Edubuntu's focus, and future.

Matthew Lye matthew.lye at
Mon May 25 05:50:08 UTC 2009

I should first apologize to you all, I have been involved in many areas of
the Ubuntu community but have largely ignored Edubuntu even though I work in
higher education. I'd like to improve that and will begin lurking in the
#edubuntu channel as Vantrax.

Edubuntu seems to have fallen by the wayside somewhat and without being
involved I am going to take a stab and say that people have big ideas, and
great goals, but not enough people get involved when it comes time to sit
down and do the work. The Edubuntu project is a great grand idea, but I
think it needs identifiable and achievable goals to move forward, and at the
moment it seems to me ,as someone on the outside, that it is stagnant.

I work for a large university managing teaching environments running Ubuntu.
We are running Ubuntu dual booting with Windows instead of using Edubuntu.
>From my quick look at Edubuntu it didnt seem to add significant value as its
own distribution. It seemed little more than Ubuntu with some applications
installed and a prepacked thin client setup (LTSP) if you were that way
inclined. If the packages were'nt what you wanted Ubuntu was easier to build
off. Also it seemed like LTSP was a great way to end up frustrated and
confused if you were anything less than a sysadmin. I dont say this to
discourage you all but in the hope that those still looking at the list will
think of what the focus is. Im going to make some more assumptions and say
the focus is to assist in the implementation of the Ubuntu in teaching
spaces from Kindergarten all the way through to secondary and tertiary

This means you need versions with different software and themes for
Kindergarten, Preschool, Primary School, Secondary School, and Tertiary
Education. Each has different goals and requirements, and so far I can see
one Edubuntu release. A great example of this done well is Qimo, based off
Ubuntu: Qimo isnt networked
based, but how many kindergartens and preschools have enough computers to
need a network? They made decisions based of the needs of a specific target
market, then customised something just for them.

When I was initially looking at implementing Ubuntu in university teaching
environments I would have loved to have prepackaged distribution that would
have done the work for me, but it there are certain things that I would have
expected from it. I would have expected that Edubuntu would build on LTS
released of Ubuntu with meta packages designed to install and configure
applications that would be useful for each of those areas, and support
documentation to go along with them. I would expect to see documentation on
how to connect Edubuntu to Active Directory and Novell domains and
information on how to create and deploy images that are locked down so that
students cannot change the desktop (even an application that implements
commands in gconftool). I would expect to see some information on best
practice for setting up student home directories located on centralised
servers and how to use /net directories to mount the home directories to
mount /home. These are all problems I had to learn to deal with because
documentation was hard to find. These are things that need to be done to run
linux well in teaching spaces, to be able to compete with Microsoft.

If I can help the Edubuntu project I am happy to do so, but at this stage my
time would be limited to playing devils advocate and giving advice on what
to focus on. My development skills are limited, and my time even more but I
have done this before. I have built SOE's based on Ubuntu for teaching
environments, then supported them. I have trained others to do so as well.
My suggestion for Edubuntu's future is to focus on developing high quality
support frameworks for educational environments. Develop metapackages that
turn Ubuntu LTS into Edubuntu versions for specific educational groups. Try
not to reinvent the wheel when you can give it a fresh coat of paint and put
it back on the wagon.

Id like to see this project succeed, but the key I think is to ask 'what
does it bring the warrants its own brand' then focus on that.

-Matthew Lye

<No tree's were harmed during this transmission. However, a great number of
electrons were terribly inconvenienced>
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