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Surfing and Sourcing: Saskatchewan School District goes Thin Client
Monday, October 11 2004 @ 10:17 AM CST
Contributed by: Anonymous
Views:: 8,076
Education NEW ROCHELLE, NY, USA, Oct. 11, 2004 – A year ago, Tom Hawboldt, technology coordinator for the Northwest Catholic School District No. 16 in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada, surfed the Internet for information on the latest advancements in computer networks for school systems. Finding what he was looking for, he contacted Symbio Technologies in the New York City suburbs, which in turn called its value-added reseller in Ontario to team up for an international success story which has resulted in “more teachers – not just more computers – and a great system that is super stable and which has saved the district a bunch of money.”

That’s the story Hawboldt ( tells of how the District built a state-of-the-art network based on true diskless thin clients . . . low-cost, low-energy computers without hard or floppy disk drives, CD-ROMs, or embedded software which can become corrupted by viruses or become obsolete.

When contacted by the District, Symbio Technologies in New Rochelle called Brian Zammit, at Systems Aligned in Brampton, Ontario. Some nine months later, the District has replaced 122 Sun® Microsystems Sun Ray units with The Symbiont ™Solution – servers, software, and diskless thin clients provided through Systems Aligned.

The Symbiont solution, said Hawboldt, “eliminated the vendor lock-in that the District previously faced, resulting in significant cost savings and lower maintenance with no decrease in performance.” Working under a planned replacement program, he said plans call for the District to build upon its Linux® foundation by adding as many as 400 more diskless thin clients in early 2005.

Hawboldt said while the previous system worked well, “the District was concerned that as equipment aged and warranty periods expired we would have to purchase high-priced replacement parts and software available only from Sun. We also wanted to use Linux and Open Source educational software because we believed it would run better if the operating system was Linux.” ‘A Real Team Effort’

“Working with the Northwest Catholic School District No. 16 was a real team effort,” said Zammit (, who with partner Kanwar Sandhu formed Systems Aligned four years ago. “Not only did the business lead come from Symbio Technologies, but we also received superior, hands-on support from Roger Del Russo and Gideon Romm, the co-founders of the company. “This was our first installation of The Symbiont, and Roger and Gideon were very quick to respond and were very supportive. Overall, I am very happy to report that ‘the stuff just works, right out of the box’.”

Zammit said the project called for Linux thin clients and servers to be integrated into the a mixed environment of Windows® and Sun systems. Software from CodeWeavers Inc. was to be used to deliver Windows Web browser plug-ins to Linux Web browsing, with all other applications for students to be Open Source software available online.

Two major installations have now been completed,” said Zammit. “The District ordered 122 diskless thin clients and four servers configured with The Symbiont,” he said. “The first installation was in March, when we deployed 60 each in two classrooms. Then, over the summer, at a new school, the deployment was finished.” ‘Delighted by All Measures’

How happy is Northwest Catholic School District No. 16 and Hawboldt with The Symbiont and the installation over all?

“We’re delighted, by all measures,” he said. “The Symbiont Solution is excellent – quick and painless to install, easy to update, and it doesn’t break. And we can use the remote administrator component of The Symbiont to check out problems or questions anywhere on the system.

“The bottom line is always the bottom line,” Hawboldt said. “Today, the District has 90% thin clients. When we finish replacing the old Suns with true diskless think clients, we’ll be saving $400 per workstation. That’s more than $400,000 over all . . . money the District will use to hire more teachers, not just buy more computers. Then we will have achieved the best of both worlds – more teachers and a great system that is super stable and which saves a bunch of money.”

About Symbio Technologies
Symbio Technologies develops server software that manages diskless thin client networks running both Windows® and Linux applications. Rooted in the Open Source community, the company's flagship product – The Symbiont Management Suite™ – is based on LTSP (Linux Terminal Server Project). Symbio Technologies markets to business, education and government users through a growing international network of authorized VARs.

About Systems Aligned
Systems Aligned is a professional IT services company. Founded in 2000, Systems Aligned provides consulting, implementation and technical support services in Linux and Open Source software to companies worldwide while helping them lower costs and add to their bottom lines.

The Symbiont Management Suite is a trademark of Symbio Technologies. Other trademarks are properties of their respective owners.

Press Contacts:

Lew Tischler
Symbio Technologies.
+(914) 576-1205

David A. Kaminer
The Kaminer Group
+(914) 684-1934


Surfing and Sourcing: Saskatchewan School District goes Thin Client | 1 comments | Create New Account
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Surfing and Sourcing: Saskatchewan School District goes Thin Client
Authored by: pogson on Sunday, November 13 2005 @ 10:25 AM CST
This story is a bit old and there were no replies. Maybe I can stir something up. There were a few reads.

I raised the issue of going terminal server/thin client in my school and school division and it was not seriously considered. I raised about a dozen valid reasons why LTSP (Linux Terminal Server Project) would be good for our school which has just put in a new wing and has only a few machines in classrooms. This idea would work in the whole division. The only reply I obtained was that Windows is the current standard and staff and students know how to use it (debatable point). I set up my own terminal server in the lab but the administration insisted students be allowed to use Windows. I made sure students would at least try Linux, and because my course management system, Moodle, is available from web browsers, continued as before. It is a constant hassle that students who choose Windows do not have OpenOffice and KTouch. My division has technical support that wants, for good reason, to use the same disc image all over the division even though it does not have all the software I need for my courses. Staff and students can learn to use Linux in an hour, with no particular problems they do not have if they change versions of Windows.

The question is "What can we do to change a system of education that does not want to be educated in the new technology?" Linux is happening now. It is mainstream. In a very few years, our students will encounter it in the workplace. That Windows is the current standard is irrelevant to that reality. The curricula do not specify Windows. Using a variety of software is educational. Students who try five diffferent word processors can make informed choices in their lives. Why do school systems choose to prevent growth in our students?

I was corresponding with a technologist in Alberta. In spite of the fact that Windows is not specified as a standard in the curriculum there, the government is providing freebies that only work with Windows or MacOS and explicitly reject connections from Linux by OS. In AB, the government is increasingly using Word as the (moving) standard for government communication when the world is moving to Open Document. Curriculum documents have been provided for years in PDF but now some are appearing in Word.

I feel I am beating my head against a wall. Are things going backwards? Is there anywhere in Canada a Linux geek can teach in comfort?

Have server, will travel.

"Complexity kills." - Ray Ozzie, Microsoft 2005
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