Is Linux Worth the Effort?
I've spent the better part of the past 2 weeks banging away on 2 LTSP servers for our school district. I find myself lamenting to those around me, and being an otherwise cranky guy as well. This morning it dawned on me that people probably think I'm having such a hard time because I'm using Linux instead of the "norm" -- but that's just not the case.
Tomorrow morning, about 1200 people are going to log into thin clients strewn around the school district here in northern Michigan. I am using K12LTSP as my distribution, because the support is incredible, and it's designed for schools. The problem for me, however, is that Linux is so darn powerful, my users are overwhelmed by it. I'll admit, that's not really true of the students, but the teachers demand simplicity. And that's where my 2 weeks have gone. Here's some of the things I've done to prepare for tomorrow:
* Make a pretty login window, with the login and password on the same screen. (GDM doesn't have the 2 fields on the same screen, and my users don't like that. Thankfully, KDM fits the bill. I'd use XDM, but there are no asterisks when a user types their name, so they think the computer is locked up when they're typing their passwords. Ugh.)
* Get a SIMPLE window manager going. I've chosen xfce this time, because it's lightweight and pretty. In the past I've used icewm, but it requires another program to manage desktop icons, and I think nautilus is rather bloaty.
* Simplify the menu. A Fedora install comes with so many thousands of applications, it's hard for my users (again, not students so much) to find what they need. I have to manually create a "start" menu with just the applications regularly used.
And those are just the visible things. Behind the scenes we have network LDAP authentication, NFS home directories, CUPS printer installation, load balancing, pre-defined proxy rules inserted into firefox, defaulting openoffice to save in the Microsoft format, etc, etc.
Is it all worth it? Oh, heck yeah. Instead of managing 250 workstations, I'll be managing 2. I like that kind of math. There are still a couple hundred Macintosh computers, and handfuls of Windows PCs -- but I'd like not to think about those for a bit, and bask in my thin client glory. :)
Oh, and happy New Year everyone. :)
UPDATE: How'd it turn out? Here's a followup.
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