Bill MacKenty

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Why I love Ubuntu and my frustration at work

Posted in Linux on 10 - November 2007 at 01:03 PM (16 years ago). 268 views.

I’m a long time Linux guy - having played with ancient versions of Red Hat and used ubuntu at home for over a year as my only computer.  I’ve long seen the advantages of using Linux in schools (um, free?) and I’ve used it as webserver, squid proxy cache server, print server, and DNS and DHCP server.

Last year, in my current school, we lost 80 computers to a nasty virus.  These machines were Windows 2000 boxes, with 128 MB RAM and 20 gig hard disks. Sadly, as Windows 2000 is now in extended support from Microsoft, we were unable to patch our machines. Since they were so old, upgrading them was prohibitively expensive.

This created a massive headache for our school because we had to transfer computers from our student lab to our teachers, and then wait for some computers to come so we could then transfer computers from the teachers back to the students…the long and the short of it is, things are slowly getting back to normal, and we have a bunch of these old windows 2000 computers lying around.

SO I installed the latest version of ubuntu on one of them.  Surprise, surprise, the computer works like a charm.  Yes, it’s a wee-bit slow, but for web-surfing, email, and word processing, it’s doing a fine job.  I’m exploring some lightweight window mangers, to help speed up the gui response time, but these machines are perfect for linux.

When I approached our director of technology about using linux in our lab, the answer was an unqualified “no”. 


She mentioned something about support, which I understand.  Like many schools, we are dramatically under-staffed for technology support.  As an instructional designer, I spend a healthy amount of time doing technical support, and not doing instructional design (which I love doing). I think she might be concerned that if we add this technology, we won’t be able to properly support it. However, I am certain that we could figure this out if we wanted to. I know of at least 2 students who do a wonderful job of setting up these computers, and I’m certain we could ensure the linux boxes would not constitute a security threat for our school.  I am also certain we could create an update server, to push updates to our clients.

I’ll keep pushing for linux!