OpenSourcery CEO Brian Jamison, a solutions provider in Portland, Oregon, has embraced Ubuntu as a potential platform for high school teachers and students. One recent project included a Portland high school. The outcome: Students love Ubuntu, while some teachers are still adjusting to it. Here’s an overview.
OpenSourcery has rolled out Ubuntu Linux on 60 student laptops and five instructor laptops at a Portland-area high school. The school’s project requirements were:
Rather than going the traditional path, OpenSourcery recommended Ubuntu laptops from System76. The total solution included OpenOffice, Zimbra Email and an in-school WiFi netowrk for collaboration and file sharing. “The wireless worked great except when all kids saved their files at the end of each class,” recalls Jamison. “We’re working on a new solution to overcome that problem this year.”
For security, OpenSourcery embraced three applications — Alacarte, Pessulus and Sabayon — that locked down Ubuntu’s menu system. Still, Jamison concedes that there’s no perfect way to secure a laptop. “When you put a laptop in someone’s hands it’s only a matter of time until they figure out how to make it do something else,” he says.
So, what were the outcomes. “For students, the solution just worked,” says Jamison. “For teachers, there were issues.” For instance, an early issue related to projector support sourced some teachers on Ubuntu. Also, some teachers claimed that OpenOffice was “just too different” than the old standby, Microsoft Office. Also, there wasn’t ample time to research potential open source alternatives to some of the school’s legacy applications. As a result, the five teacher laptops were set-up as dual-boot systems running Ubuntu and Windows XP.
Bottom line: “They saved untold amounts of money and we only saw 15 trouble tickets in nine months,” says Jamison, who spoke at Ubuntu LIVE in Portland, Oregon.