May 1, 2001

Web review: MandrakeCampus.net is a great concept

Author: JT Smith

- by Tina Gasperson -
If you haven't downloaded and installed Mandrake 8.0 yet, you may not be aware
of Mandrake Campus, MandrakeSoft's free (and Open Source) online repository of
Linux courses and quizzes.Users of Mandrake 8.0 will notice a link to MandrakeCampus on their desktops.
All it takes is a simple sign-up process to get started with the courses,
which are sorted by topics: basic tools, desktop administration, server
installation, and "server services," which includes instructions on file
server, Web server, and electronic mail setup. Each course is broken down into
modules (each with its own quiz), and each module is further broken down into
sub-modules.

On the welcome screen, I noticed that the last site update was February 16,
2001, after having been updated previously on February 7 -- makes me think that
nobody's been minding the shop for almost two months. It is never good PR to
give the impression (even if that impression is incorrect) that site updates
and maintenance have lapsed.

I decided to start my test of the Mandrake Campus site within the basic
tools course. Within basic tools are these modules:

  • basic concepts
    free software
    strengths of GNU/Linux
  • administration basics
    vi
    common administration tasks
    system update
    service management
  • advanced shell
    command line
    bash

Each sub-module contains several pages of explanation of terms and some examples. It's similar to reading a text book online -- which could be very valuable, except that there are no exercises. Most people benefit from the kinestheticity of reading the information and then performing the exercise.

After you're done reading, you take the quiz and your score is stored on the site. You can go back and take the quiz as many times as you like to improve your score -- but don't be lame and look at the answers until you're really through. I took the quiz on the advanced shell module. It was only four questions long, not thorough enough to truly test knowledge (yet, what test actually determines true knowledge?), but fun nevertheless. Perhaps the quizzes should be a bit longer (but not too long).

As with other Open Source projects, the Mandrake Campus is looking for people to contribute courses and documentation. KDE folks recently put out a notice that the campus needs people with KOffice know-how to write up course material. Anyone who wants to contribute should contact chris@mandrakesoft.com.

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