Ubuntu breathes new life into school's abandoned hardware

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

"Students can walk up to each terminal, conduct an Internet search and go on to collect their printout, reserve a book, or access the college Intranet. Other sites are locked out by the proxy setting, and the workstations power off nightly using a cron [timed] poweroff command," he said.

Stefyn said he was "pleasantly surprised" to discover that the Kubuntu desktops ran some applications faster with Linux than when they ran on Windows. An additional benefit of Windows' departure from student library terminals saw the students cease "hacking the setup to install and play games or trash the operating system".

We have taken the Xubuntu statement to heart - 'No hardware left behind'

"[Our] older computers will never be able to run Vista. There are some licensing issues [with computers that] have been extensively modified or upgraded and we understand that there are no long-term support plans for Windows XP. In a sense we have taken the, albeit tongue in cheek, Xubuntu statement to heart - 'No hardware left behind'," Stefyn said.

Based on the success of the initial deployment, another six Kubuntu kiosks are slated for implementation in the school's international student lounge.

In explaining why the school went for Kubuntu, Stefyn said the students responded well to CDs put out by the Ubuntu project. Many had tried Ubuntu at home, which led to a decision to provide a familiar working environment at the school as well.

"During our last hardware cleanout, we challenged the students to create the best Linux install and customization, and the winners would get to keep the hardware once it was decommissioned.

"Some students have very limited access to computers outside the classroom and schools are always looking for innovative approaches to this problem. An added benefit is the hardware being put to a new use instead of being dumped in landfill" Stefyn said.

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