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Re: [school-discuss] Re: Karoshi, anyone?

Daniel Howard <dhhoward@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> 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.

Neat... well I don't know much enuf about how LTSP is structured but I'm assuming that integrating r-mounted /home volumes along w/ NIS/yp into Karoshi's server schema wouldn't be too hard.

My only complaint about Karoshi at the time I installed it was that the server names were fixed (nothing that enhanced shell scripts couldn't change if there were a customer need...) and that there was a minor (but easily allayed) dependency upon a local NTP server getting universal time from a local IPcop firewall (I rigged my network to lookup on the world time service since I wanted to use a LinkSys SOHO firewall/router instead of IPCop... no big deal).

Karoshi's installed Windows "user profiles" use a UK keyboard & UK settings, so one would have to build US-oriented workstation profiles & place them in the correct shared directories on the Linux servers.

> 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.

Well there you go... also it'll be important for doing a pilot the most-critical aspect is proving disaster recovery, incl. proof-of-concept backup & restore, etc. This is what bugs IT managers most is interruption of service & QOS. Once a school becomes dependant upon an online classroom system, for instance, then the expectation of 24x7 follows. Giving them the warm fuzzies is critical....

> 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.

One idea I've been cooking in my head has been a demo cart that I can roll into a school... basically buying a bunch o' laptops from the refurbished outlet or gov't surplus sites ($500 for 20 laptops w/out harddrives...), building a demo Karoshi network with them & rolling the whole kit in already-running condition. Maybe lease the cart as a lease-loan kit for them to kick the tires, do feasibility studies, integrate some of their own desktops into the kit to see how well it'll work with their existing hardware, etc., taking all the time/risk worries out of the equation, plus it's there right in front of their eyes...  Maybe do a point & click disaster recovery demo ... wreck a server with rm -rf from root, show them the turn-around procedure to get the shop back online...

Just a thought... if a demo cart sounds like overkill, there's always bringing in just one or two laptops running multiple Linux servers on UML Linux "VM" instances (which alone has a very major "cool" factor). One great wonder of UML Linux, BTW, is the ability to mirror Linux instance images & then (if I recall correctly) provide a failover-capable set of servers (not true HACMP clustering, just HA fail-over clustering). I don't know if anyone's doing this yet, but it oughtta be feasible & probably a value-added $ feature one could provide as a wrap-around for a Karoshi setup.... heh... all these groovy things could be boiler-plated given the ability to write effective shell scripts in Linux...

> 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.

> 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.

I ran into this w/ my former school when my family decided to relocate... My replacement was not nearly so technical, so understandably mgm't sought expertise. Unfortunately they fell back on their fav Windoze vendor who was expensive and marginally competent ... So a good, qualified Linux support admin is going to be important.

What I learned when I started off on getting Linux servers in the school was that I wasn't going to get rid of Windows on the users' desktops. There's a good reason for the end-users to want Windows: In K-6 there's Reading Blaster, Math Blaster, the teacher's fav gradebook program, etc. But if the schools are well-managed, they've retained all the licenses for their machines, so the existing Windows machines' licenses are already sunk cost.

Some of the loss-lead development costs may be producing manuals, case study brochures,  maybe a test lab (or cart) that the consultants could quickly boilerplate for a potential client school (ala a "one day seminar" with snacks, food, glossy propaganda...), etc.

There are some Microsoft licensing problems that some local gov'ts have faced that entails MS marketing strong-arm tactics ... some municipality trying to stray away from the MS fold have found MS marketeers threaten to bring in their license cops in to examine CAL & COA discrepancies. All this hinges on whether the local gov'ts have kept good records, kept their COAs, etc. But for schools, the outlook is better, b/c if they took in donor machines w/out licenses, the the MS FreshStart program can rectify the discrepancies (for smaller school districts or indep. schools?) for PIII-class machines or lower.


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