Taking a huge step toward its goal of a computer for every high school student, Indiana will introduce 1,600 new desktop computers running Linux-based operating systems and software in its classrooms this fall. The program could be the largest such undertaking involving open-source software ever carried out in U.S. schools.
And as many administers have already figured out, it’s not purely about cost:
Though the cost is a primary concern for Indiana state officials, Laura Taylor, director of Indiana’s Office of Learning Resources, said it is not the only issue to be considered. “This model is really about scalability, sustainability, and repeatability,” said Taylor. “It’s not just about cost, but cost needs to be considered if this is something that’s going to be replicated in multiple classrooms. But cost means little if it doesn’t work.”
Having so many distributions of Linux available can be more confusing than helpful. To make things a bit easier, here’s a helpful Linux Distro Chooser that can assist those looking for the right fit.
Note: This chooser is geared for x86 based-systems only.
It seems that Opera is celebrating its tenth anniversay, and for one day only, you can get the ad-free version of the browser. Here’s how:
For one day only, you can get an ad-free version of Opera. Simply e-mail email@example.com to obtain a registration code. This offer is valid from 12 a.m. Tuesday, August 30 to 12 a.m. Wednesday, August 31 2005 (PDT).
Although I prefer open source browsers like Firefox (free ALL the time), if you were ever interested in Opera, here’s an opportunity.
Weblogs have proven to be a more powerful communication tool than the static webpage. This type of conversation has the ability to provide perspective and understanding that might not happen. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to tell your kids you have cancer? Here’s an inside look at that question and more like it.
Wired News reports that a disgruntled faction of Flickr users are threatening a symbolic “mass suicide” to protest an upcoming requirement (scheduled for 2006) that all Flickr users must now join Yahoo! (Flickr’s new owner).
At stake is a new user-profile stipulation that reads: “We will be migrating all independent Flickr accounts to Yahoo’s network in 2006. At that time, if you have not done so already, you will be asked to create a Yahoo ID (or link your account to your Yahoo ID if you already have one) in order to continue using your account.”
… and one user threatens:
If Flickr really forces me to join Yahoo in 2006 in order to still use my account, I will quit 24 hours before the deadline.
One thing I appreciate about the article is the snippet taken from Sherry Turkle, director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Initiative on Technology. She states:
So many of us don’t have a gathering place that feels comfortable and communal, For those who found that on Flickr.com, its transformation into a ‘service’ on Yahoo is a loss; they are losing something important to them. It is a harbinger of the greater sensitivity we need to show in the future as we take more seriously the psychological importance of our digital lives.
I think this has been mention a few times in the blogosphere, but if you missed it …
Free Software and Open Source Symposium
Monday, October 24th, 2005 – 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
York University Campus, Toronto
Do you use – or have you considered using – free or open source software for educational, training or research purposes? If so, we invite you to join us at our 4th annual Free Software and Open Source Symposium.
The Symposium is a one-day event aimed at bringing together educators and other interested parties to discuss common free software and open source issues, learn new technologies and to promote the use of free and open source software in our classrooms, labs and educational infrastructure. At Seneca College, we think free and open source software are real alternatives.
Speakers this year include:
* Jim McQuillan, Founder and Project Leader of the Linux Terminal Server Project
* Marcel Gagne, Author of “Moving to Linux: Kiss the Bluescreen of Death Goodbye!” and Linux Journal Columnist
* Marcus Bornfreund, Director, Creative Commons, Canada
* Jesse Hirsh, President, Openflows Networks Ltd.
Tom Radcliff recently put me on to Puppy Linux, a live CD Linux distro that he is using where he teaches high school. I got a chance to test it out, and I am really impressed. Check out the mission statement:
* Puppy will easily install to USB, Zip or hard drive media.
* Booting from CD, Puppy will load totally into RAM so that the CD drive is then free for other purposes.
* Booting from CD, Puppy can save everything back to the CD, no need for a hard drive.
* Booting from USB, Puppy will greatly minimise writes, to extend the life of Flash devices indefinitely.
* Puppy will be extremely friendly for Linux newbies.
* Puppy will boot up and run extraordinarily fast.
* Puppy will have all the applications needed for daily use.
* Puppy will just work, no hassles.
* Puppy will breathe new life into old PCs
Beyond the speed (it puts both my OS X and XP machines to shame in this department), I really like the idea that this Linux distro is as small as it is … only 60(ish) MBs. As stated above, users can actually use the other 590-640 MBs to store files as the OS setup allows you to use the existing CD-R space for file storage. Thus, no hard disk drive necessary. Those features, and the fact that the minimum requirements for use are PC’s with Pentium 200MMX and 64MB RAM (with swap partition), make Puppy Linux something that should be seriously considered for student/school use.
The rumours are true. Google has just released an IM service called Google Talk. Unfortunately, their client is PC only (like all the other Google software it seems). However, it seems that Linux and Mac users can connect to the Google Talk client as it uses the Jabber/XMPP protocol.
Google Talk also supports voice conferencing, so it will be interesting to see how well this service takes off against Skype’s existing market.
Update: At least one source is speculating that Google’s move is less about IM, and more about Google’s ambitions for Skype. Interesting.
Update 2: Interesting timing … Skype seems to have just released the SkypeNet API which would “enable developers to access our IM and Presence system and bring it into new applications without needing to have the full version of Skype running on the machine.”
Today, Stephen Downes pointed to an entry by Sudeep Bansal who gave a great list of “Essential Freeware for the PC user“. Bansal has now offered another post which lists “Essential Freeware for the Mac user“. Both lists are worth looking at, and while there is a lot of overlap, I see that as very much a positive thing. Now, if Bansal comes up with “Essential Freeware for the Linux user”, we will have the trifecta.
Dave Tosh has posted an excellent PowerPoint resource which was recently presented at a Knowledge Lab event in Denmark. I’m especially appreciate of the Tosh’s treatment of the idea of personal space vs. public space, and what bridging these areas might look like in practice. I am aware of these dimensions in my own practice, but the on-going struggle for me as a teacher has been to move my students in the direction where their learning space is significantly connected to their personal online space. It’s coming (I’ll get ’em this semester), but in many cases, there’s still a rigid disconnect.
The presentation is excellent, and points to many strong resources in the field. Check it out.
Update: Now that I am finally caught up on reading OLDaily from this last week, I realize that Stephen Downes pointed to this a few days ago.