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[school-discuss] LinuxInIndia#3 [July 16,2002]

Extracts from a newsletter (education-related news only). FN

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                 CopyLeft2002 GNU/GPL v2 OR LATER * ISSUE03 * JULY16, 2002 
Co-edited by Frederick Noronha and Parag Mehta <pm at linuxindia dot org> *

In this issue  o Linux... and the (Indian) languages (Yudit, Indianisation
    document, linguistic info)
  o Reports from the regions (Calicut-Kozhikode, Mumbai, Pune,
  o Ingenuity from India (GNU software for libraries, 
    qmailtheeasyway, Newbie's Guide to Linux, ElxLinux,
    suggesting for Indian accounting, thinclients at Goa,
    NevyOS, GLUE, mailinglist for PHP, MP3player, etc
  o Events (Lineo, Exocore training in Bangalore July 2002)
  o Linux goes to school (updates from Delhi, Goa...)

***************LINUX GOES TO SCHOOL... AND COLLEGE************************

Mumbai-based mailing lists that looks at GNU/Linux in education issues. It
is run by Nagarjuna G <nagarjun@hbcse.tifr.res.in> More details about him
from from his website http://www.hbcse.tifr.res.in/gn/

About LIFE: LIFE is a mailing list for discussing and posting information
related to the use of GNU/Linux and other Free software solutions to
education in schools, colleges and universities.


SINGLE CD ON ENGINEERING APPLICATIONS: One of Nagarjuna's recent ideas: "I
am presently planning a single CD distribution containing the applications
and goodies requiered for a regular engineering college student.  I would
like to keep in mind the syllabus and projects students do.  Can some of you
tell us what kind of applications are used/needed by students?  We can build
the list and sit on one sunday and make the distro.  Debian GNU/Linux has
special scripts to make custom CDs from their original master distribution. 
I am planning to use this." --Nagarjuna

<ajith@nsc.ernet.in> recent wrote in to say that he is trying to propose the
GNU Linux Terminal Server System as a solution to schools and colleges. He's
doing so after testing it at Nuclear Science Centre "for nearly one year on
around 100 terminals".

Writes Ajith: "(There are now) several GNU/Linux Terminal Server
Installations. At University of Calicut, CEDT, IHRD computer training centre
and some other places. The Skill Development Centre at district panchayat
office, Calicut, also has one with 10 terminals and giving training on Linux
based office automation packages."

He argues that the cost of a good color terminal (diskless) will not exceed
Rs.13,000/- . You can also configure an old P1 or 486 as a graphics
terminal. (The GLUE CD he recently put together contains the software and
instructions to setup a system.) 

This, he calculates, a 20 terminal system + server + network will cost less
than Rs 350,000 (approx US$ 7000). The Free Software User Group, Calicut,
has a group of volunteers trained in setting up Terminal Server System and
offering help."

REDHAT... IN ONE CD: Supreet <supreet@linux-delhi.org> who's working on the
GNU/Linux-for-schools project in Delhi says in mid-July: "I have modified
the redhat 7.3 distro and it ships in one CD.  Installs kde desktop, grub,
timezone by default asia/calcutta. Has mozilla 1.0, openoffice 1.0. If
anybody is interested in testing the CD can contact me. There could be a
10-20 minute demo of the CD in next meet."

He also needs to add basic and logo packages because he could not find
stable release of bwbasic or ucblogo. "I am also looking at packages like
xbasic and yabasic. If anybody has prior experience in compiling and running
any of these packages should inform me with details," says he.

GNU/LINUX IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS TOO?: Linux in schools... what next? Linux in
primary school? Lawrie <lawrie@goatelecom.com> has been working on a plan
with a primary school to shift over to Linux. He hopes to guide the school
and train the teachers too...  Adds his sig-line: "The one who says it
cannot be done should never interrupt the one who is doing it."

LINUX ACCESS PROJECT IN DELHI: Sarai <www.sarai.net>, in association with
Linux Users Group, Delhi, recently initiated the Linux Access Project. This
project attempts to generate awareness and use of Free Software in schools
in Delhi.

As a first step the Free Software team at Sarai is creating a Red Hat-based
distribution network that will be easily available on a CD. A few schools
willing to start using Linux-based systems have been identified and a series
of workshops are planned through the year to introduce and familarise
students to Free Software programs. The Free Software Kit prepared by
Supreet Sethi and Pankaj Kaushal at Sarai will be distributed. Members of
the project will also extend technical support.Details from: dak@sarai.net

<prateek@linux-delhi.org> lists the responsibilites being parcelled out to
various individuals to take the Linux-In-Schools project ahead in Delhi:

* Proposal to be prepared for IDG for mutual dealing (Tripta)

* Syllabus: what is the current class XI-XII CBSE syllabus (prateek khanna
to arrange a copy); is the syllabus and texts OS-neutral; if not good enough
make courseware which is relevant; analysis of questions papers.

* Issues on CVS to be dealt with by Sandip, Karan, Pai and Supreet. Not a
matter of much concern for the time being

* Quizes on linux and talks on open source to be held in the Software
competitions organised by the schools.

* The talks with the schools should not just be on pragmatic points. They
should talk about freedom of software; open source; the fact that you can
learn more from free source... the implementation of what they study as a
part of programming

* No commercial organisation be brought into picture as far as possible. Red
Hat will be the favoured distribution. Still, an evaluation is being done
for a better alternative for schools.

* Mailing list has been set up.
* Key responsibilities: Project management (Sudheer Gandotra), presentation
(Prateek/Tripta), Write ups and manual (Dhurv/Supreet), Distribution (Raj
Mathur), Tickets (Raj Mathur), CVS (Raj Mathur), Central Support (Sarai),
Machine for testing (Tripta), Software List (Leo Fernandez), Syllabus

There's a new mailing list for the Linux for Schools project initiated
by ILUG-Delhi.  Please send subscribe in the Subject header to
mailto:school-request@linux-delhi.org?subject=subscribe to subscribe;
send mail to mailto:school@linux-delhi.org to post to it.

Non-member posts are disabled by default.  If you wish to post without
subscribing, please send the mail to raju@kandalaya.org and he'll forward

<ajith@nsc.ernet.in> put together GLUE, what some are already callling an
"excellent resource" of GNU/Linux resources for education. Says Prof Rayudu
of the Goa Engineering College: "First let me congratulate all of you
involved in compiling the CD. The CD is an excellent resource."

NOTHING OF MINE, SAYS KUMAR MODESTLY: When asked for permission to post it
on a site, Kumar says modestly: "There is nothing much of mine in it, except
a little bit in the physics, php and device driver sections. You can do
anything with that internally. External hosting we cannot do with things
like StarOffice 5.2 that is included in it. it is not much of an issue since
we are not selling it. Try to utilize it any manner you find suitable. Try
to distribute copies to anyone interested. Print the file gluecover.ps to
make a paper cover for the CD if you like."

FOR DISKLESS TERMINALS: "(For diskless terminals) the CD contains most of
the stuff needed, I hope. LTSP is very significant for us. NSC is using it
on a large number of machines," says Kumar.

working amidst trying and difficult circumstances with others like Ashley
Delaney and a few other volunteers, for the Goa Schools Computers Project,
has something to report. Recently GSCP opted to install GNU/Linux in
schools, with some support from Red Hat.

Says Tom: "There is a project in Goa /India (www.goasudharop.org/gscp -
sorry not much usefull information YET) where we distributed around 350
machines (Pentium 1) to schools all over Goa. Around 100 were sent out
configured with LTSP.... We used RH 7.2. Servers are 166-200 MHZ with
96-128 MB of Edo RAM. Clients are 66-166MHZ, 16-32 MB of RAM."

They're using Gnome and additionally windomaker. To make things easier, they
customized the installation procedure and are writing some script to
automize some things. 

The problems so far: * A lot of hardware probs (old buggy, hardware in a
very tropical country (as Tom, who's of German-Indian origins, puts it: "At
the moment my t-shirts are rotting.") * Gnome crashes sometimes (the server
is just too slow, but what to do -- six slots for edo ram only and edo ram
is not easily available or cheap * People mess up the settings (panel
mostly) -- need some recovering scripts for the teachers to refresh some
configs or create user-accounts anew * Not too much educational software
(that might be your second biggest problem - support is your biggest...

In addition, some other issues faced: * Many programs don't run in 640x480
proper and some teachers insist on it... on the 14" to 15" monitors * Some
of the programs being used are gnumeric (sometimes buggy and
limited-functionality), abiword (teachers are okay with that but now
complain about missing tables), xpaint (ugly, but nothing better's
available... couldn't get gpaint running yet), opera (ad-version), xwc
("llllighter than bloody Nautilus"). They still need to keep Mozilla (for
helpfiles, etc) and Nautilus as it's backend for Gnome). Eager to replace it
with gmc; suggestions for how to do so would be appreciated, as Nautilus is
too slow for the machines being used.

Mail software was still be searched for (something not heavy on resources).
"The only time the (school) teachers have to use the console is to mount...
will try to integrate supermount, which doesn't seem to be too easy and use
the scripts we built," says Tom.

In Goa, Arvind Yadav <arvind@opspl.com> customized RedHat 7.2, to create a
CD that would allow for easy install on the school computers. There are
about 15-20 volunteers to support some 20 schools. But something more is
needed, suggests Tom. Much depends on the teachers and their attitude. 

Says he: "If you want to spread linux widely in schools (and want the
teachers to really use the systems and not leave them getting dusted) you
have to teach them proper (not only linux BUT WHY linux) . Here we told the
schools: we can give you six slower systems where six kids can learn at the
same time or we could have given you one new fast system where you can have
linux (we paid 40$ for each system -- shipped and packed from the US to Goa
-- all non profit organisations involved)."

"Perhaps somebody should open a website www.reasons_for_linux_in_schools.org
:-)," says Tom.

* FOOTNOTE: Frederick Noronha <fred at bytesforall dot org> is a Goa-based
freelance journalist, who writes on IT-for-development and GNU/Linux themes
regularly. He is currently working on a print-media fellowship from
www.sarai.net to study the Indian contribution to GNU/Linux and is cofounder
of BytesForAll <www.bytesforall.org>. Parag Mehta <pm at linuxindia dot org>
is webmaster for Linux India, listadmin for Ilug-bom, Country Manager of
India for Linux Counters. Visit his personal site at: http://pmehta.org