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[K12OSN] New install (cc'd from offlist)

Karen: I CC'd this email to the listserv, others might have insight too -- we're a pretty helpful bunch.

Listmembers: Karen asked about safedesk, which I'm not familiar with, and also mounting home directories from a windows server -- which I'm also not familiar with. Any insight would be great.

hoffmann fidnet com wrote:
Would it be better to have a small server in each classroom or I server that could handle all three classrooms?

I've done both here -- and if your teacher is excited about *being in charge* of the system, and wants control over adding users, etc -- then a stand alone is the way to go.

Unfortunately, 8 clients seems to be the breaking point for a "workstation class" server. After 8 clients, you really need SCSI drives (or maybe SATA, but I've never used SATA in a server, I just know that IDE starts to choke hard -- even if it's ATA133)

If your teachers just want the computers to "work" when the kids sit down, and you are going to add accounts anyway -- I'd spend the money on a nicer single server. My 4th grade teacher that has been using K12LTSP for years wouldn't give up his server -- but I think that many other teachers have no interest in managing the server themselves.

Also, would you suggest just trying this with a small server (that would handle 10 computers) first just to see if the teachers will accept it?
  [rather than installing into 3 classrooms at once]

Yes. For sure. I would set up a regular workstation class machine (P4 desktop or so) with even 3 clients, just to see it in action. You might even want to get them set up, and call the teachers from home and get them to come in to see. Ask them some of the things they would like to do with the thin clients. See if you can accommodate them.

Also, if you can have one of the donation-ware computers sitting next to a thin client, and have it running windows2000 absurdly slow -- it helps to show that the thin clients are not what determines the speed. Every teacher in our district has a PI-133 IBM computer on their desk, but since they are connected to a dual xeon 3.2ghz server, they are screaming fast.

(Also note that I was paranoid about speed, so I run a very trimmed down desktop, running icewm instead of kde or gnome. I support over 100 thin clients on one server, and it's not maxing out at all...)

My husband and I are donating the funds for the server and the programming of the server. I hate to spend too much money if the teachers won't use it anyway.

Ouch. I would go with one server instead of 3, I think that would save money. I would also try to use K12LTSP instead of safedesk (although that's just my opinion, I'm not familiar with safedesk AT ALL) since it's your money as well.

If we can hook up your teachers with mine and the others that have contacted me regarding the teacher listserv, perhaps they'll be EXCITED once summer is over to try the computers they've been talking with thier peers about all summer... Yes, it's optimistic, but it's possible. :)

I'm curious, did you pick the 3 teachers, or were they just "plopped" on you? Make sure they realize that you are excited about the possibility, and are giving your own money because you think it's worthwhile, but you can't do it without serious commitment and participation from them.

Some mistakes I made?

1) I sold the idea to the administration. I did a good job, I had a comparative analysis of proprietary OS versus linux, etc. I saved (literally) $250,000. But I didnt' involve the teachers. They came into non-standard, cheap looking hardware, and were furious. Many of them still don't like me. And, they have reason -- I was wrong in my single pronged approach. Everyone talks about how hard it is to get school boards to approve non-microsoft products, so that's where I attacked. I should have started "grass roots" first.

2) I was not clear enough on the limitations of thin clients. Not having reliable sound, working floppy drives, and ability to install Walmart games apparently wasn't clear enough. I thought I made that clear. I did not. Be absurd in explaining the limitations. Mention that sound will work in some instances (it works in many), but it's not 100% reliable. Also, linux is not windows -- so you can't install "clifford's happy smacky reading carnival" from Walmart. (That was much more of a problem in the elementary)

3) TRAINING. That is what I'm trying to fix with my email to the list. I want to set up a community of support for teachers. I think that will help both in feeling secure, and in accountability.

Oh, and the powerpoint thing -- OpenOffice does not have all the clipart. That sucks. There are some websites with free clipart, and using those along with file saving techniques (ie, save to home directory, and then insert file inside openoffice) prove to be effective. Part of it is trial and error. If the teachers know that going in, and see it as an opportunity to teach kids both how to make a powerpoint, AND how to edit/modify files opened on different computers, it can be a wonderful experience. Face it, in the real world, WE FACE THINGS LIKE THAT!!! Heck, versions of powerpoint vary in what they look like. Being able to cope with those things should be part of the learning process...

Sorry to blabber on, I tend to do that...


Shawn Powers
Technology Director
Inland Lakes Schools
PHN: 231-238-6868 x9174
FAX: 509-356-7024
spowers inlandlakes org

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