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LinuxPPC in education?
I had a thought-provoking conversation this afternoon with the head (and
only) "tech" at my local school district. I had been evangelizing him about
Linux for a few months, and evidently the general press coverage was getting
through too. He said he was ready to give it a try. The next words out of
his mouth were that it would have to run all the software they already run,
title by title (not functional equivalents). These were Macintosh versions
of PageMaker, Adobe Illustrator, etc. I tried to get him to budge on that,
but he refused. We talked about ARDI's Executor Mac emulator, but since it
would only run mc68k binaries, and only if written for older versions of
MacOS, that didn't seem too useful. He said he had a machine ready to put
Linux on. I knew that the district was a heavily Macintosh shop, but I
figured that he had come up with a PC somewhere.
I was wrong. What he wanted to do was put Linux on one of his Macs. They
are all PowerPC based machines. I pointed him to the just-announced (really,
about 2 hours earlier) LinuxPPC Lite, which has a footprint of only 75 MB
and can work with BootX (evidently a Mac equivalent of lilo) to make a
dual-boot-capable Mac. And LinuxPPC Lite can be booted from a Zip disk, I
think, making it even more appealing as a "toe in the water" introduction to
Linux. I think we'll try that in a few weeks.
Here's the thoughts this incident provoked. Many schools have an investment
in Macs which they are loathe to give up. Part of the appeal of Linux is its
lowering of the cost of equiping a school with useful computers. I think
that if we could further demonstrate that Linux will allow disparate types of
computers to run the same programs (not binaries, but you know what I mean)
we could have an even greater appeal.
Do any of you have any experience with LinuxPPC? How close is it to the
various x86 distros? What do programmers have to look out for to ensure
their programs will compile and run on both the x86 and PPC Linuces? I think
we need to stay aware of how whatever we do will work on the various non-x86
versions of Linux. I'm hoping that someday Corel Netwinders may end up in
some of the school labs.
As soon as I send this I'm going to look into what a used Mac will cost. I
don't particularly care for them, but we'll have to have some sort of
test-bed. Besides, I'm having increasing difficulty finding home educational
software for my 6-yr. old son that will run via Executor (and so far I
haven't found any that will run on WINE, although I haven't tried recently).
A dual-boot Mac would fill the bill.
Doug Loss An idealist is one who, on noticing that
firstname.lastname@example.org roses smell better than cabbage, concludes
(717) 326-3987 that they will also make better soup.
H. L. Mencken