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Creating a School Computer Lab With Ubuntu For $0

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the linux-isn't-that-a-virus dept.

Education 229

An anonymous reader writes "Here is an interesting story of a school in Oakland that used old computers running Ubuntu and OpenOffice.org to provide a school computer lab for students."

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Free hardware? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982367)

Where are you going to find that many computers for $0?

Re:Free hardware? (4, Informative)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982439)

He patiently negotiated various donations.

Re:Free hardware? (2)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982531)

Very easily, I'd imagine. You've got a whole bunch of pupils, every pupil has parents, many parents have either old computers and/or contacts with old computers they want rid of.

Every parent wants their kids to have the best resources possible, but acknowledges the school may not have the money to go out and buy 100 brand-new computers.

Re:Free hardware? (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982675)

Where are you going to find that much labor for $0? Or are teachers - and their time - really as worthless as some people claim?

Re:Free hardware? (2)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982819)

There is a hard reality facing this school district - this teacher is leaving and someone will have to take this on for no extra money, a little extra time (4 hours/week), and no budget.

How many union teachers in California will take on such a role "for the chidren"?

This school was very lucky they had this fellow on staff - his moving on leaves a much bigger hole than some might suspect.

Re:Free hardware? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982853)

Yeah, budgets are so tight, because only about 54% of tax dollars (at least in the city I live in in Colorado and where I lived in Portland, before) go toward education. Gosh, how can they possibly survive on such a paltry sum of MORE THAN HALF OF ALL REVENUE? Why, they'll have to make the teachers start living on bread and water, the poor dears!

taxes spent on education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983067)

You really got something mixed up there. It is either 54% of land tax (which is not much compared to income tax) or you have something wrong. Truthfully, nearly 50% of all tax revenue collected is used to pay for Interest on Federal and State debt so if the other 50% is spent on education then that would leave nothing left over....
 

Re:Free hardware? (1)

type40 (310531) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983091)

How much of that goes to building utility's, buses, food, sports programs, etc?
Don't get me wrong, I think most school systems are top heavy with admin, but public schools provide a lot of first line social services and that shit isn't free.

Re:Free hardware? (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982907)

Hopefully, he'll have inspired at least one of his colleagues to carry on his work. If he didn't actually reach a single other teacher, then it really is a sad world out there.

Re:Free hardware? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983125)

Many teachers, union or otherwise, would gladly do it but they won't because they know that as soon as they volunteer the administration will make it a "voluntold" position that will simply be another duty that person is expected to work for no additional pay. Once that happens the altruistic nature goes out the window.

Some teachers are bad and some teachers are in unions. The overlap of these circles is unfortunate because bad teachers are defended from the administration by a union just like good teachers are. Unions are not about money. They are about job security. A teacher risks their job by going above and beyond like this. Suddenly an administrator sees 4 hours being worked for free and the situation becomes "if you can do A for free then why can't you do B for free?". When the union defends the teacher getting paid to do B the administration publicly paints the unions as money grubbing anachronisms that served their purpose and need to go away, when paradoxically the fact the the union needed to step in at all proves they are not yet done serving their purpose.

Teaching, much like police work, fire fighting, is a "share the burden" profession where workers help one another often times at personal expense, financial or otherwise, to achieve a common goal. The mindset of "help others" that these workers possess however is easily abused. Administrators seek to pay themselves as much as possible, because they're the chief executives of the district, while paying the "working class" as little as possible and often times asking for volunteer labor that could be paid labor if the administration paid itself less greedily.

Re:Free hardware? (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982857)

One salaried teacher working extra hours costs the district the same as if he was not working extra hours. Not until he got 4 hours a week to get donations could you argue there was cost even then they may have exchanged his planning period for the teaching leave to find more computers.

Re:Free hardware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982941)

Some teachers just want to teach. Many teachers I experienced paid out of pocket for school supplies for classroom use. Donating time to build a computer lab is a sign of a superior quality educator, not an inferior one.

Capitalism is a rather poor idea to apply to teachers because it rewards those that do only the minimum requirements and screws anyone that goes above and beyond.

Re:Free hardware? (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983191)

Hey, even lawyers, traditionally the lowest of the low, do pro bono work. Most people I know who use computers for a living (myself included) do free work for good causes. I help out high school and college students working on projects that catch my eye, the web design place down the road has adopted a couple of charities and provide free design/hosting, there are all sorts.

Re:Free hardware? (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982735)

From a company that takes its social responsibility. Companies discard computers a lot sooner than normal consumers. And they will discard dozens of the same computers (nice for the school's admin)... But alternatively, they can use their HUGE network in the local community. Seriously, the parents will happily bring their old computers to school if that might improve their kids' education...

If they do not care that the computers aren't uniform, and if they only set a sort of minimum system requirement, they'll find plenty. And if they're lucky, they even get a whole room full of the exact same leftovers from some company.

Re:Free hardware? (0)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982793)

When the threshold is 512 Meg of RAM and less than 10 years old, it isn't that hard at all.

With this teacher moving on to another school, who will take up his special assignment of overseeing the 70 computers around the school, given a four hour "reprieve" from teaching? I predict that within two years this school will switch to either a Mac or PCs, sinceudget item they will not find another teacher willing to simply take this on, and then when they hire a computer person to manage the infrastructure that person will be the justification for actually making computer costs a budget line-item, and then Linux is toast.

Re:Free hardware? (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982869)

If I've ever seen a dumb prediction!

The story centres around the problem of not having a budget, OK the 4hrs/week are not free but a relatively minor burden.

So switching to a proprietary system is simply out of the question. Further we read there are some 70 computers set up, you can't tell me this man is the only teacher involved, by now others will have started to understand the system.

But then Evil(tm) might read this story and make an offer the school can't refuse...

Right now they are independent and the kids learn how to use a computer instead of doing tricks in a locked in environment.

Re:Free hardware? (3, Insightful)

macbeth66 (204889) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982977)

With Ubuntu/Linux/GNU and the local advocates the teacher found, I suspect that this program will be self-sustaining. Other teachers will learn about the system hands on. Free software is like a disease; the more you learn about it, the more you want it.

My biggest fear is that the in-fighting of the various free software groups could kill all of this with too much 'love'. "This is better." "That sucks." "Use xxxbuntu, instead." That in-fighting is a bigger threat than MS or Apple.

Re:Free hardware? (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983209)

I predict that within two years this school will switch to either a Mac or PCs, sinceudget item they will not find another teacher willing to simply take this on,

Out of interest, where do you predice the money will come from?

and then when they hire a computer person to manage the infrastructure that person will be the justification for actually making computer costs a budget line-item, and then Linux is toast.

So, you claim that since they will have to hire someone to wrangle the computers (which they would have to do either way, of course) the cheaper system will be toast because they ahve had to hire someone to look after computers so obviously increasing the costs by going for more expensive systems will be cheaper?

Linux is free (4, Funny)

Dave Whiteside (2055370) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982377)

Shock!
I never knew I could download linux for free and get it to run a a decent rate on old hardware ....
what have I been doing with my life.
who passed this one line summery !!

Re:Linux is free (4, Insightful)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982423)

While Microsoft locks into contracts [microsoft.com] with educational institutions it's a nice change to see this sort of thing happening.

Now hand in your sarcasm badge, Sir!

Re:Linux is free (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982469)

So does Apple. Apple still has a HUGE lock today but with them getting greedy and not supporting a mac more than 3 years old that might change sadly.

Anchorage school district is finally retiring its 2004 emacs and just updated city wide last year and the year before to new imacs. They also use Ubuntu netbooks for creative writting classes and other uses as you can't fit 30 macs in one classroom as easily.

Re:Linux is free (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982651)

/me dons flameproof suit

Thank goodness somebody is finally retiring emacs! ;-)

Re:Linux is free (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982883)

emacs, hmm at least these kids are now fully aware of the limits of IT :)

Re:Linux is free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983013)

Emacs, great operating system, but needs a good editor.

Re:Linux is free (1)

Dave Whiteside (2055370) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983259)

Indeed and Vi is perfect for that ;-p

Re:Linux is free (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983001)

Had they stayed w/ emacs, they'd not even have needed color monitors ;-)

Re:Linux is free (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982427)

It's nice to see people doing it though, not complaining that "Open Office doesn't do everything MS Office does", then getting a few free lunches and other 'perks' from Microsoft and Apple reps to buy their hardware and software.

Re:Linux is free (1, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982447)

It is a great pity that schools(on the instructional side, obviously certain people on the management side are essentially corporate excel jockies whose paychecks just happen to be signed by a public entity) don't take more advantage of the fact that it is largely impossible for students to give a damn about full compatibility with business-critical workflows laid down before they were born by companies that they don't work for, or interface consistency with the version of MS Office 2024 that they might encounter when they get puked out into the cold world of cube-drone hell...

Re:Linux is free (3, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982503)

I worked in 3 school districts in the last 6 years. One was all Windows, the other two use Macs. Apple still has large influences as MS realizes schools never update and are cheap and cash budgeted. Corps are an easier sell in comparison.

But one thing working for Microsoft right now you do not see is they support their operating systems for 10 years! Apple used to do that but has stopped angering tax payers and many who do budgeting for the districts. The fact a 10 year old computer still runs on XP saves tax payer money and is a plus.

Can Linux run with a gui on a 10 year old PC? I never tried on anything that old and wonder if the old xfree86 drivers work in a modern XORG? Maybe someone more knowledgable can answer that?

To me a spreadsheet is a spreadsheet. Students only need to know how to enter a formula using basic algebra and how to graph things, use margins in a word processor etc. LibraOffice does this fine. Ubuntu is nice too on netbook as they cheap and small and students can borrow them to type writting assignments.

Linux Even Runs on 20 Year Old Hardware (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982521)

Just get the right distro. fvwm instead of Gnome. LaTeX instead of OpenOffice. I was running it on a 48MB RAM Machine in the early ninetees and it runs on tiny (16MB RAM) DSL routers to the present day.

Re:Linux is free (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982581)

This makes me feel damn old; but today's "10 year old PC" is a 2GHz-and-change Northwood P4 with a GMA900 or GMA950. Probably a half-gig of RAM.

That will run XP just fine(I'm currently showing some systems of roughly that spec, a bit more RAM, the door in fact); but its also pretty damn modern for everything except gaming and 64-bit memory spaces.

At a computer-lab level, reliability among 10-year old PCs can be a bit troublesome; but the sheer power of what is considered no longer worth bothering with is not to be despised.

Re:Linux is free (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982687)

I was thinking the intel710 would be more from that era as I bought a brand new centrino 6 years ago with a gma950 and it was powerful enough to run Wow. But you are right. After 10 years school districts or businesses that still use them to support IE 6 end up seeing costs skyrocket! But the cost accountants do not see this. Only money saved by not upgraded etc. Thankfully many who do not see this are being arm twisted to upgrade to run Windows 7.

I favor the Asus EEE or Dell 9 netbooks with Ubuntu pre-installed instead. They are cheaper to support at $199 and you know they will run Linux and the version Dell includes has codecs and its own repository where drivers are tested. This means Johnny who created an imovie with the sole iMac in the classroom can view it with the quicktime codec on the netbook and the 50 year old teacher who is computer illiterate can use them and go. No tweaking or having the teacher go hunt down codecs on mediubuntu.

Of course teachers and staff could test older equipment for free donated to see if it runs Ubuntu and everything still works on them?

Re:Linux is free (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982703)

That will run XP just fine

Of course a ten year old PC will run XP -- XP is just shy of 11 years old currently, so that's probably what it came with!

Re:Linux is free (1)

PenisLands (930247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982785)

And because all the programmers are now using core i7s with 20GB RAM, you will find it painful to run even a modern web browser on the fastest computer from 10 years ago.

Re:Linux is free (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982873)

The web browser will actually be OK(I have a classic EEE PC 2G with an authentic whatever-ultra-crappy-celeron-occupied-the-bottom-of-Intel's-SKU-chart-before-Atom-existed that runs Chromium(from a root directory located on an SDHC card of undistinguished quality, no less) quite adequately.)

Now, websites on the other hand... have a nasty habit of bringing that little combo to its knees as soon as the javascript heats up and the flash-object swarm comes in on the attack.

Re:Linux is free (3, Informative)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982993)

Now, websites on the other hand... have a nasty habit of bringing that little combo to its knees as soon as the javascript heats up and the flash-object swarm comes in on the attack.

Might I suggest installing firefox, noscript, flashblock and flash video replacer.

I have done. I also find that firefox is a much better browser on an eee 900 than chromium. Chromium gets a speed boost by using many processes, which is great if you have more than one core. If you don't, however then it has a bit of a nasty habit of sending the load average through the roof and bringing the entire machine to its knees. Some things feel a little snappier, but overall firefox is actually faster.

As a bonus, you'll get less tracking, fewer ads, much less irritating advertisment driven poor quality javascript and youtube videos in MPlayer, which can do full screen HD without a problem.

Re:Linux is free (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983069)

Not practical if you are deploying many of these things.

The newer win32 versions at least have hardware acceleration support that greatly alleviates these problems on newer machines. Newer non linux machines sigh. I hate flash with a passion. Many apps require it unfortunately as h.264 runs much better with html 5 on these. Flash unfortunately will be here for a very very long time much like IE. Never quite goes away.

Re:Linux is free (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983027)

A perfect situation for AdBlock :)

Re:Linux is free (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983063)

How far we have come.

I remember in the late 90s seeing advertisements claiming the Intel Pentium !!! would make your web browsing faster. At that time it was such a ludicrous concept that we had to laugh - the CPU was just not a limiting factor for web activity. Not even close. Well, not at 33.6kbps anyway.

Now we're talking about the primary driver for computer upgrades being badly designed web sites. *Marvels*

Re:Linux is free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983147)

My three kids have Asus netbooks (from 1-5 year old ones) all running the latest version of ubuntu with no problems. The machines are 1.4 and 1.6ghz ATOM, 4-8gig HDs, 4-8Meg video card (Shared memory), with 512Meg to 1 gig of Ram. My wife also uses one (but she just uses it for Web browsing). The kids use it for playing games (through Wine ( www.winehq.org ) ), browing the web and playing online kid games (Flash and HTML5 based) and to do homework (openoffice mostly).

These Asus computers I get on sale for under $200 easily; however, the point is that Linux doesn't require a lot of hardware to run well for most common tasks, sure the latest FPS games will not work, but that isn't an issue for most schools or businesses....

USE LTSP (and can save power, no Hard drive) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982845)

Use LTSP on older or very old machines... take out power hungry drive, and run just on RAM.
Saves a ton on the power bill.

Re:Linux is free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982851)

At a computer-lab level, reliability among 10-year old PCs can be a bit troublesome; but the sheer power of what is considered no longer worth bothering with is not to be despised.

The 'killer-app' is video these days. There will be a New & Improved codec and new profiles every few years that will push your working, but now unsupported, drivers and hardware into obsolescence.

Re:Linux is free (1)

ameen.ross (2498000) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982603)

Running full-blown Ubuntu with Unity (although I dislike it, it runs better than gnome 3) on a very dated Pentium Celeron 2.0 GHz or so, with 768MB of (single-channel) DDR333.

It's not what you'd call snappy, but I can't be bothered to run LXDE on it in stead of Unity, and chromium in stead of Firefox.

Re:Linux is free (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982647)

Vesa?

Re:Linux is free (3, Interesting)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982747)

Not exactly newsworthy, but a good inspiration to other schools nonetheless. Let's hope some teachers read this, because education could use a little boost that costs nothing at all.

Microsoft provides discounts to Students and Unis (1)

coffeeaddict2004 (2655143) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982387)

If Ubuntu / Linux gets well entrenched in education it is a serious threat to Microsofts business, hence the heavy discounts provided to students and Universities.

Yes the above statement may come across as a Linux zealot (ooh evil Microsoft), but if students are happy using Linux and Open Office, when they move into the work place they will bring that knowledge and understanding with them.

Re:Microsoft provides discounts to Students and Un (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982563)

If Ubuntu / Linux gets well entrenched in education it is a serious threat to Microsofts business, hence the heavy discounts provided to students and Universities.

Yes the above statement may come across as a Linux zealot (ooh evil Microsoft), but if students are happy using Linux and Open Office, when they move into the work place they will bring that knowledge and understanding with them.

Sigh. In the old days ... 10 years ago Unix was Computer Science! All universities standardized on it except for labs set up for english students that ran Windows. All servers were Netware and Solaris. Everyone ran Sun workstations and Irix in all the labs while the students had to run Linux because they couldn't afford it. True some assignments you could use XP as well. That used to be the case for decades ...

I am surprised Linux survived the geek mindset today with a newer generation. Engineering students were the first to switch to NT. These labs were shared by computer science students so they started to migrate as well. Then professors didn't want to support students learning Linux as universities started to drop Unix 101 for science and engineering majors so know students didn't know the commands, so they started focusing on Windows too.

Pros Do Unix/Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982613)

I can assure you that the best schools still teach their students Unixoid operating systems, including using the command line. The most successful corporations on the globe are running on Unix - Apple, Facebook, Google, Deutsche Börse. Only Dumboids think that Windows is "modern".
The Unix command line is the most accurate and efficient way to operate a computer for any IT professional. Nothing can beat a good ASCII command line.

Get the facts (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982677)

Only Dumboids think that Windows is "modern".

Clearly uninformed! Get the facts [goo.gl] (Yeap! they are still on the Internets)

(grin)

Re:Microsoft provides discounts to Students and Un (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982759)

A license to run the latest Microsoft OS and Office tools, along with a long list ofother minor MS software applications costs between $30-40/year per desktop, Add in Active Directory and System Center Management Suite and you have a very powerful infrastructure (akin to most in private industry). Severe discounts in server licenses are also offered, but I don't have those numbers handy.

In my school district we have Mac & WIndows systems (about 1 Mac for every 5 Win PCs), and our MS license agreement for the entire district is less than one fully-loaded headcount (around $60K/year, including a fair number of Windows Servers).

MS software is quite reasonably priced, and it makes most parents happy that their children are using the tools some 98%+ of computer users use.

If you like, go ahead and try and convince some 4,000 families that Linux/OpenOffice is technically comparable to Windows/Office, but there is this fantasy in most parent's minds that they want their school age children to use the tools found in industry NOW, no matter their age. Why a fifth grader needs to use PowerPoint 2010 now, and PowerPoint 2013 next year as a sixth grader (lest they fall behind!) is beyond me personally (very few fifth or sixth graders drop out of school and embark on a career in corporate), but that is where most parent's heads are right now.

Should Use LXDE on Old Computers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982395)

LXDE - Lubuntu or Linux Mint, is faster, uses less RAM.
Ubuntu - with Unity, is to be avoided at all costs.
I would rather use KDE than Unity.

Re:Should Use LXDE on Old Computers (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982995)

I've seen only one reference in TFA about memory, nowhere was a complaint about Ubuntu being too heavy.
KDE has for years had a smaller memory footprint than Gnome, it seems Unity is in all it's infancy also lighter than Gnome.

Teaching computer use to kids should prepare them for a world several years in the future, when we look at things like Win8/ Metro we really don't know what the computer environment they end up working in is going to be like.

So teaching them how to use an open and easy to tweak system is likely the best investment, KDE fits that description better than Gnome or Unity.

Re:Should Use LXDE on Old Computers (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983105)

Other good point is - are the students happy using Unity? Or did they just install Ubuntu w/o the DE, and later install GNOME/KDE/whatever on it?

Mechanical keyboards? Those are worth something! (2)

dejanc (1528235) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982397)

Keyboards in the article picture look a lot like old mechanical keyboards. They could probably make a bit of cash by selling them on e-bay and buying some cheap disposable ones... It would probably make the computer lab a lot quieter, too :)

Re:Mechanical keyboards? Those are worth something (5, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982477)

In my (thankfully limited) encounters with formal disposal rules, public and private, 'just flog the stuff on ebay' is frequently far more trouble than it ends up being worth.

One major factor is that a successful institution needs to be set up so as not to be easy meat for dishonest functionaries(at least before they've worked their way to the top). Common result? Low level cogs selling things, especially things with unclear value, is not encouraged. This goes double if the said low-level cog has some degree of purchasing authority. It's just too easy to use official funds to pay at the front door, then flog gear out the back door for direct personal profit and/or kickbacks of some flavor. This does cramp a lot of perfectly legitimate plans by honest people; but tends to remain in force because nobody has a better idea about how to discourage the entrepreneurial tendencies of the chronically dishonest.

Re:Mechanical keyboards? Those are worth something (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982715)

(one common flavor: There will be two separate processes for asset disposal: If an institutional asset is judged to have no internal use and no value, it can be disposed of, subject only to any hazmat/environmental restrictions(in practice, any outfit slinging a lot of IT gear has some recycler who will at least lie credibly enough about responsible disposal, so this isn't hard). If, however, the asset has no internal use; but is judged to have value, it is kicked to an entirely different 'Surplus property auction" process, usually designed decades ago to keep malfeasance about quite pricey bits of state, federal, and local gear from being quietly flogged out the back door, and magnificently ill-suited to selling off individual model M's on ebay.)

Re:Mechanical keyboards? Those are worth something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982795)

Methinks you just want them ;).

Your precious...

Great reuse of old hardware (5, Insightful)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982413)

An old idea in action is refreshingly inspirational. It humbly reminds us that newer is not always better, it's what you make of it that counts.

Mr Stallmann (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982417)

it even got the attention of Stallmann which replied in the blog post.

Re:Mr Stallmann (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982479)

He brings up a good point: in practice, free software matters to most people because of the low cost as in beer, not in speech.

Upon reading the comments section... (1)

XDirtypunkX (1290358) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982425)

Can't tell if RMS in comments or troll.

Re:Upon reading the comments section... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982493)

Why a troll? Shouldn't that be "Can't tell if RMS in comments or fake RMS"?

Appears Legit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982551)

The whole posting is the standard RMS message, so I assume it is actually from RMS. He should have cryptographically signed it using GnuPG.

Re:Appears Legit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982805)

Further down, there's another typical RMS message where he starts by saying "Great job, but I’d just like to interject for a moment. What you’re referring to as Linux, is in fact, GNU/Linux..." *facepalm*

Re:Appears Legit (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983081)

The first RMS post has him spelling out his whole name, and linking it. The latter just has him post as RMS. Any guess which one, if either, is the real one?

The claim that the cost is less important than the 'freedom' of the computer users, while standard about RMS, is lame. Since this school district's computer budget is $0.00, it's the biggest thing. To flip the issue, had Windows or OS-X cost $0.00 and 'GNU+Linux' cost, say, $20, the school would have gone w/ the unliberated software.

The rest of it is just the usual RMS trolling.

Re:Appears Legit (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982861)

You could repost a cryptographically signed message still not be the original poster, unless the message was rewritten to include a declaration of where you were posting it.

School districts love Ubuntu (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982437)

True they keep Windows or MacOSX on their laptops, but Anchorage School district and a few others buys dell 9 mini netbooks and uses a cart to store them and charge that can hold 30 at a time.

They love it because they are $199 with Ubuntu and when students are done they just put them back in. It is great as teachers may have a few computers in the classroom but rarely enough for everyone.

My posts get modded down as I am cynical for linux for users still at this point due to the lack of codecs that come with it and a stable abi where an update in my experience can kill a platform. However, Dell's branded distro of Ubuntu only uses its own repositories so nothing bad will happen in an update and the price comes with the codecs like h.264, mp3, and quicktime. All the teacher has to do is plug it in and they come with OpenOffice to boot!

A netbook might be better than older computers and cheaper because someone has to test each one to see if its compatible iwth all the hardware and if things still work on it etc. $199 for an Asus netbook or Dell with Ubuntu is perfect and something a school can look into.

Re:School districts love Ubuntu (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982639)

Laptop carts full of netbooks are slowly being replaced with smaller carts filled with iPads, and it makes a certain amount of sense when you realize that when a teacher wants to roll in a computer for each student they typically want them to go to some highly-interactive, media-heavy website and tablets typically provide a better experience than, say, a Mini 9 or Inspiron 2110.

There is also the issue of managing a deployment of Linux netbooks - that is a non-trivial thing once the deployment exceeds a few dozen computers - most districts opt to install Windows 7 and Office 2010 on them for about $30-40/year license fee to also have the complete suite of MS Active Directory tools available for management of the netbooks.

People imagine a large deployment of Linux computers (laptop or desktop) essentially manages itself, but that isn't really the case in practice.

Re:School districts love Ubuntu (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982727)

The last 2 districts work fine with Apple without the AD stuff.

IPads can't be managed either and what I do not like about tablets is they do not have keyboards to teach kids typing nor do they have office suite software like OpenOffice or MS Office.

I wonder if the school can lock the ipads to prevent students from playing angry birds? With the linux netbooks it is simple to manage for simple tasks. Just do not give out the root password :-) I bet you could use NFS and Samba to have student IDs like they do with the macs but no one needs to bother.

Cold-Steel Rational Advice From Teutonia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982667)

Don't look at fecking videos during school time; they are a stupid distraction. Read text, write text, debug programs, plot graphs. For that purpose, all you need is 128MB of RAM.

Re:Cold-Steel Rational Advice From Teutonia (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982767)

Don't look at fecking videos during school time; they are a stupid distraction. Read text, write text, debug programs, plot graphs. For that purpose, all you need is 128MB of RAM.

Pretty hard as many edutainment programs for children integrate sound and audio. They use flash and javaFX and are probably switching to h.264. The codecs include flash.

"edutainment" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982843)

School as a distraction ?

I would venture to say that a very good teacher without any computer will provide a better education to pupils than the lazy guy who plays videos to kids. I didn't touch computers until age 13, but I know all of basic physics, chemistry and biology. Teachers make the difference.

Re:"edutainment" (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983005)

Part of a good teacher is to keep students limited attention span engaged. It is not a video but rather Lexia Lab includes rewards using audio and visual ques. For example if the student selects certain phoenix vowels a basketball heads towards a hoop. If he or she gets another one right it scores and more points or gained.

Lexia lab uses JavaFX if I recall and is an excellent tool to test students as I think it is cruel to have someone study for 6.5 hours straight. I mean come on? Were your lectures in college that long? At least this gets a student interested in learning.

If you want to play a video you go get a dvd and a TV from the library. That is lazy but can be interesting for a few things too teach history or science while the student gets a break from busy work.

Re:Cold-Steel Rational Advice From Teutonia (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982903)

What if it's a video instructing you how to debug programs or plot graphs..?

Re:School districts love Ubuntu (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982897)

The only codec problems I have on Linux are where someone has created their own insane proprietary format for purposes of control - ie, they are actively trying not to have their media file read. This usually occurs in conjunction with web conferencing software.

It's true that you usually have install extra packages to get to this point, and a shame that the distro can't really encourage you to do this with a popup that says "now install the codec support we couldn't include because people invent this stuff so their media can be consumed and then... well, want to charge you for it.."

Re:School districts love Ubuntu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983037)

It is not expensive to license, but I am glad Dell did it.

The other benefit is the hardware just works and you never have to worry about a system update hosing your Xorg configuration due to a driver or lack of an abi. The repositories are owned by them and it is worry free and managed by Dell. That is why people buy from System76 too. The hardware wont have a weird issue and will just work when you turn it on. Android has taken over Gnu/Linux for these reasons.

1...2...3 FUD Is Rolling In (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982449)

I already know what Redmond propaganda operatives will claim:

- there is no Ribbon, so it is not "professional"

- students will learn the "wrong" office flavour, which is of absolutely no use in the real world

- students will suffer badly later on, because they won't know exactly the "industry standard" Windows

- their precious little, vulnerable brains will be damaged forever by the Cryptic Hackorz Commands

- Linux is a keystone of communism and only the Maoists of Google, Facebook and Deutsche Börse use it to promote Communism

- your kid will become a child molester if you subject it to Linux. Or at least a terrrrorrrrist.
 

Re:1...2...3 FUD Is Rolling In (4, Insightful)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982579)

- students will learn the "wrong" office flavour, which is of absolutely no use in the real world

- students will suffer badly later on, because they won't know exactly the "industry standard" Windows

The irony is that MS keeps on changing the UI of both Office and Windows so much it doesn't matter if they learn one UI in school. By the time they get into the work place, the UI for both will have gone through several iterations.

Re:1...2...3 FUD Is Rolling In (2)

Caesar9542 (1949286) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982867)

It also depends on what industry you are going into. I'm a physics undergrad and quite a few professors and students in the department (including myself) use OO and avoid Microsoft Office like the plague. This might actually show the students that there are viable alternatives.

Re:1...2...3 FUD Is Rolling In (1)

networkconsultant (1224452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983271)

In my high school (yes I am not a dinasaur) I took the QNX challenge; (bootable 1.44MB floppy anyone with OS and Broswer and nifty vector graphics?); Impressed the Hell out of the Computers Teacher; I later learned he was an EX IBM senior VP whom had consulted for a number of years and teaching was just what he enjoyed in his retirement. That was on "Donated" Pentium 75's from Digital with a whopping 16MB of ram. In my hometown we have a charity called "Computers for Schools" all government hardware at end of lease / lifecycle is donated. Microsoft also donates licenses; it's really up to the school to determine what to run on the hardware; that decision lies with the Board / Teachers here.

Re:1...2...3 FUD Is Rolling In (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982679)

students will learn the "wrong" office flavour, which is of absolutely no use in the real world

Troll. This "wrong" office flavour that is of "absolutely no use in the real world"? I've used it to write and publish a book with it. In the real world.

Re:1...2...3 FUD Is Rolling In (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982697)

No, how about the included system management tools that come along when a school deploys Windows on their student desktops?

To deploy a system management tool that is similar to Active Directory in a large Linux environment is anon-trivial exercise.

Also, don't forget parental predjudice - if you deploy Linux in the inner-city, you run the risk of being branded "racist" by fobbing off inferior tools the kids in the suburbs wouldn't adopt, and they are not the tools used in the corporate world. Try and roll out Linux in a large suburban school district and the wailing and gnashing of teeth regarding perceived inferior tools being used instead of industry standard MS tools.

I absolutely understand this to be a perception/marketing issue, but is it a real issue that school districts have to deal with.

And of course, there is also the issue of teacher training. While a technical user can quickly adapt to a new OS, many, many teachers are very slow to pick up new things.

Re:1...2...3 FUD Is Rolling In (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983197)

To deploy a system management tool that is similar to Active Directory in a large Linux environment is anon-trivial exercise.

Why on earth would you need such "enterprise" features in a classroom.

What does it provide?

Well, it authentication, which can easily be managed by LDAP or even ssh pushing passwd files around on a network of this size.

It gives networked filesystem access. If only Linux had a Network File System as either userlend or kernel modules since basically forever...

NFS is perfectly scalable for a network of this size.

It provides group policies, something which is basically completely unnecessary. All the kids have the same requirements. If you don't want something available, don't install it.

etc.

Basically, it contains all sorts of features for large businesses which are of little use to a network which can never grow beyond the size of the school.

Re:1...2...3 FUD Is Rolling In (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982723)

- your kid will become a child molester if you subject it to Linux. Or at least a terrrrorrrrist.

She'll become a college drop out! [youtube.com]

(I like the idea of the first comment on this clip).

Re:1...2...3 FUD Is Rolling In (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982887)

The irony is that you will never use Microsoft Office in the real world for the rest of your life. Nobody needs a full blown word processor for what they do and almost nobody needs a full blown MS Office spreadsheet. I'm a software developer and in fifteen years of my career, the ONLY time I have ever need an office suite (and it has always been OpenOffice, at that) is when some idiot in Marketing or Legal or HR has sent something in a shitty office-ish format.

Now Use Lazarus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982499)

..to teach programming. I was taught programming on a 286 machine, 1MB RAM, MSDOS and TurboPascal. It laid the foundations of my career as a software developer and now that I know C++, Smalltalk, Java, C# and Perl, I am even more a fan of Pascal. Clean, fast compilation, efficient runtime, strong typing. This language clearly lays proper foundations for a programming career. To make money you have to use cruft, but it is essential to remember the basics you learned on a well-done programming enviroment.
I would go so far to say that a good teacher (who actually knows some computer science) and a 1MB PC running TurboPascal and MSDOS is still much better than a medicore teacher and the lastest hardware and C#.

It's a big job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982527)

I set up and maintained my own computer lab when I taught high school. It took a lot of time.

The thought of maintaining several labs, containing a mishmash of different computers, fills me with terror.

The guy is a saint, and it's good that he gets relief time to do the job, but I wonder how long he can keep it up.

Been there, done that. (3, Informative)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982541)

I think that today, in any OECD city of a moderate size, if you post an info saying "Technomancy next Tuesday at the mall ! Bring old computers, we help you install linux. Get back with a functioning, if slow, computer. Hardware donations accepted." you will have a lot, and I mean A LOT of donated hardware.

Within a few week we had to refuse too old hardware, because our usable volume was full.

It's free if you don't value your time (0)

jjohn (2991) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982619)

I despise articles like this.

Can you get hardware and software for free? Yes. You need to do a lot of hustling though to get the components, assemble the network and keep it running. Additional, electricity and internet access are never free. Someone has to maintain the network, install software and answer user questions.

You can't whip a linux network on a bunch of teachers and expected it to be useful. I can't even do that with IT professionals.

Re:It's free if you don't value your time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982653)

It's free if you were going to have to set it all up anyway no matter what the OS options were.

Compared To Windows, It Nearly IS Free (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982745)

You install it once and then run Linux machines forever. They don't contract viruses and they don't mess up their registry, because there is none. They don't run in superuser mode by default.

Modern distros are also much easier to install on most hardware than Windows, because they automatically download drivers and configure everything properly. No licensing crapola, either. There is some effort, yes. But it is much smaller than with Windows and the hardware requirements are very, very moderate. So moderate you can simply run it on hardware you get for free.

Re:Compared To Windows, It Nearly IS Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982953)

But it is much smaller than with Windows and the hardware requirements are very, very moderate.

Well. It is much smaller than Windows. Most distros fit in 4-6GB and that is including plenty of applications installed. However the CPU and RAM requirements are quite on par with Windows, unless you explicitly select a lightweight setup such as XFCE or LXDE.

Re:It's free if you don't value your time (4, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983149)

It's free if you don't value your time

I despise articles like this.

And I despise posts like this. It's basically a disingenuous lie wrapped up in a tink kernel of truth, making it the worst kind of lie.

Everything takes time. Absoloutely everything. Which means that according to you nothing is ever free. Well done. You've successfully removed a useful word from the english language. You are also strongly implying that other options are cheaper because they take less time, again, something which isn't true.

Yes. You need to do a lot of hustling though to get the components, assemble the network and keep it running.

Basically what you've said is completely vapid since it applies to every network ever. New machines will require hustling (infant mortality, wrangling with vendors over bulk contracts and school purchasing systems) and to assemble the network.

But it sounds like it was done by a teacher for the school, so actually, it was free. As in, cost the school nothing.

Which is, you know, kind of the definition of free,

Additional, electricity and internet access are never free. Someone maintain the network, install software and answer user questions.

Well no shit! This applies to basically every school ever. Basically, computers don't actually draw that much power and electricity is quite cheap. The payoff time for more efficient CPUs is actually quite a long time if you can get the computers for free. Running 8 hours per day, 180 days per year and old P4 will cost about £200 in electricity after about 5 years at current domestic rates. You're looking at about 7 years payoff time for buying new hardware.

But this doesn't affect the fact that the guy built the network of computers for free.

Noone tried to claim that it was not only free but zero cost to run as well.

You can't whip a linux network on a bunch of teachers and expected it to be useful. I can't even do that with IT professionals.

Well, then perhaps you should find a new job better aligned to your skills, because a completely unqualified self taught teacher did, in fact, manage to whip up a linux network that was useful to him (a teacher).

So basically, you've managed to claim that you're less use than a self-taught guy working in his spare time (and then moving to 4 hours paid time per week), while you are a fully paid up, full-time prefessional. Well done.

Touching story (2)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982643)

With the onslaught of Apple, it's touching to read a Linux success story, like in the old days of Slashdot.

The story of these 6th graders gives lie to the claim of TCO, training and so on. If kids can figure it out, what's wrong with you (talking to you dumb office workers).

Terminals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40982841)

Why don't schools use older Intel x86 computers running a terminals connected to a Linux Terminal Server Project server that offers command-line only interface? The student can edit their reports using vi and formatting those reports using LaTeX. The student will develop superior typing skills (keyboarding skills) and learn to separare content from format. Teachers and students could collaboratively design and implement curriculum-specific applications which run at the command prompt or even within a tect-based web browser. All subject areas would benefit from a return to basic research skills, reading comprehension skills, critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, teamwork and independent work styles. Additionally, this would reduce distractions. Forget teaching office suites and other such vendor-specific applications. A school would only need 1 medium-class server to support 256+ terminals. With a CD provided to each student with a bootable GNU/Linux environment it is possible for every student to access the school-student network whether at school, at home, at the library, or at grandma's house using what many people consider out-dated, underpowered computers.

Re:Terminals (1)

equex (747231) | more than 2 years ago | (#40982971)

The student can edit their reports using vi
vi doesn't have facebook in it, and latex would be considered inappropriate in a classroom.

Re:Terminals (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983035)

your talking about the ideal case! I think students should be using older computer to do everything. Lets teach the "leaders" of tomorrow how everything really works. As a better experiment take a "software engineer" ( if they really exist ) and put them on a computer from the 1980's, I'm going to venture a reserved guess that 90% of the current students graduating couldn't write a program which could run. Same idea with the students, before you can have the pleasure of using Libre Office Writer you need to demonstrate that you can script in LaTex and produce the results you want. We could teach kids a lot about how computer actually work by letting them experience the truth behind the scenes.

Re:Terminals (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983131)

In that case, they could set it up so that those old computers run something like Tiny Core Linux, or Minix (which they can study, since it's mainly there as an educational tool) and host emacs on it, and do all their work on that. They will learn how a versatile system is made.

Annoying (3, Interesting)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983007)

Here is why this is Annoying, in grade 8 back in 2000 I got in trouble for asking that Linux be installed on a school computer. Apparently asking for something the "board certified" computer tech didn't understand was against the rules. I'm glad Linux is finally making its way into the class room but it's about 12 years to late. If school funding is always a key topic for debate then why the hell are we spending money on bloated under featured operating systems and office suites when everything exists for the big cost of 0.

fuck 4 Bitch (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983139)

big deal. Dea7h
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