SchoolTool not suitable for Production?

Michael Paric mparic at
Tue Nov 16 01:56:22 GMT 2010

> Hi Michael,
> I'm the project manager for SchoolTool so I can address this.
> On Mon, Nov 15, 2010 at 5:17 PM, Michael Paric
> <mparic at> wrote:
>> In looking to provide a "server in a box" for schools based on Ubuntu, I was excited to include SchoolTool as it is an Ubuntu-backed project. However, I would never install a non-LTS version in a production environment due to the stability issues inherent with interim releases.
> Just to be clear, the relationship between SchoolTool and Ubuntu is
> that of siblings, not parent/child.  That is, Mark Shuttleworth
> started both, and in particular funds SchoolTool, but for the reasons
> Jonathan mentioned -- kind of an extreme packaging situation with many
> small dependencies (a looong story in itself) -- SchoolTool is not
> part of Ubuntu and Edubuntu at this point.  We just publish Ubuntu
> packages in our PPA.  We should be in Edubuntu 11.04, however.
>> So this information from the SchoolToll Installation page ( really bugs me:
>> "Installing SchoolTool on Ubuntu
>> Start by installing the server or desktop edition of Ubuntu Linux version 10.10, “Maverick Meerkat,” or 10.04, “Lucid Lynx.” With Lucid you will get SchoolTool 1.4; with Maverick you will get SchoolTool 1.5.
>> SchoolTool 1.5 is considered a maintenance release. If you are creating a dedicated system to run SchoolTool, using Maverick will give you a few extra features, but if you have some reason to prefer Lucid, the overall differences between SchoolTool 1.4 and 1.5 are small.
>> SchoolTool 1.6 for Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal” is slated for more substantial changes and improvements. You will need to upgrade your distribution from Lucid or Maverick to get SchoolTool 1.6 when the time comes."
>> Are you serious? Ubuntu is expecting us to upgrade production installations every six months in order to get improvements and fixes? Perhaps there is a better answer.
> Here's one way of looking at it.  What do you expect to happen when
> you do "apt-get update" on a deployed LTS server?  You probably expect
> "fixes."  You do not expect major new features to suddenly appear.  In
> particular you don't expect the user interface to change significantly
> without warning.  And you *really* don't expect the user interface to
> change significantly on an application you just spent two months
> training teachers to use.
> At least that's the way we're looking at it right now.
> Put another way, the reason a Long Term Support release is stable is
> because it doesn't keep changing.  That's kind of the point.  If you
> want the latest and greatest, update every six months.  It is your
> choice.
> Having said that, we did think for a while that we would just maintain
> packages each point release across several supported versions, e.g.,
> 1.4, 1.5, 1.6 for Lucid, 1.5, 1.6 for Maverick, etc.  That gets crazy
> for our release manager really quick though, and I don't think it is a
> good approach for users either.
> So, in summary: we intend to backport *fixes* to relevant earlier
> versions of Ubuntu -- based on which versions actually seem to remain
> in use for long periods, LTS releases in particular.  Currently, new
> features will go into new releases packaged for new versions of
> Ubuntu.
> BUT, if anyone else wants to help maintain packages for specific
> earlier versions of Ubuntu, we're not against it, it is just a lot
> more work than you'd think to do it by default.
> If you have any other questions or concerns, feel free to let me know.
> We are actively interested in helping companies use SchoolTool in
> "server in a box" solutions, as has already been successfully done by
> at least one international vendor
> (
> --Tom

I appreciate the detailed response and apologize for my frustration-driven rant. When it's fuzzy for the community to get a clear understanding of who is involved with what, it's especially difficult to explain to potential school deployments. I understand and agree with the concept of keeping the LTS as stable as possible but are you anticipating that many drastic changes to SchoolTool every six months? Even for those who want to upgrade the OS every release, that's quite a bit of additional training for users and support team. I guess it's one thing to say "we will only support the new features on the new OS releases so you're on your own if you want to run them on the LTS" and another for the website to say "you *must* upgrade in order to get the new version". Either way, much thanks to you and your team for the incredible amount of work to get this far. 


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