Edbuntu – A great way to extend the useful life of school computers…
Many schools are looking for ways to extend the life of school computers. This usually gets cost prohibitive when using mainstream operating systems or commercial applications. Once a machine is out of upgrade-ability what do you do? The obvious choice is to send them to the recycle bin and buy new, or you can take the road less traveled and re-purpose your older machines as Linux boxes.
There are many flavors of Linux operating systems; but one that has been optimized for the educational environment is a distribution called Edbuntu. It can be downloaded from http://www.edbuntu.org. I had opportunity to implement it with one of the schools, Wheeler Central Schools; located in rural Nebraska. Small schools lack funds to buy new hardware, so getting every last drop of use from existing equipment is a must. In other words use it till there isn’t any use left!
We started out with a laptop computer that was probably about 7 or 8 years old. It was a good machine when it was first purchased; but then quickly fell off the technology ladder because it could only be upgraded to 1Gb RAM and was operating on a first generation Centrino processor. It was a fine candidate to start with.
After downloading the .iso file from edbuntu.org, we burned a disk and then attempted to boot from that disk. Unfortunately, the drive was bad so we had to use an external DVD. It worked just fine; albeit slow. We had the option to repartition or blow out the existing Windows XP partition and format. We chose the latter because the machine was a performance dog on Windows XP. Two hours later, we had a fully functional laptop with Edbuntu installed on it. We had to choose a user and pass for the default user, which was simple enough. One thing I need to learn is how to eliminate the request for password upon waking up a sleeping computer.
The computer is only going to have one default user that really won’t be saving much , so I won’t go into any multi-user scenarios. File saving isn’t a big component of our plan; but two other things are:
- We’ll be using the rich educational content included for FREE with Edbuntu. There are programs that can work educationally for pre-school to high school.
- We will be using the RDC terminal so that we can access more powerful programs hosted on a terminal server.
For those of you that are visual like me, here are some screen-shots…
This is a picture of the user interface. The dock is to the right and behaves similar to the dock on a MacIntosh. You can drag programs to the dock that you use frequently, for easy access.
It’s easy to find an application whether it is already installed or not. Edbuntu comes with many applications built into it for educational use. All you have to do is search for them, these headings help narrow your search.
Here is the search function. Search will show you programs already installed on the computer in the top pane, and gives you suggestions for applications you might want to download that have similar functionality. In this case I wanted to use the terminal services client that comes with the standard distribution.
Here is a picture of the RDP client. Please note that with Windows 2008 you have to pick the RDP v5 option and give the client host name. The host name can be anything you want; but be sure to save it and leave it alone unless you want to use multiple RDC licenses! Quick Connect provides you with a list of RDC connections you may have saved. For use with multiple-users you should populate only the name of the remote host, in this case termsvr and the domain of the windows network. Leave the login fields blank before saving the connection or everyone will connect with the credentials you’ve saved.
Bonus Pic…wireless networking was a snap with this computer! Note that you can even VPN securely if you need to.
Hope this helps someone!