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Old 10-14-2010, 12:19 AM
Joseph Hartman
 
Default Fw: Ubuntu for School (epic93dude@gmail.com)

Hi Epic,
Your convincing job is not going to be easy. For a single lab you might have some luck. You would want to make sure the hardware was up to snuff, but there are schools all over who use Ubuntu routinely. I'm sure you could find some case studies online to back up your points. If they bring up security let the list know. There are tools to block nefarious users from aspects of the system that you can use.


However, in the situation of a larger IT deployment, the fact is that Windows oftentimes is easier to manage than Ubuntu. For all its faults, MS knows enterprise needs and does a decent job of giving admins the tools they need to manage largescale operations. Managing hundreds or thousands of machines is very different from managing dozens.


That being said, it can be done, and it can be done well. But what your IT guys will want is called Landscapehttp://www.canonical.com/enterprise-services/ubuntu-advantage/landscape


I have never used it personally, but I've investigated it thoroughly and spoken to the US sales rep from Canonical about getting it. From what I have seen on youtube and such it is the tool that provides parity (more or less) with Windows management software like Group Policy, etc.


The problem is that it is quite expensive. I believe I was quoted at $60/host/year which is completely unscalable, and quickly gets more expensive than Windows management techniques. I tried to convince the sales rep I spoke with that Canonical should give Landscape away to schools to foster adoption of Ubuntu among the youth of America, but I don't have the time to pester my way up to the decision makers about this.


I do happen to be in a position to convince dozens, and possibly hundreds of schools to adopt Ubuntu though, but only if they knew there was an efficient and easy way to manage the machines such as Landscape. Therefore, this might be an opportunity for you as a student to take on the daunting task of convincing a major global IT company to give away some of their proprietary technology to schools. It would sure help me out if you succeeded. -Joe


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Old 10-14-2010, 02:22 AM
Joseph Hartman
 
Default Fw: Ubuntu for School (epic93dude@gmail.com)

No, unfortunately for 200 self-standing computers the cost would be $12,000 per year. You can see how this gets pretty ridiculous pretty quickly.
There may be an alternative for your particular situation called the Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP). If you know your IT history you know that computers used to all be connected as terminals to a mainframe that was the size of a house and powered everything. The terminals were basically just tentacles with a screen that reached back to the mainframe which did all the computing. Banks still use this architecture today to protect their information (if a terminal is stolen, no data is lost). Of course, as computing power grew, so did the capabilities of the terminals until the mainframe (or server as we would use nowadays) was no longer necessary. That may not be the best history lesson, but you get the idea.


Of course, this terminal server architecture is still possible and alive in many schools across the country. It makes sense for schools for all the same reasons it makes sense for banks, plus terminals can be super cheap (you can even use old crappy computers if you want) so that saves money. You can read a lot more about LTSP on the ubuntu site, and there is tons of stuff in the edubuntu users listserv if you are interested. That list is actually far more active than this one for some reason.


Before you get too excited, you should know that there are serious drawbacks to LTSP. I used it pretty extensively over the last 4 years and abandoned it as soon as I possibly could, but I worked at a school where I was the only IT support person and I was only staffed at that position for 4 hours per week and I had to do it after the normal school day or on the weekend. It sounds like your school is in a better situation to start so it may be different for you.


Basically LTSP is (in my experience) an elegant, robust solution that is also very fickle and requires regular oversight. It allows ultimate control over terminal computers because everything is really run off of the server. This means the admin can lock individual terminals, send messages, share their screen, share the screen of a given terminal, log out any or all terminals, run programs on any or all terminals and watch what is happening on any or all terminals from a maintenance screen among other things. This power is alluring, but requires serious hardware and the programs can, at times, be very buggy and unreliable (although I should point out that there are incredible people working on all aspects of LTSP and it is improving at an impressive rate).


My biggest problem though was the fact that there were too many single points of failure. If the server fails or is off, ALL your computers go down. If the link from the server to the switch fails, ALL your computers go down. If the switch fails or is off or someone accidentally disconnects it with their foot or something, ALL your computers go down. You get the idea. Anyways, I used it because we had no choice. I had Pentium 2 computers to work with and LTSP allowed them to get on the internet which is what I needed. As soon as we had some P4s donated though, LTSP was out the door.


So if you did decide to go the LTSP route with your 6 servers, then landscape would cost you $360 per year, even though those 6 servers would be powering 200 individual terminals. I am still hoping you will lobby Canonical to give Landscape away for free though... Good Luck -Joe


On Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 5:35 PM, <epic93dude@gmail.com> wrote:


Thanks. I'll see what I can do. Luckily, were at a small school with a couple hundred client PCs max (three or four labs plus teacher's computers) and roughly six or so servers. This landscape software may be a great way to make ubuntu more appealing to our IT staff. Does that put the landscape cost around $360 per year?



Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry



-----Original Message-----

From: Joseph Hartman <jlhartman@gmail.com>

Sender: ubuntu-education-bounces@lists.ubuntu.com

Date: Wed, 13 Oct 2010 17:19:11

To: <ubuntu-education@lists.ubuntu.com>

Subject: Re: Fw: Ubuntu for School (epic93dude@gmail.com)



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Old 10-15-2010, 04:54 PM
Simón Ruiz
 
Default Fw: Ubuntu for School (epic93dude@gmail.com)

On Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 10:22 PM, Joseph Hartman <jlhartman@gmail.com> wrote:
> No, unfortunately for 200 self-standing computers the cost would be $12,000
> per year.

Whoah. I would not suggest Landscape on all your desktops. I don't
think that's what it's for.

Frankly, switching OS's for a school will be hard for a lot of the
same reasons as it is for a person: inertia and experience. The
majority of the resistance is psychological, the fear of the unknown.

Add to that curriculum and specialized hardware that may require
specific pieces of Windows-only software to work, legitimate concerns
in a place where the computers are only there to support the
educational process.

I don't think you can expect to make the switch all at once, I could
see that being a catastrophic failure regardless of which O.S. you'd
be changing from or to.

We've replaced most of the back-end of our school's computer systems
with Linux without Landscape (of course, we've got more than 4 hours a
week to spend on this), but would have a hard time switching
everyone's desktops out from under them. We've got one classroom/lab
that is Ubuntu only, and one that dual-boots, so far.

In our particular situation, we've been slowly replacing bits and
pieces of the desktop with Free Software where we can so that, when
switch time comes, our users will already be experienced using those
tools.

I don't think we'd pull a Google
<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/7792685/Google-bans-Microsoft-Windows-on-office-computers.html>

We'd probably introduce the switch by making it an option on the
existing computers, and simply stop buying Windows licenses for new
computers, except where specifically requested for good reasons
(expecting that, over time, those incidences become rarer and rarer).

Simón

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Old 10-15-2010, 05:54 PM
Elizabeth Krumbach
 
Default Fw: Ubuntu for School (epic93dude@gmail.com)

On Fri, Oct 15, 2010 at 5:54 PM, Simón Ruiz <simon.a.ruiz@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 10:22 PM, Joseph Hartman <jlhartman@gmail.com> wrote:
>> No, unfortunately for 200 self-standing computers the cost would be $12,000
>> per year.
>
> Whoah. I would not suggest Landscape on all your desktops. I don't
> think that's what it's for.

I have to agree with not jumping on the Landscape bandwagon, it may
make some administrative things easier (I've never used it), but there
are certainly ways to make it happen with free and open source
alternatives.

The Google Doc that we maintain for our lab deployments at Partimus
can be found here:

http://docs.google.com/View?id=dfzcxcjr_2chc5cqcg

In a fully-functioning deployment we stick with an LTS version
(currently 8.04, but we're looking into the 10.04 upgrade now),
install via PXE boot with our custom images which include LDAP support
for authentication and NFS shares for /home directories. Upgrades are
simply trusted to work (since we stick with LTS) and are completed
regularly with a script. It's worked very well.

Specific questions are welcome, but there certainly are schools doing
this right now with a high level of success, and in our case - very
minimal investment.

--
Elizabeth Krumbach // Lyz // pleia2
http://www.princessleia.com

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Old 10-22-2010, 03:59 PM
"Jonathan Carter (highvoltage)"
 
Default Fw: Ubuntu for School (epic93dude@gmail.com)

Hi Joseph

On 13/10/2010 22:22, Joseph Hartman wrote:
> Before you get too excited, you should know that there are serious
> drawbacks to LTSP. I used it pretty extensively over the last 4 years
> and abandoned it as soon as I possibly could, but I worked at a school
> where I was the only IT support person and I was only staffed at that
> position for 4 hours per week and I had to do it after the normal school
> day or on the weekend. It sounds like your school is in a better
> situation to start so it may be different for you.
>
> Basically LTSP is (in my experience) an elegant, robust solution that is
> also very fickle and requires regular oversight. It allows ultimate
> control over terminal computers because everything is really run off of
> the server. This means the admin can lock individual terminals, send
> messages, share their screen, share the screen of a given terminal, log
> out any or all terminals, run programs on any or all terminals and watch
> what is happening on any or all terminals from a maintenance screen
> among other things. This power is alluring, but requires serious
> hardware and the programs can, at times, be very buggy and unreliable
> (although I should point out that there are incredible people working on
> all aspects of LTSP and it is improving at an impressive rate).
>
> My biggest problem though was the fact that there were too many single
> points of failure. If the server fails or is off, ALL your computers go
> down. If the link from the server to the switch fails, ALL your
> computers go down. If the switch fails or is off or someone accidentally
> disconnects it with their foot or something, ALL your computers go down.
> You get the idea. Anyways, I used it because we had no choice. I had
> Pentium 2 computers to work with and LTSP allowed them to get on the
> internet which is what I needed. As soon as we had some P4s donated
> though, LTSP was out the door.

That's why LTSP-Cluster was developed (https://www.ltsp-cluster.org/).
LTSP cluster links multiple LTSP servers together and load-balances your
users. It also has some high-availability features that prevents the
single-point-of-failure problems.

Also, if your environment has the problem where someone tripping over a
wire could kill the network, then that's a bit hard to solve in software

-Jonathan

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Old 10-22-2010, 04:39 PM
Joseph Hartman
 
Default Fw: Ubuntu for School (epic93dude@gmail.com)

Hi Jonathan,


Yeah, I'm at cetpa right now and actually attended a couple of sessions by your Revolution Linux co workers Pat and Ben where ltsp-cluster came up. It sounds like a fantastic solution which, unfortunately, didn't exist when I was doing all of my tinkering. You guys are doing some good stuff over there though. I really enjoyed the presentation they delivered on laptop and netbooks image management, as that seems to be a direction that more and more schools that I work with now are heading. For these schools, a solution like landscape seems more and more like what is needed since we are managing groups of machines or even individual laptops from a distance. Vdi solutions are great but I work with a private cloud solution* myself, so a vdi into a cloud is a bit redundant. Nevertheless, we need some method of updating and customizing the laptops we support. It sounds like you guys have a good way of making this happen, and Pat pointed me to some possible areas to research like puppet, so that alone was worth the trip up here. I'll continue to be in touch. Thank Pat and Ben for me too yeah? They both did a great job. Glad to hear you finally got your Canadian work visa -Joe


On Oct 22, 2010 8:59 AM, "Jonathan Carter (highvoltage)" <jonathan@ubuntu.com> wrote:
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