[K12OSN] Microsoft's insidious domination in Australian schools

Mike Ely mely at rogueriver.k12.or.us
Thu May 4 18:26:48 UTC 2006

Yowch.  I'm listening to all these sob stories, and it makes me really grateful for what I have.  I inherited a network in a small rural school district that already ran linux at the backend: our domain is an NT-style samba domain running on a debian box.  Our mail/groupware server runs linux.  So do our fileservers.  The LTSP lab was a natural extension of that.

Much of the above was a matter of neccessity: we can't afford to pay Microsoft or Novell for their servers - not when you factor in the cost of CALs, and the inevitable upgrades that would be required.  Plus, I don't have to administer Exchange anymore!  You have no idea how nice this is for me.

I suspect Robert was spot-on when he stated that "small is better."  In this district, I answer directly to the Superintendent of Schools, who would be the first to admit that he knows little about computers.  What this means for me is that so long as things work, the question of how they work is up to me.  Just a thought for those of you who may be job-hunting...


----- Original Message -----
From: pogson <robert.pogson at gmail.com>
To: k12osn at redhat.com
Sent: Thursday, May 4, 2006 12:18:10 PM GMT-0800
Subject: Re: [K12OSN]  Microsoft's insidious domination in Australian schools

I teach in a different place almost every year and travel with my
server, a switch, and cables. I dust off the rejects piled up in storage
and run my classroom. Usually no one asks and I do not tell. Two years
ago, I wired all the classrooms in the high school (it was only two
rooms...) and the students left the regular XP lab to the K-9 students.
Last year was a disaster, though. Another school had just converted to
XP and they went out of their way to make LTSP difficult in the lab. I
had to reconfigure my networking twice to keep things going. At one
point they introduced a 30 s delay to clients that switched on. I was
getting DHCP timeouts... I was using ThinStation with busybox and no
adjustable wait (fixed 10s) so I had to change all my boot discs, my
DHCP server and routing. On top of that techs had to travel 300 miles
for service and could not keep the lab machines going. They were locked
and I had no key. I used 10 year old PCs as clients to fill the gap. On
top of that all the XP clients in the school had unreliable logins and
difficulty printing so I was doing two jobs. I finally quit. This year I
am planning to go to a school just built and having a budget already set
for XP. At the interview I suggested we could double the number of
clients for the same money and have all the bells and whistles... I
should know today whether I have the contract for consulting and
teaching in the new school.

On this point, I think smaller is better. There is just less inertia in
the system. Techs who manage more than a thousand PCs do not want to
manage 900 XP machines and 100 Linux boxes. I usually can dual boot a
lab with a boot disc for my classes with LTSP and the default is XP. The
point that XP was obsolete when it was introduced and no replacement in
sight is having some weight. This is the year for Linux opportunities
and it will only get better as tax payers and governments become more
aware of Linux. School systems will be dragged into the 21st C.
A problem is an opportunity.

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