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[school-discuss] Re: Karoshi, anyone?

Good stuff Lee, I'll look into it and see if it could help our pilot project to roll LTSP out to 6 other schools here in Atlanta. And I agree completely with the comment about coupling Linux experts ('a senior Unix admin') with schools moving or considering Linux; this is exactly what we did here in Atlanta, and our local expert, Jim Kinney, is really helping them not only with transitioning to Linux, but also with getting out of the box of buying brand names, etc. But it's to the point for me now, where if any other school asked me about moving to Linux, I would: 1) give them a tour of our school to see what a difference it makes, 2) if they don't already have a *nix admin/expert, then identify a local *nix admin/expert in their city that can help them plan and convert in stages. That's why I'm excited about having a really big list of consultants, I really think that is a key part of helping existing school IT departments make the transition. We were lucky in our case to have two parents that were willing to do all the learning to make the transition, but I do think the more general model is for schools to have access to professionals that do this for a living that they can trust to examine their specifics and recommend an optimum solution. And we learned in our case that they really preferred someone local that they could call up on a moments notice, meet with frequently, see their face, etc. without the associated travel costs.


lee wrote:
Matt Oquist <moquist@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

    I agree with you, but sadly this doesn't always happen. School IT
    departments (a big one in my area might have 5 people) stay just the
    way they are, and the former Winders(TM) admins suddenly become Linux
    admins. A "good" Linux admin can manage 50-100 servers, but these
    aren't "good" Linux admins (yet); many of them get upset because they
    can't administer everything with a GUI anymore.

I'm an old Unix DBMS guy, so I've done my share of awk & ksh scripts, etc., but anything that can alleviate some of the complexity of Linux network admin is hugely welcome...

I've mentioned it before, when I took a close look at Karoshi http://www.karoshi.org.uk I found a wonderful & underappreciated effort... What Paul & Jo have done is make the adoption of a complete multi-server SAMBA/NIS Linux network easy for GUI-driven users. They did this using little more than BASH scripts w/ a GUI frontend.

Karoshi fully integrates up to 11 servers including two backup servers, an on-line classroom & e-mail server, a Proxy filter (Dans Guardian) & internet access server w/ room-by-room blocking, a primary domain controller, at least three file servers (for both Windows & Linux roaming and mandatory profiles), an on-line library system, a media server, etc...

 > But this transition is something that must be understood before it is
 > undertaken, and I worry that many schools don't take the required
 > changes in personnel (either the existing personnel must change, or
 > new personnel must be hired) sufficiently into account.

The answer in this case is to pilot a Linux network - first on the bench, then in a semi-live demo....

The most-complex part of setting up Karoshi, for instance, was installing Mandrake (now Mandriva) - which is no harder than installing Windows. I believe that Mandrake & Karoshi combined takes most of the QOS risk out of Linux adoption (relative to Windows "ease-of-use") and the payoff in terms of costs will be immediately obvious -- no more server CALs plus a large bevvy of really wonderful free systems like Dans Guardian, Moodle, etc. A full Karoshi Install represents easily $40,000 of equivalent commercial software, and doesn't require stacks and stacks of the hottest, latest "blades" to run it....

 > Even so, as we all work to get the world to recognize the viability
 > and benefits of Linux and FOSS in education, we can change these
 > perceptions and thereby increase the number of "good" Linux admins in
 > the long-term.

Hmmm.... well, "good admins" of any flavor are more likely to be good on any platform, even if they are Windows-heads, they're also working with Wifi security, WEP, DNS, NAT, bridging, subnets, etc., so they're probably ready to take on Linux given the opportunity. School districts have a pay problem, but the OTJ stress is lower & attracts older IT workers who want school district retirement & insurance and 40-hour weeks w/ calm summers. Altho I've seen some Windows admins (at a state agency) shy away from Unix & Linux, most were up for the challenge given that they had good over-the-shoulder support from a senior Unix admin....

What IT manglers seek is an available knowledge-base that can be "transferred in" OR is easy enough to adopt. Windows networks, being of critical mass fits the former criterion, and a GUI-driven system like Karoshi fits the latter. Were I an IT manager and I saw the differential cost savings by going with an integrated Linux server suite like Karoshi, then the adoption gains far outweigh all the other adoption issues....

One thing I suggested to the Karoshi developers was that they consider adding VPN &/or LTSP functionality -- I believe they are considering it as part of a later phase.... To me that would make Karoshi a true TKO solution - and vice versa for K12LTSP -- K12LTSP integrated into Karoshi would push K12LTSP from a narrow LTSP-only solution (not that is a small thing, per se, but only one part of the overall K-12 IT picture) to being part of a bigger, broader integrated solution that'd bring solve a great many problems in one swell foop.