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[K12OSN] help with information on linux networking system

Good morning all,

This is probably not the place to post this question.  Please respond to
me off list if it is not.

My school district has approximately 2500 users, 700 workstations (win9x
machines, 128 mb ram, 100mb nics), 11 Novell servers, scattered across 8
sites. Of the 700 workstations, approximately 500 are 4 years old or
older.  Of that 500, 350 of the workstations are Pentium 200's running win95
(sounds like the perfect setup for terminals). Over the summer, we
upgraded form Novell 4.11 to Novell 5.1.  The Novell 5.1 system has eaten our
lunch to the extent that we now have "consultants" on the ground.  They
have been on the ground for 13 weeks with no end in sight (big suprise).
The only place where they (the consultants) have been able to make headway is
in a two year old lab running 733mhz machines by stripping Novell's
Client32. Last week, I took a high volume lab with 24 of the 200mhz
machines, peeled them off of the Novell network and set them and their
users up on their own Samba network. The poor woman who teaches in that
lab now "...has hope..." (her words) and the lab is a usable lab now.  The 
consultants are going to recommend upgrading to Novell 6.0 and replacing
the 350 machines that are "substandard."  I have suggested that we convert
the networking system to Linux running Samba with an option to redeploy
obsolete machines to terminals.  Converting to K12ltsp immediately
system wide is not an option at this time.  When I suggested runniing
Linux with Samba, here are the questions I was asked by the Assistant
Superintendent.  I think I know most of the answers to these questions but
I am asking for help from this list:

Scalability:  Is the Linux solution scalable to our current and future
needs?  (2500 users, 700 workstations, and growing)

What other schools, especially our size or larger, are using a Linux Samba
solution? Why are there not more schools using this solution?

Where would technical support for the network filesystem come?  Would
educational software programs, particularly Accelerated Reader pull their
technical support knowing that the network filesystem is linux based?

What are the costs in using the Linux network system?

What features would we lose by using a Linux network filesystem instead of
a Novell network filesystem.

Thank you for your help.

Stuart Highlander
Bridgeport ISD

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