A Reading List for Linux in the Classroom

On-line resources for learning more about OpenLDAP, Samba, Squirrelmail and more.

Editor's Note: In the May 2005 issue of Linux Journal, Joe Ruffolo and Ron Terry wrote about their project to connect Mountainland Applied Technology College's several campuses while also moving to open-source software. Their article, "Linux in the Classroom: an Experience with Linux and Open-Source Software in and Educational Environment", follows the school's evolving technological infrastructure over a five-year period. Here, Joe offers a reading list of good sources for more detailed information on Samba, OpenLDAP and the other software they are using.

Over the past several years, much of what Ron and I have done in integrating Linux into the educational environment has been accomplished through trial and error. This is due partially to the maturity of the products available under Linux and partially to the lack of HOWTO documents available for what we were trying to accomplish. Fortunately, more and clearer documentation now is available.

Below is a reading list that you may find interesting and useful. Specifically, the HOWTO articles that describe using Samba as a primary domain controller (PDC) in a mixed Linux and Windows environment and using OpenLDAP for single sign-on should prove useful.

Ron and I are assembling some of our notes and modified HOWTO documents, and they are available at the link at the end of this list.

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Windows causes stupidity?

Barton Phillips's picture

Interesting article. As a computer professional I have to use Windows. I
don't always like it but I have to. My home systems mostly run flavors
of Linux and BSD.

I agree and disagree with you about Unix. In the good old days with only
a command line you had a very steep learning curve, but today with KDE,
Gnome, etc. the curve is not any more than using Windows. If you
computer comes with Linux, BSD, Unix installed and set up for you there
really isn't much difference between Windows and Unix. Companies that
use Unix have a lot of stupid users who don't know anything about
computers or computer science. Most of them can't program anything and
never use an xterm or command prompt. They use Word Processors, Spread
Sheets, Accounting programs and become proficient in those areas but
don't know much about their computer.

I think one of the biggest differences between the new free Unixes and
Windows is that for casual users, that is students and home users, the
additional tools are all free also. The biggest barrier to going further
with Windows is it all costs a lot of money. You want to learn to
program for example. Well with Windows you have to buy the C++
Development Studio which costs around $600. That stops people pretty
fast. It isn't a problem for companies, $600 is just change for a big
company. With Linux on the other hand the compiler is free and
available. So are editors and debuggers and all sorts of other tools.

I think one of the major differences in philosophy today is Open Source
versus Capitalistic Source. As a computer professional I had to buy a
lot of Windows tools. If I were just a student who wanted to learn I
couldn't afford to buy those tools. I would have to a) steal them, b)
use another OS, c) not learn.

If you have the money Windows has a lot of potential and a huge number
of diverse tools available. If you don't have money Windows is pretty
limiting and does tend to keep people stupid in spite of themselves.

Thanks for a thought provoking article.

Free tools on MS-Windows and MSDN

Anonymous's picture

Actually you can get most or all of the free tools running on Microsoft platforms. Look at Cygwin for example. The real reason Microsoft development looks less open is the "MSDN effect".

If you're an employer paying someone a developer's salary to write on Windows, it's worthwhile to pay for an MSDN subscription. So everyone who's a serious guru in Windows development is on MSDN.

If you don't have the MSDN subscription you're not in the "club", so you're better off going Gcc, Python, Linux, etc. where as long as you have a fast net connection you're on an equal footing with everyone else information gathering wise since all the code, bug reports, implementation arguments, and other discussions are public.

Microsoft does realize they have a problem here, so as Joel Spolsky points out, Through their Empower ISV program you can get five complete sets of MSDN Universal (otherwise known as "basically every Microsoft product except Flight Simulator") for about $375.

RE: Windows causes stupidity?

Barton Phillips's picture

I have for years had to subscribe to MSDN, and yes if you need/want to be a Windows guru/programmer you need this package. Also I have for years used Cygwin, which is really a great product and a real breath of fresh air through those dirty Windows.

I guess my point is that all of these things require you to either put out money or hunt for extras (and do quite a bit of learning to start) which is much less of a problem with Linux et all.

Things are quite a bit better these days for people running Windows without a large purse. You can get Perl, PHP, etc. as well as, as you pointed out, Cygwin. All of these wonderful products are Open Source and free to all with just a little looking. This was not the case just a few short years ago. At the end of the 20th century (1990's) most of these Open Source products just were not available. I hope this change will help people grow and learn even if they must use a "Stupid" closed system.

It has been a great experment and I am very happy to see Open Source invade the closed Windows world. Firefox, Thunderbird, PHP, Cygwin, Perl, Open Office: these are just a few of the open and standard applications that are now available on Linux, Max OS-X, BSD, and even Windows.

I suspect that most companies will not use these products, but home PC owners and students will more and more move to these great products. And as the young people learn and become skilled in these Open Source products eventually companies will follow because they can hire people with skills in Open Source and with out skills in M$ products. At least I hope so.

MSDN Subscriptions And... an Equivalent?

Taran's picture

Barton,

I too had an MSDN subscription in the late 90s, and it's really a good thing that Microsoft does. In fact, up until last weekend when I lost a CD case, I still had some of the CDs. I hadn't used them in years, but I always wondered whether I would find them useful (I still consult on multiplatform development). Your comments got me thinking.

The beauty of the MSDN subscription is that for about $1k a year, you got the latest updates and software. Period. But my ability to pay for that hinged on whether I was making enough to pay for the subscription; I did. And while most of the CDs were useless to me, I always had options within the proprietary software and platform.

So here's the thing: Most distributions do have the latest stable releases of things with every download. If you don't have them, you have the ability to download them. And while I was watching a friend install SuSE last night on a T22 ThinkPad, I got to see the updates in action on SuSE (I've never used SuSE).

So let's face it. The tools are available with every decent distribution, much like an MSDN subscription. And that's a cool thing to consider, because the corporate Linux end of things hasn't really spoken much about it - in fact, they probably don't *know* much about it. With Linux, it's irrelevant. Or is it?

Sneaking around on one of those CDS was the MSDN library - which is fairly useless until you figure out how to get what you want from it (my last experience being around Visual Studio 6.0; I always have seen .Net as DCOM in drag). But Linux severely lacks in this area, and unless you want vendor lock-in (a point of contention) you just don't get decent documentation.

Some recent discussions on email lists related to the Digital Divide have been talking about similar things... and have also been pretty hard on the Linux advocates, while inadvertently defending the MS advocates. The main argument is that the students eventually end up in the workforce. And Microsoft is a reality in the workforce.

The real answer is that more than one operating system should be taught in schools if we expect schools to be institutions of education. And that means both. While I love Linux, I have to deal with the reality of Windows in NGOs and other institutions. It's not that Linux isn't good enough, it's that Linux isn't the only operating system. It is increasing in use, and giving students options is what will make it a more popular operating system.

Interoperability is the key. But first, we need some good documentation.

I'm a student myself (high sc

Anonymous's picture

I'm a student myself (high school) and since 5 years I'm a student into informatics.. Although at school there is not that much taught on linux on itself we did get basic unix and shellscripting at school. The education is for system administration by the way. Anyways, I myself am are using linux-only since 8 years and I increasingly interest among students in the operating system. I think more than 60% has personal experience with linux and about 40% uses it regularly.. 10% in my classes i think is linux-only user. That's much more than it used to be. Now school still is a bit microsoft-oriented, even classes given by microsoft themselves.. but during projects you see most groups using alot of open source apps and operating systems.

Linux and the BSD systems are popular down here.. this is beyond a hype.. it's viewed as a very serious alternative here..

Website link giving a 404

Suramya's picture

I get a 404 error when trying to visit: A Web site Ron and I are maintaining. (http://pronetworkconsulting.com/linux)

Just thought I should let you know.

- Suramya

pronetworkconsulting site

Ron Terry's picture

The link is fixed. Keep coming back because we will be posting new stuff in the Quick Setup Guide and Example Config Files sections that show how we've done what we've done.

-Ron

email does not work

Barton Phillips's picture

Your [email] at the bottom of your web page bounces with:
----- Transcript of session follows -----
... while talking to mortis.dyn.over-yonder.net.:

>>>>>> DATA

<<< 550 : Client host rejected: Goway
550 5.1.1 ... User unknown
<<< 554 Error: no valid recipients

Not my articles

Ron Terry's picture

The articles linked on that page are not mine (with the exception of Linux in the Classroom). They are just some interesting Linux articles that I have found over time. I have just linked to their respective authors' web sites.

-Ron

RE: Not my articles

Barton Phillips's picture

It was not clear that the "rants" were not yours. Anyway, as I said, I liked the article about why Windows makes people stupid.

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