adults, right? I mean, c'mon. It's statements like that that make OSS guys seem like wild-eyed loony tunes. Instead of making ridiculous, bold statements, why don't you, y'know, do some homework? How many servers do they really use, regardless of how many racks they have? It might be 4-8 big ones. That would be an interesting statement of fact, and would demonstrate the value of OSS. Instead, you just seem lazy and not able to objectively gather data.

congrats. (-1, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887024)

now your students will have no idea what to do when they go out into the real world of business where everything is microsoft.

you MIGHT have saved a few bucks at the students expense. bravo.

Re:congrats. (2, Funny)

JoshDD (1713044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887072)

You mean like the London Stock Exchange?

Re:congrats. (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887102)

do you really want to start comparing market share ? because you'll lose.

One glass typewriter is like another (5, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887120)

If they can't work out how to use MS Word in five minutes when they are used to openoffice then they really won't be trying.
Most of this stuff is so similar that it doesn't matter. When you get down to mail merges or other stuff just about every company does it differently on the same platform so they'll have to learn it anyway.
True, if they are setting up computer systems they'll be at a disadvantage - you have to know the Microsoft platform to understand that you choose "local printer" when you want to connect directly to a printer on the network (and a thousand other quirks).
By the way, I've heard EXACTLY this argument before about why schools should be full of Apple computers. It really has very little merit. If you are talking about a single semester technical college course it has merit, but for general situations it doesn't.
In a ten year time scale we went from MSDOS to XP in business desktop computing. There is no point at all in directly targeting a specific business desktop environment in the early and middle years of school and not much in the late years.

Re:congrats. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887124)

now your students will have no idea what to do when they go out into the real world of business where everything is microsoft.

you MIGHT have saved a few bucks at the students expense. bravo.

Now the students have a more clear image of the world of software, most likely their parents use MS products at home and they face the challenge of interchanging formats between software platforms. If they move on to higher education, they come better prepared, for universities and research institutes haven't bothered much with Microsoft products for years.

(sarcasm) But by all means, let one company deal with everything and decide what formats we're supposed to use and what you can do with it.(/sarcasm).

Re:congrats. (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887150)

It's not that bad. For what most people do, Windows and Linux, OOo and MS Office... work pretty much the same.

What has MS worried, and why they want ot make their stuff essentially free for schools (or , as in NZ, a once-off national license, implying no marginal costs when a school chooses Windows and Office), is that all students for that school will know about Linux.

Hopefully, Linux will be good enough so that the students will be satisfied with it.

Re:congrats. (2, Insightful)

belmolis (702863) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887164)

If there is a case for some students learning specific MS programs, they can always run them on the student's own MS system or under the hypervisor. For many purposes, such as email and web-surfing, it makes little difference which specific program and OS the students use. Students who learn to use a spreadsheet or a word processor on Ubuntu will learn not only how to use those particular programs but the concepts behind them. Learning to use another program at work won't be that hard if they already know how to use the same kind of program.

Re:congrats. (0, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887240)

maybe for the likes of you and I, but for most people out there just moving the button across the screen stumps them.

i'd be pissed off if my kid was being taught to use applications 99% of the business world don't use.

Re:congrats. (1)

micheas (231635) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887372)

maybe for the likes of you and I, but for most people out there just moving the button across the screen stumps them.

i'd be pissed off if my kid was being taught to use applications 99% of the business world don't use.

99% of the world won't be using any 2010 software in 2020.

20 years ago IRIX was what you needed to know if you wanted to do CGI work.

Now IRIX has been replaced by OSX, Linux, and Windows XP/7

I don't get this fascination with teaching kids what is used by the business world.

In twenty years the business world will be running the software written by the kids in elementary school today.

Every kid should use a word processor that he or she wrote, at least once.

The ability to go, "where would I have put that?", makes learning random programs much easier.

Finally, I deserve to be moderated down for responding to a troll

Re:congrats. (0, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887544)

You are meant to be giving kids the tools to cope in the real world that they will be going into in the very near future, not 10 years time. If they want to learn to program or some other advanced topic then secondary education is where they will learn those skills.

swapping a school to free software to save few buckets and satisfy some nerds linux fetish = failing at education.

Re:congrats. (1)

Duke.Leto.Atreides (733893) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887378)

You must have been royally pissed off when MS screwed your kid over with the ribbon in Office 2007.

Re:congrats. (1)

Veyasu (1505999) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887194)

Everything is Microsoft because all everyone know is Microsoft. Thats why everyone should be learning Microsoft. See how this is a vicious circle thats not really profiting anyone but Microsoft?

Re:congrats. (5, Insightful)

Casandro (751346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887258)

Yay! By that logic most people would fail in the real world of business.
You know when I went to school, we had a real world business system from Microsoft. We had Microsoft Works for Xenix and Microsoft Works for DOS. State of the art systems as Microsoft surely called them back then.

It's no use teaching children about feature 5432 of version 54.22.154.12.b of some software product as it will disappear or be made obsolete by some other function in the next version, often by the time the teacher actually gets ot teach what he has learnt.

What does matter is teaching what those programs are about. What is a word processor? What are the typical features of such a piece of software? It doesn't matter if you teach that with Microsoft Word 95 or Open Office, in fact Open Office has the advantage of being available to the children.

No matter what software product you will use as an example, by the time the children start working, it will be long obsolete.

Re:congrats. (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887664)

so why use linux then? after all they already have a bulk license that's paid for by the government, there's no extra cost to use windows.

Hnnngh.... (2, Funny)

lewko (195646) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887050)

Once Were Warriors.

Now are geeks.

"Going Google" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887052)

Wait for Google to start playing this game. They already [google.com] promote Google Apps to Businesses and Schools, it's only about time it becomes part of a nationwide IT policy.

How does a Kiwi find a sheep in long grass? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887086)

Wonderful.

Drum roll please... (3, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887156)

They could run a Beowulf cluster with those extra 44 servers. :P

Re:Drum roll please... (2, Insightful)

creimer (824291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887176)

CORRECTION: They could run a Beowulf cluster with those 188 extra servers. :p

Now get off my lawn, you grammar/math Nazis!

Sell Data Center Servcies (4, Interesting)

ittanmomen (596981) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887168)

I suppose what the article means is that there are 4 x 48U racks installed in the server room. It is fiction that each rack could actually loaded with 48 x 1U servers! Potential problems are: cooling, weight, air (fire hazard), power supply.

Most likely actual rack usage looks as follows:

- Rack with 5 Servers
- Rack for Patching and switches
- Rack for phone system / phone patches
- Rack for backup.

If they have remaining capacity, they could rent it out/sell to other community organisations.

Not a matter of cost (4, Interesting)

Casandro (751346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887204)

Today it's just sensible to use open source.Not only does it cause far fewer headaches, it also enables children to learn more about the technology.
It's much easier for interested children to expand their knowledge. For example if they want to learn about TCP/IP, they can just use netcat, and then later maybe wireshark.
Others might learn about programming by using shell scripts.

Over time you will have many people in lots of different jobs knowing a bit about computers. This will lead to departments having one or two persons with such experience. The knowledge of those people will then slowly diffuse in the department and cause higher efficiency.

Re:Not a matter of cost (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887436)

Well if they want to learn about tcp/ip they would need some routers and switches - trouble at least 95% of thease kids arn't going to go into tech jobs the employers will want them to have at least the basics of office so they can use the software that 95% of most jobs use.

Watch out for the video (4, Informative)

mcbridematt (544099) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887252)

Watch out for the video release of the presentation, including the deputy principal of the school who was there and did a bit of acting :)

Presentation details [lca2010.org.nz]

I hear the videos will be out in just over a week

The way they do filtering with NuFW is interesting - it can authorize outgoing connections based on the _application_ that is trying to create the connection, by calling back to a PAM module on the client machine. And there are rulesets depending on the logged in user group. Beats forcing everyone to use proxies.

And to clear up, by 'standard server space' they mean 4 x 12RU, they only needed to use one 12RU rack.

Naming (2, Insightful)

dintech (998802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887264)

Moodle, Mahara, Koha, Ubuntu, Mandriva

Is the weirdology in software naming caused by the lack of available domain names or something? Just asking...

Re:Naming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887296)

MS has already used Bob.

Re:Naming (4, Insightful)

micheas (231635) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887404)

Moodle, Mahara, Koha, Ubuntu, Mandriva

Is the weirdology in software naming caused by the lack of available domain names or something? Just asking...

Trademark law.

Try finding a name that is available in 150 countries. The first one that you don't hate is the one to go with.

Re:Naming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887570)

Just in case you care ...

Two of those, Mahara and Koha, are Maori words (meaning think/thought and gift respectively). Ubuntu is African (meaning "humanity to others"). Moodle stands for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment. Mandriva comes from merging Connectiva and Mandrakelinux.

A little trite perhaps, but they have reasons.

Re:Naming (1)

rsevero (1227464) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887580)

International development leads to names in different languages. Mahara: hawaian. Koha: maori. Ubuntu: bantu.

48 servers (1)

CountBrass (590228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887286)

To run a school? What the hell are they, or rather, what the hell is every other NZ school doing that they need 48 servers! 4 to do the work, 20 to handle licensing and the other 24 to handle patch management and anti-virus updates?

No lock-in... (4, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887442)

This is a new school, one that was not previously locked in to any proprietary setup... They were able to start with a clean slate and do things properly.

Incidentally, how big or inefficient is the average school in new zealand if they require 48 servers? Just what exactly would all those servers do?

Re:No lock-in... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887620)

I have worked with hundreds of NZ schools IT in my career.

I can tell you this:

The average server count is one.

The most physical servers ive seen at some of the larger schools in the country ive worked with (~2500-3000 students) has been about 25

The biggest schools in the country can function with capacity to spare on a couple of HP DL380s and an iSCSI san when managed well.

There are a lot of morons in school IT.

The networks with the happiest users use a Microsoft platform

The networks with the unhappiest users use Novell

The schools with Linux networks BURN CASH on consultants (weather they need to or not, this is what they do). This school is new as such has lots of startup funding. They claim hundreds of thousands of dollars saved in licencing yearly yet none of the windows based schools (even paying for site licencing for things such as Adobe Suite and Sibelius) I've seen spend more than about 15k/year

Posting AC for obvious reasons

One Word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887670)

KMS

Gay Ninjas (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887452)

Ever met a gay ninja?

here's a solution for everyone (4, Funny)

md65536 (670240) | more than 4 years ago | (#30887470)

Windows 8 to Feature Fully Virtual Monopoly

"We already have some schools switching to other operating systems. This new version of Windows will allow them to do that while still claiming to be 'Windows only.' "

fully sarcastic blog entry here [blogspot.com] .

Cooling and Gaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30887484)

It's pretty obvious what they need all those servers for. Dedicated Counter-Strike servers, so the students can play. There's even enough of them to let their friends from other schools join in and envy them.

If the racks are really supposed to be full of servers, did they plan for appropriate cooling, too?

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