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Re: [seul-edu] New (?) educational app--commercial

You got the URL wrong, Doug. The correct one is

                                               1, not l

That said ...the product has these features:

        Content filtering -- This is the important one you left off your
                list. They supply a default list of "safe for kids" sites
                and provide some functionality for a school customizing
                a list for its own use. Open Source alternative:
                junkbuster is the best I can think of, and this hasn't
                nearly the fine-tuning ability that, say, Active Guardian
                would have had, if it had been completed.

        Firewalling -- despite the marketing hokum on the Web site, 
                what they offer is a pretty standard firewall setup:
                external (their "Red Zone"), private internal (their
                "Blue Zone"), and DMZ (their "Amber Zone"). As I
                read the spec, it requires hardware with 3 NICs to
                do this; again, pretty standard. I don't see what (I
                think) schools really need -- a 4 zone system, with
                the admin side of the facility on a separate LAN
                from the academic side, and well firewalled from it.
                Open Source alternative: any decent Linux-based 
                routing package (LRP/EigerStein is definitely this 
                good, and probably FreeSCO, Coyote, and LRP/"classic"
                are close if not there.

        Web page caching -- they say they do it with Squid. Open 
                Source alternative: well ...Squid.

        "Curriculum Based Management" -- I think this is just
                marketing bafflegab for their providing access
                to a list of Web sites oriented to education. If
                I'm right, it's just another way of claiming their
                filtering is better than competitors' filtering.
                Open Source alternative: a proxy aerver like
                junkbuster for the software, and volunteer or teacher
                time for the site-list maintenance.

        Software Subscription Service -- basically, they do remote
                sysadmin'ing of your router/firewall. Open Source
                alternative: a skilled volunteer, if you are lucky
                enough to find one.

In the end, I don't think this company is offering anything particularly
impressive in the way of software. Their distinctive strength is (or, more
exactly, may be) in support services. Their firewall and proxy server
themselves won't be any better than what you can find as Open Source --
indeed, I bet most of it *is* Open Source -- but their site-directory
maintenance, firewall ruleset design, sysadmin support, and such may be
worth the price. Whether it is worth the (unstated) price or not depends on
the details of the system's performance, which you cannot infer from a Web
site (especially not one so Pollyanna-ish about the product as this one is).

Doug -- If you think this product deserves a closer look, why not approach
them for a review copy? Personally, I'd like to see some companies develop
viable ways to make money in an Open Source setting, so if this service is
any good, I'd like to see people use it (and pay for it). But the question,
"Is it any good?", remains to be answered.

BTW, there is some discussion of their involvement with Open SOurce at URL

At 06:09 PM 10/3/00 -0400, Douglas Loss wrote:
>On Tue, 03 Oct 2000, Douglas Loss wrote:
>> BASCOM has released ICS 3.0 for Linux.  I admit that I don't
>> know anything about this.  Is it worth looking into, or do we
>> already have free and open source equivalents for most of its
>> functionality?
>A cursory look seems to show that this is a firewall/proxy
>server/web cache appliance packaged for the educational
>community.  Could some of you take a closer look at
>http://www.bascom.com/products/ics/ics_pgl.html and see if I got
>it right and if there's more to it than what I've mentioned?

------------------------------------"Never tell me the odds!"---
Ray Olszewski                                        -- Han Solo
Palo Alto, CA           	 	         ray@comarre.com