Ubuntu on the desktop

Published: 15 March, 2008

I have recently rebuilt the machines in my ICT room at school. After a couple of weeks struggling to use Symantic Ghost to create an image of the dual boot we have been using I went with a slightly simpler approach. The machines now run Ubuntu 8.10 as the sole operating system. I set up one machine with all the applications needed and then used Remastersys to create a custom install CD which was manually installed across all 22 machines. A bit manual but took about 2 hours to do all the machines with very little input.

The Likewise Open tool lets us authenticate against Active Directory and while, at this stage, we still have to mount the students' centralised home directories manually it makes quite a nice lesson about servers, ssh and permissions. Windows XP is being set up in VirtualBox so students can access some of the Windows-only systems (ie. printing) and get used to virtualisation. We have moved project documentation to the Google apps and students are encouraged to export to PDF for their final delivery.

I have installed iTalc to use as a classroom management tool and so far it's working pretty well. I can gather evidence about the computer use and grab a student's screen for displaying to the class or demonstrating a technique.

So far it's working pretty well and the aging machines have got a new lease of life running well with pretty much everything except for the game engine in the Blender. It feels a lot more stable than the previous set up and the students are having to learn a new set of tools. A few students have already taken Ubuntu home to install and our CD of open source applications for Windows has also been copied a few times. All good education in my books.