Ubuntu breathes new life into school's abandoned hardware

Repurposed PCs use Kubuntu to run school's Web based student library system

Roland Gesthuizen, ICT Manager and Information Technology teacher at Westall, said the school contacted the support of Peter Lieverdink at Creative Contingencies, as well as the Linux Users of Victoria group for implementation advice.

"Peter has done some work with the school in setting up a dual boot setup with authentication to the main network via LDAP. The kids were rapt with Compiz Fusion and this scored magic brownie points, because even the magical Vista couldn't compete with the graphics. This was a great step into having them explore the other functionalities of Linux," Gesthuizen said.

Even the magical Vista couldn't compete with the graphics

Gesthuizen said Westall is supporting the open source spirit by providing information about the school's work and image to other schools, and is looking at moving its entire library systems from a proprietary to an open source solution.

"Our current solution is Bibliotech, and we have had some issues implementing what we thought was basic functionality, for example an extra search field for a Web form, due to the use of closed source dll's and lack of code transparency. Other schools have purchased systems such as Athena, which have been discontinued and have had no updates for many years."

Gesthuizen said that if the source code had been available for either of these library systems, then the school could have made appropriate changes or requested the help of a programmer to do so in a suitable timeframe. As that is not possible, the school is giving its proprietary library system the flick.

"We are currently looking at switching library systems from a proprietary solution which has been lacking in features and updates. The new system we are evaluating is the open source Koha project. Once we work out how to add our required features, we aim to return this code to the project and form a community of local schools." he said.

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Andrew Hendry

Computerworld
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