Free The Schools!

“deputy mayor Guillard published his recommendations for others that want to ‘free their schools from the commercial agenda of proprietary software vendors’. Free software is unhindered by the constraint of financial profitability, he argues: there is no planned obsolescence and no lock-in to specific hardware.
 
Olivier Guillard urges rigorous testing of solutions before suggesting them to teachers. Just as important is to convince the teachers of the benefits of free software. He also recommends being proactive on maintenance and monitoring.
 
See Yvelines school completes switch to free software
Yes! Another school frees itself from non-Free software. No more BSODs, re-re-reboots, lock-in, malware, treadmill marketing, …

They still keep a few machines with TOOS for compatibility and whiteboards. My advice? Stick with projectors and Gromit and the latest version of LibreOffice. I would use Debian rather than Mint. Further, to reduce the capital costs and maintenance, use ARMed thin clients and a GNU/Linux terminal server. It’s a wee bit more work to set up but that work spread over N machines is tiny compared to installing on N machines. Look at Odroid-C2 for clients and Lemaker Cello for servers.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
This entry was posted in Linux in Education, technology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Free The Schools!

  1. oiaohm says:

    kurkosdr
    In fact, the latest Ubuntu LTS drops support for the ENTIRE AMD Radeon product line, only crappy open source drivers to kinda sorta launch LibreOffice are your option from now on…
    Sorry to say AMD has in fact disconnected driver development include security updates for those product lines on all platforms in binary drivers. Yes Windows still runs the old drivers but they are officially unmaintained if a kernel security update for the version of Windows you are using breaks those drivers now you are completely stuffed.

    Only hardware AMD hardware drivers getting proper updates are the ones that are under Linux supported by amdgpu driver yes the driver that open source but is shared between closed source and open source userspace.

    Linux has basically done the security wise thing by removing the drivers and offering the alternative that is maintained. Yes at times Linux does this.

    Like really old sound cards don’t work with new Ubuntu kernel either unless you custom rebuild kernel. Why old 16 bit DMA has been disabled due to security effects of allowing devices to read and write what ever memory they like….

    kurkosdr some changes are required evil. If a change is due to a security reason there is absolutely no point complain about it.

    And don’t get me started on binary blobs that stop working after a kernel version bump.
    Amd for newer hardware on Linux use same kernel mode driver for open source and closed source user-space. That driver will be mainline Linux kernel. Since DKMS I have not had Nvidia drivers fail. Of course Nvidia has been way more careful to only use functions that are in fact declared stable. ATI before AMD in their drivers would use what ever kernel interface without checking if it operation had been defined as stable.

    It takes two to tango kurkosdr. The last major Nvidia stuff up was when Redhat changed page size kernel was using and Nvidia had it hard coded instead of requesting the kernel to find out what the page size was. Yes most binary blob wraped drivers with Linux faults are the driver in fact doing stuff it should not be doing and being caught when Linux kernel removes the incorrect path as working. Also what is funny is I have had this under Windows as well with printer drivers failing to work with NX enabled. Like or not sometimes driver developers just don’t follow instruction and do stupid things.

    So kernel version bump breaking drivers in a lot of cases trace to the driver developer.

    Now X.org ABI version bump breaking driver that is another problem completely. Part of the reason why I want X11 dead is that Linux kernel ABI has a backwards compatibility to user-space requirement(yes meaning if you can write your driver in userspace and put in in kernel space you are fairly fine since you have stable interfaces) and X.org ABI version number if it moves kiss good by to X.org driver working.

    Lot of the complaints about Linux graphical failing is not the Linux Kernel driver but the X.org user-space driver being rejected by the X11 server.

  2. kurkosdr wrote, “the latest Ubuntu LTS drops support for the ENTIRE AMD Radeon product line, only crappy open source drivers to kinda sorta launch LibreOffice are your option from now on…”

    Hey! My latest build, 4.4.8, has Radeon. Of course I don’t use Ubuntu, either.

  3. kurkosdr says:

    kernel bump = kernel version bump

  4. kurkosdr says:

    Because Desktop Linux never drops support for old hardware?

    In fact, the latest Ubuntu LTS drops support for the ENTIRE AMD Radeon product line, only crappy open source drivers to kinda sorta launch LibreOffice are your option from now on…

    And don’t get me started on binary blobs that stop working after a kernel bump.

  5. DrLoser wrote, “it’s not like you actually made an attempt to find the “one from M$,” is it?”

    Yes, I did. The driver was licensed for use with XP, not “7”. There might have been a copy on our XP machines, but even if it were there it would not have been legal to use it and we certainly were not going back to XP (No installation medium and possibly no licence). This is the Hell non-Free software brings to schools.

  6. Dr Loser says:

    I always tested the software I installed, basically by using it.

    You don’t have a clue what “rigorous” means, do you, old man?

    In fact, you don’t have a clue what “testing” means. Here. Let me help you out. This is one of many varieties of IT testing that professionals do.

    I have done it. You have not.

    You? You don’t. You never have. You never will. As a tester, you are completely and utterly worthless.

  7. Dr Loser says:

    Hint: normal people are intelligent and can solve problems.

    Hint, Robert. You are so far from being normal that you will never be able to imagine it. Which, btw, is not a bad thing, if applied correctly.

    Normal people do not solve tiny problems with a printer driver by paving over their entire operating system.

    If HP said their driver would not work without one from M$, why would I waste time searching further?

    Tough question, Robert. Really, really, tough.

    Considering that you were (theoretically, although I have my doubts) working with Windows 7 at the time, which is, and you are welcome to correct me on this small issue of fact, a Microsoft product …

    … that HP said their driver would not work without one from M$ thing is moot, wouldn’t you say?

    I mean, it’s not like you actually made an attempt to find the “one from M$,” is it?

    Unless, as usual, you are being absurdly economical with the truth.

    Well then. Did you, Robert?

  8. DrLoser wrote, “Do, please, share the results of your rigorous testing.”

    I always tested the software I installed, basically by using it. I generally stress software more than typical users so I’ve only a few times in 17 years missed some serious defect. A few times I detected a faulty driver or bad file checksum but those were mostly in the early years when our Internet connection was not very reliable or when a repository was not properly synched or cached. Rarely have I had a serious defect in software get through to my users, compared to daily problems with TOOS. Generally users were so amazed with greatly improved performance that compliments were much more common. I will never forget the first class to use LTSP on some Lose ’98 machines. One guy fell off his chair he was so startled with login. The class was used to 2min logins with at least one lost file each class with Lose ’98. I think GNU/Linux did not lose a single file all year and only had problems with a couple of power failures. I did mess up my first DHCP server but that was soon fixed. I generally get things right because I am fussy about IT.

  9. Dr Loser says:

    The CDs for “7” included no word-processor

    So what?

  10. Dr Loser says:

    Just one last, existential question, Robert.

    HP1020 talks to it but does not get treated as printer

    This is rather fascinating.

    You have, let us say, a “thing” that is intended to be a word-processor, but in fact (you refer to it here as “it”) is not, in fact, a word-processor. Existentially, therefore … it ain’t

    Parboiled any frogs recently?

    Anyhow. This “word-processor,” according to you, Robert, and I’m assuming Windows 7 here, did not exist.

    Which, what with it not existing in the first place, would make it rather difficult for your HP1020 to talk to it.

    Just out of faint interest, Robert.

    Do you have some sort of record of that defective nonexistent conversation between a HP1020 and a word-processor that didn’t exist?

    Oh … go on.

    Enlighten us.

  11. DrLoser, having an incredibly short attention-span wrote, “No word processor?”

    The CDs for “7” included no word-processor, whereas the previous solution, Debian GNU/Linux did. Of course, I could waste more time installing a FLOSS office suite but I already had put in many hours of work for no gain whatsoever. Learn to read in context.

  12. DrLoser, going apoplectic, wrote, “Assuming that you have the remotest ability to look it up on the web, like normal people. But you’re not really normal, are you, Robert? In fact, you’ve completely lost contact with “normal.””

    Hint: normal people are intelligent and can solve problems. My solution, installing GNU/Linux, worked. These folks’ solution, copying a driver for Vista was not available to me that afternoon back in 2010, even if a raft of lawyers declared it legal… We had not a single Vista machine let alone the appropriate licence. If HP said their driver would not work without one from M$, why would I waste time searching further?

  13. Dr Loser says:

    No, wait. Despite all the whining in your earlier post, Robert, I will accept the following:

    After all that, no word-processor, HP1020 talks to it but does not get treated as printer, cannot find driver, driver for photocopier could not be found but manual download works.

    No word processor?

    Back in 2010, you were apparently just as ignorant as you are right now. Regrettably, Robert, you are clueless beyond help.

  14. Dr Loser says:

    Yes, HP did have a driver for the printer but it did not include the USB interface. M$ no longer provided that “proprietary” driver so HP gave people a note that their driver would not work without driver X from M$ and M$ no longer provided it.

    Tedious to repeat, Robert, but you force me to repeat.

    Did Debian have a driver for the USB interface?

    A simple yes or no would suffice.

  15. Dr Loser says:

    Oh, and here’s an interesting and I think relevant question for you, Robert. You’ve been involved in schools. You have pretensions to some sort of IT proficiency. From your cite:

    Olivier Guillard urges rigorous testing of solutions before suggesting them to teachers. Just as important is to convince the teachers of the benefits of free software. He also recommends being proactive on maintenance and monitoring.

    Wonderful!

    This “rigorous testing.” I assume you, as I, have no access to the results of “rigorous testing” in Yvelines.

    But happily, Robert, happily you have access to the stats for the rigorous testing in an equivalent school, say, the one in Easterville.

    Do, please, share the results of your rigorous testing.

  16. DrLoser wrote, “the driver is openly available.”

    Yes, HP did have a driver for the printer but it did not include the USB interface. M$ no longer provided that “proprietary” driver so HP gave people a note that their driver would not work without driver X from M$ and M$ no longer provided it.

  17. DrLoser wrote, “Debian didn’t have a driver for the USB interface to the printer either, did it?”

    Yes, it did. She lost functionality by insisting on “7”.

  18. Dr Loser says:

    M$ had no driver for the USB interface of the printer.

    Or any other method of interfacing, I assume, old man. How awful.

    Tell us all again how you triumphed over this dreadful lack by patching some loony FTP thing. Because … let’s be absolutely honest here, Robert.

    Debian didn’t have a driver for the USB interface to the printer either, did it?

    Twit.

  19. Dr Loser says:

    Incidentally, if you’re talking about the ancient HP 1020 … the driver is openly available.

    Assuming that you have the remotest ability to look it up on the web, like normal people.

    But you’re not really normal, are you, Robert? In fact, you’ve completely lost contact with “normal.”

  20. Dr Loser says:

    I wrote about the experience here.

    That “experience” doesn’t seem to feature a printer driver, Robert.

    Try again, old man.

  21. DrLoser, wanting to lose, wrote, ” All you have to do is to supply the details of the relevant printers.”

    I wrote about the experience here.

    There are drivers now, but there weren’t then. HP lists version: 20120918. I wrote that article in 2010. M$ had no driver for the USB interface of the printer.

  22. Dr Loser says:

    And interestingly enough, windows 10 still had no problem recognizing and installing drivers for that now 12 year old Laserjet 1200.

    Sometimes it’s not the OS, Wiz. It’s simply the bigoted incompetent with a reverse confirmation bias.

    Then again, Robert, you could easily disprove my thesis that your problems were caused by generic bigoted incompetence. All you have to do is to supply the details of the relevant printers.

    We look the drivers up on the Web, we fail, you win.

    I’m sure you relish the challenge.

  23. Dr Loser says:

    Well, I have umpteen years of this blog (~10 years) to show a fraction of what I know.

    Would that fraction have a numerator that is significantly larger than the denominator, Robert? By orders of magnitude? Because it seems to me that Kurks is absolutely correct: all you do is to repeat the same old personal beliefs over and over again, without any attempt to justify those beliefs through any sort of methodology.

    It’s not as if any of your specifically Linux beliefs hold any credence. This thing about systemd being a terrible imposition? It isn’t, you know: it’s the only present way to escape the 1980s init mechanism that old *nices have carried through to the 21st century.

    Fact is, like so much of Microsoft Administration, you aren’t even much cop at modern Linux Administration.

  24. Wizard Emeritus says:

    ” I’d prefer they went out to play in traffic or some better use of their time.”

    Now that’s not a very nice thing to say to old friends, is it Robert Pogson? If hearing truths that you would rather not deal with from posters who probably have more accumulated knowledge about linux than you ever had is bothering you, You have always had the answer at your fingertips….

    ban us all, and then you will be free.

    I say go for it, if you dare.

  25. Wizard Emeritus says:

    And interestingly enough, windows 10 still had no problem recognizing and installing drivers for that now 12 year old Laserjet 1200.

  26. Wizard Emeritus says:

    “Nope. I’ve used “7” and installed it with little joy. Printing was a pain with “7” with existing (old) printers. Many drivers were missing. Networking also was messed up. Switching to GNU/Linux saved a lot of headaches. I haven’t used “8” 0r “10” however. The problem is those are all about M$’s monopoly something of which I have no interest. I want to be free.”

    I seriously doubt that you did more than dip your toe into windows 7 once or twice. Even if you did, you made no attempt to understand it. As far as your problems, windows 7 recognized my then 5 year old HP Laserjet 1200, then downloaded and installed the driver. And networking under 7 on a 5 year old Dell 9300 portabe world just as well, including wireless worked out of the box as well. In fact I know of many people who had at least as much experience as you have with a computer had neither of the problems with 7 that you experienced.

    IN the end Robert Pogson, nobody really cares what you choose to do. I your definition of “freedom” is using a semi broken server class OS as your desktop, knock your socks off. But then don’t call those of use who make our own decisions about the IT that we choose to use for our own good reasons “slaves”

    That will never be your right to say unchallenged, especially when you back up your opinions with obsolete experiences in windows land, that you insist on representing as current events.

  27. admfubar wrote, “i see the m$ paid shills are still around..”.

    Yes, even the retired ones continue to beat the drum… Some have been here for five years or longer and they don’t have much news to share, just reciting “No!” repeatedly. I’d prefer they went out to play in traffic or some better use of their time. I at least write about stuff I care about and which makes the world a better place. One can write about slavery without being a slave…

  28. kurkosdr wrote, “Pog’s experience of Windows *stops* at XP,”

    Nope. I’ve used “7” and installed it with little joy. Printing was a pain with “7” with existing (old) printers. Many drivers were missing. Networking also was messed up. Switching to GNU/Linux saved a lot of headaches. I haven’t used “8” 0r “10” however. The problem is those are all about M$’s monopoly something of which I have no interest. I want to be free.

  29. kurkosdr says:

    What surprises me is that, if a person wants to whine about Windows, there are things to whine about.

    1)Windows Updates are a pain, especially in Windows 10, because Microsoft considers it a GoodThing to drop 2-hour update marathons once every 6 months, which you can’t postpone even by a day in home versions of Windows. Better watch the tech websites and get prepared, you don’t want a quick 100-word email writing to evolve into a 2-hour update marathon.

    2) This Windows Maintenance thingie kicks in after 10 minutes of idle time or so and makes the computer sound like a vacuum cleaner. I am sure it’s doing useful work (defraggin’, checking for updates, Windows Modules Installer Worker err… related work) but oh-my-Zeus it’s so annoying because I can’t control the time it takes to kick-in. Boo.

    3) The Photos app re-indexes all your photos even though SearchIndexer has already indexed them. You basically have two indexers running (“yo dawg I heard you like indexing…”)

    Bear in mind, those imperfections don’t offset the benefit of having a system that has the most awesome IHV and ISV ecosystem around it (Blurays, Oculus Rifts, HTC Vive, Sony Vegas, Steam, all major production apps, you name it Windows has it) and having access to the latest and greatest graphics cards supported by a subsystem much better than frickin X.org and working drivers. And just works by loading all drivers automatically, unlike Desktop Linux which needed Terminal-fu to download the driver for the Broadcom WiFi of my Aspire One.

    BUT, the point is, if you have experience with Windows, there are things to whine about. But the problem is that all those annoyances appeared after XP, and Pog’s experience of Windows *stops* at XP, which itself had annoyances versions after it haven’t. Which means that Pog has made his life goal to be “closing all the windows” and yet he is like a General going into battle thinking his enemy still uses P-51 Mustangs and Spitfires.

  30. admfubar says:

    i see the m$ paid shills are still around..

  31. Wizard Emeritus says:

    “Well, I have umpteen years of this blog (~10 years) to show a fraction of what I know. What does kurkosdr have? Nothing.” ANd I too have a pension behind me.

    And based on my exchanges with you over the past 10 years, I can say categorically that while Mr. K. is young and inexperienced, he has nailed your lack of relevant modern experience with Windows based computing dand continuous “bleating” of outdated experiences as if they were modern gospel dead on.

    And I have close to 40 years of experience in computing, including 27+ years participating in and directly supporting supporting, designing and and configuring Administrative IT systems, backing me up in that assessment.

  32. kurkosdr blathered on, “I want to show our dear Robert that age does not mean wisdom or being an authority on correctness. In fact, age doesn’t even imply knowledge.”

    Well, I have umpteen years of this blog (~10 years) to show a fraction of what I know. What does kurkosdr have? Nothing. Meanwhile, I’ll get back to my horticulture and watching my pension tick over like a well-oiled machine.

    On another note, my local rep replied to some suggestions I made about local government: “All excellent points that you make.”. Some people are a lot more positive than others. I guess we will have to judge trees by their fruits.

  33. kurkosdr says:

    If you dig a bit, you will find the school was using XP.

    And the solution to the problem of not having enough budget to upgrade your OS once every 16 years is… Desktop Linux? How much does a support package from Canoncial cost again?

    And anyway, you ‘ve used the same “No more BSODs, re-re-reboots, lock-in, malware, treadmill marketing, …” even when refering to versions of Windows 7 and above. And every time I shoot every one of those argument down, and you pretend the whole thing didn’t happen.

  34. kurkosdr says:

    Now, many of you fellow commenters (and commentards) are undoubtedly wondering why I pick on poor Pog on almost any post.

    Well, the primary reason reason is that I want to show our dear Robert that age does not mean wisdom or being an authority on correctness. In fact, age doesn’t even imply knowledge.

    People like Pog (and Stallman) like to think of themselves as real-life Gandalfs and Dumbledores, a mix of a walking encyclopedia and a guru dispensing his priceless wisdom, while us younglings gather around and marvel at the fact.

    They think that they can just drop “Windows requires reboots” in a blog post without having to explain how the competition doesn’t and demand acceptance by the audience. Or post something like “Windows BSODs and gets malware more than Desktop Linux” without feeling the need to answer annoying questions from the audience like “what are the BSODing and pentesting scenarios that apply in recent versions of Windows but not in recent versions of Desktop Linux?”. They get this entitlement just because they computed in an age where hard-disk capacity was measured in dozens of MBs, and hence they “have experience”.

    The fact experience doesn’t only need to be quantified but also qualified is something they -regrettably- failed to learn during their prime years. Or during their whole long lifes for that matter.

    Or the fact experience alone doesn’t relieve you from the burden of proof of what you say.

  35. kurkosdr wrote, “Muh XP memories are relevant!”, sarcastically.

    If you dig a bit, you will find the school was using XP. So kurkosdr’s comment that my comment is not relevant is not relevant…

    Speaking from experience I can say that many schools use equipment until it dies, so XP is still out there. Those who need to replace XP for whatever reason have choices and GNU/Linux is a good one. We replaced XP at my last school simply because XP was very unreliable. Only one PC went to “7”. All the rest got Debian GNU/Linux.

  36. kurkosdr says:

    that makes a windows BSOD = that makes a windows 7 system BSOD

  37. kurkosdr says:

    So, anything else? No? Good.

  38. kurkosdr says:

    No more BSODs,
    Tell me a scenario that would BSOD a Windows 7 system but wouldn’t kernel panic a Desktop Linux system. Only that -you know- Windows is advanced enough to present information about WHAT caused the crashed on a screen with a blue background, instead of firing a kernel panic, a process which is known as the BSOD informally. Again, tell me a scenario that makes a windows BSOD but won’t kernel panic a Desktop Linux. But… muh XP memories! Muh XP memories are relevant! I don’t do much these days beyond assembling tractors so stop trying to suggest muh memories of the past are irrelevant.

    re-re-reboots,
    http://tmrepository.com/trademarks/linuxdoesnotrequirereboots/
    http://tmrepository.com/fudtracker/linux-does-not-require-reboots-revisited/

    lock-in,
    Because everything in (Desktop) Linuxland is perfectly documented and nobody needs to dive into old, ratnest-of-ifdefs code, to understand what’s going on

    malware,
    Again, a penetration scenario that would plant malware in Windows (in default settings obv) but not Desktop Linux (in default settings). It’s not like Desktop Linux doesn’t have trojans.

    treadmill marketing,
    You mean like “now we have this service (Ubuntu One), now we don’t”?

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