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Any open source schools out there

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by tonyuk, Oct 1, 2010.

  1. tonyuk

    tonyuk Occasional commenter

    Hi all
    We are thinking about moving open source in terms of email (exchange) and desk top programmes etc - are there any schools doing this at the moement I could visit to see it in action.
    We use some open source but nothing beyond audacity open office etc.

  2. Hiya,

    Although we run Windows desktops, we run various open source apps, Audacity, Inkscape, Openoffice, Wax and others. Our email (and all other servers bar SIMS) run on Linux with the email system built on Postfix with a Squirrelmail web interface. I have 3 companies that I do admin work for that are all running EGroupware which is PHP based and I've just set up local charity up with it as well. So far, no complaints other than a small amount of re-training.

    The downside of EGroupware is that you have to set up your own MTA, IMAP server etc., as it's only a PHP front end to a MySQL database. The upside is that performance wise it's remarkable for the light load it places on the server.

    The alternative would be a more packaged setup like Zimbra. This comes with a slick GUI and there's a paid for version which has nice features like running server backup whereas the free version has to be either stopped in order to backup, or you have to use a file system like XFS which allows you to create a snapshot of the data partition which can then be backed up while the server gets on with it's thing.

    If this is sounding a bit nightmarish, it really isn't. Our postfix/IMAP server had an uptime of one and a half years when we were forced to reboot it due to a power cut. It takes a bit longer than Exchange to configure but the pay-off in reliability is well worth the hassle. We tend to measure uptime in years anyway.

    Finally, where are you, and there there are also demo accounts/videos for you to try out for the packages listed above on the sites below:


  3. We're not fully open-sourced up but we're using SOGo (OSS) for email across the site, Moodle, Mahara and in my Mac suite we've removed MSO which has been running to parallel to OOo for some time (we changed the file associations for 09/10 so most students are used to using OOo in there now.

    We're thinking about doing the same site wide in the coming year or two and we are using GIMP, Inkscape, Kompozer, Audacity, etc. in conjunction with Fireworks, Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Garageband.

    I'm not aware of an OSS SIMS/Facility alternative that is usable, but would be interested to hear of one.
  4. There is a school management tool called School Toll that I think is another Mark Shuttleworth project but it isn't as ready as Moodle. Then again, the only reason we use SIMS is that county forced it on us. If it weren't for SIMS, we'd be fully Linux server wise.

    Hadn't come across SOgo before. Outlook integration looks good though.
  5. oc7

    oc7 New commenter

    We are fully Open Source in the clasroom, Linux Server with Ubuntu Desktops.
    The Admin and offices use Windows as our Management Information System is Windows based.
    We used to have a limited number of Windows machines with Access on for Edexcel Applied ICT - Unit 7 but since we no longer offer this course we no longer have them.
    You are welcome to visit and have a look, however, we are in South West Spain and whilst we follow a UK based curiculum our students do not sit external examinations so maybe not what you are looking for.
    This is our sixth year running Linux in the classroom and have lots of experience, I am happy to share if you have any specific questions.
    The early days were a bit fraught as our initial installation was Mandriva 10.1 which was troublesome, Mandrake was better but since switching to Edubuntu it has been fine, last week we upgraded to Ubuntu 10.04 and have to say it is running like a dream. Just two machines that are struggling with 512Mb of memory that we are going to upgrade to 1Gb next week.
    Negatives ...
    Apart from my constant complaint that as far as the exam boards are concerned Access is the only DBMS the only other "gap" is a package for creating decent flash animations / movies. A couple of years ago I played around with action script GUI based applications but found nothing I could use with the students. There may be something better out there now but I don't think so.
    Having pointed out the downside I have to say that it has been a positive experience for me as a classroom teacher and after an initial moaning period "why is this school to mean to buy Windows" type comments the students now either don't notice or prefer actually prefer using Linux.
    We are a split site and at our other site they offer Dida usnig only open source but still maintain a few Windows machines for Unit 7 and Unit 11 (we have offered Unit 11 using Calc in the past but feel it is fairer to the students if they use Excel). I wouldn't switch your KS4 exam students though until your staff and kids have had a year to "get used" to it.
    Sorry if this all comes accross as a bit of a ramble, it is Friday after all,
    good luck whatever you decide
  6. tonyuk

    tonyuk Occasional commenter

    Thanks all - we are in the Midlands but will travel to most places in the UK to see a system if anyone can offer (Spain would be amazing and thanks for teh offer but I dont think I could get away with that one!)

  7. Exchange is like Office, i.e. bloated with features that no one outside of a corporate environment will ever need. Even in business, most of the companies I visited in my last job only used the calendar and the e-mail. They could have done perfectly well with a free package but as my employer was an MS gold partner, they profited from selling it and made even more cash fixing the random crashes that occurred from time to time.

    Tonyuk, I have a website that I'm in the process of building that will have tutorials for this sort of thing. It's not properly up yet but there is info that'd help you set up a FOSS mail system. If you want, I can send you a link by PM.
  8. tonyuk

    tonyuk Occasional commenter


    That would be really useful as we are going to try and move on thsi fairly quickly - hence trying to get some school visits sorted out - with the pulling of Hrnessing funds etc we do not have much money to play with (actually none) so looking for solutions now BSF has also collapsed.
  9. You're more than welcome to nip up to Teesside to see our SOGo implementation in action. Just drop me a line (ishouldbemarking AT gmail DOT com)
  10. JimShortz

    JimShortz New commenter

    Is that it... Are there really no schools in the UK fully embracing Open Source? Wow...

    I teach in a small international school in Chiang Mai northern Thailand and we are completely Linux Ubuntu based (over 100 PCs altogether) apart from a couple of office computers. Of the other 4 international schools here 1 is almost entirely on Ubuntu just like us and two others are at least partly moving over to Ubuntu. And, believe me when I say we have an excellent stable system with a great range of software - overall much better than when we were on Windows...

    How come the UK is lagging behind so much? Is it the cold winters and lethargy?

    I really am quite shocked by this. Just think of the vast sums of taxpayers money wasted lining the pockets of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs... Why is this still happening when Linux really has reached maturity and is raring to go... Why is the money wasted on software not put to better use? Is this how you would choose to spend your own money?

    I write this, by the way, from my machine runninx Linux Mint 10 - an operating system that I love, and one that is VERY easy to switch to for those used to Windows.
  11. DEmsley

    DEmsley New commenter

    It's good to hear someone so enthusiastic about OSS. I'd really appreciate it if you could post a list of the applications you're using.
  12. oc7

    oc7 New commenter

    Off the top of my head we use ...
    • Open Office
    • Gimp
    • Scribus
    • Kompozer
    To a lesser extent we also use
    • Inkscape
    • Audacity
    • Openshot
    As a Browser we use Firefox or Chrome (kids preference) and Gedit as a text editor in Maths we use KMPlot.

  13. I'd love to go fully open source but there'd be an uprising among staff. Seriously, we tried GiMP on the art dept and they went out an bought Photoshop out of their own budget. Linux wise, my preference would be Mandriva, Mageia (when it's ready), or PC Linux OS.
    At one point, I and a couple of talented 6th formers spent weeks trying to get our curriculum apps running with WINE. Success was varied and as soon as county mandated the use of SIMS, putting Linux on staff computers went out of the window.
    At the end of the day it's less hassle to let them have Windows. All the servers except for SIMS are running CentOS or Redhat EL6 and my admin box runs Mandriva 2010.2.
  14. jweb2k

    jweb2k New commenter

    I'm starting the Year 8 ICT unit on Open Source tomorrow...should hopefully go well(!)
  15. And courtesy of the new government comes this gem:


    Which means we should all now use Open Source unless a serious business case can be made to justify proprietary alternatives. Excellent.
  16. jweb2k

    jweb2k New commenter

    That's old govt surely (Feb 2009)?
  17. Whoops, wrong article. Labour said a lot about open source but never actually followed it though. Thinking about it, they only started using the term after the new lot announced they were behind it while in opposition. I remember the last gov. went on to negotiate an agreement with Microsoft that allowed licences to be moved between government departments and claimed that was an excellent display of their commitment to open source licencing. Lesson learned though, I won't believe a word of it until it happens.l

    I heard an announcement along the lines of the original article on the radio. This was the one I looked up after hearing it:


    Given our council is talking about setting up businesses within schools to provide service, 13 years of FOSS use may pay off at last.
  18. JimShortz

    JimShortz New commenter

    I read the first article and thought that at last some common sense had entered into government - then I realised it was 2 years old and was just the usual claptrap with no substance... doh!

    The second article, originally published by The Guardian does appear to suggest that the new gocernment has taken up the mantle. Surely, Open Source should at least be considered as part of any bid to spend taxpayers money. Why wouldn't it be at least considered? This may mean that government organisations (including schools) continue, for now, to use Windows but choose Open Source applications that run on this platform. To my mind Open Office, Gimp and Scribus are obvious choices in place of the paid-for alternatives... I'd be gutted if you spent my money on the expoensive alternatives... [​IMG]
  19. JimShortz

    JimShortz New commenter

    Here's a list of the major software that we currently use, with much less problems than we used to have with Windows based systems, in my school (off the top of my head - I am at home!):

    Ubuntu (but I think Mint is a good alternative too)
    Office Productivity:
    Scribus (DTP)
    OpenOffice Draw

    Desktop recorder (recording screencasts)

    Also note that a computer can be completely reinstalled with all software configured, updates downloaded and settings customised in under an hour... ...half of that if you don't update! An admin dream!
  20. To be honest, before my current job, I'd only ever worked in the private sector. My last job was with a "solutions provider" that used to offer a service where they'd go in, analyse every aspect of the business and recommend the best solution. The problem was that the best solution was always Windows XP, Office 2003, Exchange 2003 and the usual virus checker and mail extras package.

    Of all the places I visited, I never found anyone who used more than the basic features of Office and the email and calendar in Exchange. They would have done perfectly well with OpenOffice and EGroupware which were both within the capabilities they required.

    One of the things that p***ed me of the most was when I visited a company whose cheap and nasty NT based mail server had been hijacked and was relaying spam. I could've cured it with a gateway box running Debian and IPtables and a simple postfix setup but that wouldn't have made any cash for the company.

    If the government really wanted open source in schools, they'd mandate cross platform compatible software for education allowing you to choose the OS you want. It'll never happen though.

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