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[K12OSN] Machines

We're trying to raise money for a new computer lab. We have about 25 old Compaqs running on a single server that my kids manage to send thrashing about once every 3-4 weeks.

(BTW, I think the thrashing is related to using tons of virtual memory. I ran a program that just kept asking for memory and it never ran out. Is there any way to limit the amount of memory the OS will give to an individual user to avoid something like that happening? It's especially important since I'm teaching C++ programming, and I'm not convinced that my students aren't leaving memory leaks around...)

I just went to thenicstore and the machines look really cool. For $249, to get a CD drive, 64MB of RAM, and the 10/100 ethernet card is great. I'd love to be able to use a 17" monitor with a decent resolution. How do the video cards in these kinds of machines stack up? My other big concern is floppies. The kids still use them *a lot* to get things back and forth from home. Has anybody attached USB floppy drives to a dumb terminal successfully? Do the NICs (and others) boot automatically from the server without a CD installed? (I hate having to have floppy boot disks. They get lost, and all of my "BOOT" disks are now "BOOTY" or "BOOB" disks thanks to some kids with too much time on their hands...I have a sneaking suspicion it was my seniors, not the sophomores.)

Anyway, I have some kids writing up a persuasive writing piece about why our lab should not be saddled with Windows PCs. Each is taking a different reason, researching it, and writing it up to give to the technology committee when we decide what to do if we finally get money.

I have:
(1) cost of software licenses (free is better than a Windows license any day in my book, especially if we have to upgrade)
(2) length of ownership (terminals can last for 5 or 6 years and you can upgrade the whole lab just by upgrading the server(s) )
(3) ease of administration (with a single file server, software can be made locally available to all machines at one time, student
work can be monitored from a central location, kids can log on to any account from any machine, and I can too, which makes checking
and helping easy)
(4) experience for the future (I'm going to have them survey various local and nationally recognized colleges. I'm guessing most CS programs use *nix of some sort as their primary platform, and having the kids learn how to navigate its intricacies in high school is a major leg up that most schools don't have)

Did I leave anything important out, or miss an important angle on something I included? I really like my lab, and I really don't want to get saddled with PCs that will be obsolete in three years if I can at all avoid it.

Thanks all,

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