Mailinglist Archive: opensuse (4633 mails)

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Re: [opensuse] Linux in Public Schools
  • From: rkather@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2007 12:19:59 -0500
  • Message-id: <20070122121959.c1f6li4vmskc0s08@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
I used to work as a Network Administrator for a mid-sized school district. This
was several years ago, and OSS has progressed a good deal since. However, the
issue of Windows only software was significant then. Our technology director
would have loved to see Linux desktops, but too many programs required Windows
specifically.

This seems to be more the case in lower level programs (Kindergarten - Middle
School) and less true in High School. Without Linux ports of Reader Rabbit,
etc.. it is nearly impossible to provide an OSS based desktop. Even using LTSP
or something to reduce hardware costs is not acceptable if parents/teachers have
the impression they can't run the "best of breed" applications required for
students (and touted in parenting and teaching publications).

In High School I found other barriers to adoption. There is a grant in the
state in which I reside providing financial incentive to teach information
technology classes. Unfortunately, this grant is worded in such a way that
only certain software qualifies for inclusion. To get the grant money the
school must use Microsoft Office and not any alternative for InfoTech
curriculum.

This doesn't even factor state endorsed grading software, published information,
ActiveX government websites, etc.. It truly is difficult. We made strides were
we could.. Firefox as default HTML association, OpenOffice at points of least
resistance and included alongside MS Office on all machines. We even had some
Linux public terminals for web access, etc...

Even with the significant benefits available to Linux, at least, in the state of
Michigan there are soo many obstacles out of control of the districts preventing
a full move. WINE can help and so can clever use of Citrix or other terminal
services, but only so far.

I think it's possible for a mixed environment, but it would be VERY hard to get
a full OSS environment. Now for the backend (servers) this is a completely
different story.

Ryan

Quoting Greg Freemyer <greg.freemyer@xxxxxxxxx>:

On 1/20/07, StephenW <winstephen@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
As the original poster perhaps I should have added a bit of explaination for
posting. So, I shall.

I also work as a technical support person in an educational setting that is
moving away from a "mixed platform" to a Windows only scenario. The mixed
platform came about way back when the local school had choice. The district in
now in charge of all hardware decisions. I began two years ago working with
Mac (OS 8.0 thru 10.3.8) and Windows (95 thru WindowsXP SP2). Thanks be that
in the last year the decision was made that I am no longer expected to keep
everything working. What is left are the Macs running 9.2 or better and only
the machines running XP - eventually all Macs are scheduled for replacement.

I doubt I need to go into the problems I face working with machines that come
with the user having administrator privileges... and even worse not being able
to remove them because some of the programs need those privileges to function.
This is especially onerous when teachers go away and leave computers running in
that mode and students have access - you can guess some of the consequences.

I keep looking for OSS programs that will do the same thing as the MS based
programs and have installed a couple of them (e.g., Firefox and OpenOffice). I
am afraid it is a losing battle since more and more companies are only writting
educational software for Mac or MS. One example is seen in our district
deciding to install ActivBoards in every classroom in the district (a
multi-million dollar action). It is a great piece of technology but more
firmly locks the sytem to MS (or Mac). Not to mention the use of SmartWeb and
Excent (online tools for teachers' records and reporting) written specifically
for Windows - and jury rigged to function somewhat on a Mac. Look as I may
there is no way this kind of software can be countered.

It appears that in spite of my desire to see OSS make more inroads it is not
going to happen in the desktop application arena.

Or, there any clout in a group like this to do anything - except solve our own
problems in our own little worlds?

StephenW

PS I am still a novice in my pursuit of understanding and using linux -
including lists such as this. The one LUG in my area fell apart sometime ago.
I need to look about to see if they have been revived.

Stephen,

The Atlanta Public School systems has allowed at least one school to
totally drop MS and go with Linux thin clients instead. IIRC, most of
the apps run on Linux Servers thus significantly reducing IT support
issues.

See http://article.gmane.org/gmane.org.user-groups.ale/41302

for a good posting about it. FYI: ALE is my LUG.

If you want to know more details I suggest you google "Daniel Howard
Atlanta" and you will find a couple of news articles written about his
experience.

Also, many of his other postings to the ALE list are relevant:
http://search.gmane.org/?query=atlanta&author=Daniel+Howard+&group=&sort=relevance&DEFAULTOP=and&%3C=Previous&TOPDOC=10&xP=atlanta&xFILTERS=Adaniel+howard+---A

Greg
--
Greg Freemyer
The Norcross Group
Forensics for the 21st Century
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