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Re: [school-discuss] the nic

Over a year ago, I installed some of these in a San Francisco elementary school 
under an Oracle program.

The NICs boot off CD-ROM, have no hard drive, and default operate in 
browser-only mode (Netscape 4.7x at the time, no idea what they're using now). 
Linux is used as the underlying operating system, but the CD offers very few 
services or hooks to any deeper functionality. If your kids want to run a  word 
processor or a spreadsheet, they have to do so via a Web application. As a 
non-third-grader, I found it frustrating to use, but I think there's probably 
enough going with the NIC to keep wee ones quite busy. Precocious high schoolers 
will become exasperated, however. Since there's no hard drive, you obviously 
can't modify a working system, but there's no apparent reason a canny teacher 
(or student) couldn't whip up a non-approved disk at home and use it instead.

These devices look sharper than they are, and since the only moving part is the 
CD-ROM, operate happily in a footprint-reducing vertical orientation. They ship 
with speakers, which any sane teacher will trash immediately, in order to reduce 
the appeal of noise-making pages.

The other noteworthy aspect of these machines is that they keep the prices down 
by using incredibly cheap components. If you are buying a load of these, expect 
a 10% warranty return rate when planning out your deployment. If I'm wrong, 
you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Finally, I note that the price doesn't seem to have budged since last year. At 
this point, you can buy much more capable white-box machines for the same price, 
or, if you have a little expertise, you can retrofit outdated machinery to offer 
comparable functionality. To my eye, the NIC box was a Trojan horse that enabled 
Oracle to insinuate its Web services apps into the educational market (Sort of a 
purer form of .NET). If you use free software and can maintain your own server, 
then you're way ahead of the game.


Harish Pillay 9v1hp wrote:
> Hi.  I just came across www.thenicstore.com.  They sell computers at 
> USD 249.99 and is running Linux.  They are targetting the school market 
> as well.  Anyone with any experiences with their products?
> Harish