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General Chat Thread, Moving Forward with Open Source, a Network Manager's Perspective in General; Hello All, I'm attending a "think tank" session run by the Open Source School's project at the end of term. ...
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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Moving Forward with Open Source, a Network Manager's Perspective

    Hello All,

    I'm attending a "think tank" session run by the Open Source School's project at the end of term. Assorted people with different persepctives of using open source in schools will be attending, so I guess I'm one of the people representing the network manager's point of view. I'm aiming to write a one or two sides of A4 summary on "Moving Forward with Open Source, a Network Manager's Perspective" to be circulated to the other attendees beforehand, just so we have the meeting time to actually discuss interesting things instead of spending it getting up to speed with everyone else.

    Please feel free to post any thoughts or comments that you feel it might be a good idea to get accross to a wider audience as regards to using open source in school, from the perspective of the people who's job it is to install, configure and support it. I'll post any drafts I have as I go along (or should I set up an Etherpad document or something?).

    --
    David Hicks

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    You should probably differentiate between open source that the end-user interacts with (OpenOffice, Gimp, Linux desktops) and infrastructure open source (servers, cacti, nagios, snort, etc) that the end-user is unaware of.

    The latter is much more straightforward to implement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    You should probably differentiate between open source that the end-user interacts with (OpenOffice, Gimp, Linux desktops) and infrastructure open source (servers, cacti, nagios, snort, etc) that the end-user is unaware of.

    The latter is much more straightforward to implement.


    Agreed we've been using open source for infrastructure for a while now but we're still finding it hard to move to Open Office etc.

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    Agreed. Maybe split into a teaching & learning use and management & administration use to allow non tech's to understand what you are talking about. Explaining who you see using the different applications and the reluctance some schools have had in taking up Open source and how some schools have overcome this. Highlighting that each will require training on their use and support.

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    Aye, I find there is something of a fear factor amongst users if the software doesn't have 'Microsoft' in the title. It's actually been the case that some staff have said to me (staight faced) that they are happy to learn the new ribbon bar of Office 2007+ but not happy to learn the differences in menu positions for options between Office 2003 and OpenOffice 3.2, wtf!?!

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    It might be good to touch lightly on the difference between "open source" and just "free".

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    cookie_monster (3rd March 2010), dhicks (3rd March 2010)

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    mpe
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    Quote Originally Posted by webman View Post
    It might be good to touch lightly on the difference between "open source" and just "free".
    Proprietary software which is "free" causes a lot of confusion. Especially amongst the kind of people who tend to do things like buy single user licenced stuff "for the network".

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    Quote Originally Posted by webman View Post
    It might be good to touch lightly on the difference between "open source" and just "free".
    And between freedom and financially free. Many projects publish their source but don't grant truly free licenses. The Free Software Definition - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation (FSF)

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    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    You should probably differentiate between open source that the end-user interacts with (OpenOffice, Gimp, Linux desktops) and infrastructure open source (servers, cacti, nagios, snort, etc) that the end-user is unaware of. The latter is much more straightforward to implement.
    Excellent point, thanks. Leads me to think of a couple of further server-related points:

    Choice of courses affects choice of software (teachers choose exam courses, which require certain packages because that's what the example exercises are in or because equivilent software simply isn't available as open source (video editing, for example), or because the teacher wants to train pupils on "industry standard" software), which affects choice of servers (for Windows machines you need Windows servers, which means you need Active Directory, which means that if you want to authenticate Linux machines against AD/LDAP you still have to pay for Windows CALs for each machine).

    In a future shift away from desktop applications to web-based ones there's lots of scope for increased use of open source - why bother having fiddly-to-configure-and-maintain desktop machines when all you really need is something that can run a web browser?

    --
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    mpe
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    Choice of courses affects choice of software (teachers choose exam courses, which require certain packages because that's what the example exercises are in or because equivilent software simply isn't available as open source (video editing, for example), or because the teacher wants to train pupils on "industry standard" software),
    Including in quite a few cases where there is no such thing as "industry standard" or where "industry standard" is nothing like what these teachers think it is.
    This is a complete non sequitur in most cases anyway, since nobody has any idea what may be "industry standard" in 10-15 years.
    which affects choice of servers (for Windows machines you need Windows servers,
    no you don't.
    which means you need Active Directory,
    Not true either
    which means that if you want to authenticate Linux machines against AD/LDAP you still have to pay for Windows CALs for each machine).
    If you use servers with a CAL approach then you need CALs. If you use servers which don't then you don't.
    In a future shift away from desktop applications to web-based ones there's lots of scope for increased use of open source - why bother having fiddly-to-configure-and-maintain desktop machines when all you really need is something that can run a web browser?
    Some things work well "web based", others don't work so well, still others wind up incredibly clunky and finally there are some where you'd have to be insane to even attempt to shoehorn into "the web".

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    Quote Originally Posted by mpe View Post
    If you use servers with a CAL approach then you need CALs. If you use servers which don't then you don't.
    How do you mean? I thought if you had a machine or application that authenticated against Active Directory then you needed appropriate CALs for each machine or user on your network?

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    I think he means you could use another kind of directory rather than Active Directory.

    eg. SAMBA with OPEN DIRECTORY

    http://www.openldap.org/

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    Yeah ... at the last meeting at Bletchley Park I annoyed a few people about talking about 'free' from the schools' perspective ... ie there are no maintenance, support or licence costs associated with it, rather than the technical / legal term of free.

    Most schools are not bothered about the sophistry used when talking about Open Source ... they just want to know that when it is 'free' what are the hidden costs (if any).

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    Quote Originally Posted by somabc View Post
    I think he means you could use another kind of directory rather than Active Directory.
    Okay, but how do you then set up the Windows workstations so that all software works, teachers and pupils can't install pirated software, My Documents is redirected to a network drive and the machines can't be generally tinkered or fiddled with?

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    Most schools are not bothered about the sophistry used when talking about Open Source ... they just want to know that when it is 'free' what are the hidden costs (if any).
    This is true, however I think it's important for people to realise that there is a difference, even though it may not be their primary consideration. Decision makers may not realise that in spite of it being free (as in beer), you may or may not be able to change its behaviour later down the line.

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