Saturday, May 21, 2005


I previously mentioned Ubunut Linux as a possible base for a distro focused on education because it supports both Intel-compatible (x86) and Macintosh (PPC) computers, both of which are common in schools. Shortly after I tried installing Ubuntu Warty, their first release, on my 64bit AMD Athalon, and had major problems. I gave up, and went back to distro-searching, until about a month ago when I heard that Ubuntu was getting a lot of praise, and really coming up in the market, so I looked at their site again and found that the next version was out. Liking their 1 CD distro much better than the average 4 CDs I decided to try it again. It Works!! I've found Ubuntu to be a very stable distro, lacking only support for my wireless card (then again, I can't find any other distros that come with the kernel modules for the RT2500-based WMP54G).

My other recent project has been finding OSS for Windows. I have a few of the better sites bookmarked on, and some of this software would definitely be useful in schools. Note also that TheOpenCD is sponsored by Canonical Ltd, the organization behind Ubuntu and various other projects.

I just happened to run into an article (courtesy of the forums) in The Observer entitled "Lesson number one: get rid of Microsoft." It gives some general information on how schools in the UK are considering making the switch to OSS and how some already have. With any luck other governments may take notice and take action!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

opensourced penguin

opensourced peng
Originally uploaded by kg6gfq.
Well, my attempt to put a picture of this penguin in my last post failed, so I am now using Flickr to put it up.

By the way, I happened to be listening to a podcast by Matthew Bischoff of "ESC from the World" ( and heard about the Flickr service from him on the same day I decided to try using the service to put photos in this blog.

Spring Break is coming!! Unfortunately for those interested in seeing progress here there won't be much for a few days. I will be on vacation, but should return in time to at least get Grub to recognize Knoppix.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Procrastination/Pencil Linux??/Penguin!!

Well, there is not much chance of anything particularly interesting happening here on opensourced or with the idea of a new Linux distro until spring break at the earliest. Why do they insist on giving high school students homework?!? We have better things to do! (Or at least I do! :-)

Many, many, many thanks to Derek Kozel for the logo for this new distro. I was thinking "Pencil Linux" might be a good name, based on the pencil-computer analogy created by Seymour Papert. If you have never heard of this analogy, then I would recommend visiting and reading the first paragraph.

Tux the penguin, holding a pencil. Courtesy of Derek Kozel.

Monday, February 21, 2005

OFSET, OpenSourcEd Linux and the Freeduc-cd

About a month ago on one of my rambles across the web I ran into a very interesting site - that of the Organization for Free Software in Education and Teaching (OFSET). In my last post I mentioned an intention to create a Linux distribution specifically for use in schools. I didn't explain what I had in mind then, so I will now:
-Available for Macintosh, Intel-compatible PCs, and Intel compatible 64 bit PCs
-Contains all software neccesary for an educational environment
-Easy to install and use
-Usable in a client-server environment

On OFSET's site I discovered some very helpful resources - the Freeduc, a collection of free software helpful for education and also the Freeduc-cd, a Knoppix-based LiveCD with the software from the Freeduc. My original plan for the OpenSourcEd distro, as I will call it for now, was to use:
-The Anaconda installer from Fedora/Red Hat (ease of installation)
-PLD or Ubuntu kernels (support for all three architectures mentioned above)
-Various packages such as the Auto Mount Daemon and the Kudzu hardware detection wizard (ease of use)
-Graphical configuration wizards from various distributions (ease of use)
and to find and install whatever educational software I could dig up online. This last part has changed, thanks to the Freeduc. I downloaded the image of their LiveCD and tried it today. Even for an x86 kernel running on a 64 bit Intel compatible processor, not to mention the lag caused by reading data off the CD, it was very effective and easy to use, once I got the hang of the rather foreign desktop environment (IceWM, I believe). 'Marques' said in reply to my last post that he did not believe Linux would be as useful in schools as commercial operating systems, and although I do not know what background he has in the area I would like his opinion of the Freeduc-cd's ease of use. Even after a few months with Fedora Core 2 and my recent endeavors to build a Linux web server almost from the ground up I do not feel myself to be competent in the more complex areas of Linux, and the only time I needed to use a command line in twenty minutes of exploration on the Freeduc-cd was to mount my hard drive (automatic drive mounting seems to be a process that few Linux systems, if any, have perfected).

I completely agree with Derek on the tech support, but would the payment be necessary for the support? If a community of advanced Linux users could familiarize themselves with OpenSourceEd Linux then they could provide tech support to other users. Another possiblity is a wiki-style manual. I admit that these support systems would not be completely reliable and would take time to build, but they have been effectively used for years, mainly by those with backgrounds in technology.

I may start a project on soon, probably under the title "opensourced." If so, there is a good chance this blog will move to the home page of that project, most likely If so I plan to post a notice on this site if that is possible with blogger.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

General Misconceptions

Recently I have thought quite a bit about developing a variation of Linux to improve classroom computing while cutting over $100 off the price of each computer by eliminating the cost of a proprietary operating system. This would obviously be a great lift for all school technology programs, but, as in everything, there will be skeptics. I would like to address some of the most common misconceptions that are brought up, not neccesarily about Linux but about the general usefullness of computers in education.

1) Computers are not helping education now and therefore further attempts are futile.
- Currently there are two computers in my English class - one for the teacher and another that students often use to print their homework if their own printer is out of order. That comes to a ratio of fifteen or twenty students to two computers, neither of which is used on a regular basis by anyone but the teacher. Imagine a class of fifteen to twenty students, all sharing two textbooks, two pencils, two pieces of paper... Would critics not state that textbooks, pencils, and paper are ineffective? Before we can fairly judge the helpfullness of computers for students we must have the computers.

2) Computers are too expensive for school budgets.
- Computers are not as expensive as they may seem. Free software like many variations of Linux cuts at least $100 off the cost, and using software like removes the price of Microsoft Word.

If you have other questions about weather or not computers are helpful to schools please add a comment to this post and I will try to respond.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

More Ideas

I'd also like to cover Ameture Radio, particularly it's uses in education. The clock is ticking before the first real bit of interesting info comes on the site.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


Currently, this is a placeholder and braindump of ideas for this blog. One thing I would like to focus on is Open Source software, particularly:
-Open Source in Education (more coming very soon)
-open source for "civillians" (non tech-geeks)
-web servers
-Possibly a sort of "diary" of setting up a server

I may also use this as a place for working on various novels and short stories, particularly during November, which is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). For more information on NaNoWriMo visit (I wrote the HTML for the hyperlink myself! :-)

If anyone actually bothered to read this entry, I will be surprised. There should be more interesting ones As far as I can tell, it is completely uninteresting to anyone other than myself. I like it mainly because it is something to do when I should be doing my english homework :-). As I mentioned above, there should be more on Open Source in Education coming soon. Now, to see if this thing worked! :-)