Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Some background information.

Bloomington High School North was approached by the State last year and offered an Indiana ACCESS grant in order to outfit 4 English classrooms with computers to be powered by Linux. They paid for the computers and the desks, and we paid to wire the classrooms with electricity and data. For the last half of last year, then, we had 4 classrooms equipped with computers.

The teachers were impressed enough with it that they banded together and submitted a grant proposal to the same program and we're in the middle, right now, of being outfitted with another 5 classrooms, bringing the total to 9 classrooms and 279 Linux workstations (30 students and 1 teacher per room).

What the grant does not provide for is support, though. Our school corporation's existing IT support structure is completely invested in supporting the Microsoft-running machines on our network.

Without support, however, the project would fail. Regardless of Operating System, computer-centric projects need support.

I, as the Technology Assistant here at Bloomington High School North, have taken responsibility for providing the support this project needs. I did not know a thing about Linux when I started out, so it's been an interesting education thus far.

The vast majority of my education has come either through the trial and error Joy of beating my head against brick walls, or through the less painful route of community interaction. I've received a lot of help along the way from the Bloomington Linux Users Group.

The distribution that came with the workstations was Novell Linux Desktop 9, at least our image of which was heavy-weight and bug-laden. I decided to create an image from scratch using Ubuntu 5.10, Breezy Badger, which ended up being much smoother and bug-free despite the fact that it was a total kludge hacked together by a Linux newbie.

(As an aside, we're using Edubuntu 5.10, however the Edubuntu project seems mostly focused on LTSP technology which does not apply in our situation so our next image will stick with the base Ubuntu distribution.)

When version 6.10, Edgy Eft, comes out here next Monday, I'll begin work on our new image, a major upgrade which should smooth out most of the hard bumps that linger in the system as a result of my ignorance-spawned incompetence.

This blog will contain an account of my day-to-day battles and learning experiences.

Thanks for reading, and make it a wonderful day!



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