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General Chat Thread, PC Pro - OpenSource is no good for schools? in General; Part of my issue with using linux is that if a school already has a working product as a web/mail/VLE ...
  1. #31

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    Re: PC Pro - OpenSource is no good for schools?

    Part of my issue with using linux is that if a school already has a working product as a web/mail/VLE server why should they move?

    Then you also have to consider that as an application server it falls down partly due to the way some educational softwre works.

    If you are settin gup a new web/mail/VLE then it is fantastic, and things like karoshi can help no end, but sometimes it is the pressure of OSS evangelists that everyone should move away from expensive windows systems that entrenches people to stick with what they have becaue it works, it works extremely well and it covers all their needs.

    I have also noticed that M$ gets a real good bashing over a number of things about proprietary formats, costs of licensing, etc ... but Apple rarely does ... go figure.

  2. #32
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    Re: PC Pro - OpenSource is no good for schools?

    I try to bash Apple as much as I can Tony :P

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    Re: PC Pro - OpenSource is no good for schools?

    Quote Originally Posted by russdev
    The fact he is trying to argue linux as complete replacment shows how little he understand ict in education and linux. As no one would argue for complete replacement of systems with linux for example never would replace mis systems with linux not at this stage.

    Again the fact he completly miss hybred solution of having linux servers and xp worksattions just shows how much he lacks in skills to implmenent a required solution.
    Now, I have to admit that I almost completely agree with what you're saying. I was brought into the school which I work at on the basis, I believe, of my corporate experience in order to hammer out the issues that existed here. When I got here, the network consisted of 200+ workstations and a sole Windows 2000 Server (this was only a year ago...) which had a large number of question marks floating over it.

    After evaluating the network a few key choices had to be made. Primarily issues existed with the way students had only access to the internet, their printing facilities (ie, lack of 'decent' logging), an irritance with the dreadful security log in Windows Server and a slight irritance with the lack of flexibility provided. Fortunately my background is one of software development, and, given the sheer costs required to replace this single, aging, server, Mr Dusty decided to roll out a hybrid backend. The solutions designed (including a custom built proxy - One day, I hope, the HT will let me release the source as a GPL/BSD-Licenced OSS project) are generally Linux based, however, there is now two Windows 2003 DCs providing the usual plethora of services required for a well controlled Windows client based network.

    Personally, at the moment, I don't feel that Linux is completely suited to being used on the clients within the school environment, unless being used as a thin-client, because it lacks decent support of specialist or niche software that staff are happy to purchase constantly despite better alternatives being available. However, due to the delights DiDA, software like Macromedia Suite and Adobe Creative Suite, have become a staple diet for the curriculum network and until such time that these work on Linux, there's pretty much no possibility for Linux to be used on all client workstations within our curriculum network.

    Sad, but I have to admit, Windows wins on our clients. I'll go cry now at my beloved Linux being shunned by my very own self.

    --Dusty (Linux fan, code hugger and a huge supporter of hybrid backends)

  4. #34

    Geoff's Avatar
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    Re: PC Pro - OpenSource is no good for schools?

    I thought David Moss was the thin client guru - or have I got the wrong person?
    No idea. I can tell you how to do it if you want. :P

  5. #35

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    Re: PC Pro - OpenSource is no good for schools?

    In fact, I don't have to. It's already been done for me.

    http://wiki.edubuntu.org/EdubuntuDoc...ient_Computing

  6. #36
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    Re: PC Pro - OpenSource is no good for schools?

    When I first came to the school I now work in, there was one red hat box being used soley as a file server. All the clients were win2000 but there was no control over the desktop, and the kids were messing them up no end. Everyone logged in as 'user' and then clicked on a link to the linux fileserver and typed in their name and password to get their files.

    It was a nightmare.

    I had two options. I could have investigated a linux alternative to Windows's group policy to try and gain some control over the network, or I could buy windows server 2003 (which I might add I had no experience of either) and use Group Policy itself.

    The other technician who had originally set up the linux fileserver could find no alternative to Group Policy, he tried to set up roming profiles, but was not successfull. This took many weeks.

    Finally, I bought two new Dells with Windows 2003 server on them. I set them up as DCs and had one running AD services and file services, and the other backing up and print serving. I set up all the clients onto the domain. I set up Group Policy, running scripts, locking down desktops, controlling individual internet access etc. It took me less than a week in the main.

    Remember, I had no experience of it, yet I could work my way through it and it made sense. Afterwards, the ICT co-ordinator could not beleive the change sin the network and how it run. Staff were happy and Pupils couldn't fiddle about anymore.

    We do have a linux proxy running and a web server, and we are happy with the job they do too. I now have a working helpdesk running on Fedora. But all of these things took untold time to set up to just the way we wanted them. In fact, we probably spent more time trying to get drivers for the various components in the PC for linux, than getting it doing what we wanted.

    And with regard to Apple, my last school was in Oldham LEA who from the early 80s have pushed schools down the Apple root. My school had ALL apple macs with an apple server. That was the easiest network one could ever run. Apple designed network server software for the classroom and alltough it had its niggles, it was very good. The only argument you could really find with regard to Apple is the fact that few pupils will actually use it when they get out in to the big wide world. But believe me, if everything were Apple and not Microsoft, the world (or at least the school) would be a better place IMHO.

  7. #37

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    Re: PC Pro - OpenSource is no good for schools?

    The other technician who had originally set up the linux fileserver could find no alternative to Group Policy, he tried to set up roming profiles, but was not successfull. This took many weeks.
    Setup samba as a domain controller. Use mandatory profiles. Anything other user settings can be covered by hacking things with reg.exe in login scripts (folder redirection for example). Computer settings can be locked down on XP (2k maybe too?) by logging in as local admin and running 'gpedit.msc'. We have a primary school here setup exactly like above. It works fine. If your interested in the details, contact me further.

    We do have a linux proxy running and a web server, and we are happy with the job they do too. I now have a working helpdesk running on Fedora. But all of these things took untold time to set up to just the way we wanted them. In fact, we probably spent more time trying to get drivers for the various components in the PC for linux, than getting it doing what we wanted.
    Because it's not windows and you had no one there to help you. As I mentioned above we have a primary school locally that uses Mandriva Linux on a doddery old P2-450 with a 80Gb drive shoved in. I didn't set it up, another technician did. He had no prior experience and made a lot of 'windowism' types of mistakes (as I call them). With a bit of hand holding and a few evening sessions going through Linux/Samba concepts with him we ended up with a working system within about 200 man hours.

    By comparison, I know exactly what I'm doing, I setup basically the same system else where and have spent around 6 hours on it tops. I'll probably spend about another 4 and it'll be done.

    Now this isn't an ego trip. I'm trying to demonstrate that there's nothing wrong with Linux/Samba/whatever per say. What I'm trying to show is that people coming from a Windows background are probably the worst people to try and make use of it. That isn't a critism of you or anyone else here. But when you come to setup Linux based systems, you have certain pre-conceptions on how its 'supposed' to work that are flat out wrong and get you into trouble rather rapidly.

  8. #38
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    Re: PC Pro - OpenSource is no good for schools?

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff
    What I'm trying to show is that people coming from a Windows background are probably the worst people to try and make use of it. That isn't a critism of you or anyone else here. But when you come to setup Linux based systems, you have certain pre-conceptions on how its 'supposed' to work that are flat out wrong and get you into trouble rather rapidly.
    I totally agree, and I'm not too proud to admit that to get to grips with Linux yourself without an expert at your side can take a long long time when you come from a windows (or apple) background. And this is exactly why many schools stay with Microsoft windows and get it to do everything they want it to.

    However, I can't see how pre-conceptions can cause problems when all you want to do in Linux is get the network card to work properly with the right drivers, or to mount a usbpen drive. Granted, Linux is getting better at this, but it is not without it's problems. Again, it all comes down to know how, but it is so much simpler in Windows. It is common sense. In Linux it feels like you need a degree in programming languages.

  9. #39

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    Re: PC Pro - OpenSource is no good for schools?

    However, I can't see how pre-conceptions can cause problems when all you want to do in Linux is get the network card to work properly with the right drivers, or to mount a usbpen drive. Granted, Linux is getting better at this, but it is not without it's problems.
    Well there's two issues here. Firstly, pre-conceptions. Using my fellow technician as an example again. Guess what his first 'windowism' was? He in insisted on installing KDE on his server. Despite telling him he didn't need it and it would only slow him and the machine down he flat out refused to live without a GUI. This decision has since come back to haunt him. Not only did the machine have little spare disk space partly because of the huge amounts of disk space KDE and all its dependancies uses (eventually causing it to run out entirely, but thats another story). But also KDE is running all the time causing to chomp a large chunk of memory and cpu power, something the machine has little of.

    The second issue you've raised is hardware support. Basically the situation is this.

    1. If a manufacturer produces a piece of hardware and publishes detailed (and correct!) hardware specs then a linux driver will get written.

    2. If they produce a driver themselves, it might work, it might not (nvidia's linux graphics driver being a prime example).

    3. There's been a few cases of people reverse engineering Windows drivers and hardware to write Linux drivers (again, nvidia, nforce based motherboards though this time)

    4. Also sometimes its possible to write a wrapper around windows drivers and make them run in Linux like ndiswrapper does for WiFi (your stuffed if you've not got an x86 based PC though).

    Obviously the ideal situation is that an open source driver gets written by the manufacturer and full and correct specs are published on thier website (Hello Realtek, Intel and Matrox!). This is a rarity though.

    Bottom line is, the ball is firmly in the manufacturers court on this one.

    Again, it all comes down to know how, but it is so much simpler in Windows.
    No its not. It's just you have so much experience with windows that you know where everything is and what everything does. Everything in the UI is basically in the same place and works the same way, all the way back to Win95 or further.

    Besides, what happened when you were first confronted with Active Directory? I bet you didn't say "Oh, this is so simple!"

    It is common sense.
    I admit it's different. Common sense though? no thats too far. Mac OS X, now thats a demonstration of common sense.

    In Linux it feels like you need a degree in programming languages.
    No but.. well yes I admit I have a degree in Software Engineering. It certainly helps if you can script those repetative tasks. But windows appears to heading this way with VBS scripts for this and that popping up everywhere. Have you seen the new shell for Vista too?

  10. #40

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    Re: PC Pro - OpenSource is no good for schools?

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff
    Again, it all comes down to know how, but it is so much simpler in Windows.
    No its not. It's just you have so much experience with windows that you know where everything is and what everything does. Everything in the UI is basically in the same place and works the same way, all the way back to Win95 or further.

    Besides, what happened when you were first confronted with Active Directory? I bet you didn't say "Oh, this is so simple!"
    Actually ... yes ... it was very logical and GPOs made so much sense, but I had been working with something similar for a while, MacAdministrator from Hi-Resolution, to manage macs at my previous place or work ...

    I know it is a case of horses for courses, and what one person finds easy may be difficult for another.

    I feel another Wiki catagory coming on. Methods of using Linux in schools, but starting with using a Linux server as a DC and connecting M$ clients to it, including locking them down.

    Are you up for it Geoff?

  11. #41

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    Re: PC Pro - OpenSource is no good for schools?

    Now this isn't an ego trip. I'm trying to demonstrate that there's nothing wrong with Linux/Samba/whatever per say. What I'm trying to show is that people coming from a Windows background are probably the worst people to try and make use of it. That isn't a critism of you or anyone else here. But when you come to setup Linux based systems, you have certain pre-conceptions on how its 'supposed' to work that are flat out wrong and get you into trouble rather rapidly.
    I don't think any of us would mark you down as someone who takes ego trips Geoff. I've appreciated all your advice in the past when I ask questions about Linux. I think it's *obvious* that those used to Windows will come at Linux all wrong- it's a different beast. But by admitting that, haven't you proven Dave Moss right- he made reference to the fact that he had no training or expertise in Linux; he said that his qualifications were in Windows alone. He didn't profess Linux knowledge and knew that he would need training and so forth to make Linux work in his school.

    Now, I can install a Windows 2003 Server and set up AD on it within an hour. Easy. I can set up Mac OS X Server a bit quicker than that. I can probably get a SAMBA server running in a couple of hours- after running through some man pages and forums I guess...but most Windows Admins have spent their time with Windows networking, and that means a long hard transition. Your technician friend had the benefit of your time and your excellent skills and experience. Not all of us have that. Those that don't have to think "downtime" while they grapple with the intricacies that can be Linux. It isn't necessarily that my preconceptions of how it *should* work are wrong, it's probably more that a person who is changing from Windows to Linux needs to have the correct training and support.

    I said it before- but Dave Moss is right on the money about this. *Most* admins haven't the time or the inclination to retrain in Linux when they have invested heavily in time and training and with their own finances often to get to where they are. Especially if where they are now *works*. Was it Mark who mentioned Mac OS X? I agree with what he said- in my ideal world we would all run Mac OS X on school networks (that's my evil plan anyway), and though there would certainly be issues there is a better case for Mac OS X than there is for Linux right now.

    OK. Linux works for some schools. Tony made a good point about schools with little or no existing structure adopting Linux at the server end-- and this would be a good time to do it. But (for example) for Kingswood to change from Windows Server 2003/2000 to Linux (SAMBA) would be so much of a change that the heart of the LAN would have been ripped out. AD is at the center of our network structure, and to be frank I can't see a better solution (except in the form of an XServe) to that any time soon. Windows 2003/2000 Server works extremely well for the school; allows us to use all our needed software; gives the students real-world experience of what they will find out there; and (shock) is very stable. We cna centrally manage all our LAN, including GPOs and scripts, and if we want utilise Windows Terminal Services with a little more investment to give a unified- and productive- working environment.

    My question would be: why move to Linux?

    Take care- enjoying your posts by the way!

    Paul

  12. #42

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    Re: PC Pro - OpenSource is no good for schools?

    Are you up for it Geoff?
    Sure. Made a start. Will do some more tomorrrow.

    http://www.russdev.com/edugeek/doku....inux_samba_pdc

  13. #43

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    Re: PC Pro - OpenSource is no good for schools?

    Those that don't have to think "downtime" while they grapple with the intricacies that can be Linux. It isn't necessarily that my preconceptions of how it *should* work are wrong, it's probably more that a person who is changing from Windows to Linux needs to have the correct training and support.
    Yes but its a one off cost by default involving little money and lots of time. If you don't have time you can throw money at the problem and get up to speed faster. I think you need to think more long term about this position. Linux isn't going away. Ever. Can you say that about Windows?

    I said it before- but Dave Moss is right on the money about this. *Most* admins haven't the time or the inclination to retrain in Linux when they have invested heavily in time and training and with their own finances often to get to where they are. Especially if where they are now *works*.
    Understandable. My beef with that is when they blame there own lack of knowledge as an inadaquacy of the system. Linux wasn't designed to be easy to setup and used. It was designed to work flawlessly and predictably for months on end with little to low maintainence.

    OK. Linux works for some schools. Tony made a good point about schools with little or no existing structure adopting Linux at the server end-- and this would be a good time to do it.
    Yes, moving from peer-to-peer or upgrading from NT are obvious candidates. But then, there's more to Linux than just SAMBA.

    But (for example) for Kingswood to change from Windows Server 2003/2000 to Linux (SAMBA) would be so much of a change that the heart of the LAN would have been ripped out. AD is at the center of our network structure.
    See, look, we've hit one of those pre-conceptions I was on about. You don't have to change everything over from Windows to Linux at once. You can do a gradual migration in stages. Maybe replace the web proxy one month. The Print server the next. The file server the month after, etc. Linux will intergrate with your pre-existing AD setup quite happily and take over some functionality piece meal as and when your comfortable for it to do so.

  14. #44

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    Re: PC Pro - OpenSource is no good for schools?

    I don't know if it's already been mentioned, but it may be worth pointing out, at this stage, the Karoshi project.

  15. #45

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    Re: PC Pro - OpenSource is no good for schools?

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff
    Those that don't have to think "downtime" while they grapple with the intricacies that can be Linux. It isn't necessarily that my preconceptions of how it *should* work are wrong, it's probably more that a person who is changing from Windows to Linux needs to have the correct training and support.
    Yes but its a one off cost by default involving little money and lots of time. If you don't have time you can throw money at the problem and get up to speed faster. I think you need to think more long term about this position. Linux isn't going away. Ever. Can you say that about Windows?
    Actually, it was said that MacOS would not last ... and true enough, it didn't, but it was changed, adapted, stretched to something different that works even better. Windows as we know it know will not last for ever, but an OS from M$ will be around for some considerable time

    I said it before- but Dave Moss is right on the money about this. *Most* admins haven't the time or the inclination to retrain in Linux when they have invested heavily in time and training and with their own finances often to get to where they are. Especially if where they are now *works*.
    Understandable. My beef with that is when they blame there own lack of knowledge as an inadaquacy of the system. Linux wasn't designed to be easy to setup and used. It was designed to work flawlessly and predictably for months on end with little to low maintainence.

    OK. Linux works for some schools. Tony made a good point about schools with little or no existing structure adopting Linux at the server end-- and this would be a good time to do it.
    Yes, moving from peer-to-peer or upgrading from NT are obvious candidates. But then, there's more to Linux than just SAMBA.

    But (for example) for Kingswood to change from Windows Server 2003/2000 to Linux (SAMBA) would be so much of a change that the heart of the LAN would have been ripped out. AD is at the center of our network structure.
    See, look, we've hit one of those pre-conceptions I was on about. You don't have to change everything over from Windows to Linux at once. You can do a gradual migration in stages. Maybe replace the web proxy one month. The Print server the next. The file server the month after, etc. Linux will intergrate with your pre-existing AD setup quite happily and take over some functionality piece meal as and when your comfortable for it to do so.
    But now we get to the sticking point for a number of schools. Why do they need a Linux box as a file server? They have a perfectly good existing server 2003 box. They also have a working print server too. They also have a perfectly good proxy and get their filtering from LEA/RBC anyway.

    They are not due to replace any of the servers within the next few years and the only thing they are likely to change are some aging desktops, and they still have a need for an M$ OS on the desktop due to curriculum needs (time for a technician to retrain to get used to linux is a pittance compared to an ICT department rewriting their SoW to cope with a major change of OS and applications.)

    I know this is viewed as stagnation in some camps ... but in others it is regarded as maintaining an existing working structure.

    I know you understand this Geoff, but unfortunately not all Linux evangelists do, the same way some windows users have preconceptions.

    What is required is a need. The need may be having to replace hardware / software sue to age, it may be because running costs are too high on a particular model a school may operate. It may be that a new / additional service is required.

    Then again, I am a Mac Evangelist, and think it is fine to pay for a beta and then pay again, and again, and again, and again ... and then again (this took me to 10.4) And this is a *nix OS ... and the business model is to update regularily and charge for that major update.

    Perhaps we also need to list the appropriate times and reasons to look at linux as an alternative OS for server and desktop?



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