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Re: [school-discuss] Which is the fastest Desktop distro for schools?

On Wed, Nov 17, 2004 at 12:00:46PM +0800, Arjun Asthana wrote:
> I dont want things to be unsupported.

Then you need to have a clear wording of "being supported".

Not SLA but still -- I'm telling this after answering just some
hour ago a question styled "WHY THIS THING WON'T RUN ON X Y.Z
WITHOUT EFFORT??!" along the lines "well, that 1CD thing isn't
really suited for being universal, it's just not its job; you can
get yourself full-blown version (1DVD of binaries), do the
backport yourself (here's the maillist on those) or ask someone
with skills to do that, preferably paying for their time if you
really need that This Thing".

> I dont want to configure it manually after each install.

Reasonable solution is configuration reuse, be it cloning,
using centralized configuration engine, or NFS root with thin

Unreasonable is thinking that absolutely no configuration is
required -- at least user auth _will_ be.

> I dont want to compromise on the performance.

It's about tradeoffs between hardware expenses, software
expertise, time spent on tuning and time gained from improved

With reasonably modern hardware starting from PII (or fine-tuned
Pentium) class systems you may get away as is, with older systems
special approaches (as discussed) are in need or there's no sense.

> After all, that's window's job ;-)

"People should think, and machines should work" (c) IBM

I somehow consider the above processes belonging to the former
part of the equation. :)

> I'm thinking of using commercial compilers for compiling the
> things i need to, like the kernel, the WMs etc., if they they
> are worth the speed.

Uh-oh.  A whole lot of time to waste unless you're responsible
for *thousands* of systems (remember the security updates and
their testing).

> I have to patch the kernel to include some of my own things
> also, so, cannot go for existing builds.

Hm.  If these are somewhat common or generally useful you may try
to convince the kernel maintainers of the base distro to take the
patches into account -- *if*.  (/me doubts whether it's
reasonable to ask for patch list here)

> Linux BIOS? [...] After all, how much can a 13-yr-old do?

Quite a lot, still probably it takes more mature people to burn
several modern Intel SMP server mobos :] (actually happened some
two years ago -- SCB2 has had *severe* hardware vulnerability)

> But, I really need the undelete option [...] Is there any
> journaling FS that supports undelete also?

Sorry (no offense) but you keep asking wrong questions that seem
to stem from DOS and to some degree Windows background.

In a multitasking environment you're never sure whether the
blocks freed by deleting the file aren't used the next moment.
And BTW you're never sure whether fragmentation is doing any harm
when disk access isn't monotonous.

So the right answer to your question was, is and seems will be
"backup, backup and backup once more".  You can get yourself a
nice book on UNIX systems administration by Evi Nemeth and

> > a friend of mine with a vast experience with computer and
> > internet clubs on Linux insists that it's resisting frequent
> > resets and sometimes power outages the best
> Can you rephrase "resisting frequent resets" and "power outages
> the best"?

He tells that it would take more of that before breaking down
irreparably.  In the environment mentioned, there can't be any
valuable (unique) data on each of the systems, so they just got
re-cloned from master hard drive image.

But it takes time too, so he tried to find a solution which would
take the most time to break.

> > I personally prefer xfs and UPS combos but his experience may
> > be useful for some people here.
> Can you elaborate?

Upon what?  Even my home system uses XFS (and UPS, albeit old and
short-lived :), but that's more along the server recommendations
I'd give, hardly a school workstation.

> I was thinking of havng IceWM as first choice, XPDE as second,
> XFCE as third. 

Umm...  I've seen people criticizing XPDE for being too alike a
skin but OTOH too thin a skin.  At the first glance people can
get tricked into "ah, it's like Windows!" but then suddenly
everything becomes different.  Just because it isn't.

Never got around to looking at it myself (but then I happen to
see Windows quite sporadically), but there's a friend of mine
running XPDE at several schools in Ternopil', Ukraine.

> In one of the recent polls at some site about the best WM, they
> came out with WMAKER as the winner.

Well polls tend to be abusable (if it was /~xwinman ;-) but still
it's another culture.

> So, I'll add that too. Is it better to make it selectable at
> the login time or through some utility that modifes the x
> session files?

Don't know.  I've tried to come up with some thoughts when we
were discussing the topic but it really needs to try with real
students and not one's imagination.  Didn't have the time to.

> Should I use GDM, KDM or WINGSDM (IIRC, the Window maker DM)?

(wdm :)

> I'm thinking of puitting gCompris, Dr.Geo, XaoS, things from
> debianJr, Wine, things from freeduc and a lot of games also.
> What say? What else should I add?

Some timeline -- what time is dedicated to logic, educative
games, other games, maybe programming if it's some kind of a
specialized classes (don't think *everyone* should be able to
program, whatever they say -- only if a person understands the

Technology and implementation is one side of the question, what
exactly to do with computers loaded with software to educate
children is quite an another.

BTW, is there a need/possibility to get some wiki or another
repository for learning plans (sorry for self-translated "term")
in this community?  We do have some materials on this topic but
then again someone would have to translate them from Ukrainian
and Russian to present here. And these are tens of megabytes in

> Is BusyBox good enough for these kinds of distributions?

It's unneeded since it wasn't designed for those environments.
That is, it _can_ be buried in some initrd under the hood but
exposing students to it would be quite harsh, better show 'em zsh
and proper GNU tools :-)

PS: sorry if I'm too much into technical details, feel free to
get me stopped wasting _your_ time, gentle list readers.

 ---- WBR, Michael Shigorin <mike@altlinux.ru>
  ------ Linux.Kiev http://www.linux.kiev.ua/