Greetings

David Trask dtrask at vcsvikings.org
Thu Nov 16 02:29:18 GMT 2006


Hi Abraham!

My name is David Trask and I am a Technology Director/Teacher in the
Northeast (Maine).  We have been using Linux in the classroom for a few
years now (at least five....I've lost count) and have been very pleased
with the result.  Allow me to explain.  I had been using linux in the
server closet for quite some time when I finally decided to experiment
with K12LTSP (K-12 Linux Terminal Server Project).  At first I introduced
it to the kids and then set up a small experimental lab.  Later that year
I set up a kiosk out in the hallway with some dummy accounts and lots of
printed screenshots showing people what they could do with Linux.  All day
long kids and teachers alike stopped by and "played" with the computer. 
About 2 weeks later I put out an email asking for any teachers who would
like additional computers in their rooms.  I only got a few, but I got the
ones I was aiming for.  I delivered thin-clients made from recycled
Pentium 2 and Pentium 1 workstations.  The effect was just as I
predicted....the domino effect.  Once other teachers saw how much the kids
in the classrooms with Linux terminals were writing, publishing,
researching and so forth...they wanted some.  This was March....by
May...every classroom in grades 1-8 had a "mini-lab".  

Fast forward to today.  We now have linux thin-clients all over our school
as well as my entire lab which is purely thin-clients....little ones like
the ones from disklessworkstations.com or thesymbiont.com.  While saving
money is a pleasant result of moving to Linux and thin-clients....that was
not our only motivation.  We have all three OS's....Windows XP, Mac OS X,
and Linux (the vast majority).  It's awesome...we teach concepts...not
applications or OS's.  Our kids learn how to use a computer....no matter
what the OS or application.  I use the analogy of driver's ed. quite
often....it goes like this.  When you took driver's ed. did you learn how
to drive a Ford?  How about a Chevy?  A Toyota?  Most people can't
remember...why?  Because ya' learned how to drive a car....regardless of
make, model, or size.  Why should computers be any different.  

My recommendation?  Go for it.  Your life as a system admin will become SO
much easier.  No more fighting little fires.  Easy to deploy and maintain.
 Edubuntu is a fantastic way to get started.  Grab an Edubuntu CD....load
up a small server and start with a classroom or lab....then build from
there.  Learn the in's and out's of how to manage an Edubuntu system
running LTSP.  (Standard as part of the server installation).  Eventually,
over time you'll end up like me....I love my job now....I have my life
back....I'm not fighting Windows fires alll the time any more.  I run a
Samba/LDAP server (the new Edubuntu Authentication Server will be out in
April) which provides centralized authentication and home
directory/windows profile storage for all my computers....Linux, Windows
or Mac OS X.  Easy to run, maintain and back up.  I run a couple of Linux
terminal servers (like Edubuntu)....and a Windows terminal server
(accessed via Linux using rdesktop) for any Windows apps we need....and so
forth.  (Maine has a one-to-one laptop program for all 7-8 grade students,
hence the Mac OS X laptops)  


Start playing now....learn about Edubuntu....plan for a small deployment
and build from there.  The next release of Edubuntu will be
incredible....I know...I was there when the specs were being drafted ;-) 
You can read about some of the cool stuff that's coming in my blog 
http://dtrask.wordpress.com   Getting involved with
Edubuntu....Linux...and the Free Software community will give you
something you can be excited about in your job again.  The support is
fantastic....the returns on your time and energy are great....and the
money you save will make you a hero.  You'll be able to increase access to
technology (that's the biggie) by providing more machines at a lower
cost....more machines for more kids....gone are the days of the
one-computer-classroom.  

In addition to joining the edubuntu users list...I also recommend joining
the K12OSn list.  Go to www.k12ltsp.org for more info on how to join the
list.  Although it's listed through the K12LTSP site, it's open to anyone
and the subjects are not limited to K12LTSP.  Eric Harrison, the founder
of K12LTSP, is also actively helping to develop Edubuntu....we're all one
big happy family.  So ask questions....don't be afraid...there are many
people just like you and many of us eager to help you out.  Welcome
aboard....it's going to be an awesome ride!   :-)

David N. Trask
Technology Teacher/Director
Vassalboro Community School
dtrask at vcsvikings.org
(207)923-3100





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