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[school-discuss] killer apps, ISO files and introduction

Hello everyone,

I've been lurking on this list for years, but hope to be more of an
active participant now that I've become a part of two very exciting
projects. One is a position at York University in which I am to design
open source based communities to enable academics to share research,
courseware, and open discourse. Another is working with a company that
is designing a netbook-type device+infrastructure specifically for use
in the developing world (picking up where the OLPC left off, so to speak).

A little background: I've been involved in open source since 1995 and
"open systems" for a decade before that. I wrote more than 100 Linux
columns for ZDNet and I was a founder of the Linux Professional
Institute. I also helped create (and still participate in) the Canadian
Association for Open Source and the new user's SIG of the Toronto Linux
User Group.

I'm just getting introduced to Moodle as a courseware
development/sharing tool and it does indeed look to be the outstanding
tool in its category. This is not the same case as with Drupal, which
(while being my own CMS tool of choice) is merely the leader in a very
crowded field -- many Drupal sites could also be implemented in Joomla,
Plone or other tools. And there does not -- at least that I have seen so
far -- seem to be a proprietary tool equivalent as good as Moodle, in
the manner that Sharepoint exists as a counterpart to Drupal and other
open source CMSs.

So I would agree that Moodle is a 'killer app' in this regard. And it is
making significant progress, being adopted widely by some institutions
(for example, http://moodle.yorku.ca/). What I think is happening is
that Moodle started in the world of post-secondary and is slowly making
its way into secondary institutions -- and only after that into K12.

I must say that I am puzzled by the desire for people to build and make
available custom ISOs of Linux distributions, rather than allowing
people to obtain a generic distro and add a few extra bits.

It may be too much to ask people to dump the Linux they're using, or
even to reboot their system, just to try a new complete OS... especially
when the ISO is just a mainstream distribution with a few custom RPM or
DEB) files added on. One of the strengths of Linux and many
distributions is their modularity -- that feature is destroyed by
insisting that people download and boot a whole new ISO just to try out
some new software or artwork. Even Edubuntu is no more than Ubuntu with
a few educational packages and themes added on...

My own preference would be for people to provide the specific RPMs or
DEBs available for download -- either directly or (even better!)
creation of a repository that can be monitored so that users can always
have access to the latest version. Then all you would need to do would
be to provide a small text script that people could execute on their
existing systems to load the unique components. It also helps to be
aware that not everyone yet has high bandwidth, and it's easier for many
to obtain a CDROM of the OS and just download the addon bits.

Matt, what specific changes/additions have you made to PCLinuxOS? Are
they available separately, or is the only way to get them on the ISO file?

- Evan