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Macedonia to install Ubuntu on 20,000 school PCs

The Macedonia Ministry of Education and Science has received its first batch of 7,000 PCs with Ubuntu Linux installed. Ubuntu sponsor Canonical expects the figure will soon reach 20,000 units.

The Macedonia Ministry of Education and Science has received its first batch of 7,000 PCs with Ubuntu Linux installed. Ubuntu sponsor Canonical expects the figure will soon reach 20,000 units.

The actual distribution deployed here is Edubuntu 7.04, a version of Ubuntu tailored for classroom use.

Excerpt from CNET News.com:

Through a program called Computer for Every Child, the Macedonia Ministry of Education and Science plans to install the PCs throughout its elementary and secondary school system. Ubuntu will run on the 20,000 PCs, but 160,000 more students will be able to share those machines using hardware from NComputing, Canonical plans to announce Tuesday. The PCs are being supplied and installed by Haier, a Chinese PC maker.

Ivo Ivanovski, Macedonia's minister for the information society, in a prepared statement noted:

By selecting Ubuntu as the operating system for all of our classroom virtual PCs, our education system can provide computer-based education for all schoolchildren within the limited financial and infrastructural confines that most institutions face today.

Has Linux finally come of age in mainstream use?

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

13 comments
CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Has Linux finally come of age in mainstream use?" Paul, define "mainstream use". This vague question is asked in some form or phrasing every time a government, educational, or non-profit organization sends out a press release about deploying a large number of Linux systems. I consider those organizations "niche" (although I feel Linux is well-suited for what I know of their needs), but I'd like to know your definition of "mainstream".

CG IT
CG IT

I think that Macedonia will eventually find out that Linux with the Unbuntu GUI will be more of a pain in the butt administratively and cost more because of the administrative effort required, than had they opted for the Windows Platform.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

You've stated your position, but what reasons do you have to support it? There will be training costs for the administrative and support staff if they don't already know Linux. Other than that, what do you see as the sources of problems?

Nodisalsi
Nodisalsi

.. and MS certification costs $1000's - even the MS orientated ECDL is costing $3figures and I definately would not agree to it being worth this much. I've recently (thought I had) saved $hundreds by getting thin clients running WinCE for use in our office. Then I learn we would need to pay hundreds more for Terminal Server Client licences - overriding the saving I originally made - or run them without the basic web-browsing functionality we bought them for! AND I can't get support for WinCE/2003 Terminal Server etc.. because my upline Tech Support haven't been trained and the costs of this training and certification is $thousands. If I had purchased Linux thin clients then I would have had loads of support online - as well as two close friends of mine who know Linux better than anyone I've met who claimed they knew windows. So don't give me all any BS about the "administration" of Linux workstation overriding the savings of M$oft license fees!!!! I simply won't buy it.

shardeth-15902278
shardeth-15902278

I assume you are referring to the lack of Group Policy, which AD would provide (at a still higher cost, as they would need bot the DC's and the CAL's). And of course, AD really isn't enough by itself, you need ot add in some practical disk-imaging solution (ghost or other), or something along the lines of deep-freeze, to retain and restore basline config. I can't imagine that this issue wasn't considered though. I have a hard time believing they just coughed up the cash for that many PC's with no thought as to how they were going to manage them. That being said, I am very curious to know what solutions they are adopting for (re)deployment, authentication, policy enforcement, etc...

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

In that regard, it's a non-issue. Microsoft's Active Directory is the most well known thanks to it's important windows server lock-in. (pick part of the "echosystem" and you'll be forced to buy the rest) It does a nice job of managing users and resources with group policies but it's not the only one out there. Novell is still king in terms of directory services. The server OS died off mostly but the Novell Directory Service (I think that's what it's called) lives on. Sun has there own directory service available with a new version recently released if I read correctly a few days back. Red Hat also has a directory service available in both RH Enterprise and Fedora distributions. Zen Computing or some such company advertises a "control them all" product which is yet another cross platform directory service. I'd like to be providing more details but I can't go looking for them at the moment. One of the other readers posted a very nice list of the current ones last week in one of the discussions. Basically, not all of them have group policies but they all offer the same basic management functions. MS Active Directory is by no means the only or best aproach available.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'd love to add it too my case studies folder and see how they setup there network.

shardeth-15902278
shardeth-15902278

And Altiris, as I understand it has a Linux offering as well. To my knowledge, those are all fairly pricey solutions, which potentially eats into the cost savings gained by going with Linux desktop (assuming that you alternative windows based plan doesn't have you buying one of them to supplement AD's limited capabilities in this area). So I am curious as to what they did(/are doing). Did they use one of those commercial solutions, or did they come up with some other alternative?

DanLM
DanLM

I just didn't feel comfortable enough in my knowledge to ask. Dan

j-mart
j-mart

The best way to make judgements as regards to modern Linux distros as regards to ease of use is to give them a go. Find an older machine that is not up to some of the latest MS offerings, or put a second hardrive in a windows machine and put a new mainstream Linux distro on it, It will have the cost of your time, but you will learn new skills and possibly develop a more open mind to other ways that things can be done. If are not prepared to give something new a go for the shear joy that can be had by learning something new, don't bother but a small amount of experience with current Linux may change your opinion as regards to administering this alternative. Once up and running you can leave it alone and you machine will still run as well after install years later.

DanLM
DanLM

They do not have to make sure all desk tops are up to date with security releases once a month. They do not have to make sure virus protection is always up to date. At least not yet, that can change. So, where do you see the administration costs? I'm not trying to ridicule your position. But I would like to see you provide some backup data to support that position. Dan

j-mart
j-mart

Linux has been ready for some time. Wider public acceptance is an education and marketing exercise. Any use of Linux in education will enable more to be exposed to how easy Linux can be. I personally, in the education system in my country, would after initially using computers as another tool, see computing independent of any particular OS, with students taught basic concepts common to all systems, exposed to more than 1 OS, an not just force fed with MS office apps. Give them open minds and real knowledge.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

You don't teach one how to only use a Black&Decker hammer number 5 to drive nails; you teach them how to hammer a nail. You don't teach one how to write with a Bic B5 pencil; you teach them how to write. One should not be taught how to use Microsoft Word; one should learn how to use a word processor. One should not be taught how to use a Windows GUI; one should learn how to navigate around and learn any GUI. Teach concepts not a single brand of tool.

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