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Old 04-18-2003, 11:52 AM   #1
Registered: Feb 2002
Location: Denver, CO US
Distribution: Arch
Posts: 453

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converting schools to linux

I just accepted a job as a 6th grade teacher at a local charter school. I've been a substitute teacher there for a year and I'm currently filling in for the technology teacher who is on maternity leave. This have given me some time to just check out the setup and see how she does things. The entire lab is windows, including a windows server. They just had 10 new dells donated with xp, everything else is running...win98 i think. The tech teacher was complaining about the xp cmputers causing the nt servers fits. I also saw that her proposal for software maintanence was around $5000 US for just next year. I want to propose taking a look at linux (i have an in at the school so it's not like I'm just some new guy making waves) and see if it would be cost effective.

My question is, I don't know whether to suggest mandrake, rh, or suse (flame away but they won't go for it unless there's some kind of official support so debian and gentoo are out...even though gentoo is my fav) and how to I go about approaching this issue? I can't imagine switching to linux and sticking with that could cost more than 5 grand over a 10 year period. And the way schools don't get any money...especially in colorado...I think it'd be great to save propse a way for them to minimize there expenses and maximize everything computer! Thanks ahead of time for all the help.
Old 04-18-2003, 12:35 PM   #2
Registered: Mar 2003
Location: Scotland
Distribution: Slackware, RedHat, Debian
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I think that newer versions of SuSe are "prettier" than the other OS's so I would suggest that for a school - I think you are more likely to get a welcome response to it.

I would also say that buying support from a distributor is a waste of time. Personally I have never bought a support package and find that places like LQ will give you quicker and more reliable answers than calling some technophobe that works in call center and sits reading a load of rubbish that the only one tech that works for the company wrote. (or should I say copied from from a website somewhere?)
Old 04-18-2003, 12:55 PM   #3
Registered: Jul 2001
Location: Ottawa, Canada "no eh!"
Distribution: Woohooo Finally a Slackware Chick, life is good
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Personally I think it's an awesome idea, I think eveyrone else here at LQ would say the same thing. I am by far (really far) not enough of a pro to suggest a perticular distro that would be ideal for this sort of setting but you would think that a major distro like RH would probably offer one of the best support system's out on the market as well as have to core experience of being a solid linux distro.

Where I do think you'll run into problems is convincing the power that be (in your case the budget board of your school) that switching to linux would be a benefit. Like most people, they will know that's a windows driven world, the entire point to having computers in school's is to introduct young minds to the technical world, you might meet up with some pretty closed minded oppinions.

I think the first task at hand would be to narrow down exactly everything the workstations and servers take care of, then related that to which distro can handle all of the same duties. Next price out a support plan, make sure you figure out what was in that $5k maintenance budget you spoke about. If you can manange to convince them that the linux system your propose can effectively (sometimes do better) do what their old system was doing at a lower cost without negetive effect to the students, you'll be golden.

Good luck, it's a very worthy cause, a local school in my area recently turned to an all linux panel, I'll see if I can get a contact email if you'd like so you could correspond with another teacher with similar experiences. I think introducing linux to young minds is exactly what need to be done to further the linux world, well done.

Old 04-18-2003, 01:12 PM   #4
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: Somewhere, UK
Distribution: Slack, OpenBSD, Debian, SuSE
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Yea tis an awesome idea, just hope you get a better reception than I did when I suggested it when I was actually at the school I was told it wasnt feasible because of the extra training required to get the staff up to speed
Old 04-18-2003, 02:34 PM   #5
Registered: Feb 2002
Location: Denver, CO US
Distribution: Arch
Posts: 453

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 30
Thanks for the feedback. Jadasin, a contact email would be awesome. When it comes to training, I was going to look at the cost of someone being certified by linux (hey I'd even do it over the summer or something) and compare it to long term windows licensing to see if it were comparable.

As for training staff on how to use it, most people in the school use the computers for: gradebook, email, and simple wordproccessing. That's exremely simple for linux to do, and very easy to set up to look just like windows.

As for training the kids, it would be cool to train the how to do a process instead of how to depend on windows. It also opens the doors for learning how computer operating systems work. Granted, they're elementary students, but there are several 5th and 6th graders I've talked to that love computers and want to learn more about them. What better way then to sit down and introduce different aspects of an os and let them see how it works.

ANother thing I though of is there are about 10 extra comps just laying around...there's no room for them in the lab or all the classrooms (funny, my classroom is huge). Imight just ask the tech teacher if I can borrow four or five of them, get linux running on a simple network in my classroom...maybe even as an afterschool project...and then say, "Hey, look how my network out performs yours!" Okay I know thats really arrogant but I'll see what happens.


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