LiveLAMP: Open Source Live Server CD

Those familiar with Knoppix know that it is a Debian-based Linux distribution which runs from straight from a CD without requiring installation of files to a hard-drive. Soon, a to-be-released project, LiveLAMP, “aims to do for Linux application and database servers what Knoppix has done for desktops.” Here’s a short statement of how it might work in a school setting:

“Secondary school teachers who want to deploy Linux in their IT labs often find that their IT staff “Don’t Do Linux”. With the LiveLAMP CD, we’ve made the process absolutely painless. With the CD in hand a teacher just needs to find a surplus PC. To run the LiveLAMP server, simply insert the CD-ROM into the PC and press reset. A minute later, the LiveLAMP system has created 1,000 student accounts on that PC and is now running as a server. All the programs run from the CD. Students can log in and start using the programming tools. That surplus PC then becomes a Live Linux server for the other machines in the lab. (Source)

This could be really interesting if it works well, and is as easy to figure out as Knoppix. Keep your eye out for it as the first release is expected this July, 2005.

Why Is Open Source Important For Education?

An article from the Digital Divide Network reads:

Free and Open Source Software is important because it can help NPO’s and CBO’s stop spending valuable resources, which could and should be directed elsewhere, on software. Proprietary software, software produced and marketed with restrictions on its use, is never really owned by the organizations that use it. For example, an NPO generally cannot legally give its workers copies of proprietary software to use at home. Schools cannot send their students home with the software they use at school, and students aren’t allowed to copy proprietary software to share with friends. Free and Open Source software renders these kind of concerns a complete non-issue. It’s really a very simple and elegant solution to an artificially created problem.

This particular idea has come up in my research several times. For instance, why should a programming language such as Visual Basic be taught in schools when students have to purchase a copy for home? Why not Python when it’s a great language, it’s open source and of course, free. The same could be said about using MS Office vs. Open Office.

So there was reason #1 that Open Source is important for schools. Now what can YOU add to the list? Feel free to draw outside the lines.

First International Conference on Open Source Systems

I’ll probably be too tied up to go this summer, but this conference looks quite interesting. The First International Conference on Open Source Systems is to be held July 11-15, 2005, in Genoa, Italy.

OSS2005 will provide a forum to discuss theories, practices, experiences, and tools relating to development and applications of OSS systems, with a specific focus on two aspects:
– the development of open source systems and the underlying technical, social, and economic issues;
– the adoption of OSS solutions and the implications of such adoption both in the public and in the private sector.

For more information, check out

Also, it’s been mentioned on this blog before, but if you would like to subscribe to an RSS enabled conference calendar, check out our home-grown Educational Conferences Calendar. Instructions to subscribe to the calendar using various methods (this works great with iCal) are found here, and you can also add an event to the calendar here (click on ‘New Event’).

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Norway Minister Laws Down The Law: No Proprietary Formats

Norwegian Minister of Modernization (I would love a gig like that!!!) Morten Andreas Meyer declared today that “Proprietary formats will no longer be acceptable in communication between citizens and government.”

Taking great care not to mention the name Microsoft directly, but rather referring to “the spreadsheet almost everyone use” or saying this is the last time I will present a plan for information technology being broadcast on the net in Windows Media, the Minister sent strong signals in the direction of Redmond to open up or become irrelevant to the Norwegian Government.

The Minister’s plan commands a huge restructuring of Norway’s public sector and heavily favours open source technologies and standards.

Hmmmm … so why Norway, and not Canada? It’s a great move, an excellent choice and I praise the minister for moving his country ahead into necessary territory. And at the very least, it’s another great example to wave in front of our politicians, administrators and colleagues.

Free As In Beer ….

Well so much for the saying, “free as in beer, not free as in speech” which has been the classic statement to represent the Gratis vs. Libre distinction. The world’s first open source beer has been announced (via Made).

Created by “Vores Øl Group”, a group of students at the IT-University in Copenhagen in collaboration with Superflex, the beer is an experiment in applying modern open source ideas and methods on a traditional real-world product.

World's First Open Source Beer

Beer and open source? Certainly a winning combination!

Building An Open Source Portal: Article

TESL-EJ features an article titled “An Open Source Portal for Educators” (June 2005) by Cheng-chao Su. The article gives a semi-technical overview of what an open source portal for a school may look like, and what components would be necessary to help foster a technologically-mediated collaborative learning community.

The article pieces together an open source portal system which includes a PHP/MySQL-enabled webserver, Wiki and Blogging software, a bulletin-board system, a content/course learning management system (e.g., Moodle) an a MOO engine (server & database). If you are hoping to gather the technical knowledge to put this altogether, this article is not sufficient in this respect. However, if you need easy entry into some of the technical requirements necessary for building an open source portal system, this article may be of assistance.

My Posse’s In The House: Welcome To Nerdcore

So today, I noticed an article from Wired that details the arrival of Nerdcore, a genre which derives its origins from “nerd” culture and “hardcore” hip-hop.

While gangsta rap is seen as celebrating the violence and aggression that claimed two of its brightest stars, “geeksta” rap is a hip-hop genre celebrating coding skills and school grades.

So I’m thinking to myself:

– Yea, I consider myself a bit of a nerd;
– I’ve recently joined a Posse;
– And while I don’t rap on a mic, I rant on a mic;
– And these rants, along with the voices of the rest of my Posse, are published and sent out to the masses.

OMG, I think I’ve become a Nerdcore Gangsta!

So I’ve ranted a bit about ICT,
’bout Angel & Blackboard & WebCT,
But all that software is proprietary,
They’re not open source, and they’re not for free.

Now Moodle & Sakai are getting play,
There’s great support, and they give it away,
I can’t wait to see a much brighter day,
When we see that open source is a better way.

Peaaaace out!

Allright, I promise to never do that again. Continue reading

(Critical) History Of ICT In Education

I’ve just noticed (via Downes) an excellent article from Teemu Leinonen hypothesizing five major phases in the history of using computers in education. Teemu notes that the fifth phase, the era of social software and free and open content, is emerging in our present day. Here’s a conceptual map of how this progression can be illustrated.

Historical Map of ICT in Education

Leinonen notes that while tremendous amounts of money have been spent on ICT in education, changes have really been margina over the years. He uses an interesting analogy to describe this minimal shift:

if you are sailing somewhere in equator and take a course by mistake to south, even that you should go north, it does not help much if you every year fix your course 5 degrees. You will still end-up to Antarctica.

It’s an interesting perspective, and a worthwhile read for those wanting a broad, bird’s eye view of the changes happening in education.

Edtech Posse Podcast #2

As I mentioned in an earlier posting, the self-proclaimed EdTech Posse (currently myself, Rob Wall, Rick Schwier, Dean Shareski) has recently been formed as a joint project in educational PodCasting. Our goal is to produce high-quality, recorded discussion around issues in educational technology.

This week, due to scheduling conflicts, Rob Wall is the lone rider for the team, and he does a great job of keeping the momentum going. Be sure to check out Podcast #2 as Rob details the background of the Posse, and describes the content of upcoming Podcasts. More podcasts are on their way, so stay tuned here or at our new site,

Father’s Day Bliss

I needed an excuse to play with the service so I thought I would share a short video of my first Father’s Day, and a special moment with my baby girl. Yup, more mush from Couros. And this time, I’ve even added some really bad guitar playing and wailing!

But, back to ed. tech., I am very pleased with OurMedia. It’s simple to use, and the implications for the both the classroom and personal media are tremendous. If you haven’t yet signed up and tried the service, what are you waiting for?

Linux For The Masses: South Korea

CNet reports that the South Korean goverment is “rolling out a home-grown open source platform for 10,000 schools in the country.” The project has been named the “New Education Information System” and builds upon a Korean version of Linux that has already been implemented in 190 schools in Seoul. The reasons stated for the change include budgetary concerns, security issues and the possibilities of localized support. In fact, because the system will be home-grown, South Korean officials believe it will be much easier to develop home-grown localized support structures.

I see this development as both positive and negative. I think it’s wonderful that the South Korean government has decided to (mostly) break it’s ties with historical vendors (i.e., Microsoft) in utilizing an open source platform to bring about flexibility and customizability to the desktop, to soften economic concerns and to spur local support economies. However, something’s missing. The open revolution should not be seen simply as an anti-Microsoft or anti-Corporate revolt, it is moreso an anti-dominance revolution. In the case of South Korea, dominance is simply moving to a new address.

Think of it this way. I’ve been loving the recent conversations regarding different CMS’s (Moodle, Sakai, Blackboard, WebCT, etc.). And yes, I would love to see my own institution and province moving toward supporting open source software. However, if I were to wake up tomorrow and hear that Moodle has been instituted across the province, or across the institution, I would not be overly happy. Instituting any particular technology, even if it IS open source, is still missing the point.

Teaching well with technology requires flexibility, choice and experimentation. Tools I use today, I may disregard tomorrow. How can this approach be supported? Simply stated, institutions need to stop supporting technology, and begin supporting innovation. How, you ask? To be continued … but first, let’s hear from you.

NeoOffice: OpenOffice for Mac OS X

While I mentioned earlier that OpenOffice wasn’t available in native form for OS X, I have been corrected. It seems that yesterday, NeoOffice was released in it’s first stable form. NeoOffice, based on OpenOffice 1.14 (oh yea, they were forced to refer to it as, is very easy to install and gives Mac OS X users a rich, complete and entirely free office productivity suite.