[K12OSN] Introduction/Question

"Terrell Prudé, Jr." microman at cmosnetworks.com
Fri Oct 22 14:09:51 UTC 2004

Quinn Smith wrote:

> Hello-I am quinn smith 5th grade teacher at Buckman Elementary in 
> Portland. With the help of some very kind people (freegeek.org, Paul 
> Nelson, Eric Harris, and many others) I have a 12 client working LTSP 
> lab in my classroom. I have several needs.
> First, I need to learn the basics of Linux/Fedora 2. I am a moderate 
> Windows 9x user but the skill set doesn't appear transferable can 
> someone offer a direction on developing basic skills.
> Secondly, I need to learn basic networking. I am familiar with the 
> components of the basic network (wan/lan,nic,router, switch, etc..) 
> but would appreciate a direction, link that can provide the 
> development of a skill set.
> Thirdly, I would like to build some small form factor thin clients 
> using Netvista boxes. Can someone recommend a source for lowcost (mini 
> atx?) motherboards with built in audio/video/lan? Computer Geeks 
> (compgeeks.com) has socket 370 celeron 500's for $10.50.
> Lastly, if you have or are considering building a lab in an elementary 
> school lets connect and share knowledge (however limited it might be, 
> at least on my part...). I am willing to help.
> Thank you to all who help. Especially to Paul and Eric and FreeGeeks.org.

Hello Quinn, and welcome to the world of Free Software!

Having done the Windows-to-UNIX skill set conversion myself, I can tell 
you that you are in for a bit of a learning curve.  It's just like when 
we had to learn DOS; there was a learning curve.  As a former 
OS2/Windows NT junkie, I can tell you that it is quite doable.

There's a great book called "UNIX System V Release 4: An Introduction" 
put out by Osborne Press that takes you through developing exactly this 
skillset.  This was the book that I used to learn UNIX and GNU/Linux.  
Everything I learned from that book was transferable to, among other 
things, Red Hat Linux, including today's Fedora.  The book goes not only 
into what the commands are, but *why* you would ever want to remember 
and use them in the first place.  That's what helped me most.

To learn basic networking, this is one of the few Microsoft (gasp!) 
books that I can recommend.  Their "Networking Essentials" book is what 
I used back in my Windows NT 3.51 and 4.0 days.  I found it written 
quite well.  The other that I would *strongly* recommend for you is 
"Switched, Fast, and Gigabit Ethernet", put out by Macmillan Press.  
Don't let the thickness of the book scare you; it is very easy reading.

Note that you will need to spend some "sweat equity" time learning this 
stuff, and that means playing around in a test environment with it, 
breaking it, and then getting yourself out of the mess that you made.  
That's the only way to learn, and it's also a major part of the fun of 
it.  :-)

Finally, I've already built a few labs, as have many others on this 
list, and we all will be happy to help you out.  In my case, I'm using 
"old" Pentium-166's and Pentium-233's with 32MB DRAM (cost:  $0 apiece), 
and they make terrific thin clients.  These things have Soundblaster 16 
sound cards, S3 Trio64 (aka "Diamond Stealth64") video cards, and 3Com 
3C905 10/100 network cards.  You might not have to spend any money at 
all on the thin clients if you can get your hands on some of these.

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