Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Moving the school computer lab to Linux was not an easy decision to make—but it was a beneficial one.
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Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

This is the best story I have seen. While looking around some picture in this school, everything is in Linux. BUT THE META NAME OF THEIR WEB PAGE IS IN MICROSOFT FRONTPAGE. WHY???

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Howdy from the webmaster of the site in question!

The site was created back in 1999 on my own personal computer using Frontpage. In fact, I continue to use FP2002 on Windows XP to work on the site (one of the few reasons I reboot my home PC out of Linux). Why? Well, I am very much used to using Frontpage. Also, I paid good money for it, so why throw it out now? Also, there are things on our website tied into frontpage extensions that I don't have time to replace with non-frontpage alternatives at this time.

I know this is taboo for those in the Stallman free-software camp, but I, like Torvalds, do use proprietary software when I need to. I received an email from someone demanding that I switch our website ASAP to a free editor and remove all references to FP. Someday I can see myself switching to a Linux website editor, especially since I really dislike the bugs in FP2002 and MS products in general, but for now, FP does the job I need it to do.

Mike

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

For the future. Check out Quanta or Bluefish. They are both excellent HTML editors for Linux.

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Quanta and bluefish are not wysiwyg editors. Frontpage and Dreamweaver are. The Quanta developers have discussed adding wysiwyg, but it is not a priority for them.

This single issue is what is killing my otherwise enjoyment of gnu/linux. I've been able to migrate everything else, but this issue is forcing me to keep a w98/linux dual boot working, with a backup on another box.

The wysiwyg on Dreamweaver cannot be matched in anything on gnu/linux. The wysiwyg on frontpage is good, but what is great with frontpage is the quick "theme" setup, where you can have an excellent looking and functioning site with many pages in under an hour, and the incredible management of a web site with many (dozens to hundreds) of web pages.

Yes, dreamweaver and frontpage break html. dreamweaver is better, but there are problems there also. Yes, using vim/handcoding is the "proper" way to write w3c compliant code. But this is not an either/or situation. It is two different styles of authoring/administering web pages.

I wouldn't choose frontpage for writing a php/perl/mysql/apache based web site, but the drag and drop functionality of frontpage's web map view, automatic hyperlink updating, quick additional web page creation, and everything else that comes with it is sorely lacking in the gnu/linux realm.

Personally, I've stopped using frontpage because I've given up on using the frontpage extensions on my apache server due to the daily security problems. And I'm tired of the hand editing required to take out the extra bullsh*t code put in by frontpage. But I still bleed for it. Especially the "theme" setup, where I can walk into a store, sit down with an owner, and produce a web site in under an hour, put it on my apache server over the internet, and get paid for it before leaving. This is not possible for ecommerce sites, but for presence sites for service businesses, this is simple. dns comes later, made possible when you have spare ip addresses.

So now, I use dreamweaver for layout and wysiwyg, then validate through w3c, then fix through gvim. But it shouldn't be this hard.

Yes, when I get to the stage of using mod-Perl and MySQL, I'm sure I'll be handcoding more and more. But recently, I was running circles around someone who swears by vi, and was trying to keep a near-mirror of my site up and running. Vi was so much better he said. Yet it took me seconds to update my page with rapidly changing information, and took him so much longer. And my layout looked great, while his layout looked like one big blob of text.

I'm sure there will be people objecting to the previous paragraph. But if you are realistic, if you use tools that do the best job, if you are honest, and you have (production) experience using frontpage, dreamweaver, vi, vim, and similar tools, you'll admit that dreamweaver can be far more productive than hand coding, especially for static html web pages.

As for dreamweaver, I used to wish they ported to gnu/linux. I no longer do. Companies that haven't made the commitment to develop for gnu/linux will be the big losers of the future. I'm now glad their attitude on gnu/linux will bloody their corporate noses. They deserve it. And don't bother mentioning Wine.

Quanta and Bluefish are great for php/perl/other web page development for expert hand coders. But they are eons away from wysiwyg. And Quanta's "maybe in a year or two" attitude to wysiwyg is better than Bluefish, but in a year or two we may have quantum computing, we may be fighting AI computers, we may be visiting alien planets (see slashdot), etc. At that point, who cares if Quanta gets wysiwyg?

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

ignore the zealots.

you guys are doing sooooo much....for someone to ***** about that is not seeing the forest for the trees.

a step at a time.

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Your page isn't very accessable, I'm unable to submit anything to your guestboot from Lynx.

The javascript "sanitizer" that you use on that page is very easy to defeat, and may cause poor javascript implimentations to crash. There is no reason why that app can't be moved server-side and a simple HTML submit button (no JS required) be put on the page.

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Sure there's a reason- time and effort. Aggressive whining turns people off. If you have suggestions, offer pointers to more information.

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

When you teach web page design to your students what do you use?

Web design education needs to begin with raw html (xhtml...), so the students can learn what efficent code should look like. That can easily be done in vi, emacs, jstar, or pico. After that, higher level tools like Amaya, (Mozilla or NS) composer, or the HTML editor of your favorite office package (OOo, KOffice, GnomeOffice, ...).

Open tools like the Gimp, can be used for image editing.

PHP and/or Perl should be taught first for dynamic content, then javascript (again teach raw coding before higher level tools)

MS Frontpage produces horrible HTML (Frontpage before MS stole it was OK), and should be phased out immediately

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

The complete server string is:

Server: Apache/1.3.27 (Unix) FrontPage/5.0.2.2510

They may be faking something, but I doubt it...

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

For some very strange and unfathomable reason, a lot of people like to create web pages using FrontPage. For even more bizarre reasons best left unknown, they also seem to like to use the FrontPage Server Extensions for updating their websites. But, they seem to dislike using IIS for their web server, preferring, as the majority of webmasters do, to use the wonderful Apache server running on some form or another of Unix or Linux (no, they aren't the same thing). To that end, Microsoft ported their FrontPage Server Extensions over to run on Apache.

For these strange souls, they can design, develop, deploy, and update their websites all from within the FrontPage editor, never ever realising that they aren't using Microsoft server products to do so.

:) [Some people's kids, eh?]

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

I would guess that they made the web page before they converted to Linux.

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Great Article...

may I suggest a game called gcompris. it's a collection of several educational games (time telling, writing, reading, coloring and others). I put that on my daughter's computer (she is 6) and she learned a lot from it..

you can find it Here

good luck

Ayman

Descent 3 Ownz!!! - Slim

Anonymous's picture

Ok kiddies, take the box off the wall and insert the cd into the drive, then click install =)

Re: Descent 3 Ownz!!! - Slim

Anonymous's picture

www.planetdescent.com

www.descentbb.net

www.interplaystor.com - look for descent 3 for 10 bux and BUY IT

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

I'd like to add my congratulations to the others for what Michael is doing and invite him and any others interested in furthering the use of such tools to join the discussion on Schoolforge.net, the international coalition of organizations and schools fostering free and open software and learning materials for education. You can find our mission statement, membership list, software and non-software resources, case-studies ....

I hope Greater Houlton and Gould will seriously consider joining the coalition.

You can join the discussion at schoolforge.net/sfdiscuss.php. You might like to check out and post on the news.schoolforge.net, our news-journal site
With best wishes,
David BucknellOn behalf of Schoolforge.

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Did anyone notice the Descent 3 Box on the wall, long live Descent.

http://www.descent3.com

Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Where can I download Linux for free?

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

www.linuxiso.org would be a good place to start. And don't believe the "this distribution is the most popular" posts. It is all very subjective to what you are doing with linux. ;)

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Linux is about freedom. Freedom of choice. Download

Red Hat,

Mandrake,

Suse

try them out then pick what you like best.

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Better yet, visit Linux Weekly News and click on the Distributions link at the top of the page and you can choose from the many distrubitons out there. As part of the value of using Linux is learning about the operating system and computers, this is a great place to start.

Personally, I use, and administer in a charter school, the Debian distribution of Linux.

Debian and Charter school

Anonymous's picture

How did you get the charter school to adopt debian( Any presentations or proposals). Im working on the same module here in the texas region.....send me an email response pls at mitengrstud@yahoo.com.

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Good Golly, Linux has always been available for free.

http://www.redhat.com/apps/download/

This is the most popular version, do a search on Google.com

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

In case some of you are wondering where the Descent and D3 references are coming from...

http://www.descentbb.net/ubb/Forum20/HTML/003128.html

We are a small but tight-knit group of gamers that primarily play a game called Descent3. Some *do* use Linux for playing and serving D3.

Nice article BTW, it shows that following the leader is not the only way.

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Yes Long live descent 3!!!!!!!

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

My wife is a first grade teacher. I printed this article and let her read it. We both loved it.

She has two computers in her classroom (Win2K and 98). I'm thinking about trying to customize Knoppix with the applications that you mentioned for her to take to class. They can't install anything without putting in paperwork and getting clearance. Knoppix would be the perfect fit.

Michael, great article!

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

That has already done, check :

freduc from ofset

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Just a quick further to the above... FreeDuc uses the xFce window manager and is thus even more suitable for use on older hardware. So there would be less pressure to have to go out and purchase faster kit just to run the KDE 3 desktop.

Knoppix can also be set to use lighter desktop managers as well, and the real advantage is that the menus have been properly set up already in thoise clients as well.

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

When I first read the article in my copy of LJ I was most heartened by its implied meaning that the GUI was ready for the masses.

I later mentioned this to an historian/phd candidate, former university TA, non-geek, aquaintence who replied that "Linux will never be ready until it is much simpler, like Windows with no signon screens and simpler software installation".

[Yes, there is a bit missing from the whole story; like "what's a virus/worm?" a while back.]

For the life of me I don't know if this is an outgrowth of the dumb-down in education in the present crop or the hearld of a bright new beginning with the promise demonstrated by those gradeschool kids in Maine.

BTW - There isn't already a 'Linux in Education" project???

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

" I later mentioned this to an historian/phd candidate, former university TA, non-geek, aquaintence who replied that "Linux will never be ready until it is much simpler, like Windows with no signon screens and simpler software installation". "

What exactly makes this guy the Desktop expert? Because his PhD work is in something other than CS/EE like mine, so therefore I am skewed?

The software installation issue really isn't an issue. Sure, there is a lot of source out there that you can compile to install on Linux, but if that isn't your thing, stick to the prepacked, installation ready, distribution focused rpm/deb/whatever files. If you download something from Redhat, for Redhat, it will install as advertised. At least if you are so inclined, you have the ability to grab some source and install it. If not, no big deal. grab the rpm/deb from a reputable source and install it. Even Gentoo's portage system is great. Anytime someone mentions Linux and masses, there will always be someone else to mention the whole ./configure, make, make install issue. Which really isn't an issue at all.

Does your Historian/Linux Desktop Expert actually use Linux, or is he just spouting off some hearsay? No signon screen? Most of the Windows versions I see now have signon screens. They even stuck that funky Family Logon onto Win98, an OS that was never designed to be multiuser.

I say the arguments are weak, uninformed, and blindly taken as fact because someone is a PhD candidate.

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Obviously the PhD candidate choose history (instead of math, physics, etc) for a good reason, which is why he thinks that Linux is not simple enough and requires a login (which can easily be turned off). But if elementary school kids can use it (and use the login procedure).... how hard could it be? Maybe too hard for the PhD candidate.... history was probably a good choice for him/her.....

DDK, Oklahoma City

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

When I read comments like this, which generally seem to defend Microsoft, it raises the question; how many Microsoft users can install, configure, upgrade, download, and install software and/or devices. In the real world, the exception being the few that can complete the above task, someone (Tech Specialist) are called upon to do the above mentioned tasks for most computer users. It makes no difference which OS my eleven year old is using, none of them intimidates him, however, he still can't configure a modem. When comparing Operating Systems, Mac included, we need to keep it fair and honest. Given the right circumstance, MS, Linux, and Mac can do the job. The deciding factor is cost and stability.

One last thing, the things I learned ten years ago in Unix still apply today!

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Several projects all over the world are concentrating on offering schools easy-to-setup Linux terminal networks, which will also obviate the need for purchasing expensive new hardware. One of the more ambitious ones is the Skolelinux project in Norway which aims to provide a host of network services out of the box.

Several schools from primary to secondary are already up and running this value-added Debian system.

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

My 4 year old daughter signs in on our home computer every time she uses it. She remembers her password even though she cannot read. And I think it is good for the children to learn this procedure from the start.

// Peter in Sweden

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

"Linux will never be ready until it is much simpler, like Windows with no signon screens and simpler software installation"
I'm not sure exactly what he means by "no signon screens"--if you're talking about not having to log in, you can set most modern distros up to autologin a user, and most Windows systems have you log in now anyway. And software installation doesn't get much simpler than a system like Portage (everything *else* about Gentoo is still hard, though) or apt or even urpmi (take a look at the latest Mandrake software system--two clicks to download and install).

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

How do yo auto-login a user? I've never heard of this and I've been using Linux for 10 years. I am going to have to set up a kiosk to run a web browser soon and I don't want people to have to log in.

treed@ultraviolet.org

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Mandrake lets You choose to boot without login somewhere in the configuration menu.

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Auto-login has been a feature offered by the non-xdm display managers for years now. In KDM (the only one I'm familiar with) you edit /etc/kde3/kdm/kdmrc and set AutoLoginEnable to TRUE and AutoLoginUser to whomever.

Linux in Education project

Anonymous's picture

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

An exciting and informative article, well written by a teacher obviously on the cutting edge, creating a sense of excitement in his students as well as cost savings for an excellent program. Mr. Surran is to be congratulated for his work, his dedication to his students, and his writing skills

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

It's funny, we are also a school in Maine and we have migrated all of our systems to Linux. This is the first I have heard about his project. Guess it's time to start a consortium or something. There are probably others out there.

In addition to our full linux workstations, we use diskless workstations and have over 50 accross the campus all running off one server with NO performance problems. That is a great option and I can't say enough about reliability and performance. The diskless terminals are actually faster than the full linux workstations because of the advantages of shared libraries. I wouldn't have believed it either. :-)

-Derek

http://network.gouldacademy.org/

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Do the diskless terminals allow the same roaming profile that the full workstations do?

Just curious, if the ltsp server allows for authentication and /home mapping against the same authentication server that the other machines are using. If so COOL! and how did you do that?

I would like to try that on a school with a lab of 30 machines(possibly the terminals) and 2 workstations in each of 10 classrooms.

-Luis

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Welcome to the wonderful worls of NIS (Network Information Service) or OpenLDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol). NIS lets you use distributed / de-centralised password/group files, while OpenLDAP lets you use a single directory for all authentication information (a la Novell's NDS or Microsoft's ActiveDirectory). Using either of these (or a hacked up system of PAM and SQL) you can centralise or distributed your authentication and account info. Works great, although it does take a little while to wrap one's head around a few of the concepts.

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

ooooooooooo, simply fantastic, i hope Portuguese schools do the same using our version of GNU/Linux, Caixa M

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Please send us the Time-machine schematics, we'd like to live in the future too. The article is dated "Saturday, February 01, 2003". :)

www.linuxlookup.com

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

picky picky... if that's all you can find wrong with the article... :)

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

Probably the same time machine that allow me to buy my 2001 Durango in October 2000, or the same one that allows me to purchase the February 2003 issue of PC Mag at Safeway today.

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

exactly

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

That's exactly what I was thinking. I understand that this may be a good article but how does a guy write an article on a date that hasn't happened yet?

Re: Linux from Kindergarten to High School

Anonymous's picture

It's called "lead time". How would you feel, buying a magazine where all the articles were dated 2-3 months ago? They date them in the "future", which by the time the magazine is published, is now the present. Tada! The February issue now has an article dated in....February.

-g.

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