Convincing a school district to migrate from OS X to Ubuntu or Edubuntu

Harry Sweet hsweet at
Thu Nov 20 01:24:40 GMT 2008


I teach high school not far from North Jersey in Orange county.  
We (me and 1 other teacher) have set up a thin client/also windows
system by ourselves in our lab.    Works great, much better than our windows 
system etc.

The issue around here is not money, but understanding and inertia.  The
district has invested a lot of time and $ with what we have.  The tech folks
are competent but know what they know and are busy (fixing stupid windows computers).
Teachers are often  slow learners often when it comes to computers, but they didn't grow up 
with them as you are.

The way we got started is by setting up a 2 computer system with a ready for
the trash-heap computer as a server and one borrowed client.  Got that working, 
showed the principal who at least understood that this might save a $30-60k lab upgrade.

If you are really interested I would recommend you do the same somehow.  Show a working system
at school.  Find a teacher or tech person or administrator to at least get permission.  Or call it your
science fair project.  Or find 2 more students and start a club.  Show it to people.  

good luck.

>>> "David McNally" <david3333333 at> 11/17/08 7:34 PM >>>
Hello everybody.

This question will probably take a little while to type, but I'll try to get
it through.

First off, I should probably point out that I live here in the United
States, in northern New Jersey. The kind of people who live around me are
rich idiots; they're the kind of people who, somehow, have a lot of money,
but still use Windows. No one here knows anything about Linux, let alone

I use three different Operating Systems every day: Ubuntu at home, OS X at
school, and Windows everywhere else (mostly friends' houses). It's
confusing, but I'm pretty good with all three of them. Obviously, Windows is
still the worst of the three, and I try to avoid it as often as possible,
but that's not too hard. However, I'm completely stuck with OS X at school.
I actually have classes where we sit in front of Macs and learn to use
Microsoft Office 2008. Which means I'm stuck using that stupid ribbon that
those Microsoft imbiciles put into Office 2008. We also browse the web with
Safari, the crummy web browser that Apple put into OS X.

Then I go home to Ubuntu and everything's just perfect.

I'm not saying that OS X is terrible; it's actually pretty good. But time
after time, the teachers and students are confused with one program after
another not loading or freezing or something. The IT people, in my opinion,
have the hardest job in the entire building. They have to make OS X Server
work with 500-some-odd computers with OS X (which is harder than it sounds),
and install Office 2008 on every computer, and if anything stops working,
they're the ones who have to fix it. And, needless to say, there are many
other programs that they use.

I'm thinking: what if we could just say good-bye to all of this and just
switch to Ubuntu or Edubuntu. It would be hard, especially because the
school has been on Macintosh since the early 90's, but that doesn't mean it
wouldn't be impossible. Everyone was able to switch from OS 9 to OS X
without too much hassle. I know that the Ubuntu/Edubuntu servers work pretty
well, so they could replace OS X Server with that, and replace OS X itself
with Ubuntu/Edubuntu. I know that you can run other OSes on iMacs, so we
could do that, and we could replace Safari with Firefox, and replace MS
Office 2008 with (One of my classes is "Computer
Applications" which is really just learning to use Word, Excel, PowerPoint,
etc, but my teacher is so used to using the older versions, which were
always almost exactly that same, version-to-version, so she is completely
confused with the ribbon and all of the other changes. I know that OO.o will
probably never put in the ribbon.)

But I'm still the only person that I know that uses Linux. I'm on my little
Linux island, surrounded by Windows and OS X. Many of my teachers don't even
know what Linux is, let alone Ubuntu or Edubuntu. The school has spent
hundreds of thousands of dollars (yes, I did all of the math) on software
alone; for reasons I don't understand, the school always has to have the
most recent version of everything, especially OS X and MS Office.

Still, I don't see any reason that it wouldn't work. Everyone would be using
OO.o, so it would be just like older versions of MS Office, and the
computers would never get viruses, and I know that there are many
open-source Linux programs for helping teachers. It couldn't be done
overnight, but they could do it over the summer vacation (or maybe even the
Christmas vacation). For the few programs that we use where there is no
Linux alternative (by the same company or an open-source clone), we would
have to use Wine or something like it. I'm not sure what the other
alternatives are, but we could find out.

Would we be able to do this at all? Also: is Edubuntu really that much
better for schools than Ubuntu?

Please let me know what you think.


David McNally

P.S.: I originally sent this email to the
ubuntu-users at lists.ubuntu.commailing list, and was told that I would
have more luck here at
edubuntu-users at

David McNally
david3333333 at
apt-get moo

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