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Re: Major interview

On Wed, 8 Sep 1999, Ray Olszewski wrote:

> No, I'm not saying that at all. Actually, I suspect we agree more than we
> disagree ... but that shouldn't obscure the ways in which we do disagree.
> In a **Linux** context, I see older ('386, '486) machines best used in three
> roles:
>         -- limited, specialized servers (e.g., routers, dedicated DNS,
>                 dedicated mail relay -- of course, '486s can serve
>                 more of these roles than can '386s, due both to faster
>                 CPU and, typically, more RAM).
>         -- dedicated XTerminals, running apps that reside remotely on 
>                 fast, share-use app servers.
>         -- desktop applications that do not use X (e.g., e-mail with
>                 pine, the limited Web use that is possible with lynx).
> Generally speaking, what makes it tough to use older machines productively
> with Linux is the demands of the X server. Even when run in the leanest ways
> I've been able to work out -- for example, with a lightweight WM like
> blackbox -- performance still lags, especially performance with Netscape
> (important because the other GUI-based Web browsers aren't ready for general
> use yet). 
> Except for Monkey Linux (which I admit I haven't tried - I will, perhaps as
> soon as today), your suggestions for use of these older computers involve
> DOS, DOS-based apps, and Win 3.1. I will later discuss these ideas with you,
> either privately or on the openclassroom list -- a Linux list isn't the
> place for that discussion. 
> In a more general sense, though, you are correct here in one important
> observation that you only imply -- the usability of these older machines
> rests on the availability of good software for them that does things that
> schools need. In that context, I wonder about the extent to which Edsoft
> developers are writing programs that run under DOS or Win 3.1 these days. I
> very much doubt we can convince Edsoft publishers that '386s and '486s
> running Linux are viable platforms for porting or developing educational
> apps ... I personally wouldn't even try (except in an XTerminal context).
> As to EMachines ... I see the emergence of low-price, high-performance
> computers mainly as a great opportunity for both Linux and schools. Schools
> can build or update labs at much lower cost than they could a year or two
> ago, and these computers come equipped in ways that are almost ideal for
> conversion to Linux workstations (only their Winmodems present real problems
> at home, as does the absence of NICs in LAN contexts). They represent the
> kinds of desktop systems that Edsoft developers can look at and see as solid
> platforms to use in converting software to, or developing new software for,
> Linux.

Please explain this to our local school district.

University High School just signed a lease agreement for a new lab of
workstations.  32 compaq PII 450MHz systems (don't know the rest of the
specs off the top of my head, but SCSI was not even close to part of it)
and 32 iMac computers.  They are paying $45,000USD per year, can you guess
how many years? One? Two? Three? Four? nope.... FIVE YEARS.

They do have a $1 each buyout at the end (They should be paid by the
leasing company, so it does not have to haul them away...).

I have noticed this many places.  Even though budget systems are doing
really well, government/education/universitys/community colleges are
spending big bucks on compaqs, etc (buisness models).

BTW this did not include setup, networking, servers, etc.

> I'm currently using an Emachine to beta test wholeLinux, one of the
> soon-to-be-released "easy install" distributions (others are Corel Linux,
> easyLinux, and maybe SEUL's own Project Independence - will OpenClassroom
> server also fit in this category?). Allowing for a bit of beta-level
> roughness in the package, it seems almost designed to do a quick conversion
> of an EMachine to Linux. Since the traditional Linux systems houses, like VA
> Linux Systems, focus on high-end workstations, servers, and laptops, this
> development can be very valuable to promoting growth and improvement of
> Linux on the desktop.

You can build a great Xterm for well under $500:

As soon as memory comes down again, you could up it to 128MB, this would
use etherboot to netboot over the network (requires a switched port for
good Xperformance, netgreat 10/100 24port rack mount switches are only

Mid tower case						= $41
64MB ram						= $75
NIC (10/100)						= $10
Motherboard (ss7)					= $67
8MB video card (128zx)					= $26
K6-2 400MHz cpu (way overkill)				= $41
Heatsink/fan (big one, our schools are swamp cooled)	= $12
17" digiview monitor					= $170
Floppy disk drive					= $12.50
						Total 	= $454.50

> So my general view is that today schools have more and better choices than
> they did in the past. I hope I, seul-edu, and others can find ways to
> enhance these choices by promoting Linux for schools and improving Linux in
> ways that matter to schools. 

IMHO it is not the availablity of choices, it's using all of the options
available to them that is the problem.


> ------------------------------------"Never tell me the odds!"---
> Ray Olszewski                                        -- Han Solo
> Palo Alto, CA           	 	         ray@comarre.com        
> ----------------------------------------------------------------