Edubuntu: some observations.......contd

Dan McGarry it.psl at
Thu Jan 12 23:56:17 UTC 2006

raj kumar sarkar wrote:
> I personally feel that Edubuntu (Ubuntu as well) development process has 
> been going on with some fundamental assumptions. Availability of 
> Internet connectivity is one of them. But if we really want to make 
> Ubuntu/Edubuntu ubiquitous then we have to negate this assumption.

Wow, it's really refreshing to hear this. I'm on the verge of opening a 
bug report to this effect on Breezy, because (for example) Aptitude just 
blithely assumes that it should download the latest kernel from the net 
when it performs the automatic upgrade.

Where I work, unlimited dial-up access costs USD 160 per month. Most of 
the NGOs I work with share a single dial-up line through an SME Server 
( Typically, there are 7-15 computers sharing 
a single, sub-56k connection. Anything other than email is very difficult.

Broadband access starts at about USD 1000/month, and people get charged 
between $0.35 and $0.43 per megabyte, so that's just plain out of reach.

> While availability of internet connection solves a lot of problems, the 
> absence of it totally changes the scenario. No internet connection means 
> no "apt-get"-ing. So installing new application becomes almost 
> impossible for us. And unavailability of any kind of internet connection 
> is the ground reality in major part of the world.

Lack of Internet is an obstacle, no doubt, but it doesn't completely 
preclude the use of apt-get. I get people to send me all the available 
packages on CD/DVD, then mount them on a local web server on the 
network, manually update the /etc/apt/sources.list file on all he client 
machines and then I can update the packages.

This is far too difficult a process for the average office administrator 
to be able to cope with, though. I agree with you that because 
(Ed)Ubuntu's stated purpose is to be the OS of choice for 'everyone 
else', special consideration should be given to low-bandwith/low-power 

I'm running the Community Communications Project in the South Pacific 
Nation of Vanuatu, where the telecommunications infrastructure is 
remarkably poor, and has some of the highest Internet costs in the 
world. In the course of completing this project, I'll be doing a lot of 
practical research and development in terms of sustainable computing 
solutions for places with little or no power or communications 
infrastructure. It would make a lot of people's work easier if we in the 
Ubuntu community could find our way to cooperating in a formal and 
concerted way in order to address these issues.

To be clear, this is not a minority issue. Most of the world's 
population live in places where power and communications infrastructure 
is poor, expensive or non-existent. I trust that because the Ubuntu 
community (and Edubuntu especially) are taking their task seriously, 
these issues will be addressed.

> So I feel we should devise some strategy to counter this problem.

Agreed. I have a fair amount of experience developing software on Linux, 
though most of my work with Debian-based systems has been in systems 
admin and configuration. My professional specialties are in user 
interface and knowledge management, but I've always been a bit of a jack 
of all trades, so I'm dangerous in a number of areas. 8^)

As I mentioned, I can help a fair bit with efforts to ensure that 
Edubuntu remains accessible to people in developing regions, but I think 
it would be best to see where this kind of work fits into the rest of 
the Ubuntu project, who else is interested in (or already working on) 
these issues, and how we can integrate the efforts into the development 

This approach requires a little guidance from Ubuntu veterans, so 
perhaps someone can step forward with a few pointers...?

> Another major issue is content development in local language. I have 
> found the local language support to be mostly limited. We need some good 
> quality content development application with local language support.

Localisation is not a terribly difficult task in terms of the mechanics. 
Most elements of the Ubuntu system are fairly easy to handle. The big 
problem in my experience is finding a decent lexicon to work from. In 
some cases, character sets can also cause problems. For example, it took 
years to make an ISO-specified Inuktitut character set and computer font 
widely available.

> Lastly I must say that the effort of you all are really commendable. 
> Probably we are in too early phase of our development, and with time we 
> would be able to solve all our problems.

I have to agree. The level of enthusiasm is really great. I'd love to be 
able to provide fuel to this particular fire. 8^)


Dan McGarry	it.psl at

IT Consultant
Community Communications Project

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