A School (almost) without Windows

Tuesday, July 18 2006 @ 01:40 pm CST

Contributed by: pogson

This week a project was approved to install a large Linux desktop system in Chemawawin School in Easterville, Manitoba. Last year the school was K-8 but in a new building this year will be K-12 with 500 students. 150 new Linux seats will be added in the labs, library, all offices, and classrooms. 50 working Windows machines will be retained to run some Windows-only applications in the primary grades. Linux will be accessible on these by PXE booting.

With the move to less expensive thin clients (96 single user and 13 multi-seat), gigabit cabling to the multi-seat thin clients, and using FLOSS mostly, the cost per seat, including peripheral devices, is $600. Much of the investment was put into a failsafe file/print/DHCP server and four dual core application servers. The servers will have more than a terabyte of storage, six dual core processors, and a gigabit/s backbone.

The EdUbuntu distro supplies the infrastructure and the usual desktop applications. In addition we will add several web applications in the form of PHP server scripts for database application, bulletin board (phpBB), Coppermine Photo Gallery, Koha library software, Swish-e search engine, Wikipedia, fully indexed texts from Gutenberg.org, and Moodle course management system. Squid and DansGuardian will buffer web access and filter undesirable content. It will be a rich software environment with minimal maintenance except centralized backup and user management.

The project will be fully operational by the start of the 2006/7 school year. With the help of the Sabayon desktop management system, we hope to reduce the steepness of the learning curve in all areas by defining icons and configurations for the most used applications. e.g. productivity for administrators and teachers, educational games for primary, drills and web bookmarks for middle years, and course management for high school.