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GNU/Linux in Education

Education is a business, a big business. Public education has a near-monopoly on education in K-12, many million of students and million of teachers. There are millions of PCs and servers in education. Unlike the home, PCs in schools are not primarily used for entertainment. Unlike businesses, PCs in schools are not a centre of profit, they are an expense. This means schools obtain the least expensive PCs and keep them longer. How does GNU/Linux fit in this?

GNU/Linux is a great fit for education:

  • the licence for software is not a cost
  • GNU/Linux runs better on older equipment while that other OS is designed to push customers to always buy new equipment
  • old equipment works well as thin clients
  • GNU/Linux makes a great terminal server

This means GNU/Linux can supply educational institutions with what they need, great performance at the lowest cost per seat. LTSP is perfect for organizations which want to minimize cost of acquisition and operation.

So, what are most educational institutions running? That other OS... A problem is an opportunity. They run that other OS because

  • it comes on purchased/donated PCs
  • teachers and students are familiar with it
  • some equipment only works with that other OS

The solutions to this problem are obvious:

  • encourage schools to buy PCs with GNU/Linux
  • donate/refurbish  PCs with GNU/Linux
  • introduce GNU/Linux to schools, school divisions, teachers and students
  • advise what equipment works and what does not

Most of these are happening now. More retailers supply PCs with GNU/Linux but it is far too few. GNU/Linux works well on older equipment so we can encourage donors to wipe drives or install GNU/Linux. ComputersForSchools type of organization can use GNU/Linux instead of that other OS. We can demonstrate GNU/Linux in local schools and teachers' conferences. The netbook is the easiest type of PC to show of GNU/Linux, particularly in elementary schools where space is at a premium and students are small. Seeing older machines or cheap thin clients working well in an LTSP setup is all the convincing it takes to become acquainted with a new desktop environment.

There are many sites with information about compatibility of devices:

What it takes to move an educational organization is an evangelist on the inside or a consultant from outside. That is happening now, particularly in the smaller organizations that are too small for M$'s radar. Division-wide and nationally, M$ actively undercuts Free Software with inducements:

  • free training
  • advertising merits
  • free software
  • some equipment

M$ is quite willing to sell at cost or below to ensnare the next generation of customers. Even if equipment and software were donated, schools should not use non-free software because the costs of maintaining/upgrading/delousing it are huge on-going costs. With that other OS, the cost is just beginning at acquisition. With Free Software, the benefits roll in immediately. That is the ultimate selling point of GNU/Linux. It works better for schools who do not want to chuck working equipment every three years, the Wintel  treadmill. Schools need to consider the ethical question of dealing with a monopolist convicted of illegal trade practices or using software plagued by bugs and malware.

I recently had the enjoyment of converting a computer lab of ten year old PCs to GNU/Linux. I added a terminal server running Debian Lenny GNU/Linux. Performance before with XP: 

  • boot time - 3 minutes including login
  • frequent freezes

Performance with GNU/Linux:

  • boot time - 1 minute
  • login time - 5 seconds
  • OpenOffice.org Writer loads in 1.5 second
  •  few freezes or reboots needed

Feedback from teachers and students: "It's fast!"

No one complained that it was too hard to change.  Everyone is happy that they can get on with the business of education.

I do not recommend schools run on ten year old equipment except as an interim measure. Problems with hardware will be a constant nuisance. New thin clients, however cost as little as $50 and should last ten years taking up little space, and producing little noise or heat. The cost of acquisition of a system of thin clients is about half what thick clients with that other OS cost so schools can have twice as many seats or half the cost, whichever they choose. Freedom works in education. Education works better with Free Software.

I recommend Debian or Ubuntu GNU/Linux for schools but there are hundreds of good distributions from which to choose. 

 

Introduction

Hello there!

 My name is Iván Vodopiviz and I'm a game developer, currently working for a small gamedev studio located in Argentina, South America. I've been doing this for a few years now, and I'd really like to see the GNU/Linux as a serious game development platform.

So, what are you going to find in this blog? I'll do my best to showcase some tools to develop games already available for out platform, I'll probably post a rant from time to time, maybe tutorials, I don't know yet. My main concer right now is if I'll have enough time  to post frequently.Time will tell, I guess.

 Please stay tuned!

 

Building the ultimate network.

Im hard at rethinking how we build our corporate networks today.For some reason we can put endless ours into automating some tasks and in the process put much more man hours into it than it would take to manage things manually. This automation also brings some bad side-effects like the self serving struggle to make machines conform to corporate standards. Im not at all convinced the time i for eg. put into researching, impementing and deploying some policy settings save even an hours work over several years and a couple of hundred machines. Some time those policies even adds significantly to my support burdon. Mind you this is Windows boxes and thats why i have taken a step back and started thinking. One other very bad side effect is that this also makes it next to impossible to introduce anything other than the corporate approved desktop OS.

washing penguin

Our network is built upon the assumption that a workstation thats managed by us on our internal network is more or less secure.  I wonder if thats really a secure way of handling things. Most users that can do anything bad with the information they can potentially steal are employees, not some random hacker trying to get my Wow account

 The most common way is to treat anything inside the LAN as more or less trusted and anything from outside the firewall as untrusted. Im starting to believe that its time to move the trust even longer into the LAN and treat the internal network as untrusted. 

Im currently pondering building a network where its up to the user what they do with their own machine as long as it has antivirus on it and is updated regularly. No managing of the computers whatsoever, no boundaries and no stupid it-policies thats there just for the sake of the it-crowd. By doing that and put every possible service on webservers and refuse to buy server software with clients this would become a totally free network that can be pretty much platform agnostic. The biggest hurdle, the machine management is in itself the biggest stumbling block for the users today. By making the internal LAN completely untrusted and demanding two factor auth regardless of location what computer people use and wheather its trusted or not becomes moot. Everything has to be secured just as if it was publicised on the internet.

 eBox is one way of acheiving this which im currently investigating. Coupled with Google apps and two factor auth its pretty much ready.

 I really call this going one step back and two large step forward.

 

Installing Suhosin PHP 5 Protection Security Patch - Red Hat EL5 / CentOS EL5 Linux

Install Suhosin as extension

Download latest version of Suhosin, enter:

# cd /opt
# wget http://download.suhosin.org/suhosin-0.9.27.tgz

Make sure you have php-devel installed:

# yum install php-devel

Compile Suhosin under PHP 5 and RHEL / CentOS EL5 Linux

Type the following commands:

# tar -zxvf suhosin-0.9.27.tgz
# cd suhosin-0.9.27
# phpize
#./configure
# make
# make install

Configure Suhosin

Type the following command to create Suhosin configuration file:

# echo 'extension=suhosin.so' > /etc/php.d/suhosin.ini

Restart web server

Type the following command to restart httpd:

# service httpd restart

If you are using lighttpd, enter:

# service lighttpd restart

Verify Suhosin installation

Type the following command:

$ php -v

Sample output:

PHP 5.1.6 (cli) (built: Apr  7 2009 08:00:04)
Copyright (c) 1997-2006 The PHP Group
Zend Engine v2.1.0, Copyright (c) 1998-2006 Zend Technologies
with Suhosin v0.9.27, Copyright (c) 2007, by SektionEins Gmb

More information can be found at http://www.hardened-php.net/suhosin/
 

Linux.com looks great ...

Simple start: I like the new direction of the linux.com website!
 

linux.com overhauled

It's been quite a while since I've logged into, or payed much attention to, linux.com.  Long enough that I don't recall whether I sought other sources out of convenience, because linux.com was inferior, or some other reason.

 I have to admit, the new design looks good, and the emphasis on user content is a good idea.  Wikipedia, segfault.com, serverfault.com, and numerous others have shown that if you build a good platform to empower users to create good content, they will.  Having a prominent name (or domain name) that can attract a critical mass of users can also assist in this.

 Hopefully things work out well.  I'm going to keep an eye on things here, and even try offering some useful content. 

 

–î–æ–±—Ä—ã–π –¥–µ–Ω—å –≤—Å–µ–º

–≠—Ç–æ —Ç–µ—Å—Ç–æ–≤–æ–µ —Å–æ–æ–±—â–µ–Ω–∏–µ –≤ –º–æ–π –±–ª–æ–≥, —Ö–æ—á—É –∂–µ –ø—Ä–æ–≤–µ—Ä–∏—Ç—å.

 

Ouverture

Just a very simple start: I like quite much the new Linux.com website; it's deliciously "social-web" flavoured, with groups and applications (twitter, photos, etc..).

Just signed in several groups. Very nice indeed ... ;)

 

Random thoughts

I was surprised to get a beta invite to Linux.com, my being a new user and all. I was impressed with the site right off the bat and happy it was set up as a community site, very cool.

First day live and membership is just skyrockting! Heres to a great new site.

 

 

Linux.com Site Layout

It simply looks great, this renewed site looks like a real content system, a lot of emphasys is related to community, I think it's important because Linux IS a community, this new behaviour looks fine.

Graphically speaking I've seen there's a lot of movement, information, social network content, AJAX and DHTML a gogo. That's outstanding !

 From the application side I'll expect to see some improvements on notifications, I mean if I follow a group and I'd like to see replies to my posts or news it's glad to see them (linkedin or facebook rules !)

 Hope it helps if someone (from the web team) reads it

 

My best wishes

Ben 

 

Just upgraded to KDE 4.2

Today I just upgraded to KDE 4.2 from KDE 4.1 on my openSUSE 11.1 (64bit) machine and it seems everything is working fine. The eye candy effects based on compiz are really nice and fast! :) (although they were already working fine with KDE 4.1)

 I just imported four repositories (you'll find them at the end of this article) via YaST and selected Packages > all packages >  Update if newer version is available. There were about 140 packages to update and I just had to adjust some dependecies. Finally all new packages had an amount of approximately 700MB.

The main KDE applications I always use haven't crashed jet and there are no graphic errors.

All in all I'm really happy with the new stable KDE and I await eagerly KDE 4.3 with its new innovative features.

List of openSUSE 11.1 repositories needed for KDE 4.2:

  • core packages: http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/KDE:/42/openSUSE_11.1
  • more packages: http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/KDE:/KDE4:/Community/openSUSE_11.1_KDE_42
  • more (experimentally) packages: http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/KDE:/KDE4:/Playground/openSUSE_11.1_KDE_42
  • Qt 4.5 packages (required!): http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/KDE:/Qt/openSUSE_11.1
 
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