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Old 11-15-2010, 09:17 PM
Michael Paric
 
Default SchoolTool not suitable for Production?

In looking to provide a "server in a box" for schools based on Ubuntu, I was excited to include SchoolTool as it is an Ubuntu-backed project. However, I would never install a non-LTS version in a production environment due to the stability issues inherent with interim releases. So this information from the SchoolToll Installation page (http://book.schooltool.org/htmlhelp/install.html) really bugs me:

"Installing SchoolTool on Ubuntu
Start by installing the server or desktop edition of Ubuntu Linux version 10.10, “Maverick Meerkat,” or 10.04, “Lucid Lynx.” With Lucid you will get SchoolTool 1.4; with Maverick you will get SchoolTool 1.5.

SchoolTool 1.5 is considered a maintenance release. If you are creating a dedicated system to run SchoolTool, using Maverick will give you a few extra features, but if you have some reason to prefer Lucid, the overall differences between SchoolTool 1.4 and 1.5 are small.

SchoolTool 1.6 for Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal” is slated for more substantial changes and improvements. You will need to upgrade your distribution from Lucid or Maverick to get SchoolTool 1.6 when the time comes."

Are you serious? Ubuntu is expecting us to upgrade production installations every six months in order to get improvements and fixes? Perhaps there is a better answer.

--------------------------------------------------------
Michael Paric
Computer Business Solutions
mparic@compbizsolutions.com
www.compbizsolutions.com
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:01 PM
"Jonathan Carter (highvoltage)"
 
Default SchoolTool not suitable for Production?

Hi Michael

On 10-11-15 05:17 PM, Michael Paric wrote:
> In looking to provide a "server in a box" for schools based on Ubuntu, I was excited to include SchoolTool as it is an Ubuntu-backed project. However, I would never install a non-LTS version in a production environment due to the stability issues inherent with interim releases. So this information from the SchoolToll Installation page (http://book.schooltool.org/htmlhelp/install.html) really bugs me:
>
> "Installing SchoolTool on Ubuntu
> Start by installing the server or desktop edition of Ubuntu Linux version 10.10, “Maverick Meerkat,” or 10.04, “Lucid Lynx.” With Lucid you will get SchoolTool 1.4; with Maverick you will get SchoolTool 1.5.
>
> SchoolTool 1.5 is considered a maintenance release. If you are creating a dedicated system to run SchoolTool, using Maverick will give you a few extra features, but if you have some reason to prefer Lucid, the overall differences between SchoolTool 1.4 and 1.5 are small.
>
> SchoolTool 1.6 for Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal” is slated for more substantial changes and improvements. You will need to upgrade your distribution from Lucid or Maverick to get SchoolTool 1.6 when the time comes."
>
> Are you serious? Ubuntu is expecting us to upgrade production installations every six months in order to get improvements and fixes? Perhaps there is a better answer.

You're absolutely right. Schooltool is a very special case though, it's
under very active development and it depends on more than 82 Zope
packages alone. Keeping it back-ported to LTS versions will add a large
amount of work for the developers. In a case like this, they have to
weigh up the benefits of new bug fixes and features over making it
available on older Ubuntu releases. Schooltool isn't an Ubuntu project,
but a separate upstream project that happens to be funded by one of Mark
Shuttleworth's organisations.

Even though the situation isn't ideal currently, it will get better.
Schooltool isn't currently in the Ubuntu archives, the Schooltool guys
are currently working hard on changing that. By the next LTS release,
all of Schooltool and its dependencies will be packaged and it should be
at least slightly less work to maintain it for that release.

In the meantime, one solution may be to run Schooltool in a virtual
machine or container, and treat it like a separate appliance.

I'm not affiliated with the Schooltool project, but I am an Edubuntu
contributor and I hope that clears it up somewhat, and we are working
with the Schooltool team to make that exact problem better for our users.

-Jonathan

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Old 11-16-2010, 12:34 AM
Tom Hoffman
 
Default SchoolTool not suitable for Production?

Hi Michael,

I'm the project manager for SchoolTool so I can address this.

On Mon, Nov 15, 2010 at 5:17 PM, Michael Paric
<mparic@compbizsolutions.com> wrote:
> In looking to provide a "server in a box" for schools based on Ubuntu, I was excited to include SchoolTool as it is an Ubuntu-backed project. However, I would never install a non-LTS version in a production environment due to the stability issues inherent with interim releases.

Just to be clear, the relationship between SchoolTool and Ubuntu is
that of siblings, not parent/child. That is, Mark Shuttleworth
started both, and in particular funds SchoolTool, but for the reasons
Jonathan mentioned -- kind of an extreme packaging situation with many
small dependencies (a looong story in itself) -- SchoolTool is not
part of Ubuntu and Edubuntu at this point. We just publish Ubuntu
packages in our PPA. We should be in Edubuntu 11.04, however.

> So this information from the SchoolToll Installation page (http://book.schooltool.org/htmlhelp/install.html) really bugs me:
>
> "Installing SchoolTool on Ubuntu
> Start by installing the server or desktop edition of Ubuntu Linux version 10.10, “Maverick Meerkat,” or 10.04, “Lucid Lynx.” With Lucid you will get SchoolTool 1.4; with Maverick you will get SchoolTool 1.5.
>
> SchoolTool 1.5 is considered a maintenance release. If you are creating a dedicated system to run SchoolTool, using Maverick will give you a few extra features, but if you have some reason to prefer Lucid, the overall differences between SchoolTool 1.4 and 1.5 are small.
>
> SchoolTool 1.6 for Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal” is slated for more substantial changes and improvements. You will need to upgrade your distribution from Lucid or Maverick to get SchoolTool 1.6 when the time comes."
>
> Are you serious? Ubuntu is expecting us to upgrade production installations every six months in order to get improvements and fixes? Perhaps there is a better answer.

Here's one way of looking at it. What do you expect to happen when
you do "apt-get update" on a deployed LTS server? You probably expect
"fixes." You do not expect major new features to suddenly appear. In
particular you don't expect the user interface to change significantly
without warning. And you *really* don't expect the user interface to
change significantly on an application you just spent two months
training teachers to use.

At least that's the way we're looking at it right now.

Put another way, the reason a Long Term Support release is stable is
because it doesn't keep changing. That's kind of the point. If you
want the latest and greatest, update every six months. It is your
choice.

Having said that, we did think for a while that we would just maintain
packages each point release across several supported versions, e.g.,
1.4, 1.5, 1.6 for Lucid, 1.5, 1.6 for Maverick, etc. That gets crazy
for our release manager really quick though, and I don't think it is a
good approach for users either.

So, in summary: we intend to backport *fixes* to relevant earlier
versions of Ubuntu -- based on which versions actually seem to remain
in use for long periods, LTS releases in particular. Currently, new
features will go into new releases packaged for new versions of
Ubuntu.

BUT, if anyone else wants to help maintain packages for specific
earlier versions of Ubuntu, we're not against it, it is just a lot
more work than you'd think to do it by default.

If you have any other questions or concerns, feel free to let me know.
We are actively interested in helping companies use SchoolTool in
"server in a box" solutions, as has already been successfully done by
at least one international vendor
(http://education.critical-links.com/).

--Tom

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Old 11-16-2010, 12:56 AM
Michael Paric
 
Default SchoolTool not suitable for Production?

> Hi Michael,
>
> I'm the project manager for SchoolTool so I can address this.
>
> On Mon, Nov 15, 2010 at 5:17 PM, Michael Paric
> <mparic@compbizsolutions.com> wrote:
>> In looking to provide a "server in a box" for schools based on Ubuntu, I was excited to include SchoolTool as it is an Ubuntu-backed project. However, I would never install a non-LTS version in a production environment due to the stability issues inherent with interim releases.
>
> Just to be clear, the relationship between SchoolTool and Ubuntu is
> that of siblings, not parent/child. That is, Mark Shuttleworth
> started both, and in particular funds SchoolTool, but for the reasons
> Jonathan mentioned -- kind of an extreme packaging situation with many
> small dependencies (a looong story in itself) -- SchoolTool is not
> part of Ubuntu and Edubuntu at this point. We just publish Ubuntu
> packages in our PPA. We should be in Edubuntu 11.04, however.
>
>> So this information from the SchoolToll Installation page (http://book.schooltool.org/htmlhelp/install.html) really bugs me:
>>
>> "Installing SchoolTool on Ubuntu
>> Start by installing the server or desktop edition of Ubuntu Linux version 10.10, “Maverick Meerkat,” or 10.04, “Lucid Lynx.” With Lucid you will get SchoolTool 1.4; with Maverick you will get SchoolTool 1.5.
>>
>> SchoolTool 1.5 is considered a maintenance release. If you are creating a dedicated system to run SchoolTool, using Maverick will give you a few extra features, but if you have some reason to prefer Lucid, the overall differences between SchoolTool 1.4 and 1.5 are small.
>>
>> SchoolTool 1.6 for Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal” is slated for more substantial changes and improvements. You will need to upgrade your distribution from Lucid or Maverick to get SchoolTool 1.6 when the time comes."
>>
>> Are you serious? Ubuntu is expecting us to upgrade production installations every six months in order to get improvements and fixes? Perhaps there is a better answer.
>
> Here's one way of looking at it. What do you expect to happen when
> you do "apt-get update" on a deployed LTS server? You probably expect
> "fixes." You do not expect major new features to suddenly appear. In
> particular you don't expect the user interface to change significantly
> without warning. And you *really* don't expect the user interface to
> change significantly on an application you just spent two months
> training teachers to use.
>
> At least that's the way we're looking at it right now.
>
> Put another way, the reason a Long Term Support release is stable is
> because it doesn't keep changing. That's kind of the point. If you
> want the latest and greatest, update every six months. It is your
> choice.
>
> Having said that, we did think for a while that we would just maintain
> packages each point release across several supported versions, e.g.,
> 1.4, 1.5, 1.6 for Lucid, 1.5, 1.6 for Maverick, etc. That gets crazy
> for our release manager really quick though, and I don't think it is a
> good approach for users either.
>
> So, in summary: we intend to backport *fixes* to relevant earlier
> versions of Ubuntu -- based on which versions actually seem to remain
> in use for long periods, LTS releases in particular. Currently, new
> features will go into new releases packaged for new versions of
> Ubuntu.
>
> BUT, if anyone else wants to help maintain packages for specific
> earlier versions of Ubuntu, we're not against it, it is just a lot
> more work than you'd think to do it by default.
>
> If you have any other questions or concerns, feel free to let me know.
> We are actively interested in helping companies use SchoolTool in
> "server in a box" solutions, as has already been successfully done by
> at least one international vendor
> (http://education.critical-links.com/).
>
> --Tom
>

Tom,
I appreciate the detailed response and apologize for my frustration-driven rant. When it's fuzzy for the community to get a clear understanding of who is involved with what, it's especially difficult to explain to potential school deployments. I understand and agree with the concept of keeping the LTS as stable as possible but are you anticipating that many drastic changes to SchoolTool every six months? Even for those who want to upgrade the OS every release, that's quite a bit of additional training for users and support team. I guess it's one thing to say "we will only support the new features on the new OS releases so you're on your own if you want to run them on the LTS" and another for the website to say "you *must* upgrade in order to get the new version". Either way, much thanks to you and your team for the incredible amount of work to get this far.

Michael



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Old 11-16-2010, 02:38 AM
Tom Hoffman
 
Default SchoolTool not suitable for Production?

On Mon, Nov 15, 2010 at 8:56 PM, Michael Paric
<mparic@compbizsolutions.com> wrote:

> I appreciate the detailed response and apologize for my frustration-driven rant. When it's fuzzy for the community to get a clear understanding of who is involved with what, it's especially difficult to explain to potential school deployments. I understand and agree with the concept of keeping the LTS as stable as possible but are you anticipating that many drastic changes to SchoolTool every six months?

Generally the April release is the major one for the year.

> Even for those who want to upgrade the OS every release, that's quite a bit of additional training for users and support team. I guess it's one thing to say "we will only support the new features on the new OS releases so you're on your own if you want to run them on the LTS" and another for the website to say "you *must* upgrade in order to get the new version". Either way, much thanks to you and your team for the incredible amount of work to get this far.

I would say our strategy is optimized for deploying SchoolTool by
itself on a real or virtual server (both options are relatively
inexpensive now), assuming that people will pick and choose which
upgrades to apply based on their own needs and schedule. It fits
somewhat less well in your case where you want a bunch of services
running on one server instance.

Incidentally, Critical Links use Linux from Scratch and create their
own packages from source so they have complete control on their
appliance. That's more expensive for them obviously.

--Tom

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Old 11-16-2010, 03:05 AM
Michael Paric
 
Default SchoolTool not suitable for Production?

> On Mon, Nov 15, 2010 at 8:56 PM, Michael Paric
> <mparic@compbizsolutions.com> wrote:
>
>> I appreciate the detailed response and apologize for my
>> frustration-driven rant. When it's fuzzy for the community to get a
clear
>> understanding of who is involved with what, it's especially difficult
to
>> explain to potential school deployments. I understand and agree with
the
>> concept of keeping the LTS as stable as possible but are you
anticipating
>> that many drastic changes to SchoolTool every six months?
>
> Generally the April release is the major one for the year.
>
>> Even for those who want to upgrade the OS every release, that's quite a
>> bit of additional training for users and support team. I guess it's one
>> thing to say "we will only support the new features on the new OS
>> releases so you're on your own if you want to run them on the LTS" and
>> another for the website to say "you *must* upgrade in order to get the
>> new version". Either way, much thanks to you and your team for the
>> incredible amount of work to get this far.
>
> I would say our strategy is optimized for deploying SchoolTool by
> itself on a real or virtual server (both options are relatively
> inexpensive now), assuming that people will pick and choose which
> upgrades to apply based on their own needs and schedule. It fits
> somewhat less well in your case where you want a bunch of services
> running on one server instance.
>
> Incidentally, Critical Links use Linux from Scratch and create their
> own packages from source so they have complete control on their
> appliance. That's more expensive for them obviously.
>
> --Tom

Thanks again; much of this is in response to the Edubuntu group looking
for a simple "server in a box" however I agree that not everything can or
should be on the same physical server (I wouldn't include SchoolTool on my
LDAP server, but would install it on the same server that has Moodle, for
instance, as a machine capable of running several virtual machines could
also run SchoolTool in addition to another web-based application). This has
been a big help and appreciate your time.

Michael





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