Let's get serious about Edubuntu's future

Jordan Erickson jerickson at logicalnetworking.net
Tue May 19 20:19:05 UTC 2009

Hey Sven,

I'm gonna keep this quick and to the point.

Edubuntu shouldn't necessarily be tied to LTSP, at all anymore. It's not 
about LTSP - it's about the educational applications and themes 
available for Ubuntu. It *was* about LTSP, a while back, which is what 
gave Edubuntu most of its popularity (easy LTSP installation method), 
but now that was merged with the Ubuntu Alternate CD. From this 
migration, Edubuntu has lost a lot of focus, both with devs and 
users/admins. We shouldn't be focussing on LTSP at all with Edubuntu 
anymore. It's available alongside it, but shouldn't be mentioned as PART 
of Edubuntu at all. It'll be hard to break, I still see people hopping 
on IRC and asking LTSP questions in #edubuntu.

The maintenance and grouping of educational applications and educational 
themes/artwork is a good focus for Edubuntu - obviously, the people who 
are involved with Edubuntu care a lot about these apps and their 
successful integration into Ubuntu. They care a lot about the ease of 
installation by school staff, to have a ready-to-go set of 
education-based software for whatever type of school you're in. I think 
this is a good thing, but shouldn't be the *only* focus (it's fairly 
limited to the devs and package managers, which is a tiny subset of 
people who *could* be contributing, such as countless motivated school 
staff that want to have *buntu in their schools).

Personally, I think the people who comprise the Edubuntu community 
should be primarily focussed on *promoting* Ubuntu directly to schools 
and educational environments (after school clubs for kids, computer labs 
everywhere, even libraries, etc.). I think the motivation is there for 
all of us to want to see it out there being used by as many students as 
possible (again I'm not just talking about the Edubuntu apps, but Ubuntu 
as a whole). IMHO I think Edubuntu should shift general focus to being a 
community of marketing (ick..I hate that word) F/OSS software, primarily 
Ubuntu-based, in education. I think we need to collaborate on presenting 
information such as easy to understand documentation, videos, and 
anything else we can think of to the world of educational institutions. 
I think video is of primary importance, in particular. Almost anyone can 
jump on Youtube these days. We need to utilize what we have to expose 
people to this great community and what we're trying to do to better 
students' education. IMO We need people to hear "Edubuntu" and 
immediately think "Those are the ones that *get* open source into 
schools!" I'm definitely ready to do that, in fact that's what I've been 
doing for the past 3 years. I started with Edubuntu because of LTSP, but 
now I generally install Ubuntu and LTSP on top of it. Any educational 
apps my schools want, I'll install for them. They need my help because 
they don't know how to do it. I want to do more to help make it as easy 
as possible for others. I guess what I'm saying is that maybe Edubuntu 
should focus on the service, and not the product so much.

Just my $0.02...whoops, that wasn't quick. ;)


Sven-Hendrik Haase wrote:
> Hello everybody,
> in case there actually is somebody left to read this message. I think it
> is finally time to act. On IRC, we agree a lot that Edubuntu is
> definitely going the wrong direction, which right now would be 'none'.
> We all know that Canonical has largely lost interest in developing,
> maintaining and caring for Edubuntu in general.
> Some weeks ago, some people set out to get an official answer from
> Canonical so that some light be shed on Edubuntu's current point of
> existence but so far no answer has appeared and I doubt it will any time
> soon.
> I think Edubuntu's fate is now entirely in our capable hands. I suggest
> we either have a live meeting on IRC at some point in the near future or
> just keep discussing in this thread what is going to happen to Edubuntu.
> To be more precise what I think Edubuntu is lacking currently (so we
> agree about the short-comings):
> 1) Direction. I think Edubuntu has been without actual vision for some
> time now. I don't mean to say that Edubuntu is a piece of crap, I mean
> to say that currently it serves neither groups' interests to the point
> which would be required to make it outstanding. The groups, as I see it,
> would be:
> 1.1) Schools that want to deploy LTSP clients _EASILY_
> 1.2) Workstations at schools (for example a physics workstation in the
> physics rooms)
> 1.3) Private users at home (for children, obviously)
> 2) Documentation. Currently, if you want to deploy LTSP clients and you
> want to be informed about LTSP 5 (assuming you even know what that is,
> imagine you are teacher trying out Edubuntu!), you will have to search
> the official LTSP documentation, the Ubuntu LTSP documentation, the
> Edubuntu cookbook, the Edubuntu handbook, the Edubuntu wiki. You WILL
> find conflicting material and most of the stuff you find doesn't even
> apply anymore (LTSP 4.2 anyone?). The user wants ONE definitive resource
> for looking up things, to get going, for tips, to look for help. So
> *many* scattered and contradicting resources are not very reassuring for
> a school's IT admin to say it mildly.
> Personally, I'm still a student but I serve as my school's primary IT
> administrator and I would rate myself as quite Linux literate, maybe
> even 'expert' (from a user's and administrator's point of view, that
> is). I was not able to gather a definitive set of resources that would
> always apply to what I wanted LTSP/Edubuntu to do. Maybe I'm just
> incompetent but I imagine a natural sciences teacher with mere Windows
> user experience wouldn't perform any better, if at all.
> 3) Split distribution. It seems that the Edubuntu-Addon itself is a
> major problem for people wanting to try out Edubuntu. People want to TRY
> Edubuntu. Most schools are completely Windows dependent and teachers are
> afraid of installing anything they would not be able to get rid of
> themselves. Edubuntu NEEDS to be able to showcase all its features from
> a live system or many people will be afraid of even trying it out in a
> running infrastructure (for a good reason). This will probably mean that
> a LTSP environment will have to fit the live medium, which will make it
> grow beyond CD size at any rate which on the other hand wouldn't matter
> all that much judging by how popular DVD/USB is nowadays. Edubuntu
> should NOT be restricted to fit onto a CD, that would be totally
> unnecessary.
> Those are my main three gripes. There are some minor ones but I won't go
> over those now because it would probably make this mail lose direction.
> I suggest completely revising Edubuntu and maybe even consider changing
> the name. I thought about forking Ubuntu to Schoolbuntu but I'd rather
> continue working under 'Edubuntu'. In case Canonical has other plans
> with that name, though, I see nothing wrong with starting a separate
> project forked from Ubuntu itself.
> A few straight goals need to be set out for Edubuntu (or whatever the
> name is going to be). We need to think about the target group. Currently
> Edubuntu is just an Ubuntu with a couple of fancy educations in it that
> match the tag 'education' and a LTSP server sitting beside. General
> purpose is great for general stuff but in this case we're dealing with a
> quite specialized use case and therefore Edubuntu might as well
> specialize. For general purpose stuff, the is Ubuntu Alternate with LTSP.
> A lot of the previous efforts will have to be discarded in order to make
> place for something new and consistent. A "revolution" is needed, in my
> opinion.
> What we need is a dedicated bunch of a few people that are willing and
> knowledgeable enough to help out to get things rolling. This would
> require a great deal of spare time which I have but I assume others do not.
> Let's hope somebody sees this.
> -- Sven-Hendrik Haase

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