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MIS Systems Thread, Open Source software in UK schools in Technical; About the accreditation process These products and services were requested as part of an Invitation to Submit issued to providers ...
  1. #46


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    About the accreditation process

    These products and services were requested as part of an Invitation to Submit issued to providers taking part in the accreditation. It should be noted that this accreditation was a voluntary process, and it does not imply that a provider not in this list does not meet the accreditation requirements.
    The links don't prove that (eg) Dansguardian can't meet the criteria.

  2. #47

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    The lack of ability to make use of the IWF list alone eliminates Dansguardian. As Tom has mentioned elsewhere there is a cost associated with this for a variety of reasons ... and remember that there is a reason why Smoothwall exists rather than just be DansGuardian.

  3. #48


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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    The lack of ability to make use of the IWF list alone eliminates Dansguardian. As Tom has mentioned elsewhere there is a cost associated with this for a variety of reasons ... and remember that there is a reason why Smoothwall exists rather than just be DansGuardian.
    Why can't it use the IWF list? it can use: URLBlacklist.com (which I assumed already contained the IWF list). I understand IWF may not want to give out the list to anyone, but most of this stuff is blocked by ISP's anyway. It sounds like a political reason rather than a technical. edit: I already use dansguargian at one site, smoothwall at main site.

  4. #49
    wesleyw's Avatar
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    If it can't use an extensive list like the IWF then I have to admit Tony dansguardian isn't able to be compared like for like. If it pases all other criteria though and it can use a list as suggested by CyberNerd then this would be different. I wonder how much it costs to link in with the IWF listing services?


    Wes

  5. #50

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    As far as I am aware URLBlacklist does not include the IWF list, does not meet the requirements for the timescales on support response or to change an entry. Putting it in the simplest terms ... if URLBlacklist goes down or is corrupted then there is no guarantee that stuff which should be blocked *will* be blocked, nor any idea about fix time.

  6. #51


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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    As far as I am aware URLBlacklist does not include the IWF list, does not meet the requirements for the timescales on support response or to change an entry. Putting it in the simplest terms ... if URLBlacklist goes down or is corrupted then there is no guarantee that stuff which should be blocked *will* be blocked, nor any idea about fix time.
    Hang on a minute. URLBlacklist is a commercial company and IWF is a charity who rely on donations, as do many opensource projects....
    If urlblacklist goes down sites still get blocked, it just doesn't update the filter that day.
    Besides, if the ISP includes the IWF blacklist anyway, whats the big deal - it simply comes down how easy it is to manage.

  7. #52

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    We are still in a position where not all ISPs are implementing the block on the IWF list. Admittedly, this tends to be the smaller tier companies and is down to costs and management. Some of the offerings which have been going out to schools recently as alternates to RBCs include some which cannot confirm whether they are blocking the IWF list ... some are saying it is the responsibility of their upstream provider but they cannot say if it is in place.

    If the URLBlacklist comes down empty (as has happened with other lists of this nature) then it has been known to remove all block entries. If there is no response time available from URLBlacklist then it is too great a risk. When measuring it against probability against impact ... it may have low probability (I am not aware of it happening to URLBlacklist, but I am for others operating on the same model) but a high impact. IIRC Smoothwall have things in place to deal with this issue to make if fail-closed rather than fail-open. This is one of the difficulties with comparing even the commercial provisions and RBC provisions at times ... Netsweeper is accredited as a product, but the specific implementation of it in an LA or RBC may differ to the norm / standard due to scaling, etc. This is why most RBCs go through accreditation for themselves ... I know that EMBC is now designed to be fail-closed too and this was checked on the accreditation process.

    Of course, none of this can stop the IT Manager / IT Co-ordinator with full access to the filtering system turning all sort of filter categories off and creating exception rules ... one large difference with the accredited provision is that the IWF list *cannot* be turned off. With DansGuardian and URLBlacklist (should their list contain the IWF list in future) you can turn it off, accidentally or otherwise, for the whole school or individual computers / users. How many here have fought and screamed at their LA / RBC to have 'unfiltered' access ... do you really want it to be *that* unfiltered?

  8. #53


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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    W

    If the URLBlacklist comes down empty (as has happened with other lists of this nature) then it has been known to remove all block entries.
    let me just workaround that bit:

    Code:
    file=/etc/Dansguardian/some_blacklist_rule
    if [ ! -s $file ]; then
        /etc/inet.d/dansguardian stop
    fi

  9. #54
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    We use Dansguardian and squid as a local tool for managing and logging internet access. We forward all requests that meet our local policies to the LEA who have a compliant system. This gives us much greater control and great reporting facilities.

    We chose squid, dansguardian and sarge as they were the most flexible tools for doing what we wanted.

    In terms of OSS or non OSS. We look at at each IT project on costs. The major costs considerations being educational benefit, hardware, licensing, implementation and training. The most important being education benefit, this can often over ride any costs issues.

    We have implemented several projects in house using both OSS and non OSS. The reason for this is that saves on third party implementation costs. Being a trust school we have no LEA support contracts for supporting internal infrastructure or MIS systems etc. So the most cost effective way for our school to support the wide number of systems we support is to have an internal IT support team (3 people) to manage anything that has an IP address or a plug for that matter!

    I used to work in enterprise IT planning and deployment, with the biggest deployment being 100,000 plus users. I know from lots of meetings with accountants in that job that IT firms make money on passing on staffing charges for development and implementation. There is little profit to be made from licences and hardware.

    So from reading Gary's paper I can't really see how an LEA could save vast amounts of money. LEAs will still have to pass on staffing charges and as other people have pointed out re training costs could be high and also meet with resistance. Centrally imposed solutions of any kind can often meet with resistance. I think individual schools can achieve great savings if they have an ICT support team in house.

    I think that schools working together to share expertise and experience of using ICT could work much better. We have worked with several local schools to show them how we use all our software in school and they have done the same for us. Every time we meet with another school to share ideas and experiences we have always learned a lot. Tools such as twitter, edugeek site, open source schools site have been a great way of sharing ideas with other schools, but meeting in person is far more productive.

    So perhaps more communication between schools could be more important than what software license we are using
    Last edited by monkeyx; 23rd September 2010 at 08:52 PM. Reason: typo master

  10. #55

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    I think what GrumbleDook trying to say, is are you getting paid? Do you think you deserve to get paid? If you're getting paid, why shouldn't the people who develop the software get paid? At least that way, if a problem occurs, such as dansguardian doesn't block the latest web proxy or such, you're not waiting for Dan to get back from stacking shelves at Tesco's.

    Certain things need that level of support that when the poo hits the fan, you have policies in place and people to deal with it. Not, quick, plug that spare laptop into the router and "Google it"

    Out of interest, who's donated?

  11. #56


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    Quote Originally Posted by matt40k View Post
    you're not waiting for Dan to get back from stacking shelves at Tesco's.
    lol, but Dan is the technical director of smoothwall

  12. #57

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    @cybernerd ... that code works if you can spot the rule is not there ... what happens if it is there, but is corrupt, is empty, is full of the wrong information? Who do you have to come back on to fix it?

    And yes ... Dan is the TD at Smoothwall ... but ever wonder why there are Smoothwall products as well as DansGuardian?

  13. #58


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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    @cybernerd ... that code works if you can spot the rule is not there ... what happens if it is there, but is corrupt, is empty, is full of the wrong information? Who do you have to come back on to fix it?
    I was being facetious.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    And yes ... Dan is the TD at Smoothwall ... but ever wonder why there are Smoothwall products as well as DansGuardian?
    No, I already read his webpage

    DansGuardian - True Web Content Filtering for All
    DansGuardian - True Web Content Filtering for All

    There is no difference in the actual web content filtering itself between SmoothWall Guardian Solutions and DansGuardian. DansGuardian is the very best web content filtering engine available and; this is why SmoothWall uses the DansGuardian filtering technology. They use the best web content filter around and make it easy to use and maintain, while giving their customers the highest possible level of support. DansGuardian is used to test leading-edge functionality and we have a good group of testers in the DansGuardian users.

  14. #59

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    Think I'm on another planet again.

    The IWF list seems like a mostly irrelevant side-issue because all the schools I'm conversant with either a) connect through their RBC/LA and get mandatory IWF there, or b) have their own connections (private schools) with ISPs that blackhole the list. Assuming the latter then the only issue is whether your favourite web-filtering solution has decent added category-filtering at an inevitably significant cost per annum. Dans Guardian by itself is NOT a credible replacement for an ISA with a Surf Control, or an Fortigate subscribed to their category filtering service etc. That's it, move along, nothing more to say.

    ---

    I decided to play hard with the OSS is perfectly viable for a Primary meme this week and it was in a positive-give-it-a chance way .. and I might stop laughing some time in November. The list of apps on DVDs, miscellaneous list etc really doesn't cut it because a lot are not relevant to those actual requirements and from the remainder most are already used!!!! Are we all supposed to be so dim and stupid that when e.g. a school wants to play with audio, we don't know about and suggest they use Audacity?!? Ditto for the others, except I substitute paint.Net for Gimp etc.

    What's left: Open Office but very few have hit O2K7 here yet, majority are O2K3 and plenty still run XP - they're just not into changing that for perfectly reasonable reasons and O2K3 has 3.5 years in it yet, by which, bandwidth permitting, they might be scribbling away in the cloud. Might not though because bandwidth costs money too!

    What's missing?: How long have you got? It's not a fit for everything, but if I had to sum it up it is "lots of software that schools purchased to shore up areas of the curriculum where they are often weak"... science, maths, languages. And of course there is the software for gadgets.

    And anyone who casually reckons you could pull an MIS like SIMS out of Primarys where plenty of folk have spent years acquiring fragile grips on a fraction of the functionality and insert [free whatever here] without significant trouble is stark, raving mad. One way or another it will cost lots of money, after which you'll still be paying annual maintenance/support regardless of [free whatever here] because that's what you do for critical systems.

    This mish-mash of visionary educational ICT "experts", the arrogance, the impractical nonsense (I'm assuming most only ever play with and tweet about rather than implement* much besides trivial tech - oh, the parasitic mediocrity of it all!) are really beginning to do my head in now.

    We are Here[tm], show me a viable There[tm] for the majority of these schools together with some intelligent, credible costs for the journey. Put-up stuff that genuinely works as opposed to "sounds nice" .. or just shut-up please because I don't want to waste my time and school's time (=money) explaining why X, Y & Z is a crock in practice.
    Last edited by PiqueABoo; 24th September 2010 at 07:11 PM.

  15. Thanks to PiqueABoo from:

    torledo (5th October 2010)

  16. #60


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    Quote Originally Posted by PiqueABoo View Post
    Assuming the latter then the only issue is whether your favourite web-filtering solution has decent added category-filtering at an inevitably significant cost per annum. Dans Guardian by itself is NOT a credible replacement for an ISA with a Surf Control, or an Fortigate subscribed to their category filtering service etc.That's it, move along, nothing more to say.
    Because you say so... Thats sort of like saying that the windows kernel itself is NOT a replacement for a server... Of course it isn't - but DansGuardian combined with a few bits of software like samba, linux, Squid, a subscribed blocklist and someone who knows what they doing (as apposed to a point and click admin) and you have a very good and cheap content filtering system. Not for everyone I admit, works for me at one site - but I have smoothwall at another because it has some features that I need which would take me way to long to implement myself.
    I think dansguardian is a credible option, esp for large scale RBC implementations.



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