Local School Board and Ubuntu

The school board I worked for, from what I heard from the Manager of Information Technology, have added Firefox and OpenOffice.org to their default list of programs on their Windows images, although Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office are still the default.

That’s a step in the right direction at least but before you blast this school board for relying on Microsoft technologies, I want to state that last summer they implemented a system using N-Computing devices that allow one computer to turn into four terminals (saving money through lower energy costs and Windows licenses) and experimented with creating Ubuntu images pre-installed with Edubuntu-type programs, like GCompris.

Unfortunately, large organizations such as this school board need to worry about long-term support and N-Computing only supported Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake and beta-supported Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn, both of which were soon to be unsupported by Canonical, the makers of Ubuntu. Ultimately the technicians couldn’t get N-Computing to work fully with Ubuntu and abandoned the Ubuntu images but kept the N-Computing devices. That’s too bad, but at least they experimented with it and maybe will give it another shot in a few years time.

I was in contact with Canonical at the time to discuss the support issues of how N-Computing only supported their older releases and asked them to call the Manager of Information Technology, but nothing came of it.

Interesting dilemma though, where Canonical supports their every fourth release (such as Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake) for 3 years on the desktop and yet it still seems too fast for corporations such as N-Computing to keep up with.

My current university, Trent, will at least be installing a Xubuntu thin-client solution (dual-booted with Windows XP) for the Mathematics and Computer Science departments. This is in large part thanks to Ryan Oram of Infinity OS fame.

  • http://magicfab.myopenid.com/ Fabian Rodriguez

    Too bad you didn't know about Userful at the time! :(
    http://userful.com/products/product-comparison/

    I wonder who else is using Userful as I don't see many community members commenting on it. I know they were scouting among loco leads for reps all over Latinamerica but I haven't heard again about them for some time.

  • Jef Spaleta

    Understanding the support timescale requirements of a particular class of support customers is a very important part of sustainable support service business.

    Unfortunately, I don't think enough school administrations really have a handle on their own requirements in this area when it comes to planning for technology refreshes. If a consortium of school boards could get their heads together and come up with a standard technology refresh policy, which included minimum technology support lifetime requirements…companies like Canonical could tailor service/product portfolios at the education market much more clearly. As it is Canonical's support timelines are a best fit across multiple market segment categories. If education as as sector needs something like 5+ years of multi-vendor support for a particular collection of technology, they need to start saying that loudly and coherently.

    -jef