Petter Reinholdtsen

Entries tagged "debian edu".

How to test Debian Edu Jessie despite some fatal problems with the installer
26th September 2014

The Debian Edu / Skolelinux project provide a Linux solution for schools, including a powerful desktop with education software, a central server providing web pages, user database, user home directories, central login and PXE boot of both clients without disk and the installation to install Debian Edu on machines with disk (and a few other services perhaps to small to mention here). We in the Debian Edu team are currently working on the Jessie based version, trying to get everything in shape before the freeze, to avoid having to maintain our own package repository in the future. The current status can be seen on the Debian wiki, and there is still heaps of work left. Some fatal problems block testing, breaking the installer, but it is possible to work around these to get anyway. Here is a recipe on how to get the installation limping along.

First, download the test ISO via ftp, http or rsync (use ftp.skolelinux.org::cd-edu-testing-nolocal-netinst/debian-edu-amd64-i386-NETINST-1.iso). The ISO build was broken on Tuesday, so we do not get a new ISO every 12 hours or so, but thankfully the ISO we already got we are able to install with some tweaking.

When you get to the Debian Edu profile question, go to tty2 (use Alt-Ctrl-F2), run

nano /usr/bin/edu-eatmydata-install

and add 'exit 0' as the second line, disabling the eatmydata optimization. Return to the installation, select the profile you want and continue. Without this change, exim4-config will fail to install due to a known bug in eatmydata.

When you get the grub question at the end, answer /dev/sda (or if this do not work, figure out what your correct value would be. All my test machines need /dev/sda, so I have no advice if it do not fit your need.

If you installed a profile including a graphical desktop, log in as root after the initial boot from hard drive, and install the education-desktop-XXX metapackage. XXX can be kde, gnome, lxde, xfce or mate. If you want several desktop options, install more than one metapackage. Once this is done, reboot and you should have a working graphical login screen. This workaround should no longer be needed once the education-tasks package version 1.801 enter testing in two days.

I believe the ISO build will start working on two days when the new tasksel package enter testing and Steve McIntyre get a chance to update the debian-cd git repository. The eatmydata, grub and desktop issues are already fixed in unstable and testing, and should show up on the ISO as soon as the ISO build start working again. Well the eatmydata optimization is really just disabled. The proper fix require an upload by the eatmydata maintainer applying the patch provided in bug #702711. The rest have proper fixes in unstable.

I hope this get you going with the installation testing, as we are quickly running out of time trying to get our Jessie based installation ready before the distribution freeze in a month.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english.
Speeding up the Debian installer using eatmydata and dpkg-divert
16th September 2014

The Debian installer could be a lot quicker. When we install more than 2000 packages in Skolelinux / Debian Edu using tasksel in the installer, unpacking the binary packages take forever. A part of the slow I/O issue was discussed in bug #613428 about too much file system sync-ing done by dpkg, which is the package responsible for unpacking the binary packages. Other parts (like code executed by postinst scripts) might also sync to disk during installation. All this sync-ing to disk do not really make sense to me. If the machine crash half-way through, I start over, I do not try to salvage the half installed system. So the failure sync-ing is supposed to protect against, hardware or system crash, is not really relevant while the installer is running.

A few days ago, I thought of a way to get rid of all the file system sync()-ing in a fairly non-intrusive way, without the need to change the code in several packages. The idea is not new, but I have not heard anyone propose the approach using dpkg-divert before. It depend on the small and clever package eatmydata, which uses LD_PRELOAD to replace the system functions for syncing data to disk with functions doing nothing, thus allowing programs to live dangerous while speeding up disk I/O significantly. Instead of modifying the implementation of dpkg, apt and tasksel (which are the packages responsible for selecting, fetching and installing packages), it occurred to me that we could just divert the programs away, replace them with a simple shell wrapper calling "eatmydata $program $@", to get the same effect. Two days ago I decided to test the idea, and wrapped up a simple implementation for the Debian Edu udeb.

The effect was stunning. In my first test it reduced the running time of the pkgsel step (installing tasks) from 64 to less than 44 minutes (20 minutes shaved off the installation) on an old Dell Latitude D505 machine. I am not quite sure what the optimised time would have been, as I messed up the testing a bit, causing the debconf priority to get low enough for two questions to pop up during installation. As soon as I saw the questions I moved the installation along, but do not know how long the question were holding up the installation. I did some more measurements using Debian Edu Jessie, and got these results. The time measured is the time stamp in /var/log/syslog between the "pkgsel: starting tasksel" and the "pkgsel: finishing up" lines, if you want to do the same measurement yourself. In Debian Edu, the tasksel dialog do not show up, and the timing thus do not depend on how quickly the user handle the tasksel dialog.

Machine/setup Original tasksel Optimised tasksel Reduction
Latitude D505 Main+LTSP LXDE 64 min (07:46-08:50) <44 min (11:27-12:11) >20 min 18%
Latitude D505 Roaming LXDE 57 min (08:48-09:45) 34 min (07:43-08:17) 23 min 40%
Latitude D505 Minimal 22 min (10:37-10:59) 11 min (11:16-11:27) 11 min 50%
Thinkpad X200 Minimal 6 min (08:19-08:25) 4 min (08:04-08:08) 2 min 33%
Thinkpad X200 Roaming KDE 19 min (09:21-09:40) 15 min (10:25-10:40) 4 min 21%

The test is done using a netinst ISO on a USB stick, so some of the time is spent downloading packages. The connection to the Internet was 100Mbit/s during testing, so downloading should not be a significant factor in the measurement. Download typically took a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on the amount of packages being installed.

The speedup is implemented by using two hooks in Debian Installer, the pre-pkgsel.d hook to set up the diverts, and the finish-install.d hook to remove the divert at the end of the installation. I picked the pre-pkgsel.d hook instead of the post-base-installer.d hook because I test using an ISO without the eatmydata package included, and the post-base-installer.d hook in Debian Edu can only operate on packages included in the ISO. The negative effect of this is that I am unable to activate this optimization for the kernel installation step in d-i. If the code is moved to the post-base-installer.d hook, the speedup would be larger for the entire installation.

I've implemented this in the debian-edu-install git repository, and plan to provide the optimization as part of the Debian Edu installation. If you want to test this yourself, you can create two files in the installer (or in an udeb). One shell script need do go into /usr/lib/pre-pkgsel.d/, with content like this:

#!/bin/sh
set -e
. /usr/share/debconf/confmodule
info() {
    logger -t my-pkgsel "info: $*"
}
error() {
    logger -t my-pkgsel "error: $*"
}
override_install() {
    apt-install eatmydata || true
    if [ -x /target/usr/bin/eatmydata ] ; then
        for bin in dpkg apt-get aptitude tasksel ; do
            file=/usr/bin/$bin
            # Test that the file exist and have not been diverted already.
            if [ -f /target$file ] ; then
                info "diverting $file using eatmydata"
                printf "#!/bin/sh\neatmydata $bin.distrib \"\$@\"\n" \
                    > /target$file.edu
                chmod 755 /target$file.edu
                in-target dpkg-divert --package debian-edu-config \
                    --rename --quiet --add $file
                ln -sf ./$bin.edu /target$file
            else
                error "unable to divert $file, as it is missing."
            fi
        done
    else
        error "unable to find /usr/bin/eatmydata after installing the eatmydata pacage"
    fi
}

override_install

To clean up, another shell script should go into /usr/lib/finish-install.d/ with code like this:

#! /bin/sh -e
. /usr/share/debconf/confmodule
error() {
    logger -t my-finish-install "error: $@"
}
remove_install_override() {
    for bin in dpkg apt-get aptitude tasksel ; do
        file=/usr/bin/$bin
        if [ -x /target$file.edu ] ; then
            rm /target$file
            in-target dpkg-divert --package debian-edu-config \
                --rename --quiet --remove $file
            rm /target$file.edu
        else
            error "Missing divert for $file."
        fi
    done
    sync # Flush file buffers before continuing
}

remove_install_override

In Debian Edu, I placed both code fragments in a separate script edu-eatmydata-install and call it from the pre-pkgsel.d and finish-install.d scripts.

By now you might ask if this change should get into the normal Debian installer too? I suspect it should, but am not sure the current debian-installer coordinators find it useful enough. It also depend on the side effects of the change. I'm not aware of any, but I guess we will see if the change is safe after some more testing. Perhaps there is some package in Debian depending on sync() and fsync() having effect? Perhaps it should go into its own udeb, to allow those of us wanting to enable it to do so without affecting everyone.

Update 2014-09-24: Since a few days ago, enabling this optimization will break installation of all programs using gnutls because of bug #702711. An updated eatmydata package in Debian will solve it.

Update 2014-10-17: The bug mentioned above is fixed in testing and the optimization work again. And I have discovered that the dpkg-divert trick is not really needed and implemented a slightly simpler approach as part of the debian-edu-install package. See tools/edu-eatmydata-install in the source package.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english.
Debian Edu interview: Bernd Zeitzen
31st July 2014

The complete and free “out of the box” software solution for schools, Debian Edu / Skolelinux, is used quite a lot in Germany, and one of the people involved is Bernd Zeitzen, who show up on the project mailing lists from time to time with interesting questions and tips on how to adjust the setup. I managed to interview him this summer.

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

My name is Bernd Zeitzen and I'm married with Hedda, a self employed physiotherapist. My former profession is tool maker, but I haven't worked for 30 years in this job. 30 years ago I started to support my wife and become her officeworker and a few years later the administrator for a small computer network, today based on Ubuntu Server (Samba, OpenVPN). For her daily work she has to use Windows Desktops because the software she needs to organize her business only works with Windows . :-(

In 1988 we started with one PC and DOS, then I learned to use Windows 98, 2000, XP, …, 8, Ubuntu, MacOSX. Today we are running a Linux server with 6 Windows clients and 10 persons (teacher of children with special needs, speech therapist, occupational therapist, psychologist and officeworkers) using our Samba shares via OpenVPN to work with the documentations of our patients.

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux / Debian Edu project?

Two years ago a friend of mine asked me, if I want to get a job in his school (Gymnasium Harsewinkel). They started with Skolelinux / Debian Edu and they were looking for people to give support to the teachers using the software and the network and teaching the pupils increasing their computer skills in optional lessons. I'm spending 4-6 hours a week with this job.

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu?

The independence.

First: Every person is allowed to use, share and develop the software. Even if you are poor, you are allowed to use the software included in Skolelinux/Debian Edu and all the other Free Software.

Second: The software runs on old machines and this gives us the possibility to recycle computers, weeded out from offices. The servers and desktops are running for more than two years and they are working reliable.

We have two servers (one tjener and one terminal server), 45 workstations in three classrooms and seven laptops as a mobile solution for all classrooms. These machines are all booting from the terminal server. In the moment we are installing 30 laptops as mobile workstations. Then the pupils have the possibility to work with these machines in their classrooms. Internet access is realized by a WLAN router, connected to the schools network. This is all done without a dedicated system administrator or a computer science teacher.

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu?

Teachers and pupils are Windows users. <Irony on> And Linux isn't cool. It's software for freaks using the command line. <Irony off> They don't realize the stability of the system.

Which free software do you use daily?

Firefox, Thunderbird, LibreOffice, Ubuntu Server 12.04 (Samba, Apache, MySQL, Joomla!, … and Skolelinux / Debian Edu)

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

In Germany we have the situation: every school is free to decide which software they want to use. This decision is influenced by teachers who learned to use Windows and MS Office. They buy a PC with Windows preinstalled and an additional testing version of MS Office. They don't know about the possibility to use Free Software instead. Another problem are the publisher of school books. They develop their software, added to the school books, for Windows.

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
From English wiki to translated PDF and epub via Docbook
17th June 2014

The Debian Edu / Skolelinux project provide an instruction manual for teachers, system administrators and other users that contain useful tips for setting up and maintaining a Debian Edu installation. This text is about how the text processing of this manual is handled in the project.

One goal of the project is to provide information in the native language of its users, and for this we need to handle translations. But we also want to make sure each language contain the same information, so for this we need a good way to keep the translations in sync. And we want it to be easy for our users to improve the documentation, avoiding the need to learn special formats or tools to contribute, and the obvious way to do this is to make it possible to edit the documentation using a web browser. We also want it to be easy for translators to keep the translation up to date, and give them help in figuring out what need to be translated. Here is the list of tools and the process we have found trying to reach all these goals.

We maintain the authoritative source of our manual in the Debian wiki, as several wiki pages written in English. It consist of one front page with references to the different chapters, several pages for each chapter, and finally one "collection page" gluing all the chapters together into one large web page (aka the AllInOne page). The AllInOne page is the one used for further processing and translations. Thanks to the fact that the MoinMoin installation on wiki.debian.org support exporting pages in the Docbook format, we can fetch the list of pages to export using the raw version of the AllInOne page, loop over each of them to generate a Docbook XML version of the manual. This process also download images and transform image references to use the locally downloaded images. The generated Docbook XML files are slightly broken, so some post-processing is done using the documentation/scripts/get_manual program, and the result is a nice Docbook XML file (debian-edu-wheezy-manual.xml) and a handfull of images. The XML file can now be used to generate PDF, HTML and epub versions of the English manual. This is the basic step of our process, making PDF (using dblatex), HTML (using xsltproc) and epub (using dbtoepub) version from Docbook XML, and the resulting files are placed in the debian-edu-doc-en binary package.

But English documentation is not enough for us. We want translated documentation too, and we want to make it easy for translators to track the English original. For this we use the poxml package, which allow us to transform the English Docbook XML file into a translation file (a .pot file), usable with the normal gettext based translation tools used by those translating free software. The pot file is used to create and maintain translation files (several .po files), which the translations update with the native language translations of all titles, paragraphs and blocks of text in the original. The next step is combining the original English Docbook XML and the translation file (say debian-edu-wheezy-manual.nb.po), to create a translated Docbook XML file (in this case debian-edu-wheezy-manual.nb.xml). This translated (or partly translated, if the translation is not complete) Docbook XML file can then be used like the original to create a PDF, HTML and epub version of the documentation.

The translators use different tools to edit the .po files. We recommend using lokalize, while some use emacs and vi, others can use web based editors like Poodle or Transifex. All we care about is where the .po file end up, in our git repository. Updated translations can either be committed directly to git, or submitted as bug reports against the debian-edu-doc package.

One challenge is images, which both might need to be translated (if they show translated user applications), and are needed in different formats when creating PDF and HTML versions (epub is a HTML version in this regard). For this we transform the original PNG images to the needed density and format during build, and have a way to provide translated images by storing translated versions in images/$LANGUAGECODE/. I am a bit unsure about the details here. The package maintainers know more.

If you wonder what the result look like, we provide the content of the documentation packages on the web. See for example the Italian PDF version or the German HTML version. We do not yet build the epub version by default, but perhaps it will be done in the future.

To learn more, check out the debian-edu-doc package, the manual on the wiki and the translation instructions in the manual.

Tags: debian, debian edu, docbook, english.
Debian Edu interview: Roger Marsal
30th March 2014

Debian Edu / Skolelinux keep gaining new users. Some weeks ago, a person showed up on IRC, #debian-edu, with a wish to contribute, and I managed to get a interview with this great contributor Roger Marsal to learn more about his background.

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

My name is Roger Marsal, I'm 27 years old (1986 generation) and I live in Barcelona, Spain. I've got a strong business background and I work as a patrimony manager and as a real estate agent. Additionally, I've co-founded a British based tech company that is nowadays on the last development phase of a new social networking concept.

I'm a Linux enthusiast that started its journey with Ubuntu four years ago and have recently switched to Debian seeking rock solid stability and as a necessary step to gain expertise.

In a nutshell, I spend my days working and learning as much as I can to face both my job, entrepreneur project and feed my Linux hunger.

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux / Debian Edu project?

I discovered the LTSP advantages with "Ubuntu 12.04 alternate install" and after a year of use I started looking for an alternative. Even though I highly value and respect the Ubuntu project, I thought it was necessary for me to change to a more robust and stable alternative. As far as I was using Debian on my personal laptop I thought it would be fine to install Debian and configure an LTSP server myself. Surprised, I discovered that the Debian project also supported a kind of Edubuntu equivalent, and after having some pain I obtained a Debian Edu network up and running. I just loved it.

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu?

I found a main advantage in that, once you know "the tips and tricks", a new installation just works out of the box. It's the most complete alternative I've found to create an LTSP network. All the other distributions seems to be made of plastic, Debian Edu seems to be made of steel.

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu?

I found two main disadvantages.

I'm not an expert but I've got notions and I had to spent a considerable amount of time trying to bring up a standard network topology. I'm quite stubborn and I just worked until I did but I'm sure many people with few resources (not big schools, but academies for example) would have switched or dropped.

It's amazing how such a complex system like Debian Edu has achieved this out-of-the-box state. Even though tweaking without breaking gets more difficult, as more factors have to be considered. This can discourage many people too.

Which free software do you use daily?

I use Debian, Firefox, Okular, Inkscape, LibreOffice and Virtualbox.

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

I don't think there is a need for a particular strategy. The free attribute in both "freedom" and "no price" meanings is what will really bring free software to schools. In my experience I can think of the "R" statistical language; a few years a ago was an extremely nerd tool for university people. Today it's being increasingly used to teach statistics at many different level of studies. I believe free and open software will increasingly gain popularity, but I'm sure schools will be one of the first scenarios where this will happen.

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
How to add extra storage servers in Debian Edu / Skolelinux
12th March 2014

On larger sites, it is useful to use a dedicated storage server for storing user home directories and data. The design for handling this in Debian Edu / Skolelinux, is to update the automount rules in LDAP and let the automount daemon on the clients take care of the rest. I was reminded about the need to document this better when one of the customers of Skolelinux Drift AS, where I am on the board of directors, asked about how to do this. The steps to get this working are the following:

  1. Add new storage server in DNS. I use nas-server.intern as the example host here.
  2. Add automoun LDAP information about this server in LDAP, to allow all clients to automatically mount it on reqeust.
  3. Add the relevant entries in tjener.intern:/etc/fstab, because tjener.intern do not use automount to avoid mounting loops.

DNS entries are added in GOsa², and not described here. Follow the instructions in the manual (Machine Management with GOsa² in section Getting started).

Ensure that the NFS export points on the server are exported to the relevant subnets or machines:

root@tjener:~# showmount -e nas-server
Export list for nas-server:
/storage         10.0.0.0/8
root@tjener:~#

Here everything on the backbone network is granted access to the /storage export. With NFSv3 it is slightly better to limit it to netgroup membership or single IP addresses to have some limits on the NFS access.

The next step is to update LDAP. This can not be done using GOsa², because it lack a module for automount. Instead, use ldapvi and add the required LDAP objects using an editor.

ldapvi --ldap-conf -ZD '(cn=admin)' -b ou=automount,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no

When the editor show up, add the following LDAP objects at the bottom of the document. The "/&" part in the last LDAP object is a wild card matching everything the nas-server exports, removing the need to list individual mount points in LDAP.

add cn=nas-server,ou=auto.skole,ou=automount,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
objectClass: automount
cn: nas-server
automountInformation: -fstype=autofs --timeout=60 ldap:ou=auto.nas-server,ou=automount,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no

add ou=auto.nas-server,ou=automount,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
objectClass: top
objectClass: automountMap
ou: auto.nas-server

add cn=/,ou=auto.nas-server,ou=automount,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
objectClass: automount
cn: /
automountInformation: -fstype=nfs,tcp,rsize=32768,wsize=32768,rw,intr,hard,nodev,nosuid,noatime nas-server.intern:/&

The last step to remember is to mount the relevant mount points in tjener.intern by adding them to /etc/fstab, creating the mount directories using mkdir and running "mount -a" to mount them.

When this is done, your users should be able to access the files on the storage server directly by just visiting the /tjener/nas-server/storage/ directory using any application on any workstation, LTSP client or LTSP server.

Tags: debian edu, english, ldap.
Debian Edu interview: Dominik George
25th December 2013

The Debian Edu / Skolelinux project consist of both newcomers and old timers, and this time I was able to get an interview with a newcomer in the project who showed up on the IRC channel a few weeks ago to let us know about his successful installation of Debian Edu Wheezy in his School. Say hello to Dominik George.

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

I am a 23 year-old student from Germany who has spent half of his life with open source. In "real life", I am, as already mentioned, a student in the fields of Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Information Technologies and Anglistics. Due to my (only partially voluntary) huge engagement in the open source world, these things are a bit vacant right now however.

I also have been working as a project teacher at a Gymasnium (public school) for various years now. I took up that work some time around 2005 when still attending that school myself and have continued it until today. I also had been running the (kind of very advanced) network of that school together with a team of very interested and talented students in the age of 11 to 15 years, who took the chance to learn a lot about open source and networking before I left the school to help building another school's informational education concept from scratch.

That said, one might see me as a kind of "glue" between school kids and the elderly of teachers as well as between the open source ecosystem and the (even more complex) educational ecosystem.

When I am not busy with open source or education, I like Geocaching and cycling.

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux / Debian Edu project?

I think that happened some time around 2009 when I first attended FrOSCon and visited the project booth. I think I wasn't too interested back then because I used to have an attitude of disliking software that does too much stuff on its own. Maybe I was too inexperienced to realise the upsides of an "out-of-the-box" solution ;).

The first time I actively talked to Skolelinux people was at OpenRheinRuhr 2011 when the BiscuIT project, a home-grewn software used by my school for various really cool things from timetables and class contact lists to lunch ordering, student ID card printing and project elections first got to a stage where it could have been published. I asked the Skolelinux guys running the booth if the project were interested in it and gave a small demonstration, but there wasn't any real feedback and the guys seemed rather uninterested.

After I left the school where I developed the software, it got mostly lost, but I am now reimplementing it for my new school. I have reusability and compatibility in mind, and I hop there will be a new basis for contributing it to the Skolelinux project ;)!

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu?

The most important advantage seems to be that it "just works". After overcoming some minor (but still very annoying) glitches in the installer, I got a fully functional, working school network, without the month-long hassle I experienced when setting all that up from scratch in earlier years. And above that, it rocked - I didn't have any real hardware at hand, because the school was just founded and has no money whatsoever, so I installed a combined server (main server, terminal services and workstation) in a VM on my personal notebook, bridging the LTSP network interface to the ethernet port, and then PXE-booted the Windows notebooks that were lying around from it. I could use 8 clients without any performance issues, by using a tiny little VM on a tiny little notebook. I think that's enough to say that it rocks!

Secondly, there are marketing reasons. Life's bad, and so no politician will ever permit a setup described as "Debian, an universal operating system, with some really cool educational tools" while they will be jsut fine with "Skolelinux, a single-purpose solution for your school network", even if both turn out to be the very same thing (yes, this is unfair towards the Skolelinux project, and must not be taken too seriously - you get the idea, anyway).

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu?

I have not been involved with Skolelinux long enough to really answer this question in a fair way. Thus, please allow me to put it in other words: "What do you expect from Skolelinux to keep liking it?" I can list a few points about that:

I'm really sorry I cannot say much more about that :(!

Which free software do you use daily?

First of all, all software I use is free and open. I have abandoned all non-free software (except for firmware on my darned phone) this year.

I run Debian GNU/Linux on all PC systems I use. On that, I mostly run text tools. I use mksh as shell, jupp as very advanced text editor (I even got the developer to help me write a script/macro based full-featured student management software with the two), mcabber for XMPP and irssi for IRC. For that overly coloured world called the WWW, I use Iceweasel (Firefox). Oh, and mutt for e-mail.

However, while I am personally aware of the fact that text tools are more efficient and powerful than anything else, I also use (or at least operate) some tools that are suitable to bring open source to kids. One of these things is Jappix, which I already introduced to some kids even before they got aware of Facebook, making them see for themselves that they do not need Facebook now ;).

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

Well, that's a two-sided thing. One side is what I believe, and one side is what I have experienced.

I believe that the right strategy is showing them the benefits. But that won't work out as long as the acceptance of free alternatives grows globally. What I mean is that if all the kids are almost forced to use Windows, Facebook, Skype, you name it at home, they will not see why they would want to use alternatives at school. I have seen students take seat in front of a fully-functional, modern Debian desktop that could do anything their Windows at home could do, and they jsut refused to use it because "Linux sucks". It is something that makes the council of our city spend around 600000 € to buy software - not including hardware, mind you - for operating school networks, and for installing a system that, as has been proved, does not work. For those of you readers who are good at maths, have you already found out how many lives could have been saved with that money if we had instead used it to bring education to parts of the world that need it? I have, and found it to be nothing less dramatic than plain criminal.

That said, the only feasible way appears to be the bottom up method. We have to bring free software to kids and parents. I have founded an association named Teckids here in Germany that does just that. We organise several events for kids and adolescents in the area of free and open source software, for example the FrogLabs, which share staff with Teckids and are the youth programme of the Free and Open Source Software Conference (FrOSCon). We do a lot more than most other conferences - this year, we first offered the FrogLabs as a holiday camp for kids aged 10 to 16. It was a huge success, with approx. 30 kids taking part and learning with and about free software through a whole weekend. All of us had a lot of fun, and the results were really exciting.

Apart from that, we are preparing a campaign that is supposed to bring the message of free alternatives to stuff kids use every day to them and their parents, e.g. the use of Jabber / Jappix instead of Facebook and Skype. To make that possible, we are planning to get together a team of clever kids who understand very well what their peers need and can bring it across to them. So we will have a peer-driven network of adolescents who teach each other and collect feedback from the community of minors. We then take that feedback and our own experience to work closely with open source projects, such as Skolelinux or Jappix, at improving their software in a way that makes it more and more attractive for the target group. At least I hope that we will have good cooperation with Skolelinux in the future ;)!

So in conclusion, what I believe is that, if it weren't for the world being so bad, it should be very clear to the political decision makers that the only way to go nowadays is free software for various reasons, but I have learnt that the only way that seems to work is bottom up.

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
Debian Edu interview: Klaus Knopper
6th December 2013

It has been a while since I managed to publish the last interview, but the Debian Edu / Skolelinux community is still going strong, and yesterday we even had a new school administrator show up on #debian-edu to share his success story with installing Debian Edu at their school. This time I have been able to get some helpful comments from the creator of Knoppix, Klaus Knopper, who was involved in a Skolelinux project in Germany a few years ago.

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

I am Klaus Knopper. I have a master degree in electrical engineering, and is currently professor in information management at the university of applied sciences Kaiserslautern / Germany and freelance Open Source software developer and consultant.

All of this is pretty much of the work I spend my days with. Apart from teaching, I'm also conducting some more or less experimental projects like the Knoppix GNU/Linux live system (Debian-based like Skolelinux), ADRIANE (a blind-friendly talking desktop system) and LINBO (Linux-based network boot console, a fast remote install and repair system supporting various operating systems).

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux / Debian Edu project?

The credit for this have to go to Kurt Gramlich, who is the German coordinator for Skolelinux. We were looking for an all-in-one open source community-supported distribution for schools, and Kurt introduced us to Skolelinux for this purpose.

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu?

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu?

For these reasons and experience from our project, I would now rather consider using plain Debian for schools next time, until Skolelinux is more closely integrated into Debian and becomes upgradeable without reinstallation.

Which free software do you use daily?

GNU/Linux with LXDE desktop, bash for interactive dialog and programming, texlive for documentation and correspondence, occasionally LibreOffice for document format conversion. Various programming languages for teaching.

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

Strong arguments are

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
Skolelinux / Debian Edu 7.1 install and overview video from Marcelo Salvador
8th October 2013

The other day I was pleased and surprised to discover that Marcelo Salvador had published a video on Youtube showing how to install the standalone Debian Edu / Skolelinux profile. This is the profile intended for use at home or on laptops that should not be integrated into the provided network services (no central home directory, no Kerberos / LDAP directory etc, in other word a single user machine). The result is 11 minutes long, and show some user applications (seem to be rather randomly picked). Missed a few of my favorites like celestia, planets and chromium showing the Zygote Body 3D model of the human body, but I guess he did not know about those or find other programs more interesting. :) And the video do not show the advantages I believe is one of the most valuable featuers in Debian Edu, its central school server making it possible to run hundreds of computers without hard drives by installing one central LTSP server.

Anyway, check out the video, embedded below and linked to above:

Are there other nice videos demonstrating Skolelinux? Please let me know. :)

Tags: debian edu, english, video.
Finally, Debian Edu Wheezy is released today!
29th September 2013

A few hours ago, the announcement for the first stable release of Debian Edu Wheezy went out from the Debian publicity team. The complete announcement text can be found at the Debian News section, translated to several languages. Please check it out.

There is one minor known problem that we will fix very soon. One can not install a amd64 Thin Client Server using PXE, as the /var/ partition is too small. A workaround is to extend the partition (use lvresize + resize2fs in tty 2 while installing).

Tags: debian edu, english.
Third and probably last beta release of Debian Edu Wheezy
16th September 2013

The third wheezy based beta release of Debian Edu was wrapped up today. This is the release announcement from Holger Levsen:

Hi,

it is my pleasure to announce the third beta release (beta 2 for short) of Debian Edu / Skolelinux based on Debian Wheezy!

Please test these images extensivly, if no new problems are found we plan to do this final Debian Edu Wheezy release this coming weekend. We are not aware of any major problems or blockers in beta2, if you find something, please notify us immediately!

(More about the remaining steps for the Edu Wheezy release in another mail to the edu list tonight or tomorrow...)

Noteworthy changes and software updates for Debian Edu 7.1+edu0~b2 compared to beta1:

  • The KDE proxy setup has been adjusted to use the provided wpad.dat. This also gets Chromium to use this proxy.
  • Install kdepim-groupware with KDE desktops to make sure korganizer understand ical/dav sources.
  • Increased default maximum size of /var/spool/squid and /skole/backup on the main server.
  • A source DVD image containing all source packages is now available as well.
  • Updates for chromium (29.0.1547.57-1~deb7u1), imagemagick (6.7.7.10-5+deb7u2), php5 (5.4.4-14+deb7u4), libmodplug (0.8.8.4-3+deb7u1+git20130828), tiff (4.0.2-6+deb7u2), linux-image (3.2.0-4-486_3.2.46-1+deb7u1).

Where to get it:

To download the multiarch netinstall CD release you can use

The SHA1SUM of this image is: 3a1c89f4666df80eebcd46c5bf5fedb866f9472f

To download the multiarch USB stick ISO release you can use

The SHA1SUM of this image is: 702d1718548f401c74bfa6df9f032cc3ee16597e

The Source DVD image has the filename debian-edu-7.1+edu0~b2-source-DVD.iso and the SHA1SUM 089eed8b3f962db47aae1f6a9685e9bb2fa30ca5 and is available the same way as the other isos.

How to report bugs

For information how to report bugs please see
http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEdu/HowTo/ReportBugs

About Debian Edu and Skolelinux

Debian Edu, also known as Skolelinux, is a Linux distribution based on Debian providing an out-of-the box environment of a completely configured school network. Immediately after installation a school server running all services needed for a school network is set up just waiting for users and machines being added via GOsa², a comfortable Web-UI. A netbooting environment is prepared using PXE, so after initial installation of the main server from CD or USB stick all other machines can be installed via the network. The provided school server provides LDAP database and Kerberos authentication service, centralized home directories, DHCP server, web proxy and many other services. The desktop contains more than 60 educational software packages and more are available from the Debian archive, and schools can choose between KDE, Gnome, LXDE and Xfce desktop environment.

This is the seventh test release based on Debian Wheezy. Basically this is an updated and slightly improved version compared to the Squeeze release.

Notes for upgrades from Alpha Prereleases

Alpha based installations should reinstall or downgrade the versions of gosa and libpam-mklocaluser to the ones used in this beta release. Both alpha and beta0 based installations should reinstall or deal with gosa.conf manually; there are two options: (1) Keep gosa.conf and edit this file as outlined on the mailing list. (2) Accept the new version of gosa.conf and replace both contained admin password placeholders with the password hashes found in the old one (backup copy!). In both cases all users need to change their password to make sure a password is set for CIFS access to their home directory.

cheers,
Holger

Tags: debian edu, english.
Second beta release (beta 1) of Debian Edu/Skolelinux based on Debian Wheezy
22nd August 2013

The second wheezy based beta release of Debian Edu was wrapped up today, slightly delayed because of some bugs in the initial Windows integration fixes . This is the release announcement:

New features for Debian Edu 7.1+edu0~b1 released 2013-08-22

These are the release notes for Debian Edu / Skolelinux 7.1+edu0~b1, based on Debian with codename "Wheezy".

About Debian Edu and Skolelinux

Debian Edu, also known as Skolelinux, is a Linux distribution based on Debian providing an out-of-the box environment of a completely configured school network. Immediately after installation a school server running all services needed for a school network is set up just waiting for users and machines being added via GOsa², a comfortable Web-UI. A netbooting environment is prepared using PXE, so after initial installation of the main server from CD or USB stick all other machines can be installed via the network. The provided school server provides LDAP database and Kerberos authentication service, centralized home directories, DHCP server, web proxy and many other services. The desktop contains more than 60 educational software packages and more are available from the Debian archive, and schools can choose between KDE, Gnome, LXDE and Xfce desktop environment.

This is the sixth test release based on Debian Wheezy. Basically this is an updated and slightly improved version compared to the Squeeze release.

ALERT: Alpha based installations should reinstall or downgrade the versions of gosa and libpam-mklocaluser to the ones used in this beta release. Both alpha and beta0 based installations should reinstall or deal with gosa.conf manually; there are two options: (1) Keep gosa.conf and edit this file as outlined on the mailing list. (2) Accept the new version of gosa.conf and replace both contained admin password placeholders with the password hashes found in the old one (backup copy!). In both cases every user need to change their their password to make sure a password is set for CIFS access to their home directory.

Software updates

Other changes

Known issues

Where to get it

To download the multiarch netinstall CD release you can use

The MD5SUM of this image is: 1e357f80b55e703523f2254adde6d78b
The SHA1SUM of this image is: 7157f9be5fd27c7694d713c6ecfed61c3edda3b2

To download the multiarch USB stick ISO release you can use

The MD5SUM of this image is: 7a8408ead59cf7e3cef25afb6e91590b
The SHA1SUM of this image is: f1817c031f02790d5edb3bfa0dcf8451088ad119

How to report bugs

http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEdu/HowTo/ReportBugs

Tags: debian edu, english.
First beta release of Debian Edu/Skolelinux based on Debian Wheezy
27th July 2013

The first wheezy based beta release of Debian Edu was wrapped up today. This is the release announcement:

New features for Debian Edu 7.1+edu0~b0 released 2013-07-27

These are the release notes for for Debian Edu / Skolelinux 7.1+edu0~b0, based on Debian with codename "Wheezy".

About Debian Edu and Skolelinux

Debian Edu, also known as Skolelinux, is a Linux distribution based on Debian providing an out-of-the box environment of a completely configured school network. Immediately after installation a school server running all services needed for a school network is set up just waiting for users and machines being added via GOsa², a comfortable Web-UI. A netbooting environment is prepared using PXE, so after initial installation of the main server from CD, DVD or USB stick all other machines can be installed via the network. The provided school server provides LDAP database and Kerberos authentication service, centralized home directories, DHCP server, web proxy and many other services. The desktop contains more than 60 educational software packages and more are available from the Debian archive, and schools can choose between KDE, Gnome, LXDE and Xfce desktop environment.

This is the fifth test release based on Debian Wheezy. Basically this is an updated and slightly improved version compared to the Squeeze release.

ALERT: Alpha based installations should reinstall or downgrade the versions of gosa and libpam-mklocaluser to the ones used in this beta release.

Software updates

Other changes

Known issues

Where to get it

To download the multiarch netinstall CD release you can use

The MD5SUM of this image is: 55d5de9765b6dccd5d9ec33cf1a07109
The SHA1SUM of this image is: 996a1d9517740e4d627d100de2d12b23dd545a3f

To download the multiarch USB stick ISO release you can use

The MD5SUM of this image is: d8f0818c51a78d357de794066f289f69
The SHA1SUM of this image is: 49185ca354e8d0543240423746924f76a6cee733

How to report bugs

http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEdu/HowTo/ReportBugs

Tags: debian edu, english.
July 13th: Debian/Ubuntu BSP and Skolelinux/Debian Edu developer gathering in Oslo
9th July 2013

The upcoming Saturday, 2013-07-13, we are organising a combined Debian Edu developer gathering and Debian and Ubuntu bug squashing party in Oslo. It is organised by the member assosiation NUUG and the Debian Edu / Skolelinux project together with the hack space Bitraf.

It starts 10:00 and continue until late evening. Everyone is welcome, and there is no fee to participate. There is on the other hand limited space, and only room for 30 people. Please put your name on the event wiki page if you plan to join us.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, nuug.
Fourth alpha release of Debian Edu/Skolelinux based on Debian Wheezy
3rd July 2013

The fourth wheezy based alpha release of Debian Edu was wrapped up today. This is the release announcement:

New features for Debian Edu 7.1+edu0~alpha3 released 2013-07-03

These are the release notes for for Debian Edu / Skolelinux 7.1+edu0~alpha3, based on Debian with codename "Wheezy".

About Debian Edu and Skolelinux

Debian Edu, also known as Skolelinux, is a Linux distribution based on Debian providing an out-of-the box environment of a completely configured school network. Immediately after installation a school server running all services needed for a school network is set up just waiting for users and machines being added via GOsa², a comfortable Web-UI. A netbooting environment is prepared using PXE, so after initial installation of the main server from CD, DVD or USB stick all other machines can be installed via the network. The provided school server provides LDAP database and Kerberos authentication service, centralized home directories, DHCP server, web proxy and many other services. The desktop contains more than 60 educational software packages and more are available from the Debian archive, and schools can choose between KDE, Gnome, LXDE and Xfce desktop environment.

This is the fourth test release based on Debian Wheezy. Basically this is an updated and slightly improved version compared to the Squeeze release.

Software updates

Other changes

Known issues

Where to get it

To download the multiarch netinstall CD release you can use

The MD5SUM of this image is: 2b161a99d2a848c376d8d04e3854e30c
The SHA1SUM of this image is: 498922e9c508c0a7ee9dbe1dfe5bf830d779c3c8

To download the multiarch USB stick ISO release you can use

The MD5SUM of this image is: 25e808e403a4c15dbef1d13c37d572ac
The SHA1SUM of this image is: 15ecfc93eb6b4f453b7eb0bc04b6a279262d9721

How to report bugs

http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEdu/HowTo/ReportBugs

Tags: debian edu, english.
The value of a good distro wide test suite...
22nd June 2013

In the Debian Edu / Skolelinux project, we include a post-installation test suite, which check that services are running, working, and return the expected results. It runs automatically just after the first boot on test installations (using test ISOs), but not on production installations (using non-test ISOs). It test that the LDAP service is operating, Kerberos is responding, DNS is replying, file systems are online resizable, etc, etc. And it check that the PXE service is configured, which is the topic of this post.

The last week I've fixed the DVD and USB stick ISOs for our Debian Edu Wheezy release. These ISOs are supposed to be able to install a complete system without any Internet connection, but for that to happen all the needed packages need to be on them. Thanks to our test suite, I discovered that we had forgotten to adjust our PXE setup to cope with the new names and paths used by the netboot d-i packages. When Internet connectivity was available, the installer fall back to using wget to fetch d-i boot images, but when offline it require working packages to get it working. And the packages changed name from debian-installer-6.0-netboot-$arch to debian-installer-7.0-netboot-$arch, we no longer pulled in the packages during installation. Without our test suite, I suspect we would never have discovered this before release. Now it is fixed right after we got the ISOs operational.

Another by-product of the test suite is that we can ask system administrators with problems getting Debian Edu to work, to run the test suite using /usr/sbin/debian-edu-test-install and see if any errors are detected. This usually pinpoint the subsystem causing the problem.

If you want to help us help kids learn how to share and create, please join us on #debian-edu on irc.debian.org and the debian-edu@ mailing list.

Tags: debian edu, english.
Debian Edu interview: Victor Nițu
17th June 2013

The Debian Edu and Skolelinux distribution have users and contributors all around the globe. And a while back, an enterprising young man showed up on our IRC channel #debian-edu and started asking questions about how Debian Edu worked. We answered as good as we could, and even convinced him to help us with translations. And today I managed to get an interview with him, to learn more about him.

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

I'm a 25 year old free software enthusiast, living in Romania, which is also my country of origin. Back in 2009, at a New Year's Eve party, I had a very nice beer discussion with a friend, when we realized we have no organised Debian community in our country. A few days later, we put together the infrastructure for such community and even gathered a nice Debian-ish crowd. Since then, I began my quest as a free software hacker and activist and I am constantly trying to cover as much ground as possible on that field.

A few years ago I founded a small web development company, which provided me the flexible schedule I needed so much for my activities. For the last 13 months, I have been the Technical Director of Fundația Ceata, which is a free software activist organisation endorsed by the FSF and the FSFE, and the only one we have in our country.

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux / Debian Edu project?

The idea of participating in the Debian Edu project was a surprise even to me, since I never used it before I began getting involved in it. This year I had a great opportunity to deliver a talk on educational software, and I knew immediately where to look. It was a love at first sight, since I was previously involved with some of the technologies the project incorporates, and I rapidly found a lot of ways to contribute.

My first contributions consisted in translating the installer and configuration dialogs, then I found some bugs to squash (I still haven't fixed them yet though), and I even got my eyes on some other areas where I can prove myself helpful. Since the appetite for free software in my country is pretty low, I'll be happy to be the first one around here advocating for the project's adoption in educational environments, and maybe even get my hands dirty in creating a flavour for our own needs. I am not used to make very advanced plannings, so from now on, time will tell what I'll be doing next, but I think I have a pretty consistent starting point.

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

Not a long time ago, I was in the position of configuring and maintaining a LDAP server on some Debian derivative, and I must say it took me a while. A long time ago, I was maintaining a bigger Samba-powered infrastructure, and I must say I spent quite a lot of time on it. I have similar stories about many of the services included with Skolelinux, and the main advantage I see about it is the out-of-the box availability of them, making it quite competitive when it comes to managing a school's network, for example.

Of course, there is more to say about Skolelinux than the availability of the software included, its flexibility in various scenarios is something I can't wait to experiment "into the wild" (I only played with virtual machines so far). And I am sure there is a lot more I haven't discovered yet about it, being so new within the project.

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu?

As usual, when it comes to Debian Blends, I see as the biggest disadvantage the lack of a numerous team dedicated to the project. Every day I see the same names in the changelogs, and I have a constantly fear of the bus factor in this story. I'd like to see Debian Edu advertised more as an entry point into the Debian ecosystem, especially amongst newcomers and students. IMHO there are a lot low-hanging fruits in terms of bug squashing, and enough opportunities to get the feeling of the Debian Project's dynamics. Not to mention it's a very fun blend to work on!

Derived from the previous statement, is the delay in catching up with the main Debian release and documentation. This is common though to all blends and derivatives, but it's an issue we can all work on.

Which free software do you use daily?

I can hardly imagine myself spending a day without Vim, since my daily routine covers writing code and hacking configuration files. I am a fan of the Awesome window manager (but I also like the Enlightenment project a lot!), Claws Mail due to its ease of use and very configurable behaviour. Recently I fell in love with Redshift, which helps me get through the night without headaches. Of course, there is much more stuff in this bag, but I'll need a blog on my own for doing this!

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

Well, on this field, I cannot do much more than experiment right now. So, being far from having a recipe for success, I can only assume that:

I also see some problems in getting Skolelinux into schools; for example, in our country we have a great deal of corruption issues, so it might be hard(er) to fight against proprietary solutions. Also, people who relied on commercial software for all their lives, would be very hard to convert against their will.

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
Debian Edu interview: Jonathan Carter
12th June 2013

There is a certain cross-over between the Debian Edu / Skolelinux project and the Edubuntu project, and for example the LTSP packages in Debian are a joint effort between the projects. One person with a foot in both camps is Jonathan Carter, which I am now happy to present to you.

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

I'm a South-African free software geek who lives in Cape Town. My days vary quite a bit since I'm involved in too many things. As I'm getting older I'm learning how to focus a bit more :)

I'm also an Edubuntu contributor and I love when there are opportunities for the Edubuntu and Debian Edu projects to benefit from each other.

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux / Debian Edu project?

I've been somewhat familiar with the project before, but I think my first direct exposure to the project was when I met Petter [Reinholdtsen] and Knut [Yrvin] at the Edubuntu summit in 2005 in London. They provided great feedback that helped the bootstrapping of Edubuntu. Back then Edubuntu (and even Ubuntu) was still very new and it was great getting input from people who have been around longer. I was also still very excitable and said yes to everything and to this day I have a big todo list backlog that I'm catching up with. I think over the years the relationship between Edubuntu and Debian-Edu has been gradually improving, although I think there's a lot that we could still improve on in terms of working together on packages. I'm sure we'll get there one day.

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu?

Debian itself already has so many advantages. I could go on about it for pages, but in essence I love that it's a very honest project that puts its users first with no hidden agendas and also produces very high quality work.

I think the advantage of Debian Edu is that it makes many common set-up tasks simpler so that administrators can get up and running with a lot less effort and frustration. At the same time I think it helps to standardise installations in schools so that it's easier for community members and commercial suppliers to support.

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu?

I had to re-type this one a few times because I'm trying to separate "disadvantages" from "areas that need improvement" (which is what I originally rambled on about)

The biggest disadvantage I can think of is lack of manpower. The project could do so much more if there were more good contributors. I think some of the problems are external too. Free software and free content in education is a no-brainer but it takes some time to catch on. When you've been working with the same proprietary eco-system for years and have gotten used to it, it can be hard to adjust to some concepts in the free software world. It would be nice if there were more Debian Edu consultants across the world. I'd love to be one myself but I'm already so over-committed that it's just not possible currently.

I think the best short-term solution to that large-scale problem is for schools to be pro-active and share their experiences and grow their skills in-house. I'm often saddened to see how much money educational institutions spend on 3rd party solutions that they don't have access to after the service has ended and they could've gotten so much more value otherwise by being more self-sustainable and autonomous.

Which free software do you use daily?

My main laptop dual-boots between Debian and Windows 7. I was Windows free for years but started dual-booting again last year for some games which help me focus and relax (Starcraft II in particular). Gaming support on Linux is improving in leaps and bounds so I suppose I'll soon be able to regain that disk space :)

Besides that I rely on Icedove, Chromium, Terminator, Byobu, irssi, git, Tomboy, KVM, VLC and LibreOffice. Recently I've been torn on which desktop environment I like and I'm taking some refuge in Xfce while I figure that out. I like tools that keep things simple. I enjoy Python and shell scripting. I went to an Arduino workshop recently and it was awesome seeing how easy and simple the IDE software was to get up and running in Debian compared to the users running Windows and OS X.

I also use mc which some people frown upon slightly. I got used to using Norton Commander in the early 90's and it stuck (I think the people who sneer at it is just jealous that they don't know how to use it :p)

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

I think trying to force it is unproductive. I also think that in many cases it's appropriate for schools to use non-free systems and I don't think that there's any particular moral or ethical problem with that.

I do think though that free software can already solve so so many problems in educational institutions and it's just a shame not taking advantage of that.

I also think that some curricula need serious review. For example, some areas of the world rely heavily on very specific versions of MS Office, teaching students to parrot menu items instead of learning the general concepts. I think that's very unproductive because firstly, MS Office's interface changes drastically every few years and on top of that it also locks in a generation to a product that might not be the best solution for them.

To answer your question, I believe that the right strategy is to educate and inform, giving someone the information they require to make a decision that would work for them.

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
Third alpha release of Debian Edu / Skolelinux based on Debian Wheezy
10th June 2013

The third wheezy based alpha release of Debian Edu was wrapped up today. This is the release announcement:

New features for Debian Edu 7.0.0 alpha2 released 2013-06-10

This is the release notes for for Debian Edu / Skolelinux 7.0.0 edu alpha2, based on Debian with codename "Wheezy".

About Debian Edu and Skolelinux

Debian Edu, also known as Skolelinux, is a Linux distribution based on Debian providing an out-of-the box environment of a completely configured school network. Immediately after installation a school server running all services needed for a school network is set up just waiting for users and machines being added via GOsa², a comfortable Web-UI. A netbooting environment is prepared using PXE, so after initial installation of the main server from CD, DVD or USB stick all other machines can be installed via the network. The provided school server provides LDAP database and Kerberos authentication service, centralized home directories, DHCP server, web proxy and many other services. The desktop contains more than 60 educational software packages and more are available from the Debian archive, and schools can choose between KDE, Gnome, LXDE and Xfce desktop environment.

This is the third test release based on Debian Wheezy. Basically this is an updated and slightly improved version compared to the Squeeze release.

Software updates

Other changes

Known issues

Where to get it

To download the multiarch netinstall CD release you can use

The MD5SUM of this image is: 27bbcace407743382f3c42c08dbe8178
The SHA1SUM of this image is: e35f7d7908566cd3075375b3721fa10ee420d419

How to report bugs

http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEdu/HowTo/ReportBugs

Tags: debian edu, english.
Is there a PHP expert in the building? Debian Edu need help!
5th June 2013

Here is a call for help from the Debian Edu / Skolelinux project. We have two problems blocking the release of the Wheezy version we hope to get released soon. The two problems require some with PHP skills, and we seem to lack anyone with both time and PHP skills in the project:

  1. It is impossible to log into the slbackup web interface (slbackup-php) using the root user and password. This is BTS report #700257. This used to work, but stopped working some time since Squeeze. Perhaps some obsolete PHP feature was used?
  2. It is not possible to "mass import" user lists in Gosa, neither using ldif nor using CSV files. The feature was disabled after a major rewrite of Gosa, and need to be ported to the new system. This is BTS report #698840.

If you can help us, please join us on IRC (#debian-edu on irc.debian.org) and provide patches via the BTS.

Tags: debian edu, english.
Debian Edu interview: Cédric Boutillier
4th June 2013

It has been a while since my last English Debian Edu and Skolelinux interview last November. But the developers and translators are still pulling along to get the Wheezy based release out the door, and this time I managed to get an interview from one of the French translators in the project, Cédric Boutillier.

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

I am 34 year old. I live near Paris, France. I am an assistant professor in probability theory. I spend my daytime teaching mathematics at the university and doing fundamental research in probability in connexion with combinatorics and statistical physics.

I have been involved in the Debian project for a couple of years and became Debian Developer a few months ago. I am working on Ruby packaging, publicity and translation.

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux / Debian Edu project?

I came to the Debian Edu project after a call for translation of the Debian Edu manual for the release of Debian Edu Squeeze. Since then, I have been working on updating the French translation of the manual.

I had the opportunity to make an installation of Debian Edu in a virtual machine when I was preparing localised version of some screen shots for the manual. I was amazed to see it worked out of the box and how comprehensive the list of software installed by default was.

What amazed me was the complete network infrastructure directly ready to use, which can and the nice administration interface provided by GOsa². What pleased me also was the fact that among the software installed by default, there were many "traditional" educative software to learn languages, to count, to program... but also software to develop creativity and artistic skills with music (Ardour, Audacity) and movies/animation (I was especially thinking of Stopmotion).

I am following the development of Debian Edu and am hanging out on #debian-edu. Unfortunately, I don't much time to get more involved in this beautiful project.

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu?

For me, the main advantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu are its community of experts and its precise documentation, as well as the fact that it provides a solution ready to use.

I would add also the fact that it is based on the rock solid Debian distribution, which ensures stability and provides a huge collection of educational free software.

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu?

Maybe the lack of manpower to do lobbying on the project. Sometimes, people who need to take decisions concerning IT do not have all the elements to evaluate properly free software solutions. The fact that support by a company may be difficult to find is probably a problem if the school does not have IT personnel.

One can find support from a company by looking at the wiki dokumentation, where some countries already have a number of companies providing support for Debian Edu, like Germany or Norway. This list is easy to find readily from the manual. However, for other countries, like France, the list is empty. I guess that consultants proposing support for Debian would be able to provide some support for Debian Edu as well.

Which free software do you use daily?

I am using the KDE Plasma Desktop. But the pieces of software I use most runs in a terminal: Mutt and OfflineIMAP for emails, latex for scientific documents, mpd for music. VIM is my editor of choice. I am also using the mathematical software Scilab and Sage (built from source as not completely packaged for Debian, yet).

Do you have any suggestions for teachers interested in using the free software in Debian to teach mathematics and statistics?

I do not have any "nice" recommendations for statistics. At our university, we use both R and Scilab to teach statistics and probabilistic simulations. For geometry, there are nice programs:

I like also cantor, which provides a uniform interface to SciLab, Sage, Octave, etc...

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

My suggestions would be to

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
Educational applications included in Debian Edu / Skolelinux (the screenshot collection :-)
1st June 2013

Included in Debian Edu / Skolelinux, there are quite a lot of educational software. Created to help teachers teach, and pupils learn. We have tried to tag them all using debtags use::learning and role::program, and using the debtags I was happy to be able to create a collage of the educational software packages installed by default, sorted by the debtag field. Here it is. Click on a image to learn more about the program.

field::arts

audacity childsplay denemo freebirth gcompris gimp hydrogen lilypond lmms rosegarden scribus solfege stopmotion tuxpaint

field::astronomy

celestia-gnome gpredict kstars planets stellarium xplanet

field::biology:structural

pymol

field::chemistry

atomix chemtool easychem gchempaint gdis ghemical gperiodic kalzium pymol [viewmol] xdrawchem

field::electronics

gcompris [gpsim]

field::geography

kgeography marble xplanet

field::linguistics

gcompris kanagram khangman klettres parley

field::mathematics

childsplay drgeo gcompris geogebra [geomview] grace graphmonkey graphthing kalgebra kbruch kig kmplot mathwar rocs scratch tuxmath xabacus

field::physics

gcompris step

field::TODO

blinken cgoban childsplay gcompris gnuchess gnugo gtans ktouch librecad scratch

In total, 61 applications. 3 of them lacked screen shots on screenshot.debian.net. If you know of some packages we should install by default, please let us know on IRC, #debian-edu on irc.debian.org, or our mailing list debian-edu@.

Tags: debian edu, english.
Skolelinux-intervju: Nirosan Thiyagalingam
24th May 2013

En ting Skolelinux-prosjektet har hatt mye glede av er studentprosjekter. F.eks. er stillbildeanimasjonssystemet Stopmotion resultat av et studentprosjekt i Skolelinux. De siste månedene har en ivrig student veiledet av Marius Kotsbak i FRiSK testet hva en kan få til med en datamaskin til NOK 400,- (antagelig 1700,- med skjerm, tastatur og mus) når det brukes i Skolelinux. Jeg spurte han om et intervju.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Jeg heter Nirosan Thiyagalingam. Jeg er 24 år og studerer dataingeniør studiet ved Høgskolen i Sør Trøndelag. Interessen for data har siden ung alder vært tilstede og jeg har i tillegg alltid vært glad i å lære nye ting. Med teknologi som endres svært hurtig er det alltid noe nytt å lære. Noe som igjen har gjort det svært interessant å følge med på utviklingen. Jeg valgte dataingeniør studiet grunnet ønske om å lære enda mer om programmering og utvikling av store systemer.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Skolelinux prosjektet hørte jeg først om i media. Men det var først når jeg skulle velge bacheloroppgave at jeg fattet mer interesse for prosjektet. Et enkelt søk på nettet førte meg til skolelinux sine hjemmesider. Informasjonen jeg fant der gjorde meg enda nysgjerrig og jeg valgte derfor en oppgave som gikk ut på å få en Raspberry PI. Altså en ultra-billig datamaskin til å kjøre Debian Edu på lik linje med vanlige datamaskiner. I løpet av prosjektet ble det gjort mye forskning på nettet. Det var mye jeg måtte forstå rundt hvordan operativsystemet Linux fungerte før jeg kunne angripe problemet. Prøvde først å finne ut hvordan man kunne transformere en vanlig installasjon av Skolelinux til Raspberry PI, men dette var altfor vanskelig å jeg endte opp med mer spørsmål enn svar. Det ble videre opprettet kontakt med Skolelinux utviklere på IRC der jeg fikk diskutert hvilken retning jeg burde gå for å få til en fullverdig løsning. Det ble bestemt at jeg skulle gå for å først installere Raspian. Dette er et operativsystem basert på Debian spesiallaget for Raspberry Pi sin maskinvare. Nå som Debian var installert på datamaskinen gjenstod det å installere de nødvendige Skolelinux pakkene for å få til et fullverdig system. Disse pakkene ble installert manuelt i første omgang, men ble senere installert automatisk via et script som Petter Reinholdtsen laget. Dette scriptet er så enkel å bruke at man er i gang med installasjonen i løpet av bare 5 minutter. Ikke nok med det, alt skjer helt automatisk. Alt i alt er jeg veldig fornøyd med resultatet av installasjonsprosessen. Raspberry Pi er en veldig svak maskin og det merkes godt når man har installert Skolelinux på den. Video og 3D-rendering fungerer utrolig dårlig, men nettsurfing og kontorprogrammer fungerer godt. Det kan derfor konkluderes med at datamaskinen er egnet for enkle oppgaver.

Jeg syns det er viktig påpeke at dette kun er startfasen av en slik løsning. På markedet finnes det nå maskiner som har bedre hardware enn Raspberry Pi. Det er store muligheter for at man kan klare å installere Skolelinux på disse også, og da forsvinner nok mest sannsynlig ytelsesproblemene med Video og 3D rendering også.

Det ble også prøvd med en løsning som gjorde at Raspberry Pi fungerte som en tynnklient. Denne løsningen hadde langt bedre ytelse med tanke på hastighet og brukeropplevelse. Men også her var video og 3D rendering dårlig. Det ble brukt en liten Linux distribusjon kalt BerryTerminal for å få til dette.

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Fordelen med Skolelinux er mange. At det er gratis er en stor fordel, men at det er så mange som er med på å utvikle det og vedlikeholde det er en enda større fordel. Allerede før jeg startet med prosjektet så jeg mange fordeler, og når jeg nærmet meg sluttfasen så jeg langt flere. At prosjektet skulle inneha en så høy kvalitet hadde jeg aldri trodd. En vanlig Skolelinux installasjon har de nødvendige programmene og funksjonen som både små og store skoler i tillegg til organisasjoner kan klare seg med. At prosjektet tilbyr en så komplett løsning er en kjempefordel. Installasjonen er knirkefri og det er svært enkelt å installere og komme i gang.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Ulempene jeg ser med prosjektet er ryddigheten av websidene. Selv om websidene er enkle og konsise er det allikevel ikke appellerende i like stor grad som for eksempel Ubuntu sine sider. Deres side tilbyr, i tillegg til godt design og presentasjon, en nettbasert emulator av deres operativsystem. Dette er en stor fordel slik jeg ser det. Bortsett fra dette ser jeg absolutt ingen ulemper med Skolelinux-prosjektet.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Til daglig er jeg en flittig bruker av det åpne media sentersystemet XBMC. Det enorme samfunnet rundt dette prosjektet har gjort dette til et program som dekker alles behov. Man kan tilpasse det akkurat slik man vil både med tanke på utseende og funksjoner ved installere plug-ins eller scripts.

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

Strategien som burde brukes sett fra mine øyne er markedsføring. Jeg er sikker på at om flere skoler fikk et lite innsyn i hvor bra Skolelinux er så ville de ikke nølt med å gå over fra noe annet som koster de store summer. At skolelinux til de grader tilbyr en så komplett løsning bure komme frem. Enten via reklamekampanjer eller ved å sende ut folk til skoler for så å la skolenettverk ansvarlige få teste ut hvordan Skolelinux fungerer i praksis. Om det i tillegg ble utviklet gode websider og en emulator for å la brukere prøve operativsystemet ville nok dette ha styrket inntrykket betraktelig.

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
How to transform a Debian based system to a Debian Edu installation
17th May 2013

Debian Edu / Skolelinux is an operating system based on Debian intended for use in schools. It contain a turn-key solution for the computer network provided to pupils in the primary schools. It provide both the central server, network boot servers and desktop environments with heaps of educational software. The project was founded almost 12 years ago, 2001-07-02. If you want to support the project, which is in need for cash to fund developer gatherings and other project related activity, please donate some money.

A topic that come up again and again on the Debian Edu mailing lists and elsewhere, is the question on how to transform a Debian or Ubuntu installation into a Debian Edu installation. It isn't very hard, and last week I wrote a script to replicate the steps done by the Debian Edu installer.

The script, debian-edu-bless in the debian-edu-config package, will go through these six steps and transform an existing Debian Wheezy or Ubuntu (untested) installation into a Debian Edu Workstation:

  1. Add skolelinux related APT sources.
  2. Create /etc/debian-edu/config with the wanted configuration.
  3. Install debian-edu-install to load preseeding values and pull in our configuration.
  4. Preseed debconf database with profile setup in /etc/debian-edu/config, and run tasksel to install packages according to the profile specified in the config above, overriding some of the Debian automation machinery.
  5. Run debian-edu-cfengine-D installation to configure everything that could not be done using preseeding.
  6. Ask for a reboot to enable all the configuration changes.

There are some steps in the Debian Edu installation that can not be replicated like this. Disk partitioning and LVM setup, for example. So this script just assume there is enough disk space to install all the needed packages.

The script was created to help a Debian Edu student working on setting up Raspberry Pi as a Debian Edu client, and using it he can take the existing Raspbian installation and transform it into a fully functioning Debian Edu Workstation (or Roaming Workstation, or whatever :).

The default setting in the script is to create a KDE Workstation. If a LXDE based Roaming workstation is wanted instead, modify the PROFILE and DESKTOP values at the top to look like this instead:

PROFILE="Roaming-Workstation"
DESKTOP="lxde"

The script could even become useful to set up Debian Edu servers in the cloud, by starting with a virtual Debian installation at some virtual hosting service and setting up all the services on first boot.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english.
Second alpha release of Debian Edu / Skolelinux based on Debian Wheezy
14th May 2013

The Debian Edu / Skolelinux project is making great progress and made its second Wheezy based release today. This is the release announcement:

New features for Debian Edu 7.0.0 alpha1 released 2013-05-14

This is the release notes for for Debian Edu / Skolelinux 7.0.0 edu alpha1, based on Debian with codename "Wheezy".

About Debian Edu and Skolelinux

Debian Edu, also known as Skolelinux, is a Linux distribution based on Debian providing an out-of-the box environment of a completely configured school network. Immediatly after installation a school server running all services needed for a school network is set up just waiting for users and machines being added via GOsa², a comfortable Web-UI. A netbooting environment is prepared using PXE, so after initial installation of the main server from CD, DVD or USB stick all other machines can be installed via the network.

This is the first test release based on Wheezy (which currently is not released yet). Basically this is an updated and slightly improved version compared to the Squeeze release.

Software updates

Other changes

Known issues

Where to get it

To download the multiarch netinstall CD release you can use

The MD5SUM of this image is: 685ed76c1aa8e44b12d3fde21faf450b

The SHA1SUM of this image is: 6c874de157024da13e115bab29c068080a11ec4c

How to report bugs

http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEdu/HowTo/ReportBugs

Tags: debian edu, english.
Narvik sparer minst 9 millioner på å bruke Skolelinux
10th May 2013

I fjor sommer ble jeg gledelig overrasket over et oppslag i avisen Fremover om Narvik kommunes bruk av Skolelinux. Oppslaget var basert på et notat som besvarte spørsmål fra ordfører Tor Nysæter og rådgiver for skolesektoren, Petter Falkbu, om bruken av Skolelinux i Narvikskolene og konstnaden ved å gå over til Windows. For litt over en uke siden siden fikk jeg endelig bedt kommunen om å få innsyn i dette notatet, og det ble oversendt på epost tirsdag. Jeg fikk lagt ut notatet samme dag, og fikk i dag sjekket postlista til Narvik, der jeg fant notatet som sak 2013/1023.

Notatet forteller at Narvik ville måtte betalt minst 9 millioner for å gå over til Windows på skolene. I tillegg dokumenterer notatet at læreplanens krav oppfylles uten problemer ved bruk av Skolelinux. Jeg anbefaler alle å lese de 10 sidene med gode argumenter for å kutte unødige utgifter på IT i skoleverket. :)

Tags: debian edu, norsk.
Debian Wheezy is out - and Debian Edu / Skolelinux should soon follow! #newinwheezy
5th May 2013

When I woke up this morning, I was very happy to see that the release announcement for Debian Wheezy was waiting in my mail box. This is a great Debian release, and I expect to move my machines at home over to it fairly soon.

The new debian release contain heaps of new stuff, and one program in particular make me very happy to see included. The Scratch program, made famous by the Teach kids code movement, is included for the first time. Alongside similar programs like kturtle and turtleart, it allow for visual programming where syntax errors can not happen, and a friendly programming environment for learning to control the computer. Scratch will also be included in the next release of Debian Edu.

And now that Wheezy is wrapped up, we can wrap up the next Debian Edu/Skolelinux release too. The first alpha release went out last week, and the next should soon follow.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english.
First alpha release of Debian Edu / Skolelinux based on Debian Wheezy
26th April 2013

The Debian Edu / Skolelinux project is still going strong and made its first Wheezy based release today. This is the release announcement:

New features for Debian Edu ~7.0.0 alpha0 released 2013-04-26

This is the release notes for for Debian Edu / Skolelinux ~7.0.0 edu alpha0, based on Debian with codename "Wheezy".

About Debian Edu and Skolelinux

Debian Edu, also known as Skolelinux, is a Linux distribution based on Debian providing an out-of-the box environment of a completely configured school network. Immediatly after installation a school server running all services needed for a school network is set up just waiting for users and machines being added via GOsa², a comfortable Web-UI. A netbooting environment is prepared using PXE, so after initial installation of the main server from CD, DVD or USB stick all other machines can be installed via the network.

This is the first test release based on Wheezy (which currently is not released yet). Basically this is an updated and slightly improved version compared to the Squeeze release.

Software updates

Documentation

LDAP related changes

Other changes

Regressions

No updated artwork

Where to get it

To download the multiarch netinstall CD release you can use

The MD5SUM of this image is: c5e773ddafdaa4f48c409c682f598b6c

The SHA1SUM of this image is: 25934fabb9b7d20235499a0a51f08ce6c54215f2

How to report bugs

http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEdu/HowTo/ReportBugs

Tags: debian edu, english.
First Debian Edu / Skolelinux developer gathering in 2013 take place in Trondheim
16th April 2013

This years first Skolelinux / Debian Edu developer gathering take place the coming weekend in Trondheim. Details about the gathering can be found on the FRiSK wiki. The dates are 19-21th of April 2013, and online participation for those unable to make it in person is very welcome, and I plan to participate online myself as I could not leave Oslo this weekend.

The focus of the gathering is to work on the web pages and project infrastructure, and to continue the work on the Wheezy based Debian Edu release.

See you on IRC, #debian-edu on irc.debian.org, then?

Tags: debian edu, english.
Skolelinux 6 got a video review from Pcwizz
17th March 2013

Via twitter I just discovered that Pcwizz have done a video review on Youtube of Skolelinux / Debian Edu version 6. He installed the standalone profile and the video show a walk-through of of the menu content, demonstration of a few programs and his view of our distribution.

There is also some really nice quotes (transcribed by me, might have heard wrong). While looking thought the Graphics menu:

"Basically everything you ever need in a school environment."

And as a general evaluation of the entire distribution:

"So, yeah, a bit bloated. It kept all the Debian stuff in there, just to keep it nice and GNU. So, I do not want to go on about it, but lets give it 7 out of 10. I am not going to use it. That is because I am not deploying a school network. There may be some mythical feature to help you deploy Skolelinux on a school network."

To bad he did not test the server profile, and discovered the PXE installation option. It make it possible to install only the main server from CD, and the rest of the machines via the net, and might be considered the mythical feature he talk about. :)

While looking through the menus, there is also this funny comment about the part of the K menu generated from the Debian menu subsystem:

"[The K menu] have a special Debian section for software that no-one is going to look at, because it contain lots of junky stuff that you actually don't need in the education distribution, but have just been included because it isn't stripped out for some reason."

I guess it is yet another argument for merging the Debian menu and Gnome/KDE desktop menu entries into one consistent menu system instead of two incomplete and partly inconsistent menu systems.

The entire video is available below for those accepting iframe embedding:

Tags: debian edu, english, video.
First Skolelinux / Debian Edu Squeeze update released
8th March 2013

Last Sunday, 2013-03-03,, Holger Levsen announced the first update of Skolelinux / Debian Edu based on Debian Squeeze. This is the first update since the initial release 2012-03-11. This is the release announcement email from Holger:

Hi,

it's my pleasure to announce the immediate availability of Debian Edu 6.0.7+r1 ("Debian Edu Squeeze").

Debian Edu 6.0.7+r1 is an incremental update to Debian Edu 6.0.4+r0, containing all the changes between Debian 6.0.4 and 6.0.7 as well Debian Edu specific bugfixes and enhancements. See below (in this mail) for the full list of (edu) changes. Please see http://www.debian.org/News/2012/20120311 for more information on "Debian Edu Squeeze".

Images are available for download at http://ftp.skolelinux.org/skolelinux-cd/

md5sums:
1fe79eb4f0f9ae1c58fc318e26cc1e2e debian-edu-6.0.7+r1-CD.iso
a6ddd924a8bd9a1b5ca122e8fe1c34ec debian-edu-6.0.7+r1-DVD.iso
ac6c72cd7925ccec51bfbf58e2a7c69c debian-edu-6.0.7+r1-source-DVD.iso

sha1sums:
a4b58233b672a99c7df8dc24fb6de3327654a5c3 debian-edu-6.0.7+r1-CD.iso
9b524915e0ff2aa793f13d93123e5bd2bab2dbaa debian-edu-6.0.7+r1-DVD.iso
43997614893fc5e9e59ad6ce066b05d07fd836fa debian-edu-6.0.7+r1-source-DVD.iso

These images are suitable for amd64+i386.

Changes for Debian Edu 6.0.7+r1 Codename "Squeeze", released 2013-03-03:

  • sitesummary was updated from 0.1.3 to 0.1.8
    • Make Nagios configuration more robust and efficient
    • Comply with 3.X kernel
  • debian-edu-doc from 1.4~20120310~6.0.4+r0 to 1.4~20130228~6.0.7+r1
    • Minor updates from the wiki
    • Danish translation now complete
  • debian-edu-config from 1.453 to 1.455
    • Fix /etc/hosts for LTSP diskless workstations. Closes: #699880
    • Make ltsp_local_mount script work for multiple devices.
    • Correct Kerberos user policy: don't expire password after 2 days. Closes: #664596
    • Handle '#' characters in the root or first users password. Closes: #664976
    • Fixes for gosa-sync:
      • Don't fail if password contains "
      • Don't disclose new password string in syslog
    • Fixes for gosa-create:
      • Invalidate libnss cache before applying changes
      • Multiple failures during mass user import into GOsa²
      • gosa-netgroups plugin: don't erase entries of attribute type "memberNisNetgroup". Closes: #687256
      • First user now uses the same Kerberos policy as all other users
    • Add Danish web page
  • debian-edu-install from 1.528 to 1.530
    • Improve preseeding support and documentation

End-user documentation in English is available at http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEdu/Documentation/Squeeze/ - translations to French, Italian, Danish and German are available in the debian-edu-doc package. (Other languages could use your help!)

If you want to contribute to Debian Edu, please join our mailinglist debian-edu@lists.debian.org!

I am very happy to see the fruits of a year of hard work. :)

Tags: debian edu, english.
Skolelinux-intervju: Helge Tore Høyland
22nd February 2013

Etter en lang pause og travle uker har jeg endelig klart å få samlet et nytt intervju med en av folkene i Skolelinux-miljøet. Denne gang er det Helge Tore Høyland, en mangeårig bidragsyter på epostlistene og ellers i prosjektet.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Eg er IT-konsulent/teknikker hjå eit firma i Steinkjer med navn Uno IT. Uno IT er eit lite firma som drifter nettverk og maskiner for små og mellomstore firma Steinkjer-området. Per dags dato er me 2 ansatte. Min faglege bakgrunn er Fagbrev som it-teknikker, samt nokre fag innen nettverk- og server-drift frå HiST og NTNU. Dagleg arbeid består i oppsett av nye maskiner og hjelp til sluttbrukere, samt oppsett og vedlikehold av eit vidt spekter av fagsystemer ute hjå kunder. Erfaring med Skolelinux har eg hatt i forbindelse med drifting av Bjørkly skule, ein privat grunnskule i Namsos-området. I dag har skulen 65 elever, 15 lærere, 1 hovedserver og ca 60 klienter som kjører halvtjukt. Eg har bygd og driftet systemet sidan summaren 2006.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Eg kom i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet via ein artikkel i eit fagblad, som eg ikkje lenger hugsar namnet på. I og med at eg allereie hadde pusla med nettverk for ein annan skule, fatta eg straks interesse for prosjektet.

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Fordelane med Skolelinux er sentralisert administrasjon og svært mange gode verktøy «ut av boksen». Veldig kjekt å kunne drifte 60 klientar med berre å «bry» seg med ein server. Levetid for systemets hardware er og ein veldig fin effekt. I tillegg kjem fordelar som økt sikkerhet og mindre lisenskostnader. Etter min erfaring er det og mykje mindre driftskostnader med eit slikt system enn konkurrerande system, pga enkelhet med sentralisert administrasjon. På grunn av at Skolelinux er basert på Debian er det òg svært stabilt.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Ulemper er mangel på vilje til å følge standarer ute i markedet, som fører til mangel på støtte til nokre mykje brukte ting. Flash og Java er typiske eksempel. Sidan Debian satsar på stabilitet framfor å ha nyeste pakke av eit program, kan ein i nokre tilfeller kome borti at program vert «for gamle». Det er spesielt nettlesaren som er utsett. Mangel på vilje til å utvikle pedagogisk programvare, i Noreg, for «alle» platformer fører òg til noko hovudbry.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Til dagleg bruker eg svært mange forskjellige «fri programvare» program. Firefox, Thunderbird, Freecommander, ImgBurn, Clonezilla, OCS inventory, Icinga, Skolelinux, SystemRescueCD og mykje meir.

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

Strategisk må ein fokusere på at sluttbruker eigentleg ikkje er så fokusert på at det er fri programvare men at det skal «berre fungere». Gjer det enkelt å bruker og ikkje minst å administrere. For Skolelinux sin del må ein få eit betre fokus på overganger. Utbytting av servere må gå meir automatisk, import og eksport av brukerbase og maskinbase med meir må kunne gå enkelt og oppgradering til neste versjon må bli mykje meir automatisk og gjennomtesta. Ein må unngå at ein må sette opp frå start når ein byter ut ein server eller oppgraderer til neste versjon. For å få Skolelinux til å bli eit betre alternativ for skular må ein ha fokus på nettlesaren. Denne må bli «up to date» og støtte dei protokollar og tillegg som vert brukt av forlag med meir. Etter kvart som meir og meir blir flytta ut i «skya» vert dette viktigare og viktigare. Ein kunne ynskje og jobbe for at forlag med fleire tar i bruk opne standarer, men inntil det skjer, må systemet kunne brukast mot desse fagsystema.

For meg har prosjektet med Skolelinux vore ein svært artig og lærerik prosess. Miljøet rundt er ikkje enormt stort, dog stort nok, men det er svært hjelpevillig og engasjert.

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
A Christmas present for Skolelinux / Debian Edu
28th December 2012

I was happy to discover a few days ago that the Skolelinux / Debian Edu project also this year received a Christmas present from Another Agency in Trondheim. NOK 1000,- showed up on our donation account December 24th. I want to express our thanks for this very welcome present. As the Debian Edu / Skolelinux project is very short on funding these days, and thus lack the money to do regular developer gatherings, this donation was most welcome. One developer gathering cost around NOK 15 000,-, so we need quite a lot more to keep the development pace we want. Thus, I hope their example this year is followed by many others. :)

The public list of donors can be found on the donation page for the project, which also contain instructions if you want to donate to the project.

Tags: debian edu, english.
Ledger - double-entry accounting using text based storage format
18th December 2012

A few days ago I came across a blog post from Joey Hess describing ledger and hledger, a text based system for double-entry accounting. I found it interesting, as I am involved with several organizations where accounting is an issue, and I have not really become too friendly with the different web based systems we use. I find it hard to find what I look for in the menus and even harder try to get sensible data out of the systems. Ledger seem different. The accounting data is kept in text files that can be stored in a version control system, and there are at least five different implementations able to read the format. An example entry look like this, and is simple enough that it will be trivial to generate entries based on CVS files fetched from the bank:

2004-05-27 Book Store
      Expenses:Books                 $20.00
      Liabilities:Visa

The concept seemed interesting enough for me to check it out and look for others using it. I found blog posts from Christine Spang, Pete Keen, Andrew Cantino and Ronald Ip describing how they use it, as well as a post from Bradley M. Kuhn at the Software Freedom Conservancy. All seemed like good recommendations fitting my need.

The ledger package is available in Debian Squeeze, while the hledger package only is available in Debian Sid. As I use Squeeze, ledger seemed the best choice to get started.

To get some real data to test on, I wrote a web scraper for LODO, the accounting system used by the NUUG association, and started to play with the data set. I'm not really deeply into accounting, but I am able to get a simple balance and accounting status for example using the "ledger balance" command. But I will have to gather more experience before I know if the ledger way is a good fit for the organisations I am involved in.

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug.
Debian Edu interview: Angela Fuß
14th November 2012

Here is another interview with one of the people in the Debian Edu and Skolelinux community. I am running short on people willing to be interviewed, so if you know about someone I should interview, Please send me an email. After asking for many months, I finally managed to lure another one of the people behind the German "IT-Zukunft Schule" project out from maternity leave to conduct an interview. Give a warm welcome to Angela Fuß. :)

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

I am a 39-year-old woman living in the very north of Germany near Denmark. I live in a patchwork family with "my man" Mike Gabriel, my two daughters, Mikes daughter and Mikes and my rather newborn son.

At the moment - because of our little baby - I am spending most of the day by being a caring and organising mom for all the kids. Besides that I am really involved into and occupied with several inner growth processes: New born souls always bring the whole familiar system into movement and that needs time and focus ;-). We are also in the middle of buying a house and moving to it.

In 2013 I will work again in my job in a German foundation for nature conservation. I am doing public relation work there. Besides that - and that is the connection to Skolelinux / Debian Edu - I am working in our own school project "IT-Zukunft Schule" in North Germany. I am responsible for the quality assurance, the customer relationship management and the communication processes in the project.

Since 2001 I constantly have been training myself in communication and leadership. Besides that I am a forester, a landscaping gardener and a yoga teacher.

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux / Debian Edu project?

I fell in love with Mike ;-).

Very soon after getting to know him I was completely enrolled into Free Software. At this time Mike did IT-services for one newly founded school in Kiel. Other schools in Kiel needed concepts for their IT environment. Often when Mike came home from working at the newly founded school I found myself listening to his complaints about several points where the communication with the schools head or the teachers did not work. So we were clear that he would not work for one more school if we did not set up a structure for communication between him, the schools head, the teachers, the students and the parents.

Together with our friend and hardware supplier Andreas Buchholz we started to get an overview of free software solutions suitable for schools. One day before Christmas 2010 Mike and I had a date with Kurt Gramlich in Gütersloh. As Kurt and I are really interested in building networks of people and in being in communication we dived into Skolelinux and brought it to the first grammar schools in Northern Germany.

For information about our school project you can read the interview with Mike Gabriel.

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu?

First I have to say: I cannot answer this question technically. My answer comes rather from a social point of view.

The biggest advantage of Skolelinux / Debian Edu I see is the large and strong international community of Debian Developers in the background which is very alive and connected over mailinglists, blogs and meetings. My constant feeling for the Debian Community is: If something does not work they will somehow fix it. All is well ;-). This is of course a user experience. What I also get as a big advantage of Skolelinux / Debian Edu is that everybody who uses it and works with it can also contribute to it - that includes students, teachers, parents...

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu?

I will answer this question relating to the internal structure of Skolelinux / Debian Edu.

What I see as a major disadvantage is that there is a gap between the group of developers for Debian Edu and the people who make the marketing, that means the people that bring Skolelinux to the schools. There is a lack of communication between these two groups and I think that does not really work for Skolelinux / Debian Edu.

Further I appreciate that Skolelinux / Debian Edu is known as a do-ocracy. Nevertheless I keep asking myself if at some points a democracy or some kind of hierarchical project structure would be good and helpful. I am also missing some kind of contact between the Skolelinux / Debian Edu communities in Europe or on an international level. I think it would be good if there was more sharing between the different countries using Skolelinux / Debian Edu.

Which free software do you use daily?

On my laptop I am still using an Ubuntu 10.04 with a Gnome Desktop on. As applications I use Openoffice.org, Gedit, Firefox, Pidgin, LaTeX and GnuCash. For mails I am using Horde. And I am really fond of my N900 running with Maemo.

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

I am really convinced that in our school project "IT-Zukunft Schule" we have developed (and keep developing) a great way to get schools to use Free Software. We have written a detailed concept for that so I cannot explain the whole thing here. But in a nutshell the strategy has three crucial pillars:

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
Skolelinux noe for Ballangen? (Leserinnlegg til avisen Fremover)
14th October 2012

Tirsdag 2012-10-09 sendte jeg følgende leserinnlegg til avisen Fremover, etter å ha vært nordpå noen dager og lest noen gamle aviser. Publiserer den her i sin helhet for fremtidig referanse. Fremover publiserer dessverre ikke leserinnlegg på nett.

To: redaksjon (at) fremover.no
Subject: Leserinnlegg til Fremover: Skolelinux noe for Ballangen?

Ærede redaktør

I sommer (2012-07-23) hadde Fremover et oppslag om at Narvik kommune hadde spart mellom 10 og 20 millioner kroner de siste årene på å bruke Skolelinux på sine skoler. Harstad har også tatt i bruk Skolelinux på alle sine skoler. Som tidligere Ballangsværing gledet det meg stort å se at skoleløsningen vi har utviklet siden 2001 tas i bruk i området der jeg vokste opp, og dermed bidrar til en bedre og billigere skolehverdag.

Skolelinux er en komplett IT-løsning for elevnettverket på en skole, med både nettverkstjenester og løsning for elevmaskiner med pedagogisk programvare, som tillater en å øke levetiden på en datamaskin i skolen med mange år. En undersøkelse publisert i mars 2012 viste at de 56 norske skolene som har offentliggjort at de bruker Skolelinux eller annen Linuxutgave hadde 36% større PC-tetthet enn landsgjennomsnittet, når en ser på tall rapportert til Grunnskolens Informasjonssystem. I følge Paul Reidar Løsnesløkken, IKT-konsulent i Nord-Odal, fungerer datamaskiner godt til de er 8 til 10 år gamle.

I høst (2012-09-29) fortalte Fremover hvordan Ballangen kommune har opparbeidet seg 20 millioner i underskudd og nok havner på Robek-lista fra nyttår. Kanskje Ballangen også burde ta i bruk Skolelinux for å spare penger? Hvis kommunen mangler kompetanse lokalt på Linux finnes det kommersielle selskaper som tilbyr driftstjenester rundt Skolelinux, og jeg bør vel avsløre at jeg selv er involvert i et av dem, Skolelinux Drift AS. Kommunen kan dermed få hjelp hvis de ikke ønsker å bygge opp egen kompetanse.

Vennlig hilsen
Petter Reinholdtsen
Fri programvareutvikler

Referanser:

Innlegget ble så vidt jeg vet trykket i papirutgaven et par dager senere, men jeg har ikke sett det selv.

Tags: debian edu, norsk.
Trengs flere frivillige til korrektur av den frie norske stavekontrollen
13th October 2012

Den frie norske stavekontrollen består av ca. 1,3 millioner bokmåls- og nynorskord. Det er mange kilder til ordene, f.eks. den norske ordbanken, norske nett-aviser, stavekontrollbrukere og korrekturlesere, og endel feil har sneket seg inn i databasen over ord. For å finne og fikse feilene trengs det korrekturlesing. Her kommer frivillige inn.

Hvis du vil bidra med korrektur av orddatabasen, kan du melde deg frivillig som bokmåls- eller nynorskkorrekturleser og få tilsendt en liten bunke ord på epost hver dag, lese over og sende inn på epost tilbake til korrekturlesing-systemet. Jo flere som sjekker, jo raskere kommer vi igjennom hele databasen. Så langt har vi oppdaget 341 bokmålsord og 50 nynorskord som ikke skal vært med i databasen. Det er nok noen flere. I tillegg har korrekturleserne oppdaget flere ord som manglet, og fått lagt dem inn i stavekontrollen.

Hvis du vil bidra, følg instruksene på prosjektsidene for nye bidragsytere, og ta kontakt med Håvard eller epostlisten i18n-no. Gode norskkunnskaper er en fordel, og vilje til å sjekke ordboka et krav!

Tags: debian edu, norsk, stavekontroll.
Ny utgave (v2.1) av den frie norske stavekontrollen gitt ut
2nd October 2012

I helga fikk jeg endelig pakket sammen en ny versjon av den norske stavekontrollen, og gikk ut versjon 2.1 etter at det var gått fire og et halvt år siden sist. I dag fikk vi sendt ut annonseringen. Her er det vi sendte ut:

Oslo, 2012-10-02

Pressemelding: Ny utgave av norsk stavekontroll med synonymordliste

Mer enn fire år etter at forrige utgave av den frie norske stavekontrollen ble utgitt, er en ny og forbedret versjon klar. Dette er noe utviklerne er veldig glade for.

Den største endringen er at byggesystemet for stavekontrollen er skrevet om til å akseptere ord med bindestrek (f.eks. «e-post»). Litt over 10.000 slike ordformer er lagt til i orddatabasen. I tillegg er det kommet en del nye ord og rettelser rapportert inn av de frivillige som gjennomfører korrektur av orddatabasen i prosjektet. For å få fortgang i dette korrekturarbeidet er det fint med flere frivillige som kan bidra i prosjektet.

- En god og fritt tilgjengelig stavekontroll er en viktig byggestein for å fremme bruken av korrekt norsk språk, sier prosjektdeltager Petter Reinholdtsen.

Takket være samarbeidet med synonymordlisteprosjektet er synonymordlista for bokmål tilgjengelig sammen med ordlista for bokmål og nynorsk. En synonymordliste for nynorsk er også med, men den er på prøvestadiet og meget liten.

Stavekontrollpakken og synonymordlistene brukes i LibreOffice/OpenOffice.org, Koffice, Mozilla Thunderbird, Firefox og en rekke andre programmer, og på både Windows, Mac OS X, Linux og BSD.

Det hele utgis under den frie lisensen GPL og kan fritt lastes ned fra prosjektsidene på no.speling.org. Ferdige pakker for LibreOffice/OpenOffice.org er også tilgjengelige fra samme sted.

Det norske stavekontrollprosjektet er i kontakt med lignende prosjekter for blant annet å forbedre stavekontrollteknologien, å utveksle verktøy for vedlikehold av orddatabasen og å få tilgang til relevante datasett. Et av disse prosjektene er et separat prosjekt ved Sametinget som er i gang med å utvikle samisk stavekontroll for blant annet Microsoft Word og OpenOffice.org.

Et søsterprosjekt for å lage grammatikk-kontroll for LibreOffice/OpenOffice.org er igangsatt, men har ennå ikke kommet langt nok til å brukes. Frivillige til å bidra i dette prosjektet er også svært velkomne.

Kontaktperson

Axel Bojer, prosjektdeltager
E-post: fri_programvare (at) bojer.no
Tlf: +47 954 32 417

Referanser

Fra NEWS-fila i kildekodepakken

Release 2.1 (2012-09-30)

Tags: debian edu, norsk, stavekontroll.
Debian Edu interview: Giorgio Pioda
17th September 2012

After a long break in my row of interviews with people in the Debian Edu and Skolelinux community, I finally found time to wrap up another. This time it is Giorgio Pioda, which showed up on the mailing list at the start of this year, asking questions and inspiring us to improve the first time administrators experience with Skolelinux. :) The interview was conduced in May, but I only found time to publish it now.

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

I have a PhD in chemistry but since several years I work as teacher in secondary (15-18 year old students) and tertiary (a kind of "light" university) schools. Five years ago I started to manage a Learning Management Service server and slowly I got more and more involved with IT. 3 years ago the graduating schools moved completely to Linux and I got the head of the IT for this. The experience collected in chemistry labs computers (for example NMR analysis of protein folding) and in the IT-courses during university where sufficient to start. Self training is anyway very important

I live in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland, and the SPSE school (secondary) is a very special sport school for young people who try to became sport pro (for all sports, we have dozens of disciplines represented) and we are recognised by the Olympic Swiss Organisation.

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux/Debian Edu project?

Looking for Linux / Primary Domain Controller (PDC) I found it already several years ago. But since the system was still not Kerberized and since our schools relies strongly on laptops I didn't use it. I plan to introduce it in the next future, probably for the next school year, since the squeeze release solved this security hole.

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

Many. First of all there is a strong and living community that is very generous for help and hints. Chat help is crucial, together with the mailing list. Second. With Skolelinux you get an already well engineered platform and you don't have to start to build up your PDC and your clients from GNU/scratch; I've already done this once and I can tell it, it is hard. Third, since Skolelinux is a standard platform, it is way easier to educate other IT people and even if the head IT is sick another one could pick up the task without too much hassle.

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

The only real problem I see is that it is a little too less flexible at client level. Debian stable is rocky and desirable, but there are many reasons that force for another choice. For example the need of new drivers for new PC, or the need for a specific OS for some devices that have specific software packages for another specific distribution (I have such a case for whiteboards that have only Ubuntu packages). Thus, I prepared compatibility packages educlient and eduroaming, hoping not to use them ;-)

Which free software do you use daily?

I have a Debian Stable PDC at school (Kerberos, NIS, NFS) with mixed Debian and Ubuntu clients. If you think that this triad combination is exotic... well I discovered right yesterday that Perceus has the same...

For myself I run Debian wheezy/sid, but this combination is good only I you have enough competence to fix stuff for yourself, if something breaks. Daily I use texmacs, gnumeric, a little bit of R statistics, kmplot, and less frequently OpenOffice.org.

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

I think that the only real argument that school managers "hear" is cost reduction. They don't give too much weight on quality, stability, just because they are normally not open to change.

Students adapts very quickly to GNU/Linux (and for them being able to switch between different OS is a plus value); teachers and managers don't.

We decided to move to Linux because students at our school have own laptop and we have the responsibility to keep the laptop ready to use; we were really unsatisfied with Microsoft since every Monday we had 20 machine to fix for viral infections... With Linux this has been reduced to zero, since people installs almost only from official repositories. I think that our special needs brought us to Linux. Those who don't have such needs will hardly move to Linux.

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
Gladoppslag om Skolelinux i avisen Fremover
15th August 2012

I sommer hadde avisen Fremover et flott oppslag om bruken av Skolelinux på alle skolene der. Artikkelen var på trykk på side 4 og 5 i papirutgaven 2012-07-23, men mangler dessverre i nettutgaven av avisen. Mine henvendelser til avisen for å få artikkelen på nett har så langt ikke vært vellykket.

Artikkelen med tittelen "Narvik kommune bruker gratisprogram i skolen - Har spart millioner", forteller om hvordan bruken av Skolelinux er en stor suksess i Narvik siden det ble tatt i bruk i 2004. Her er noen fine sitater:

"- Skolelinux har spart kommunen for store pengesummer, millionbeløp, som de heller kan bruke på andre ting, sier IKT-konsulent Viggo Fedreheim."

Avisen forteller at de har fått tilgang til beregninger som viser at Narvik kommune har spart noe mellom 10 og 20 millioner kroner de siste 8 årene på å bruke Skolelinux, og fortsetter:

"Regnestykket tar høyde for sparte kostnader til lisenser som medfølger de alternative operativsystemene, lavere driftskostnader og lengre levetid på datautstyret. Totalt har Narvikskolen en maskinpark på 1600 maskiner fordelt på de 11 skolene fra Skjomen i sør til Bjerkvik i nord."

Viggo Fedreheim sier dette om hvor noe av gevinsten kommer fra:

"- Vi kan gjenbruke gamle maskiner i skolen som er for dårlig andre steder i kommunen der de ikke bruker Skolelinux. Levetiden på en datamaskin blir 3-5 år lenger med Skolelinux. Vi kaller det for grønn IT, miljøvennlig IT."

Her er det mulighet for flere kommuner å få et godt IT-system på skolene, hvis de er villige til å forsøke. De som ikke har kompetanse innomhus kan kjøpe det fra en av de kommersielle leverandørene av Skolelinux-tjenester, som Skolelinux Drift AS (der jeg er styremedlem). Komplett liste er tilgjengelig via wikien.

Update 2012-08-16: Today I was allowed by Fremover to put the PDF I received from them with a copy of the article on the Internet. It is now available in the Skolelinux press archive.

Tags: debian edu, norsk.
Tips for å bli med i Skolelinux-prosjektet (som faktisk er aktivt)
19th July 2012

Jeg fikk nettopp spørsmål på epost om Skolelinux-prosjektet lever fra en som var interessert i å bidra, og måtte jo konstatere at i og med at spørsmålet ble stilt har prosjektet ikke lyktes med å formidle sin aktivitet. Her er det jeg svarte:

Jada, Skolelinux-prosjektet lever, men det meste av utvikling foregår nå under paraplyen Debian Edu som er det internasjonale navnet på prosjektet. Dugnaden i Norge organiseres av medlemsforeningen Fri programvare i Skolen, og det finnes minst ett selskap som selger kommersiell support på løsningen (Skolelinux Drift AS, der jeg er styremedlem). Anbefaler at du melder deg på epostlisten debian-edu@lists.debian.org (og debian-edu-announce) og melder deg inn i foreningen for å få beskjed om aktivitet som planlegges. Det planlegges utviklersamlinger i august og utover høsten.

Bidra gjerne med å spre ordet om Skolelinux. Det er alt for få som bidrar til pressedekning, bloggposter, twittermeldinger, etc. :)

Jeg antar du har funnet bloggserien min med intervjuer. Det er antagelig også interessant for deg å følge med på Planet Skolelinux.

Hm, jeg burde vel blogge alle disse lenkene slik at de blir enklere å finne...

Herved gjort. :)

Tags: debian edu, norsk.
Debian Edu interview: George Bredberg
9th July 2012

The Debian Edu / Skolelinux project have users all over the globe, but until recently we have not known about any users in Norway's neighbour country Sweden. This changed when George Bredberg showed up in March this year on the mailing list, asking interesting questions about how to adjust and scale the just released Debian Edu Wheezy setup to his liking. He granted me an interview, and I am happy to share his answers with you here.

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

I'm a 44 year old country guy that have been working 12 years at the same school as 50% IT-manager and 50% Teacher. My educational background is fil.kand in history and religious beliefs, an exam as a "folkhighschool" teacher, that is, for teaching grownups. In Norwegian I believe it's called "Vuxenupplaring". I also have a master in "Technology and social change". So I'm not really a tech guy, I just like to study how humans and technology interact and that is my perspective when working with IT.

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux/Debian Edu project?

I have followed the Skolelinux project for quite some time by now. Earlier I tested out the K12-LTSP project, which we used for some time, but I really like the idea of having a distribution aimed to be a complete solution for schools with necessary tools integrated. When K12-LTSP abandoned that idea some years ago, I started to look more seriously into Skolelinux instead.

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

The big point of Skolelinux to me is that it is a complete distribution, ready to install. It has LDAP-support, MS Windows integration tools and so forth already configured, saving an administrator a lot of time and headache. We were using another Linux based thin-client system called Thinlinc, that has served us very well. But that Skolelinux is based on VNC and LTSP, to me, is better when it comes to the kind of multimedia used in schools. That is showing videos from Youtube or educational TV. It is also easier to mix thin clients with workstations, since the user settings will be the same. In our VNC-based solution you had to "beat around the bush" by setting up a second, hidden, home-directory for user settings for the workstations, because they will be different from the ones used on the thin clients. Skolelinux support for diskless workstations are very convenient since a school today often need to use a class room projector showing videos in full screen. That is easily done with a small integrated media computer running as a diskless workstation. You have only two installs to update and configure. One for the thin clients and one for the workstations. Also saving a lot of time. Our old system was also based on Redhat and CentOS. They are both very nice distributions, but they are sometimes painfully slow when it comes to updating multimedia support and multimedia programs (even such as Gimp), leaving us with a bit "oldish" applications. Debian is quicker to update.

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

Debian is a bit too quick when it comes to updating. As an example we use old HP terminals as thinclients, and two times already this year (2012) the updates you get from the repositories has stopped sound from working with them. It's a kernel/ALSA issue. So you have to be more careful properly testing the updates before you run them in a production environment. This has never happened with CentOS.

I also would like to be able to set my own domain-settings at install time. In Skolelinux they are kind of hard coded into the distribution, when it comes to LDAP and at least samba integration. That is more a cosmetic/translation issue, and not a real problem. Running MS Windows applications within the Skolelinux environment needs to be better supported. That is, running them seamlessly via RDP, and support for single-sign on. That will make the transition to free software easier, because you can keep the applications you really need. No support will make it impossible if you work in a school where some applications can't be open source. As for us we really need to run Adobe InDesign in our journalist classes. We run a journalist education, and is one of the very few non university ones that is ok:d by Svenska journalistförbundet (Swedish journalist association). Our education gives the pupils the right of membership there, once they are done. This is important if you want to get a job.

Adobe InDesign is the program most commonly used in newspapers and magazines. We used Quark Express before, but they seem to loose there market to Adobe. The only "equivalent" to InDesign in the opensource world is Scribus, and its not advanced enough. At least not according to the teacher. I think it would be possible to use it, because they are not supposed to learn a program, they are supposed to learn how to edit and compile a newspaper. But politically at our school we are not there yet. And Scribus lacks a lot of things you find i InDesign.

We used even a windows program for sound editing when it comes to the radio-journalist part. The year to come we are going to try Audacity. That software has the same kind of limitations compared to Adobe Audition, but that teacher is a bit more open minded. We have tried Ardour also, but that instead is more like a music studio program, not intended for the kind of editing taking place in a radio studio. Its way to complex and the GUI is to scattered when you only want to cut, make pass-overs, add extra channels and normalise. Those things you can do in Audacity, but its not as easy as in Audition. You have to do more things manually with envelopes, and that is a bit old fashion and timewasting. Its also harder to cut and move sound from one channel to another, which is a thing that you do frequently because you often find yourself needing to rearrange parts of the sound file.

So, I am not sure we will succeed in replacing even Audition, but we will try. The problem is the students have certain expectations when they start an education towards a profession. So the programs has to look and feel professional. Good thing with radio, there are many programs out there, that radio studios use, so its not as standardised as Newspaper editing. That means, it does not really matter what program they learn, because once they start working they still have to learn the program the studio uses, so instead focus has to be to learn the editing part without to much focus on a specific software.

Which free software do you use daily?

Myself I'm running Linux Mint, or Ubuntu these days. I use almost only open source software, and preferably Linux based. When it comes to most used applications its OpenOffice, and Firefox (of course ;) )

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

To get schools to use free software there has to be good open source software that are windows based, to ease the transition. But it's also very important that the multimedia support is working flawlessly. The problems with Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and whatever will create problems when it comes to both teachers and students. Economy are also important for schools, so using thin clients, as long as they have good multimedia support, is a very good idea. It's also important that the open source software works even for the administration. It's hard to convince the teachers to stick with open source, if the principal has to run Windows. It also creates a problem if some classes has to use Windows for there tasks, since that will create a difference in "status" between classes, so a good support for running windows applications via the thin client (Linux) desktop is essential. At least at our school, where we have mixed level of educations, from high-school to journalist-school.

Update 2012-07-09 08:30: Paul Wise tipped me on IRC about three useful sources related to Free Software for radio stations: the LWN article Radio station management with Airtime, Airtime which claim to be a Free open source radio automation software and Rivendell which claim to be complete radio broadcast automation solution. All of them seem useful to the aspiring radio producer.

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
Why do schools waste money on IT?
8th July 2012

In the Debian Edu / Skolelinux project, we have realised that one of the major blockers for the project success is the purchasing skills in schools and municipalities. We provide what the happy users of Debian Edu / Skolelinux say they need and to a lower cost than the alternatives, and yet so few schools decide to use our solution. I was pleased to discover the same observation done by mySociety and Tom Steinberg in his blog post "Can you recognize the million pound chair?". Read it and weep for the spending of your tax money.

Of course there are other factors involved as well, like our projects bad marketing skills and the Linux community fragmentation causing worry with the people on the outside, so we as a project need to keep working hard to gain users, but it is a up-hill battle when public decision makers are unable to understand computer system purchases.

Tags: debian edu, english.
Free Timetabling Software - nice free software
7th July 2012

Included in Debian Edu / Skolelinux is a large collection of end user and school specific software. It is one of the packages not installed by default but provided in the Debian archive for schools to install if they want to, is a system to automatically plan the school time table using information about available teachers, classes and rooms, combined with the list of required courses and how many hours each topic should receive. The software is named FET, and it provide a graphical user interface to input the required information, save the result in a fairly simple XML format, and generate time tables for both teachers and students. It is available both for Linux, MacOSX and Windows.

This is the feature list, liftet from the project web site:

I have not used it myself, as I am not involved in time table planning at a school, but it seem to work fine when I test it. If you need to set up your schools time table, and is tired of doing it manually, check it out. A quick summary on how to use it can be found in a blog post from MarvelSoft. If you find FET useful, please provide a recipe for the Debian Edu project in the Debian Edu HowTo section.

Tags: debian edu, english.
Skolelinux-intervju: Markus Gamenius
30th June 2012

Tidligere leder av foreningen som organiserer Skolelinux-dugnaden, Markus Gamenius , har i vår vært i media og debattert skattepolitikk, og det fikk meg til å høre om han kunne lokkes til å fortelle om hans inntrykk nå, etter at han ble lokket bort fra Linux- og Skolelinux-verden for å overta familiebedriften. Her har vi hans betraktninger i dag, noen måneder etter at Skolelinux Squeeze-utgaven ble gitt ut.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Jeg heter Markus Gamenius og er 40 år. Utdannet biolog med ymse fag på siden. Har jobbet som lærer der jeg var driftsansvarlig på Ulsrud VGS i Oslo. Senere eide og jobbet jeg flere år i Linuxlabs AS, som jeg solgte til Redpill Linpro AS (den gangen Linpro AS). I dag jobber jeg med ulike investeringer, hovedsaklig i eiendom, men også i en del ulike IT-relaterte bedrifter.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Fruen og jeg dro på en lengre seiltur i 2000, der jeg måtte ha "noe å gjøre" under hjemturen over Atlanteren. Jeg kjøpte et par bøker om Linux i en bokhandel i New York og ble veldig fascinert. Etter hjemkomsten begynte jeg å jobbe på Ulsrud VGS, som naturfagslærer, men som IT-interessert ble jeg fort en del av den nye IT-satsningen som skulle løfte Ulsrud og gi skolen en bedre rykte. Vi hadde ganske mange maskiner, som gikk på Win98 og to servere som ble oppgradert til Win2000. Systemene var ustabil og dårlige. På leting etter noe bedre, uten å knekke ryggen økonomisk, kom jeg over "Linux i Skolen" og Skolelinux. Jeg tok kontakt med miljøet og en gjeng møtte opp på skolen, der vi gjorde en liten testinstallasjon. Etter et par år var ryggraden på skolen Linux (Skolelinux) og vi hadde flere hundre maskiner, både tynne klienter (gamle og nye), bærbare (Debian) og noen stasjonære (Win2000). På et tidspunkt var Ulsrud den råeste IT-skolen og det irriterte skolesjefen i Oslo, da de satset hardt på Windows.

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Det som gjorde at vi fikk inn Skolelinux var ene og alene økonomiske. Det faktum at vi slapp å kjøpe masse nye lisenser og at vi kunne bruke gammel hardware. Alt i alt gjorde dette at vi sparte mye, men i stede for å bruke mindre på IT brukte vi det vi sparte på å skaffe mer hardware og på den måten gi det beste tilbudet i landet til våre elever. For oss som driftet var det himmel å ha et system som gikk å administrere sentralt og effektivt. Det var heller ikke så dumt at vi kunne "låse" maskinene mer effektivt enn vi kunne med Microsoft Windows, slik at vi slapp mye feil og problemer som ble forårsaket av "kreative" elever.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Det vi slet med var mangelen av en del programmer lærerne ville ha. Husker ikke alle, men det var et knippe med pedagogiske programmer de ikke fikk. I dag tror jeg det problemet er langt mindre da det meste av disse kjøres gjennom nettleseren.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Jeg bruker mye Apple i dag og er ikke så stolt av det, men jeg har både OpenOffice, Firefox og en del andre programmer på den bærbare. Firefox brukes mest av disse. På Apple-serveren hjemme bruker jeg HandBrake mye, og jeg har installert OpenWRT på flere av basestasjonene både hjemme og på jobben. I tillegg til det har jeg i flere år finansiert et prosjekt som heter Found IT. Dette er et prosjekt der vi lager et rammeverk for søk, der alt vi bruker fri programvare. Det er Alex Brasetvik som er daglig leder i Found IT.

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

Når det gjelder IT og skole er fortsatt økonomi veldig viktig. Så man må oppfylle minimumskravene (ikke være best, men bra nok) og selge seg inn på hvor mye man sparer. Det betyr selvsagt at man sparer på lisenser, men også på driftsinnsats. Men nå når jeg ikke er en aktiv del av miljøet lenger hører jeg nesten ingen ting om fri programvare. Jeg stiller meg da spørsmålet om det har blitt stille rundt miljøet, eller om jeg kun så det tydeligere før når jeg var aktiv? Uansett er det for stille rundt Skolelinux-prosjektet nå.

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
Debian Edu interview: José Luis Redrejo Rodríguez
26th June 2012

I've been too busy at home, but finally I found time to wrap up another interview with the people behind Debian Edu and Skolelinux. This time we get to know José Luis Redrejo Rodríguez, one of our great helpers from Spain. His effort was the reason we added support for several desktop types (KDE, Gnome and most recently LXDE) in Debian Edu, and have all of these available in the recently published Debian Edu Squeeze version.

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

I'm a father, teacher and engineer who is working for the Education ministry of the Region of Extremadura (Spain) in the implementation of ICT in schools

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux/Debian Edu project?

At 2006, I verified that both, we in Extremadura and Skolelinux project, had been working in parallel for some years, doing very similar things, using very similar tools and with similar targets, so I decided it was time to join forces as much as possible.

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

A community of highly skilled experts working together, with a really open schema of collaboration and work. I really love the concepts of Do-ocracy and Merit-ocracy and the way these concepts are been used everyday inside Debian Edu.

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

Sometimes the differences in the implementations, laws or economical and technical resources in the different countries don't allow us to agree in the same solution for all of us, and several approaches are needed, what is a waste of effort. Also, there is a lack of more man power to be able to follow the fast evolution of the technologies in school.

Which free software do you use daily?

Debian, of course, and due to my kind of job I am most of my time between Iceweasel, Geany and Terminator.

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

I think there is not a single strategy because there are very different scenarios: schools with mixed proprietary and free environments, schools using only workstations, other schools using laptops, netbooks, tablets, interactive white-boards, etc.

Also the range of ages of the students is very broad and you can not use the same solutions for primary schools and secondary or even universities. So different strategies are needed.

But, looking at these differences, and looking back to the things we've done and implemented, and the places were we have spent most of our forces, I think we should focus as much as possible in free multi-platform environments, using only standards tools, and moving more and more to Internet or network solutions that could be deployed using wireless. I think we'll see more and more personal devices in the schools, devices the students and teachers will take home with them, so the solutions must be able to be taken at home and continue working there.

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
Debian Edu - some ideas for the future versions
11th June 2012

During my work on Debian Edu based on Squeeze, I came across some issues that should be addressed in the Wheezy release. I finally found time to wrap up my notes and provide quick summary of what I found, with a bit explanation.

I guess we will discover more as we continue to work on the Wheezy version.

Tags: debian edu, english.
Debian Edu interview: Mike Gabriel
2nd June 2012

Back in 2010, Mike Gabriel showed up on the Debian Edu and Skolelinux mailing list. He quickly proved to be a valuable developer, and thanks to his tireless effort we now have Kerberos integrated into the Debian Edu Squeeze version.

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

My name is Mike Gabriel, I am 38 years old and live near Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. I live together with a wonderful partner (Angela Fuß) and two own children and two bonus children (contributed by Angela).

During the day I am part-time employed as a system administrator and part-time working as an IT consultant. The consultancy work touches free software topics wherever and whenever possible. During the nights I am a free software developer. In the gaps I also train in becoming an osteopath.

Starting in 2010 we (Andreas Buchholz, Angela Fuß, Mike Gabriel) have set up a free software project in the area of Kiel that aims at introducing free software into schools. The project's name is "IT-Zukunft Schule" (IT future for schools). The project links IT skills with communication skills.

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux/Debian Edu project?

While preparing our own customised Linux distribution for "IT-Zukunft Schule" we were repeatedly asked if we really wanted to reinvent the wheel. What schools really need is already available, people said. From this impulse we started evaluating other Linux distributions that target being used for school networks.

At the end we short-listed two approaches and compared them: a commercial Linux distribution developed by a company in Bremen, Germany, and Skolelinux / Debian Edu. Between 12/2010 and 03/2011 we went to several events and met people being responsible for marketing and development of either of the distributions. Skolelinux / Debian Edu was by far much more convincing compared to the other product that got short-listed beforehand--across the full spectrum. What was most attractive for me personally: the perspective of collaboration within the developmental branch of the Debian Edu project itself.

In parallel with this, we talked to many local and not-so-local people. People teaching at schools, headmasters, politicians, data protection experts, other IT professionals.

We came to two conclusions:

First, a technical conclusion: What schools need is available in bits and pieces here and there, and none of the solutions really fit by 100%. Any school we have seen has a very individual IT setup whereas most of each school's requirements could mapped by a standard IT solution. The requirement to this IT solution is flexibility and customisability, so that individual adaptations here and there are possible. In terms of re-distributing and rolling out such a standardised IT system for schools (a system that is still to some degree customisable) there is still a lot of work to do here locally. Debian Edu / Skolelinux has been our choice as the starting point.

Second, a holistic conclusion: What schools need does not exist at all (or we missed it so far). There are several technical solutions for handling IT at schools that tend to make a good impression. What has been missing completely here in Germany, though, is the enrolment of people into using IT and teaching with IT. "IT-Zukunft Schule" tries to provide an approach for this.

Only some schools have some sort of a media concept which explains, defines and gives guidance on how to use IT in class. Most schools in Northern Germany do not have an IT service provider, the school's IT equipment is managed by one or (if the school is lucky) two (admin) teachers, most of the workload these admin teachers get done in there spare time.

We were surprised that only a very few admin teachers were networked with colleagues from other schools. Basically, every school here around has its individual approach of providing IT equipment to teachers and students and the exchange of ideas has been quasi non-existent until 2010/2011.

Quite some (non-admin) teachers try to avoid using IT technology in class as a learning medium completely. Several reasons for this avoidance do exist.

We discovered that no-one has ever taken a closer look at this social part of IT management in schools, so far. On our quest journey for a technical IT solution for schools, we discussed this issue with several teachers, headmasters, politicians, other IT professionals and they all confirmed: a holistic approach of considering IT management at schools, an approach that includes the people in place, will be new and probably a gain for all.

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

There is a list of advantages: international context, openness to any kind of contributions, do-ocracy policy, the closeness to Debian, the different installation scenarios possible (from stand-alone workstation to complex multi-server sites), the transparency within project communication, honest communication within the group of developers, etc.

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

Every coin has two sides:

Technically: BTS issue #311188, tricky upgradability of a Debian Edu main server, network client installations on top of a plain vanilla Debian installation should become possible sometime in the near future, one could think about splitting the very complex package debian-edu-config into several portions (to make it easier for new developers to contribute).

Another issue I see is that we (as Debian Edu developers) should find out more about the network of people who do the marketing for Debian Edu / Skolelinux. There is a very active group in Germany promoting Skolelinux on the bigger Linux Days within Germany. Are there other groups like that in other countries? How can we bring these marketing people together (marketing group A with group B and all of them with the group of Debian Edu developers)? During the last meeting of the German Skolelinux group, I got the impression of people there being rather disconnected from the development department of Debian Edu / Skolelinux.

Which free software do you use daily?

For my daily business, I do not use commercial software at all.

For normal stuff I use Iceweasel/Firefox, Libreoffice.org. For serious text writing I prefer LaTeX. I use gimp, inkscape, scribus for more artistic tasks. I run virtual machines in KVM and Virtualbox.

I am one of the upstream developers of X2Go. In 2010 I started the development of a Python based X2Go Client, called PyHoca-GUI. PyHoca-GUI has brought forth a Python X2Go Client API that currently is being integrated in Ubuntu's software center.

For communications I have my own Kolab server running using Horde as web-based groupware client. For IRC I love to use irssi, for Jabber I have several clients that I use, mostly pidgin, though. I am also the Debian maintainer of Coccinella, a Jabber-based interactive whiteboard.

My favourite terminal emulator is KDE's Yakuake.

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Enrol people, enrol people, enrol people.

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
Debian Edu interview: Ralf Gesellensetter
27th May 2012

In 2003, a German teacher showed up on the Debian Edu and Skolelinux mailing list with interesting problems and reports proving he setting up Linux for a (for us at the time) lot of pupils. His name was Ralf Gesellensetter, and he has been an important tester and contributor since then, helping to make sure the Debian Edu Squeeze release became as good as it is..

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

I am a teacher from Germany, and my subjects are Geography, Mathematics, and Computer Science ("Informatik"). During the past 12 years (since 2000), I have been working for a comprehensive (and soon, also inclusive) school leading to all kind of general levels, such as O- or A-level ("Abitur"). For quite as long, I've been taking care of our computer network.

Now, in my early 40s, I enjoy the privilege of spending a lot of my spare time together with my wife, our son (3 years) and our daughter (4 months).

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux/Debian Edu project?

We had tried different Linux based school servers, when members of my local Linux User Group (LUG OWL) detected Skolelinux. I remember very well, being part of a party celebrating the Linux New Media Award ("Best Newcomer Distribution", also nominated: Ubuntu) that was given to Skolelinux at Linux World Exposition in Frankfurt, 2005 (IIRC). Few months later, I had the chance to join a developer meeting in Ulsrud (Oslo) and to hand out the award to Knut Yrvin and others. For more than 7 years, Skolelinux is part of our schools infrastructure, namely our main server (tjener), one LTSP (today without thin clients), and approximately 50 work stations. Most of these have the option to boot a locally installed Skolelinux image. As a consequence, I joined quite a few events dealing with free software or Linux, and met many Debian (Edu) developers. All of them seemed quite nice and competent to me, one more reason to stick to Skolelinux.

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

Debian driven, you are given all the advantages of a community project including well maintained updates. Once, you are familiar with the network layout, you can easily roll out an entire educational computer infrastructure, from just one installation media. As only free software (FOSS) is used, that supports even elderly hardware, up-sizing your IT equipment is only limited by space (i.e. available labs). Especially if you run a LTSP thin client server, your administration costs tend towards zero.

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

While Debian's stability has loads of advantages for servers, this might be different in some cases for clients: Schools with unlimited budget might buy new hardware with components that are not yet supported by Debian stable, or wish to use more recent versions of office packages or desktop environments. These schools have the option to run Debian testing or other distributions - if they have the capacity to do so. Another issue is that Debian release cycles include a wide range of changes; therefor a high percentage of human power seems to be absorbed by just keeping the features of Skolelinux within the new setting of the version to come. During this process, the cogs of Debian Edu are getting more and more professional, i.e. harder to understand for novices.

Which free software do you use daily?

LibreOffice, Wikipedia, Openstreetmap, Iceweasel (Mozilla Firefox), KMail, Gimp, Inkscape - and of course the Linux Kernel (not only on PC, Laptop, Mobile, but also our SAT receiver)

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

  1. Support computer science as regular subject in schools to make people really "own" their hardware, to make them understand the difference between proprietary software products, and free software developing.
  2. Make budget baskets corresponding: In Germany's public schools there are more or less fixed budgets for IT equipment (including licenses), so schools won't benefit from any savings here. This privilege is left to private schools which have consequently a large share among German Skolelinux schools.
  3. Get free software in the seminars where would-be teachers are trained. In many cases, teachers' software customs are respected by decision makers rather than the expertise of any IT experts.
  4. Don't limit ourself to free software run natively. Everybody uses free software or free licenses (for instance Wikipedia), and this general concept should get expanded to free educational content to be shared world wide (school books e.g.).
  5. Make clear where ever you can that the market share of free (libre) office suites is much above 20 p.c. today, and that you pupils don't need to know the "ribbon menu" in order to get employed.
  6. Talk about the difference between freeware and free software.
  7. Spread free software, or even collections of portable free apps for USB pen drives. Endorse students to get a legal copy of Libreoffice rather than accepting them to use illegal serials. And keep sending documents in ODF formats.

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
Skolelinux-intervju: Alf Tonny Bätz
20th May 2012

Skolelinux-prosjektets musiker og mannen bak opplæringsdokumentene i Rosegarden (norsk utgave) for musikklærere, Alf Tonny Bätz, er neste mann ut i min intervjurunde av folkene bak Skolelinux-løsningen. Jeg har kjent Alf Tonny siden vi møttes som barn på påskefjellet i Ofoten, og ble gledelig overrasket da han dukket opp i Skolelinux-prosjektet etter å ikke ha sett noe til ham på mange år.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Jeg er utdannet kokk av yrke, og har utøvet yrket i 12 år. Men etter at ryggen sa takk før seg, studerte jeg nettverksadministrasjon ved Næringsakademiet i Bergen årene 2008-2009 slik at jeg kunne forfølge en av mine største interesser - data. Til daglig jobber jeg ved Parken ungdomsskole med å drifte skolens PC-er. Har også litt musikkundervisning.

Mitt mål er å bevisstgjøre musikklærene mulighetene med de frie programmene som finnes i Skolelinux, blant annet Rosegarden.

Har i mange år drevet med musikk og en av grunnen til at Rosegarden falt i smak for min del, var fordi denne fungere og ligner mest på Windows-programmet (cubase) jeg jobbet mye med da jeg i mine yngre dager var «Windows fanatiker». Ble introdusert til Linux av en kompis av meg for omtrent 14 år siden, og har bare blitt mer og mer glad i dette operativsystemet.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Da jeg ble sykemeldt fra min gamle jobb, og måtte omskoleres, havnet jeg i 2007 sammen med Viggo Fedreheim på IKT-avdelingen i Narvik kommune, der ble jeg for første gang introdusert til Skolelinuxprosjektet.

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Skolelinux er enkelt å holde i drift og masse flotte programmer som geogebra, ktouch og kgeografi følger med pakken. Man kan ta i bruk gamle PC-er igjen, slik at skoler med dårlig råd får opp en brukbar PC-park. PC-er som er ca 6-9 år gamle fungere tilfredstillende, bare de har 512 MB RAM eller mer.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Ulempene er at noen av de pedagogiske programmene som lærene ønsker å bruke fungere dårlig med Linux. Mye pga. av at disse programmene blir ikke laget til Linuxbaserte operativsystemer.

Video- og bilde-redigering har dessverre en del mangler, mange av programmene har en tendens til og krasje. Det gjelder blant annet kdenlive og openshot, for å nevne noen. De er ikke stabile nok. Når elevene kommer med filmsnutter de ønsker og jobbe med, så godtar ikke programmene filene, og når elevene jobber med redigering bare krasjer programmene uten forvarsel. Det er for vanskelig å få noe som bare fungerer ut av boksen her. Når en elev plugger inn et videokamera eller fotoapparat så er det alltid noe som ikke vil fungere. Programmene godtar ikke format, godtar ikke kameraet, osv., osv. Det er dessverre med på og dra ned en positiv opplevelse av bruk av fri programvare.

Man må ofte bruke flere en et video redigerings program før og få fullført en ønsket oppgave.

Eksempel:

Hvis det ene programmet ikke vil ta i mot videofilen klarer et annet det, men det programmet som klarer det kan ikke gjøre de samme oppgavene som det programmet som ikke ville ta i mot filen, Tilsvarende er det med foto, man må bruke flere programmer for å få et ferdig resultat. Til dags dato har jeg enda ikke funnet et video- og fotoprogram som kan tilfredstillende fullføre en oppgave.

Så man kan klare og fullføre en oppgave, men i verste fall må man innom 3-4 programmer for å få det til. Så jeg har enda ikke til dags dato sett at et program fungere 100% til alt.

Det programmet jeg har best erfaring til er cinelerra, men dessverre har det også tendenser og krasje av og til uten grunn.

Lydsystemet kan også være et mareritt. Konkret snakker jeg om når du bruker for eksempel et smartboard, så følger det med USB-lydkort på disse. Problemet ligger her i at systemet ikke vil velge rett lydkort, så man må inn med padevchooser for å sette opp PulseAudio til og velge at USB-lydkortet skal brukes. Det blir for tungvindt for lærene, de ønsker at ting skal fungere med en gang. (min løsning på det problemet ble at jeg måtte deaktivere lydkortet som fantes på maskinen) men da må man bestandig slå på smartboard-tavla.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Programmene jeg bruker mest av er: Rosegarden, jack, qsynth, audacity, k3b, openttd og libreoffice.

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

Jeg tror det må bevisstgjøring av Skolene til, dvs. reklamere høylytt og fortelle og vise de andre skolene at frie programvarer faktisk fungere. Jeg trur faktisk mange ikke vet at det finnes frie alternativer.
Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
Debian Edu interview: Jürgen Leibner
13th May 2012

It has been a few busy weeks for me, but I am finally back to publish another interview with the people behind Debian Edu and Skolelinux. This time it is one of our German developers, who have helped out over the years to make sure both a lot of major but also a lot of the minor details get right before release.

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

My name is Jürgen Leibner, I'm 49 years old and living in Bielefeld, a town in northern Germany. I worked nearly 20 years as certified engineer in the department for plant design and layout of an international company for machinery and equipment. Since 2011 I'm a certified technical writer (tekom e.V.) and doing technical documentations for a steam turbine manufacturer. From April this year I will manage the department of technical documentation at a manufacturer of automation and assembly line engineering.

My first contact with linux was around 1993. Since that time I used it at work and at home repeatedly but not exclusively as I do now at home since 2006.

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux/Debian Edu project?

Once a day in the early year of 2001 when I wanted to fetch my daughter from primary school, there was a teacher sitting in the middle of 20 old computers trying to boot them and he failed. I helped him to get them booting. That was seen by the school director and she asked me if I would like to manage that the school gets all that old computers in use. I answered: "Yes".

Some weeks later every of the 10 classrooms had one computer running Windows98. I began to collect old computers and equipment as gifts and installed the first computer room with a peer-to-peer network. I did my work at school without being payed in my spare time and with a lot of fun. About one year later the school was connected to Internet and a local area network was installed in the school building. That was the time to have a server and I knew it must be a Linux server to be able to fulfil all the wishes of the teachers and being able to do this in a transparent and economic way, without extra costs for things like licence and software. So I searched for a school server system running under Linux and I found a couple of people nearby who founded 'skolelinux.de'. It was the Skolelinux prerelease 32 I first tried out for being used at the school. I managed the IT of that school until the municipal authority took over the IT management and centralised the services for all schools in Bielefeld in December of 2006.

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

When I'm looking back to the beginning, there were other advantages for me as today.

In the past there were advantages like:

Today some of the advantages has been lost, changed or new ones came up in this way:

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

Which free software do you use daily?

I use Debian stable on my home server and on my little desktop computer. On my laptop I use Debian testing/sid. The applications I use on my laptop and my desktop are Open/Libre-office, Iceweasel, KMail, DigiKam, Amarok, Dolphin, okular and all the other programs I need from the KDE environment. On console I use newsbeuter, mutt, screen, irssi and all the other famous and useful tools.

My home server provides mail services with exim, dovecot, roundcube and mutt over ssh on the console, file services with samba, NFS, rsync, web services with apache, moinmoin-wiki, multimedia services with gallery2 and mediatomb and database services with MySQL for me and the whole family. I probably forgot something.

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

I believe, we should provide concepts for IT companies to integrate Debian Edu into their product portfolio with use cases for different countries and areas all over the world.

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
Forskning: "GPL gir lokal frihet og kontroll gjennom omfordeling av makt fra produsent til bruker"
15th April 2012

Da jeg googlet etter noe annet kom jeg tilfeldigvis over en hovedfagsoppgave ved Universitetet i Oslo som diskuterer verdien av GPLs fire friheter for brukerne av IT-systemer. Jeg ble fascinert over det som presenteres der. Her er sammendraget:

Motivasjonen til å skrive denne oppgaven er en personlig undring over hvorfor det primært, og ofte eksklusivt, fokuseres på det økonomiske aspektet ved utredninger om fri programvare er et godt valg for det offentlige. Fri og produsenteid programvare bygger på fundamentalt forskjellige ideologier som kan ha implikasjoner utover økonomiske kostnader. Kunnskapskulturen som er med på å definere fri programvare er basert på åpenhet, og er en verdi i seg selv.

Oppgavens tema er programvarelisensen GPL og frihet. GPL-lisensiert programvare gir visse friheter i forhold til produsenteid programvare. Mitt spørsmål er om, og eventuelt i hvilken utstrekning, disse frihetene blir benyttet av ulike brukere og hvordan de manifesterer seg for disse brukerne. Sentrale spørsmål i oppgaven er:

  • Hvordan fordeles handlekraft gjennom lisensieringen av programvaren?
  • Hvilke konsekvenser har programvarelisensen for de ulike brukere?

Fri programvare gir blant annet brukeren mulighet til å studere og modifisere kildekoden. Denne formen for frihet erverves gjennom kunnskap og krever at brukeren også er en ekspert. Hva skjer med frihetene til GPL når sluttbrukeren er en annen? Dette diskuteres i dialog med informantene.

Jeg har i denne oppgaven samlet inn intervjudata fra IKT-ansvarlige ved grunnskolene i Nittedal kommune, driftsansvarlig og IKT-veilederen for skolene i kommunen, samt IKT-koordinator for utdanning i Akershus fylkeskommune og bokmåloversettere av OpenOffice.org. Den empiriske delen av oppgaven er delt inn i to seksjoner; den første omhandler operativsystemet Skolelinux, den andre kontorprogrampakken OpenOffice.org.

Som vi vil se gir GPL lokal frihet og kontroll gjennom omfordeling av makt fra produsent til bruker. Brukerens makt analyseres gjennom begrepene brukermedvirkning og handlingsfrihet. Det blir også lagt vekt på strukturelle forhold rundt bruken av teknologi, og spesielt de økonomiske begrepene nettverkseksternaliteter, innlåsing og stiavhengighet. Dette er begreper av spesiell nytte når objektet som omsettes eller distribueres er et kommunikasjonsprodukt, fordi verdien til et slikt gode for en potensiell bruker avhenger av antall eksisterende brukere av godet. I tilknytning til denne problematikken inneholder oppgaven også en diskusjon rundt åpne standarder og formater.

Oppgaven konkluderer med at de «fire frihetene» som GPL-lisensen er laget for å beskytte er av avgjørende betydning for bruken av OpenOffice.org og Skolelinux, i Akershus fylkeskommune såvel som i skolene i Nittedal. Distribusjonen av handlekraft er ikke helt symmetrisk. Det er først og fremst de profesjonelle utviklerne i Skolelinux som direkte kan nyttiggjøre seg friheten til å endre kode, mens en sluttbruker som Nittedal kommune nyttiggjør seg den økonomiske friheten til å kunne distribuere programmene. Det er imidlertid også slik at ingen aktør klarer seg uten alle disse «frihetene».

Jeg fant også en masteroppgave fra 2006, men der ligger ikke komplett oppgave tilgjengelig. På tide å holde et øye med Skolelinux-søket til DUO...

Tags: debian edu, norsk.
Debian Edu interview: Andreas Mundt
15th April 2012

Behind Debian Edu and Skolelinux there are a lot of people doing the hard work of setting together all the pieces. This time I present to you Andreas Mundt, who have been part of the technical development team several years. He was also a key contributor in getting GOsa and Kerberos set up in the recently released Debian Edu Squeeze version.

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

My name is Andreas Mundt, I grew up in south Germany. After studying Physics I spent several years at university doing research in Quantum Optics. After that I worked some years in an optics company. Finally I decided to turn over a new leaf in my life and started teaching 10 to 19 years old kids at school. I teach math, physics, information technology and science/technology.

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux/Debian Edu project?

Already before I switched to teaching, I followed the Debian Edu project because of my interest in education and Debian. Within the qualification/training period for the teaching, I started contributing.

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

The advantages of Debian Edu are the well known name, the out-of-the-box philosophy and of course the great free software of the Debian Project!

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

As every coin has two sides, the out-of-the-box philosophy has its downside, too. In my opinion, it is hard to modify and tweak the setup, if you need or want that. Further more, it is not easily possible to upgrade the system to a new release. It takes much too long after a Debian release to prepare the -Edu release, perhaps because the number of developers working on the core of the code is rather small and often busy elsewhere.

The Debian LAN project might fill the use case of a more flexible system.

Which free software do you use daily?

I am only using non-free software if I am forced to and run Debian on all my machines. For documents I prefer LaTeX and PGF/TikZ, then mutt and iceweasel for email respectively web browsing. At school I have Arduino and Fritzing in use for a micro controller project.

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

One of the major problems is the vendor lock-in from top to bottom: Especially in combination with ignorant government employees and politicians, this works out great for the "market-leader". The school administration here in Baden-Wuerttemberg is occupied by that vendor. Documents have to be prepared in non-free, proprietary formats. Even free browsers do not work for the school administration. Publishers of school books provide software only for proprietary platforms.

To change this, political work is very important. Parts of the political spectrum have become aware of the problem in the last years. However it takes quite some time and courageous politicians to 'free' the system. There is currently some discussion about "Open Data" and "Free/Open Standards". I am not sure if all the involved parties have a clue about the potential of these ideas, and probably only a fraction takes them seriously. However it might slowly make free software and the philosophy behind it more known and popular.

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
Debian Edu interview: Justin B. Rye
8th April 2012

It take all kind of contributions to create a Linux distribution like Debian Edu / Skolelinux, and this time I lend the ear to Justin B. Rye, who is listed as a big contributor to the Debian Edu Squeeze release manual.

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

I'm a 44-year-old linguistics graduate living in Edinburgh who has occasionally been employed as a sysadmin.

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux/Debian Edu project?

I'm neither a developer nor a Skolelinux/Debian Edu user! The only reason my name's in the credits for the documentation is that I hang around on debian-l10n-english waiting for people to mention things they'd like a native English speaker to proofread... So I did a sweep through the wiki for typos and Norglish and inconsistent spellings of "localisation".

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

These questions are too hard for me - I don't use it! In fact I had hardly any contact with I.T. until long after I'd got out of the education system.

I can tell you the advantages of Debian for me though: it soaks up as much of my free time as I want and no more, and lets me do everything I want a computer for without ever forcing me to spend money on the latest hardware.

Which free software do you use daily?

I've been using Debian since Rex; popularity-contest says the software that I use most is xinit, xterm, and xulrunner (in other words, I use a distinctly retro sort of desktop).

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

Well, I don't know. I suppose I'd be inclined to try reasoning with the people who make the decisions, but obviously if that worked you would hardly need a strategy.

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
Why the KDE menu is slow when /usr/ is NFS mounted - and a workaround
6th April 2012

Recently I have spent time with Skolelinux Drift AS on speeding up a Debian Edu / Skolelinux Lenny installation using LTSP diskless workstations, and in the process I discovered something very surprising. The reason the KDE menu was responding slow when using it for the first time, was mostly due to the way KDE find application icons. I discovered that showing the Multimedia menu would cause more than 20 000 IP packages to be passed between the LTSP client and the NFS server. Most of these were NFS LOOKUP calls, resulting in a NFS3ERR_NOENT response. Because the ping times between the client and the server were in the range 2-20 ms, the menus would be very slow. Looking at the strace of kicker in Lenny (or plasma-desktop i Squeeze - same problem there), I see that the source of these NFS calls are access(2) system calls for non-existing files. KDE can do hundreds of access(2) calls to find one icon file. In my example, just finding the mplayer icon required around 230 access(2) calls.

The KDE code seem to search for icons using a list of icon directories, and the list of possible directories is large. In (almost) each directory, it look for files ending in .png, .svgz, .svg and .xpm. The result is a very slow KDE menu when /usr/ is NFS mounted. Showing a single sub menu may result in thousands of NFS requests. I am not the first one to discover this. I found a KDE bug report from 2009 about this problem, and it is still unsolved.

My solution to speed up the KDE menu was to create a package kde-icon-cache that upon installation will look at all .desktop files used to generate the KDE menu, find their icons, search the icon paths for the file that KDE will end up finding at run time, and copying the icon file to /var/lib/kde-icon-cache/. Finally, I add symlinks to these icon files in one of the first directories where KDE will look for them. This cut down the number of file accesses required to find one icon from several hundred to less than 5, and make the KDE menu almost instantaneous. I'm not quite sure where to make the package publicly available, so for now it is only available on request.

The bug report mention that this do not only affect the KDE menu and icon handling, but also the login process. Not quite sure how to speed up that part without replacing NFS with for example NBD, and that is not really an option at the moment.

If you got feedback on this issue, please let us know on debian-edu (at) lists.debian.org.

Tags: debian edu, english.
Debian Edu in the Linux Weekly News
5th April 2012

About two weeks ago, I was interviewed via email about Debian Edu and Skolelinux by Bruce Byfield in Linux Weekly News. The result was made public for non-subscribers today. I am pleased to see liked our Linux solution for schools. Check out his article Debian Edu/Skolelinux: A distribution for education if you want to learn more.

Tags: debian edu, english.
Debian Edu interview: Wolfgang Schweer
1st April 2012

Germany is a core area for the Debian Edu and Skolelinux user community, and this time I managed to get hold of Wolfgang Schweer, a valuable contributor to the project from Germany.

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

I've studied Mathematics at the university 'Ruhr-Universität' in Bochum, Germany. Since 1981 I'm working as a teacher at the school "Westfalen-Kolleg Dortmund", a second chance school. Here, young adults is given the opportunity to get further education in order to do the school examination 'Abitur', which will allow to study at a university. This second chance is of value for those who want a better job perspective or failed to get a higher school examination being teens.

Besides teaching I was involved in developing online courses for a blended learning project called 'abitur-online.nrw' and in some other information technology related projects. For about ten years I've been teacher and coordinator for the 'abitur-online' project at my school. Being now in my early sixties, I've decided to leave school at the end of April this year.

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux/Debian Edu project?

The first information about Skolelinux must have come to my attention years ago and somehow related to LTSP (Linux Terminal Server Project). At school, we had set up a network at the beginning of 1997 using Suse Linux on the desktop, replacing a Novell network. Since 2002, we used old machines from the city council of Dortmund as thin clients (LTSP, later Ubuntu/Lessdisks) cause new hardware was out of reach. At home I'm using Debian since years and - subscribed to the Debian news letter - heard from time to time about Skolelinux. About two years ago I proposed to replace the (somehow undocumented and only known to me) system at school by a well known Debian based system: Skolelinux.

Students and teachers appreciated the new system because of a better look and feel and an enhanced access to local media on thin clients. The possibility to alter and/or reset passwords using a GUI was welcomed, too. Being able to do administrative tasks using a GUI and to easily set up workstations using PXE was of very high value for the admin teachers.

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

It's open source, easy to set up, stable and flexible due to it's Debian base. It integrates LTSP out-of-the-box. And it is documented! So it was a perfect choice.

Being open source, there are no license problems and so it's possible to point teachers and students to programs like OpenOffice.org, ViewYourMind (mind mapping) and The Gimp. It's of high value to be able to adapt parts of the system to special needs of a school and to choose where to get support for this.

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

Nothing yet.

Which free software do you use daily?

At home (Debian Sid with Gnome Desktop): Iceweasel, LibreOffice, Mutt, Gedit, Document Viewer, Midnight Commander, flpsed (PDF Annotator). At school (Skolelinux Lenny): Iceweasel, Gedit, LibreOffice.

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

Some time ago I thought it was enough to tell people about it. But that doesn't seem to work quite well. Now I concentrate on those more interested and hope to get multiplicators that way.

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
Linux-skoler har høyere PC-tetthet enn landsgjennomsnittet - pressemelding fra FRiSK
30th March 2012

I dag har FRiSK sendt ut følgende pressemelding basert på mine beregninger av PC-tetthet på Linux-skoler:

Linux-skoler har høyere PC-tetthet enn landsgjennomsnittet

Oslo, 30 Mars 2012

Det er store forskjeller på skolenes digitale tilstand, viser undersøkelsen Monitor 2011 som er laget på oppdrag fra Kunnskapsdepartementet. Dette har ført til debatt om PC-tilgangen i skolen, og om de med Linux i skolen gjør det bedre bedre eller dårligere enn snittet i landet.

Nå har vi tallene. Skoler med Linux har 36% større PC-tetthet en landsgjennomsnittet. På spørsmål hvorfor skoler med Linux har større PC-tetthet, observerer Paul Reidar Løsnesløkken som er IKT-konsulent i Nord-Odal:

"Vi erfarer at klienter med Skolelinux har god funksjon til de er 8 til 10 år gamle. Dette er omtrent dobbelt så lenge som andre løsninger, og skolene får mer datautstyr for pengene."

Undersøkelsen baserer seg på 56 skoler som har gjort det offentlig at de kjører Skolelinux eller annen Linux-utgave. De kan også ha PC-er med Windows i skolenettet. Når en sammenligner PC-tetthetene på skolene i kommunene Flora, Harstad, Kongsvinger, Narvik, Nittedal, Nord-Odal og Randaberg, er det i snitt 2,28 elev pr. PC på skolene med Linux. På landsbasis er det 3.11 elev per PC i grunnskolen, i følge side 95 i Monitor-rapporten for 2011. Målingen viser dermed 36% større PC-tetthet i skoler med Linux.

Om Skolelinux/Debian Edu

Skolelinux har til hensikt å gi alle barn full tilgang til skoleaktuelle dataprogram på sitt eget morsmål. Derfor følger det med godt over 100 skoleaktuelle programmene laget for læring. De fleste programmene er oversatt til over 50 språk. Elevene skal også kunne studere alle sider av dataprogrammene. Derfor følger også kildekode med. Elever med interesse kan lære av eksperter som har laget systemet. Dette med enkelt programmering i læreprogram som KTurtle, til profesjonelle verktøy som Qt Creator eller Java.

Skolelinux er laget for sentralisert drift, der alt teknisk administrasjon av alle skolene kan gjøres sentralt fra kommunehuset eller sentralt i en region. F.eks. drifter to-tre personer 70.000 skoledatamaskiner på 200 skoler i delstaten Extremadura i Spania. Etter velykket bruk av Debian Edu i skolen, legger delstaten over til Debian på 40.000 datamaskiner i administrasjonen. Det er idag mange selskap som tilbyr profesjonell støtte til innføring og drift i Norge og verden.

Om FRiSK

Medlemsforeningen Fri Programvare i Skolen organiserer dugnadsprosjektet som står bak Skolelinux.

Kontaktperson

Knut Yrvin

Leder av Fri Programvare i Skolen (FRISK)

Epost: knuty at skolelinux.no
Mobil: +47 93 479 561

Referanser

Tags: debian edu, norsk.
Skolelinux-intervju: Roy-Arne Myhre
28th March 2012

I serien med intervjuer av folk i Skolelinux-miljøet, får vi denne gangen høre fra en IKT-ansvarlig som har brukt Skolelinux i mange år, og vært storfornøyd med erfaringene så langt.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Mitt navn er Roy-Arne Myhre og jeg er 42 år. Jeg er ansatt hos Sand skole (Balsfjord kommune) og har stort sett vært det siden 1990. Jeg er IKT ansvarlig ved skolen i 40% stilling – 10% undervisning – musikk.

Ved skolen er det ca 100 elever og ca 18 lærere + 4 assistenter i hele og delte stillinger. Alle lærerne har bærbar PC (dessverre med Win Vista) – assistenter har tilgang til egne. Vi benytter Fronter i det daglige arbeidet. Vi har ca 90 elevmaskiner som fungerer til daglig opp mot Linux server (XFCE) som driftes av BzzWare AS via nett. Maskinparken består kun av brukt utstyr for elevene – og noe av dette begynner å bli vel gammelt selv som halvtykke klienter.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Vi kom første gang i kontakt med Skolelinux rundt 1997. Den gang var det oppstart-disketter i hver maskin, ikke mulighet for lyd og video, gamle nettverkskort og mye plundring. Vi hadde en ihuga forelder med som pådriver, forsker og inspirator for hele opplegget. Selv ante jeg knapt at Skolelinux fantes, men han var av den utforskende typen, og fikk både meg og skolelederen i trua på at dette var ting som kunne fungere. Etter dette har det gått gradvis framover; flere maskiner er hentet inn gjennom bl.a Greentech og utrangert utstyr fra høgskole / Avinor og private givere. Når maskinene ble for trege for nye Windows-versjoner, sto vi klare til å putte dem i nettverket vårt. Dette betyr at vi i dag har 1:1 dekning av maskiner på ungdomstrinnet og bedre enn 1:2 på barnetrinnet. Dette er vi veldig fornøyd med, og vi kan ikke se for oss hverdagen som ville vært alternativet ved bruk av Windows med sine lisenser pr. Bruker/maskin. Da ville vi nok vært tilbake til 1-2 maskiner pr klasserom med de negative konsekvenser det ville hatt for undervisningsformene våre. Vi kan ha en hel klasse i prosjektjobbing eller individuell jobbing samtidig – vi kan avholde tentamen og eksamen uten logistikkproblemer.

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Hvor skal jeg begynne... Stabiliteten er et nøkkelord - det bare virker. Har du først fått en server med Skolelinux opp og gå, så må det en maskinarefeil eller sabotasje til for å stoppe den. Det at man kan bruke eldre maskiner som normalt sett ville gått på dynga, er også glimrende - billig for skoler med dårlig økonomi og bra for miljøet siden vi gjenbruker utstyr i stedet for å skaffe nytt. Vi ville aldri hatt mulighet til å operere med det maskinantallet vi har pr i dag hvis det ikke var for Skolelinux - så tilgjengelighet er et annet nøkkelord. Et tredje moment er sikkerhet og brukertilgang. Alle brukerer opererer med egne brukernavn og passord, samt egne brukerområder som kan tilpasses for både enbrukertilgang og for samarbeid med andre. Elever har godt av å se at det finnes andre alternativer enn de som storindustrien selger på lisensbasis - på den måten trenes de opp til å se flere muligheter og å foreta valg ut fra flere opsjoner.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Ulempene med Skolelinux er nok utbredelsen og mangelen på kjennskap til dette i skolenorge. De som skal ta økonomiske avgjørelser rynker på nesen og vil gå for det kjente og «sikre» selv om det koster mye mer. Man får rett og slett litt hetta av å ikke kunne noe – og unngår dette for enhver pris.

I tillegg er mye av linux-systemet administrert av tekstkommandoer og er lite intuitiv/visuell for oss som ikke er «inne i» kildekodene». Så problemet er nok mye godt at de som utarbeider/drifter Skolelinux ikke helt klarer å sette seg ned på skoleadministratorens nivå når det gjelder problemer og utfordringer. Men dette er nok en utfordring alle administratorer sliter med uansett OS.

Derfor har vi valgt å støtte oss til BzzWare AS for assistanse i drifta slik at jeg har kunnet konsentrere meg mer om kabling, skifting av komponenter, veiledning av lærere og elever, vedlikehold av skrivere og annen daglig drift.

Elevene mestrer Skolelinux helt fint. Så lenge Internett (Iceweasel) og Libreoffice (Openoffice) fungerer er 90% av skolehverdagen velfungerende. I tillegg brukes jo en del av den pedagogiske programpakken bla. i forhold til matematikk og geografi, men det er såpass mye bra på nett om dagen, så disse programmene er mer som krydder å regne.

Jeg skulle ønske neste versjon av Skolelinux kunne komme litt mindre stappet med programmer, for halvparten blir aldri brukt, eller fungerer ikke uansett. Hva med et pedagogisk panel av lærere/IKT ansvarlige som kunne sagt: disse programmene skal være standard, så får resten være slike man kan legge til ved behov – det kan lett bli en jungel å bevege seg i.

Jeg ønsker meg også en mer grafisk versjon av Lwat hvor man kan krysse ut de som f.eks ikke skal ha internett-tilgang en dag pga eksamen/tentamen, samt en noe enklere brannmurløsning hvor man kan stenge for en del (få) sider på en enkel måte. Jeg liker godt Skolelinux sin ideologi om at filteret skal trenes i hodet på eleven – men av og til skulle jeg ønske at f.eks Facebook og Youtube kunne vært koblet vekk en periode for å få bedre utnyttelse av tid og ressurser. Disse to nettstedene er nok mye av årsaken til at mange lærere holder igjen databruken noe mer enn man kunne ønske.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Jeg benytter nesten bare fri programvare til daglig. LibreOffice, Iceweasel (Firefox), Thunderbird til e-post og Gimp til bildebehandling. Vi har PHP-Nuke-oppsatt hjemmeside. Det eneste som jeg ikke har fått helt til enda er videoredigering - her må man vel innrømme at Mac er hakket over, men da er vi igjen over på å se hva som egner seg best, og ta valg ut fra det. Folk flest lever i villfarelsen om at regneark HETER Excel og tekstbehandling HETER Word. Dette er en misforståelse som jeg bruker mye energi på å diskutere og "åpne sinn" på Microsoft-slaver. Dessverre er det mange IKT-ansvarlige som også har låst seg på at det eneste saliggjørende er Bill G sine produkter.

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

For å komme lenger i utbredelsen av Skolelinux tror jeg det må mer fram i nasjonale medier, samt komme bedre fram hva økonomien i dette valget vil være – samt mulighetene. Fri programvare er en berikelse og gjør oss i stand til å utføre arbeidet i skolen uten å måtte legge igjen tusener på tusener i Bill Gates lomme.. Få ETT nettsted med forståelig veiledning av installasjon/oppgradering og ETT forum med konkrete feilrettinger og problemer, så tror jeg vi kunne kommet et par skritt framover. Ellers tror jeg bare at ildsjelene må fortsette å skinne – kanskje flere enn oss følger etter på veien.

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
Debian Edu screencast: Checking email with kmail using Kerberos authentication
25th March 2012

The same Debian Edu developer that did the last screen cast I published, Wolfgang Schweer, has created a new screen cast showing how to set up Kmail in Debian Edu Squeze to authenticate using Kerberos, allowing users to check their local email account without providing any password. The video is embedded here in quarter size, and also available from vimeo and download as a Ogg Theora file. Check it out below.

Download video as Ogg.

Tags: debian edu, english.
Større PC-tetthet i skolen med Skolelinux?
19th March 2012

Den siste uka har det vært en del skriverier om hvor store forskjeller det er mellom skolene når det gjelder digital kompetanse. Et eksempel er oppslaget i Digi. Diskusjonen fikk meg til å bli litt nysgjerrig på om Linux-skoler har større PC-tettet enn snittet i landet. Grunnlaget for diskusjonen har vært undersøkelsen Monitor 2011, som bruker informasjon fra Grunnskolens Informasjonssystem (GSI). GSI-data kan lastes ned fra web og jeg lastet ned en Excel-fil (intet åpen standard-valg tilgjengelig) med navn på alle skoler, hvilke kommune de befinner seg i og hvor mange elever pr. elev-PC de har rapportert inn. For å få en ide om svaret trenger jeg deretter å vite hvilke skoler i landet som bruker Linux, slik at jeg kan slå dem opp i GSI og finne ut hvor stor PC-tetthet de har.

Jeg vet om skoler i Balsfjord, Flora, Harstad, Kongsvinger, Narvik, Nittedal, Nord-Odal, Randaberg og Sunndal som bruker Skolelinux eller andre Linux-varianter. Jeg tror det er flere enn de 56 skolene jeg har klart å identifisere de siste dagene, men har ikke klart å få det bekreftet med offentlige kilder.

Monitor 2011-rapporteres side 95 forteller at det "ifølge GSI (20120-2011) er det 3,11 elever per datamaskin når vi tar med alle grunnskoler (1.-10.trinn)". For de 56 Linux-skolene jeg har klart å koble mot informasjon i GSI er det 2,28 elever per elevdatamaskin, hvilket betyr at det er 36% høyere PC-tetthet på Linux-skoler enn landsgjennomsnittet. Linux-skolen med høyest tettet blant de jeg har notert -skole er Flora ungdomsskule i Flora kommune med 0.82 elev pr. PC (482 elever, 588 elevdatamaskiner).

Skolelinux gir datamaskiner lengre levetid, og en kan dermed få flere operative datamaskiner for samme budsjett, i tillegg til en rekke andre fordeler. Kan det være forklaringen på forskjellen?

Tallene må tas med en liten klype, da GSI ser ut til å ha endel feilføringer. Jeg synes i hvert fall en skole med 423 elever og 9 elevmaskiner ser mistenkelig ut. Eller en skole med 346 elever, 0 elevmaskiner, som er et annet ekstremt eksempel jeg fant.

Takk til Sturle Sunde, Klaus Ade Johnstad, Ole-Anders Andreassen og Trond Mæhlum for innspill om skoler med Linux.

Tags: debian edu, norsk.
Debian Edu interview: John Ingleby
19th March 2012

Debian Edu / Skolelinux users are spread all across the globe. The second inteview after the Squeeze release was publised is with John Ingleby, a teacher and long time Linux user in United Kingdom.

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

I teach ICT part time at the Rudolf Steiner School in Kings Langley, near London, UK. Previously I worked as a technical author/trainer while my children attended the school, and I also contributed to the Schoolforge UK community with the aim of encouraging UK schools to adopt free/open source software. Five or six years ago we had about 50 schools interested in some way, but we weren't able to convert many of them into sustainable installations.

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux/Debian Edu project?

Skolelinux had two representatives at an early Edubuntu meeting in London which I attended. However at that time our school network had just been installed using CentOS, LTSP 4 and GNOME. When LTSP 5 came along we switched to Edubuntu thin client servers so now we have a mixed environment which includes Windows PCs and student laptops, as well as their MacBooks and iPads. However, the proprietary systems have always been rather problematic, and we never built a GUI for the LDAP server, so when I discovered Skolelinux is configured for all these things we decided to try it.

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

By far the biggest advantage is the Debian Edu community. Apart from that I have always believed in the same "sustainable computing" goals that Skolelinux is built on: installing Linux on computers which would otherwise be thrown away, to provide a reliable, secure and low-cost IT environment for schools. From my own experience I know that a part-time person can teach and manage a network of about 25 Linux computers, but it would take much more of my time if we had proprietary software everywhere.

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

As a newcomer I'm just finding out who's who in the community and how you're organised, and what your procedures are for dealing with various things such as editing manual pages and so-on. The only English language mailing list seems to be for developers as well as users, so my inbox needs heavy pruning each day!

Which free software do you use daily?

Besides the software already mentioned at school we use Samba, OpenLDAP, CUPS, Nagios and Dansguardian for the network, and on the desktops we have LibreOffice, Firefox, GIMP and Inkscape. At home I use Ubuntu and an Android 4 eePad Transformer (but I'm not sure if that counts...)

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

That's a tough question! For very many years UK schools installed and taught only proprietary software, so that at the highest levels the notion of "computer" means simply "proprietary office applications". However, schools today are experiencing budget constraints, and many are having to think hard about upgrading Windows XP. At the same time, we have students showing teachers how to use iPads, MacBooks and Android, so the choice of operating system is no longer quite so automatic. What is more, our government at last realised that we need people with programming skills, so they're putting coding back in the curriculum! And it's encouraging that the first 10,000 Raspberry Pi units sold out in 2 hours.

I don't really know what strategy is going to get UK schools to use free software, but building an active community of Skolelinux/Debian Edu users in this country has to be part of it.

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
Writing and translating documentation in Debian Edu
16th March 2012

Documentation in Debian Edu is provided in several languages, and it is important to make it both easy to contribute and to keep the translated versions in sync. To do this we have come up with what we believe is a very efficient work flow.

  1. The documentation is written in a moinmoin wiki (see for example the Squeeze release manual) with support for exporting the content as docbook XML.
  2. This docbook document is given to po4a to extract a gettext style .pot file with the content, which in turn is used to create .po files with the translated text.
  3. The .po files are given to translators, and they can always tell which part of the original wiki document is new or changed. They can use their normal translation tools like lokalize or poedit to write the translation. There is even a system in place to handle translated images.
  4. The translated .po files are combined with the original docbook XML document using po4a to create a translated docbook document.
  5. The final step is to use all the generated docbook files and create PDF and HTML version of the original and translated documents.

This setup work very well, but have a few issues. The biggest issue is that the docbook support we use in moinmoin is not actively maintained. The docbook support is also buggy, and our build system contain workarounds to make sure the generated docbook is usable despite these bugs.

If you want to have a look at our setup, it is all there in the debian-edu-doc package.

Tags: debian edu, english.
NUUG-presentasjon: Skolelinux - ferdig oppsatt skolenettløsning
13th March 2012

I dag presenterte jeg ny versjon av Skolelinux for NUUGs medlemmer. Lysark er tilgjengelige allerede og video-opptak kommer så snart videogruppa til NUUG får publisert den. Jeg kom på endel punkter om nye ting i Squeeze-utgaven under veis som jeg burde hatt med, og har sikkert skrevet noe tull på lysarkene som jeg ennå ikke har oppdaget. Denne presentasjonen ble smurt ihop på veldig kort tid, og jeg rakk ikke finpusse den. Håper den kan være lærerik likevel.

Tags: debian edu, norsk, nuug.
Skolelinux-intervju: Kåre Nordby
12th March 2012

Første ut i serien med intervjuer av folk i Skolelinux-miljøet etter at ny versjon av Skolelinux ble lansert i helga, er nylig valgte styremedlem i foreningen Fri programvare i Skolen (FRiSK) som organiserer Skolelinux-utviklingen og daglig leder i Skolelinux Drift AS, selskapet prosjektet opprettet som et tilbud til skoler som ønsket en kommersiell samarbeidsparter. Det bør nevnes at jeg er styremedlem i Skolelinux Drift AS og styreleder i selskapets hovedeier stiftelsen SLX Debian Labs som beskytter verdiene til Skolelinux-prosjektet, og kjenner Kåre den veien.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Jeg har siden januar 2010 vært daglig leder i Skolelinux Drift AS, som leverer support, installasjon, tilpasning, drift, og opplæring på Debian Edu / Skolelinux. Fra 2012 er jeg valgt inn som styremedlem i FRiSK. Min forrige jobb var som KAM i Redpill Linpro (som er en av eierne i Skolelinux Drift). Før det var jeg daglig leder i et eget 7 manns konsulent selskap som også startet med fri programvare mot slutten.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Jeg hørte om det først når jeg jobbet i Redpill Linpro. Men jeg har også en datter som går på en friskole, som også bruker Skolelinux. Som kjent har ikke friskoler de samme økonomiske rammebetingelsene som offentlige skoler, så for dem var det det absolutt beste alternativet. De anser også Skolelinux som et stabilt system, som bare går og går (i motsetning til det lille Windows-baserte nettverket de har på admin-siden).

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Sentralisert drift av tynne og diskløse arbeidsstasjoner. Således lydløse og raskere arbeidsstasjoner som er bedre i klasserommet. Lengre levetid på PC'er. Store besparelser på maskinvare og drift. Og så klart fjerning av alle lisenskostnader. Personlig synes jeg også at mange av programmene er bedre enn alternativene. Men dette er ofte en smakssak og avhengig om man må ha det man er vant til fra før.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

For lite kjentskap til løsningen. Noen ganger for dårlig kompatibilitet med arbeidsstasjoners/bærbare maskiner sine nettverksdrivere eller skjermkort. Men dette løser vi i skolene ved standardisering. Ellers er det få, om nesten ingen, av de kjente maskinvare / infrastruktur leverandørene til fylkes- / kommuner som tilbyr denne plattformen. Skal dette endre seg så må kommunene selv sette slike krav til leverandørene.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Har brukt OpenOffice.org siden starten (2001 ?), Kun Linux på desktop siden 2005. Bruker i dag Kubuntu, Libreoffice og ymse annet programvare til ulik kontorbruk som er lett å installere / teste via alle programarkivene som finnes.

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

Fortsette å presentere flere av de gode eksemplene hvor Debian Edu / Skolelinux brukes i kommuner og enkeltskoler. Vi må få bedre frem at det er mulig tilknytte både Windows og Mac klienter på denne plattformen (selv om det vil øke driftskostnadene). Dette gjøres mange steder. Spesielt er det mange lærere som ønsker å bruke Windows/Mac-bærbare, gjerne som sin private PC også. Det er også mulig for kommunen å integrere med Active Directory i stedet for OpenLDAP som kommer med ut av boksen (selv om også dette øker kostnadene). Dette vil muligens bidra til å fjerne noe motstand hos noen potensielle brukere / driftpersonell for å ta i bruk noe nytt. Fremveksten av mobile brukere og nettbrett går i vår favør. Brukerne blir kjent og vant til flere nye operativsystemer / brukergrensesnitt. Så utviklerfellesskapet bør jobbe videre med å integrere flere nye klienttyper, som ultra lav-kostklienter og nettbrett (blant annet fri programvare-alternativet Spark med Mer OS og KDE Active Plasma).

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
Skolelinux / Debian Edu Squeeze is out!
11th March 2012

This weekend we finally published the first stable release of Skolelinux / Debian Edu based on Debian/Squeeze. The full announcement is available from the project announcement list. Now is a good time to test if it you have not done so already.

I plan to present the new version at a NUUG meeting on tuesday. I look forward to seeing you there if you are in Oslo, Norway.

Tags: debian edu, english.
Debian Edu interview: Nigel Barker
9th March 2012

Inspired by the interview series conducted by Raphael, I started a Norwegian interview series with people involved in the Debian Edu / Skolelinux community. This was so popular that I believe it is time to move to a more international audience.

While Debian Edu and Skolelinux originated in France and Norway, and have most users in Europe, there are users all around the globe. One of those far away from me is Nigel Barker, a long time Debian Edu system administrator and contributor. It is thanks to him that Debian Edu is adjusted to work out of the box in Japan. I got him to answer a few questions, and am happy to share the response with you. :)

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

My name is Nigel Barker, and I am British. I am married to Yumiko, and we have three lovely children, aged 15, 14 and 4(!) I am the IT Coordinator at Hiroshima International School, Japan. I am also a teacher, and in fact I spend most of my day teaching Mathematics, Science, IT, and Chemistry. I was originally a Chemistry teacher, but I have always had an interest in computers. Another teacher teaches primary school IT, but apart from that I am the only computer person, so that means I am the network manager, technician and webmaster, also, and I help people with their computer problems. I teach python to beginners in an after-school club. I am way too busy, so I really appreciate the simplicity of Skolelinux.

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux/Debian Edu project?

In around 2004 or 5 I discovered the ltsp project, and set up a server in the IT lab. I wanted some way to connect it to our central samba server, which I was also quite poor at configuring. I discovered Edubuntu when it came out, but it didn't really improve my setup. I did various desperate searches for things like "school Linux server" and ended up in a document called "Drift" something or other. Reading there it became clear that Skolelinux was going to solve all my problems in one go. I was very excited, but apprehensive, because my previous attempts to install Debian had ended in failure (I used Mandrake for everything - ltsp, samba, apache, mail, ns...). I downloaded a beta version, had some problems, so subscribed to the Debian Edu list for help. I have remained subscribed ever since, and my school has run a Skolelinux network since Sarge.

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

For me the integrated setup. This is not just the server, or the workstation, or the ltsp. Its all of them, and its all configured ready to go. I read somewhere in the early documentation that it is designed to be setup and managed by the Maths or Science teacher, who doesn't necessarily know much about computers, in a small Norwegian school. That describes me perfectly if you replace Norway with Japan.

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu?

The desktop is fairly plain. If you compare it with Edubuntu, who have fun themes for children, or with distributions such as Mint, who make the desktop beautiful. They create a good impression on people who don't need to understand how to use any of it, but who might be important to the school. School administrators or directors, for instance, or parents. Even kids. Debian itself usually has ugly default theme settings. It was my dream a few years back that some kind of integration would allow Edubuntu to do the desktop stuff and Debian Edu the servers, but now I realise how impossible that is. A second disadvantage is that if something goes wrong, or you need to customise something, then suddenly the level of expertise required multiplies. For example, backup wasn't working properly in Lenny. It took me ages to learn how to set up my own server to do rsync backups. I am afraid of anything to do with ldap, but perhaps Gosa will help.

Which free software do you use daily?

Nowadays I only use Debian on my personal computers. I have one for studio work (I play guitar and write songs), running AV Linux (customised Debian) a netbook running Squeeze, and a bigger laptop still running Skolelinux Lenny workstation. I have a Tjener in my house, that's very useful for the family photos and music. At school the students only use Skolelinux. (Some teachers and the office still have windows). So that means we only use free software all day every day. Open office, The GIMP, Firefox/Iceweasel, VLC and Audacity are installed on every computer in school, irrespective of OS. We also have Koha on Debian for the library, and Apache, Moodle, b2evolution and Etomite on Debian for the www. The firewall is Untangle.

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

Current trends are in our favour. Open source is big in industry, and ordinary people have heard of it. The spread of Android and the popularity of Apple have helped to weaken the impression that you have to have Microsoft on everything. People complain to me much less about file formats and Word than they did 5 years ago. The Edu aspect is also a selling point. This is all customised for schools. Where is the Windows-edu, or the Mac-edu? But of course the main attraction is budget.The trick is to convince people that the quality is not compromised when you stop paying and use free software instead. That is one reason why I say the desktop experience is a weakness. People are not impressed when their USB drive doesn't work, or their browser doesn't play flash, for example.

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
Debian Edu screencast: Mass creation of user accounts in Squeeze
7th March 2012

One of the Debian Edu developers, Wolfgang Schweer, just created a screen cast documenting how to create a lot of new users in LDAP on Debian Edu Squeeze. The video is embedded here in quarter size, and also available from vimeo and download as a Ogg Theora file. Check it out below.

Download video as Ogg.

Tags: debian edu, english.
Third release candidate of Debian Edu / Skolelinux based on Squeeze
4th March 2012

This weekend we wrapped up and published the third release candidate for Debian Edu / Skolelinux based on Squeeze. The full announcement is available from the project announcement list. Check it out if you need a software solution for your school.

Tags: debian edu, english.
Stopmotion for making stop motion animations on Linux - reloaded
3rd March 2012

Many years ago, the Skolelinux / Debian Edu project initiated a student project to create a tool for making stop motion movies. The proposal came from a teacher needing such tool on Skolelinux. The project, called "stopmotion", was manned by two extraordinary students and won a school award and a national aware with this great project. The project was initiated and mentored by Herman Robak, and manned by the students Bjørn Erik Nilsen and Fredrik Berg Kjølstad. They got in touch with people at Aardman Animation studio and received feedback on how professionals would like such stopmotion tool to work, and the end result was and is used by animators around the globe. But as is usual after studying, both got jobs and went elsewhere, and did not have time to properly tend to the project, and it has been lingering for a few years now. Until last year...

Last year some of the users got together with Herman, and moved the project to Sourceforge and in effect restarted the project under a new name, linuxstopmotion. The name change was done to make it possible to find the project using Internet search engines (try to search for 'stopmotion' to see what I mean). I've been following the mailing list and the improvement already in place and planned for the future is encouraging. If you want to make stop motion movies. Check it out. :)

Tags: debian edu, english, video.
Skolelinux-intervju: Frode Danielsen
27th February 2012

I serien med intervjuer av folk i Skolelinux-miljøet møter vi denne gangen Frode Danielsen, som er leder for en IT-virksomhet som passer på IT-løsningen til flere kommuner i Hedmark-området, der noen av dem bruker Skolelinux i dag.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Daglig leder i Hedmark IKT. En interkommunal IKT-virksomhet for Stange, Nord-Odal, Kongsvinger, Grue, Løten og Hamar kommuner. Vi er 32 ansatte

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Vi har vært i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet i flere sammenhenger, blant annet gjennom et par piloter som ikke har ført til noe konkret resultat. Nå sist gjennom satsingen på skolelinux i Grue, Kongsvinger og Nord-Odal.

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?
Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Jeg tror alle løsninger har fordeler og ulemper, litt avhengig av hvilket ståsted du selv har, så jeg unnlater å svare på dette.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Ingen for min egen del, men vi har noe fri programvare i våre løsninger.

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

Jeg tror ikke man skal ha en slik strategi. Man bør ha en strategi basert på å løse fremtidige behov, og velge løsninger som støtter opp under dette.

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
Second release candidate of Debian Edu / Skolelinux based on Squeeze
27th February 2012

This weekend we wrapped up and published the second release candidate for Debian Edu / Skolelinux based on Squeeze. The full announcement did for some reason not make it the project announcement list, but is available from the Debian development announcement list. Check it out if you need a software solution for your school.

Tags: debian edu, english.
Skolelinux-intervju: Knut Yrvin
21st February 2012

I serien med intervjuer av folk i Skolelinux-miljøet, får vi nå høre fra nyvalgt leder i foreningen Fri programvare i Skolen og en av stifterne av Skolelinux-prosjektet.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Knut Yrvin her. Jobber i Nokia med å fremme rammeverket Qt og QML med tilhørende utviklerverktøy. Rollen er som leder av friprog-samfunn. I fjor var jeg med å legge om utviklingen av Qt til åpen forvaltning. På den måten kan alle som bidrar til Qt gjøre det på like vilkår. Nå er det over 1000 utviklere som bidrar til Qt. Med overgangen til åpen forvaltning er utviklingen av Qt mer åpen enn Linux-kjernen.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Jeg var en av initiativtagerne til Skolelinux i 2001. Skolene slet med både utstyr og Internett-tilgang. De klarte ikke å møte forventningene til data i skolen. Driften av PC-ene var uholdbar. Som regel hadde rektor pekt ut en ivrig lærer til å passe på PC-ene, gjerne naturfaglæreren. Mange lærere jobbet mye ubetalt overtid for å vedlikeholde 30-40 datamaskiner på hver sin skole. Med 300 elever og lærere som brukere, blir det fort mye mer arbeid enn de 4-8 timene de kunne bruke på PC-drift. Skolene hadde kun en femtedel av IT-budsjettet som ble brukt på PC-ene i rådhuset.

Vi erfarte at skolene hadde mye datautstyr som stod ubrukt. Skolene manglet penger til Microsoft-lisenser. Selv med solide skolerabatter, kostet Microsoft-lisensene gjerne like mye som PC-ene i seg selv over en periode på 5-6 år.

Viktigheten av språklig mangfold og pedagogiske programmer var også viktig for oss. Vi oversatte mange skoleaktuelle programmer til nynorsk, nordsamisk og bokmål. Dette lenge før andre tok denne oppgaven seriøst. Allerede etter ett år hadde vi etablert et helt arsenal av skoleaktuelle programmer på nynorsk, bokmål og nordsamisk. Vi spredde vår ide om språklig mangfold til de andre frie prosjekter internasjonalt. Resultatene ser vi i mange land. Det er de frie programmene som kommer på brukernes morsmål. Det er en av flere gode grunner til at fri programvare som LibreOffice, VLC, KDE og Firefox konkurrerer ut godseid programvare mange steder i verden.

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Fordelene er at Skolelinux tilbyr over 100 skoleaktuelle programmer på de norske språkene, uten ett øre i lisenskostnader. Systemet gir enormt lave driftskostnader med diskløse arbeidsstasjoner og bærbare med roaming. Skolelinux krever også mindre av maskinvaren.

Man kan fint kjøre systemet med 512 MB RAM på en bærbar PC sammen med en nettvideo i nettleseren og en presentasjon med LibreOffice. Konkurrerende system krever fort 2 GB RAM for å få til noe tilsvarende uten at det går ufattelig tregt. Skal man gjøre noe nyttig, krever konkurrentene til Linux mye større harddisk. Skoler har rapportert at de fort har fått 50% flere nye maskiner om de velger Linux. Dette i tillegg til de årlige besparelsene ved å unngå lisensbetaling til godseid programvare.

De lave driftskostnadene gjør at delstater i Europa har titusener av datamaskiner med Skolelinux i skolen. F.eks. er det under ti personer som drifter 70.000 PC-systemer i skolene i Extremadura i Spania. Det er slett ikke uvanlig at norske kommuner har 1500-2000 datamaskiner med Skolelinux. Driften tar ett årsverk. Slår flere kommuner seg sammen, kan de få samme sentraliserte stordriftsfordeler som delstater i Tyskland og Spania. Delstater som kjører Skolelinux på alle skolene. Bare noen få personer sentraldrifter titusenvis av PC-er.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Den største ulempen for Skolelinux er motstand mot Linux fra IT-sjefer i det offentlige. Dette er ledere som holder innlegg som snytt ut av evangelist-håndboka til Microsoft. Dette gjøres i ett arbeidsmarked med stor vekst i etterspørselen etter Linux-fagfolk i privat sektor. Etterspørselen har økt mer enn noe annet tekniske yrke siste tiåret. Åtte av ti ledere vil ansette Linux-fagfolk i 2012, rapporterer jobbnettstedet Dice.com på oppdrag av Linux Foundation.

Det mangler 16.000 ingeniører og IKT-fagfolk i Norge rapporterte arbeids- og velferdsetaten NAV. Linux-fagfolk kan velge svært interessante jobber med alt fra apps på ledende mobilsystem laget med Linux, sky- tjenester eller web-applikasjoner. De raskest voksende teknologiselskapene i verden er ute etter Linux-fagfolk. Det være seg Amazon, Google, Facebook og IBM for å nevne noen. Linux er kritisk for å sikre veksten i markedet. Det sier seg selv at lønningene og jobbmulighetene er bedre enn for andre tekniske yrker.

Skal man lage apps for mobilen, smart-TV-en eller underholdningssystemet i bilen eller på flyet, er det Linux som gjelder. Med en slik konkurranse om Linux-kompetansen, kombinert med motstanden mot Linux hos mange IT-sjefer i offentlig sektor, så hindrer kommunene rekruttering av flere Linux- fagfolk. Skolene blir tvunget til å velge dyrere og mindre komplette IT-system. De har blitt hengende igjen slik IT var på begynnelsen av 2000- tallet. Dette fordi IT-ledere ikke har tilpasset seg markedet det siste tiåret.

Når det er sagt, er Skolelinux svært enkelt å lære seg også for de som ikke kan. Det viser alle lærerne som drifter systemet for hundrevis og tusenvis av systemer. Det meste er på plass rett ut av boksen. I tillegg er det solid med dokumentasjon med god hjelp på nettet. Det er mange kommuner som har ansatt en lærer som først lærte Skolelinux på sin skole, for så å drifte alle PC-ene i kommunen med Skolelinux. Det kan fort være snakk om 1000-3000 datamaskiner på 10-15 skoler som sentraldriftes med en stilling. Står man ordentlig fast, kan man også kjøpe profesjonell hjelp fra selskap som støtter Skolelinux. Det er flere slike selskap i Norge og i utlandet.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Qt SDK, LibreOffice, Firefox, VLC og KDE-skrivebordet. Dette på et Debian-basert GNU/Linux-system. Jeg bruker også noen morsomme 3D-spill. Idag kan jeg velge mellom over 30.000 Linux-programmer. Det finnes ikke tid i livet å undersøke alle valgmulighetene. Derfor er det bra med Skolelinux i skolen, da utvalget av programmer er begrenset til hva som er aktuelt i skolefagene.

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

Vi må selge hele Skolelinux forhåndsinstallert på maskinvare i hele pakker med 50-100-1000 PC-klienter med servere. Dette kan selges til enkeltskoler eller hele kommuner. Pakken må inneholde tjenermaskiner, svært rimelige diskløse arbeidsstasjoner, nettbrett med Plasma Active, og bærbare med roaming. Alt er godt testet med Debian. I et slikt anbud er det mulig å legge til sentraliserte drifts- og støttetjenester.

Man bør også selge sky-tjenester som læreadministrative systemet Moodle og driftsovervåking. I tillegg så bør man slenge seg på med presentasjoner de gangene LibreOffice og andre friprog-produkter selges til kommuner.

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
First release candidate of Debian Edu / Skolelinux based on Squeeze
19th February 2012

One week delayed due to DVD build problems, we managed today to wrap up and publish the first release candidate for Debian Edu / Skolelinux based on Squeeze. The full announcement is available on the project announcement list. Check it out if you need a software solution for your school.

Tags: debian edu, english.
Skolelinux-intervju: Olav Dahlum
18th February 2012

I serien med intervjuer av folk i Skolelinux-miljøet, får vi nå høre fra et nyvalgt medlem i foreningen Fri programvare i Skolen.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Jeg heter Olav Dahlum, og er frilans oversetter, tester, prosjektleder og bruker av fri og åpen programvare som LibreOffice. Jeg er også et av styremedlemmene i FRISK.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Jeg kom i kontakt med prosjektet i 2009, da jeg ble ansatt i stiftelsen Åpne kontorprogram på norsk for å oversette og teste den norske utgaven av OpenOffice.org. Arbeidet har hele tiden vært koordinert sammen med Skolelinux, og mange av de samme menneskene er involvert, så på den måten ble jeg en del av den utvidede familien.

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Skolelinux handler i likhet med utdanningssektoren om å dele kunnskap med andre, og det er dette som er hovedstyrken til prosjektet. Selv om Skolelinux hovedsaklig er involvert i utvikling av programvare, er det også et sted der man kan utfolde seg uavhengig av bakgrunn og ferdigheter.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Liten utbredelse og manglende støtte fra leverandører som leverer pedagogisk programvare til skolebruk. Kunne kanskje hatt flere verktøy som letter administrasjonen ytterligere, slik at også mindre erfarne databrukere kan utføre lett vedlikehold og rutinejobber.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Jeg er nesten forpliktet til å si at jeg bruker LibreOffice... Jeg bruker forøvrig frie og åpne operativsystemer basert på operativsystemkjernen Linux, for tiden openSUSE 12,1 med KDE4. Men hvis jeg skal dra fram noen flere eksempler så er nok Mozilla Firefox og Thunderbird to av de jeg bruker mest. I tillegg er jeg en flittig bruker av OpenSSH, Irssi, Midnight Commander, Git, Subversion, Translation Toolkit og Super Maryo Chronicles (litt gøy skal man ha, og med to håndkontroller liggende er det ikke til å unngå).

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

Vi må få leverandører av pedagogisk programvare med på laget, men også utvikle vår egen tilpasset det norske markedet. Det er også mulig å involvere utdanningssektoren direkte i arbeidet, for eksempel gjennom studentprosjekter der elevene selv er med å utforme programvare direkte eller indirekte gjennom aktive bidrag. Dette gjør ikke bare samarbeidet tettere, men fokuset på standarder og friheten til å velge sin egen løsning vil kanskje stimulere interessen for framtidig deltakelse i bransjen. Vi som driver med fri og åpen programvare ønsker oss ikke rene konsumenter, men tenkende og selvstendige individer som kan være med å skape sin egen fremtid.

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
Automatic proxy configuration with Debian Edu / Skolelinux
13th February 2012

New in the Squeeze version of Debian Edu / Skolelinux is the ability for clients to automatically configure their proxy settings based on their environment. We want all systems on the client to use the WPAD based proxy definition fetched from http://wpad/wpad.dat, to allow sites to control the proxy setting from a central place and make sure clients do not have hard coded proxy settings. The schools can change the global proxy setting by editing tjener:/etc/debian-edu/www/wpad.dat and the change propagate to all Debian Edu clients in the network.

The problem is that some systems do not understand the WPAD system. In other words, how do one get from a WPAD file like this (this is a simple one, they can run arbitrary code):

function FindProxyForURL(url, host)
{
   if (!isResolvable(host) ||
       isPlainHostName(host) ||
       dnsDomainIs(host, ".intern"))
      return "DIRECT";
   else
      return "PROXY webcache:3128; DIRECT";
}

to a proxy setting in the process environment looking like this:

http_proxy=http://webcache:3128/
ftp_proxy=http://webcache:3128/

To do this conversion I developed a perl script that will execute the javascript fragment in the WPAD file and return the proxy that would be used for http://www.debian.org/, and insert this extracted proxy URL in /etc/environment and /etc/apt/apt.conf. The perl script wpad-extract work just fine in Squeeze, but in Wheezy the library it need to run the javascript code is no longer able to build because the C library it depended on is now a C++ library. I hope someone find a solution to that problem before Wheezy is frozen. An alternative would be for us to rewrite wpad-extract to use some other javascript library currently working in Wheezy, but no known alternative is known at the moment.

This automatic proxy system allow the roaming workstation (aka laptop) setup in Debian Edu/Squeeze to use the proxy when the laptop is connected to the backbone network in a Debian Edu setup, and to automatically use any proxy present and announced using the WPAD feature when it is connected to other networks. And if no proxy is announced, direct connections will be used instead.

Silently using a proxy announced on the network might be a privacy or security problem. But those controlling DHCP and DNS on a network could just as easily set up a transparent proxy, and force all HTTP and FTP connections to use a proxy anyway, so I consider that distinction to be academic. If you are afraid of using the wrong proxy, you should avoid connecting to the network in question in the first place. In Debian Edu, the proxy setup is updated using dhcp and ifupdown hooks, to make sure the configuration is updated every time the network setup changes.

The WPAD system is documented in a IETF draft and a Wikipedia page for those that want to learn more.

Tags: debian edu, english.
Skolelinux-intervju: Axel Bojer
7th February 2012

I serien med intervjuer av folk i Skolelinux-miljøet har jeg fått en av oversetterne som har vært med siden starten i tale.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Jeg heter Axel Bojer og er datalærer, tysklærer, oversetter med mere.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Tror jeg så en annonsering på nettet i slutten av 2001 og ville være med som oversetter. Jeg kom med på en utviklersamling og prosjektet var da helt i starten. Det var spennende å være med mens prosjektet vokste til og utviklet seg.

Jeg har «alltid» vært språkinteressert og hadde nettopp startet med Linux og tror jeg tenkte det passet å bidra. Var også glad for å få en Debian-distribusjon, og ville gjerne bruke den selv. Til å begynne med brukte jeg først Mandrake og så Debian. Og siden jeg oppdaget at det ikke var noen mulighet for å bruke den som enkeltstående i lang tid, så gikk jeg etterhvert over til Kubuntu

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Løsningen er forholdsvis lett å sette opp, gratis, fri programvare og gjør det mulig å gjenbruke eldre maskiner. Det fine med Debian er at det er stabilt og har en veldig stor mengde programmer. Jeg liker også apt. :-) Jeg liker også friheten ved Linux og muligheten til å delta og forme sin egen datahverdag.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Skolelinux er for lite kjent og for sent ute med å gi ut nye versjoner.

Da jeg selv i hovedsak bruker Kubuntu, så kan jeg egentlig ikke svare så detaljert rundt ulempene med Skolelinux. Hovedårsaken til at jeg bruker Kubuntu er nok at da vi begynte med det mener jeg det ikke var noen annen løsning. «Vandrende arbeidsstasjon» mener jeg ikke fantes da. Dessuten ville jeg ha siste versjon, da den KDE-versjonen som var i Skolelinux den gangen var en god del enklere (tror det var KDE 2) var dårligere i mine øyne enn versjon 3.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Jeg bruker blant annet Kubuntu, LibreOffice, Thunderbird, Firefox, Kate, Comix og Konsole. Og en hel haug andre ved behov :-)

Har oversatt Comix selv, men det er jo ikke skjedd noe med Comix siden 2009, så den er det nok bare jeg som har. Om andre vil ha den gir jeg den gjerne videre. Ser at noen har startet på MComix siden jeg så på så på dette sist, så nå er jeg igang med å teste og oversette den også.

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

Det viktigste er å forankre beslutningen i kollegiet og med de som er ansvarlige for å vedlikeholde og bruke datamaskinene. Flest mulig bør være med på å holde det (sosialt) vedlike, kjenne og støtte prinsippene. Som enkeltmannsprosjekt blir det lett veldig sårbart, særlig når (Skole)linux ennå i stor grad er en motkultur og ikke noe en stor nok andel av beslutningstakere, brukere osv kjenner til og bruker.

Jeg tror det viktigste er å fortsette å holde fri programvare godt, oppdatert, minimere antall feil, ha en god kontakt med brukerne og attraktivt og spennende programmer. Beholde alt som er bra og ha det tilgjengelig samtidig som man tilbyr det nyeste og rareste for de som vil ha det.

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
Saving power with Debian Edu / Skolelinux using shutdown-at-night
5th February 2012

Since the Lenny version of Debian Edu / Skolelinux, a feature to save power have been included. It is as simple as it is practical: Shut down unused clients at night, and turn them on again in the morning. This is done using the shutdown-at-night Debian package.

To enable this feature on a client, the machine need to be added to the netgroup shutdown-at-night-hosts. For Debian Edu, this is done in LDAP, and once this is in place, the machine in question will check every hour from 16:00 until 06:00 to see if the machine is unused, and shut it down if it is. If the hardware in question is supported by the nvram-wakeup package, the BIOS is told to turn the machine back on around 07:00 +- 10 minutes. If this isn't working, one can configure wake-on-lan to try to turn on the client. The wake-on-lan option is only documented and not enabled by default in Debian Edu.

It is important to not turn all machines on at once, as this can blow a fuse if several computers are connected to the same fuse like the common setup for a classroom. The nvram-wakeup method only work for machines with a functioning hardware/BIOS clock. I've seen old machines where the BIOS battery were dead and the hardware clock were starting from 0 (or was it 1990?) every boot. If you have one of those, you have to turn on the computer manually.

The shutdown-at-night package is completely self contained, and can also be used outside the Debian Edu environment. For those without a central LDAP server with netgroups, one can instead touch the file /etc/shutdown-at-night/shutdown-at-night to enable it. Perhaps you too can use it to save some power?

Tags: debian edu, english.
Third beta version of Debian Edu / Skolelinux based on Squeeze
4th February 2012

I am happy to announce that finally we managed today to wrap up and publish the third beta version of Debian Edu / Skolelinux based on Squeeze. If you want to test a LDAP backed Kerberos server with out of the box PXE configuration for running diskless machines and installing new machines, check it out. If you need a software solution for your school, check it out too. The full announcement is available on the project announcement list.

I am very happy to report these changes and improvements since beta2 (there are more, see announcement for full list):

The new main server seem to work so well that I am testing it as my private DNS/LDAP/Kerberos/PXE/LTSP server at home. I will use it look for issues we could fix to polish Debian Edu even further before the final Squeeze release is published.

Next weekend the project organise a developer gathering in Oslo. We will continue the work on the Squeeze version, and start initial planning for the Wheezy version. Perhaps I will see you there?

Tags: debian edu, english.
Handling non-free firmware in Debian Edu/Squeeze
27th January 2012

With some computer hardware, one need non-free firmware blobs. This is the sad fact of todays computers. In the next version of Debian Edu / Skolelinux based on Squeeze, we provide several scripts and modifications to make firmware blobs easier to handle. The common use case I run into is a laptop with a wireless network card requiring non-free firmware to work, but there are other use cases as well.

First and foremost, Debian Edu provide ISO images for DVD and CD with all firmware packages in the Debian sections main and non-free included, to ensure debian-installer find and can install all of them during installation. This take care firmware for network devices used by the installer when installing from from local media. But for example multimedia devices are not activated in the installer and are not taken care of by this.

For non-network devices, we provide the script /usr/share/debian-edu-config/tools/auto-addfirmware which search through the dmesg output for drivers requesting extra firmware. The firmware file name is looked up in the Contents-ARCH.gz file available in the package repository, and the packages providing the requested firmware file(s) is installed. I have proposed to do something similar in debian-installer (BTS report #655507), to allow PXE installs of Debian to handle firmware installation better. Run the script as root from the command line to fetch and install the needed firmware packages.

Debian Edu provide PXE installation of Debian out of the box, and because some machines need firmware to get their network cards working, the installation initrd some times need extra firmware included to be able to install at all. To fill the PXE installation initrd with extra firmware, the /usr/share/debian-edu-config/tools/pxe-addfirmware script is provided. Again, just run it as root on the command line to fill the PXE initrd with firmware packages.

Last, some LTSP clients might also need firmware to get their network cards working. For this, /usr/share/debian-edu-config/tools/ltsp-addfirmware is provided to update the LTSP initrd with firmware blobs. It is used the same way as the other firmware related tools.

At the moment, we do not run any of these during installation. We do not know if this is acceptable for the local administrator to use non-free software, and it is their choice.

We plan to release beta3 this weekend. You might want to give it a try.

Tags: debian edu, english.
Skjermbilder fra nordsamisk installasjon av Skolelinux/Squeeze
26th January 2012

For morro skyld har jeg gjennomført en nordsamisk installasjon for neste utgave av Skolelinux (Squeeze) og knipset skjermbilder av resultatet.

Som en kan se der er det noen oversettelser som mangler. Det hadde vært hyggelig hvis alle tekstene som vises i Skolelinux-installasjonen ble oversatt til nordsamisk, men for å få det til må noen som forstår språket melde seg til dyst. Det er mangel på nordsamiske oversettere av fri programvare. Hvis noen starter raskt, så bør en rekke å fullføre Wheezy-utgaven før den gis ut. :)

Se oversetterstatistikk for debian installer for detaljert status. Jeg har tipset epostlisten for samiskoversettelser, men det har vært veldig liten aktivitet der de siste årene.

Tags: debian edu, norsk.
Setting up a new school with Debian Edu/Squeeze
25th January 2012

The next version of Debian Edu / Skolelinux will include a new tool sitesummary2ldapdhcp, which can be used to quickly set up all the computers in a school without much manual labour. Here is a short summary on how to use it to set up a new school.

First, install a combined Main Server and Thin Client Server as the central server in the network. Next, PXE boot all the client machines as thin clients and wait 5 minutes after the last client booted to allow the clients to report their existence to the central server. When this is done, log on to the central server and run sitesummary2ldapdhcp -a in the konsole to use the collected information to generate system objects in LDAP. The output will look similar to this:

% sitesummary2ldapdhcp -a
info: Updating machine tjener.intern [10.0.2.2] id ether-00:01:02:03:04:05.
info: Create GOsa machine for auto-mac-00-01-02-03-04-06 [10.0.16.20] id ether-00:01:02:03:04:06.

Enter password if you want to activate these changes, and ^c to abort.

Connecting to LDAP as cn=admin,ou=ldap-access,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
enter password: *******
% 

After providing the LDAP administrative password (the same as the root password set during installation), the LDAP database will be populated with system objects for each PXE booted machine with automatically generated names. The final step to set up the school is then to log into GOsa, the web based user, group and system administration system to change system names, add systems to the correct host groups and finally enable DHCP and DNS for the systems. All clients that should be used as diskless workstations should be added to the workstation-hosts group. After this is done, all computers can be booted again via PXE and get their assigned names and group based configuration automatically.

We plan to release beta3 with the updated version of this feature enabled this weekend. You might want to give it a try.

Update 2012-01-28: When calling sitesummary2ldapdhcp to add new hosts, one need to add the option -a. I forgot to mention this in my original text, and have added it to the text now.

Tags: debian edu, english, sitesummary.
Skolelinux-intervju: Paul Reidar Løsnesløkken
18th January 2012

I serien med intervjuer av folk i Skolelinux-miljøet, har jeg nå lyktes med å få tak i en skolemann som ikke er aktiv med utviklingen, men likevel har vært med nesten siden starten av prosjektet. Jeg ønsker derfor velkommen til Paul Reidar Løsnesløkken, en mann med mange års erfaring i bruk av Skolelinux.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Jeg driftet tidligere IKT løsningen for skolene i Nord-Odal. I dag er jeg IKT-konsulent for hele kommunen og samarbeider med Hedmark-IKT for best mulig tjenester til kommunen. Jeg har bakgrunn som elektronikkreparatør og grunnskolelærer og har tatt en del fag innen IKT, i hovedsak driftsfag. IKT i Nord-Odal kommune blir i dag driftet av Hedmark IKT som er et samarbeid mellom Løten, Stange, Grue, Hamar, Kongsvinger og Nord-Odal. Jeg er fortsatt "IKT-personen" på skolene i kommunen og følger opp og gjør enkelte mindre endringer der.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Kommunen satset på Skolelinux i 2004. Jeg var ikke med i beslutningsprosessen den gang, men ble likevel med fra starten når dette ble levert.

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Fordelene med Skolelinux er rask oppstart, sentral drift av klientene, klienter som jobber raskt og effektivt, bedre funksjonalitet på eldre utstyr og en ganske god programpakke med fri programvare som følger med. Løsningen med halvtykke klienter gjør at prosessering skjer lokalt med alltid ferske maskiner.

Skolelinux kan fungere godt på gammelt utstyr, men det er klart at utstyr også blir for gammelt selv for Skolelinux. I forbindelese med at vi nylig fikk nye servere og ny installasjon kastet jeg ut ca 60 klienter som fortsatt var i drift etter at de var kjøpt godt brukt i 2004. Noe var rundt 15 år gammelt, men var fortsatt i bruk. Noen klaget på at det nå gikk veldig tregt på en del pedagogiske nettsider med flash o.l. Det er fullt forståelig.

Jeg fikk nylig et spørsmål fra ungdomsskolens rektor om jeg kunne legge inn FreeMind, et tankekartprogram , på skolens elev-Windowsmaskiner. Lærerne hadde vært på kurs og ville ta dette i bruk. Skolen har ca halvparten av elevmaskinene på bærbare Windowsmaskiner. Da kunne jeg fortelle at dette programmet allerede lå inne på den nye Skolelinuxløsningen som nettopp var satt i drift, klart til bruk.

Vi har de bærbare maskinene på ungdomsskolen i domene med Skolelinux. Dette fungerer også meget bra nå. Elevene får opp en midlertidig windowsprofil når de logger på. Denne profilen slettes etter at de logger av, noe som medfører rene profiler hver gang de starter opp en maskin. De må lagre i sin Skolelinprofil, noe som medfører at de får tak i sine filer uavhengig av om de starter en Windowsmaskin eller en Skolelinuxklient. Det er mye mindre trafikk i det trådløse nettet etter at ikke hele profiler blir lastet opp til de enkelte Windowsmaskinene og tilbake når man avslutter. Jeg vet ikke om dette er standardoppsett i Skolelinux, men slik er vårt oppsett nå.

Vi har i flere år satt opp vår løsning slik at skriverkøer slettes og skrivere startes hver natt. Hyggelig å høre at dette nå skal bli en standard i Skolelinuxløsningen. Dette har vært en god hjelp for oss.

Elevene er lite opptatt av om de jobber på en Skolelinux eller en Windowsmaskin bare de har de programmene de trenger og at det virker når det skal brukes. Vi kjører mest mulig de samme programmene på Windows som i Skolelinux, som f.eks Audacity og LibreOffice.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Lærere bruker hos oss Windows. Dette fordi de da selv har mer kontroll over sin maskin, kan bruke den overalt, og kan legge inn programmer selv når de trenger noe i forhold til kurs o.l de er på. Jeg tror lærernes selvstendighet her gjør dem tryggere på IKT-bruk generelt. Det at de av og til får opp advarsler og lignende gjør også at de må tenke igjennom og spørre om ting rundt datasikkerhet.

Det er en del programmer vi bruker som ikke finnes for Linux. Mest brukt er nok Photostory3 som brukes i mange sammenhenger, særlig på ungdomsskolen, bl.a. til å lage herbarier (plantesamling) . Dette finnes gratis for Windows, men er ikke fri programvare. Vi er opptatt av at programmer elevene bruker på skolen også kan brukes gratis hjemme. Det er også en del programmer som brukes til spesielle elever som bare går i Windows. Det er viktig med fokus på funksjoner og ikke på hvilket OS man bruker.

For oss er det kombinasjonen mellom Skolelinux og Windows som gir oss en god og hel løsning. Skolelinux er best der de er gode.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Selv er det LibreOffice jeg bruker til daglig. Jeg bruker selv en Windowsmaskin. Jeg har benyttet en del fri programvare i forbindelse med sjekking av trafikk i nettverk, slik som Wireshark, men dette er jo ikke aktuelt for skolene. Jeg er generelt glad i programmer som fungerer på både Linux og Windows og gjerne MAC.

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

Det er viktig at det benyttes programmer som elevene også kan ta i bruk hjemme. Det skal da være enkelt, lovlig og gratis for elevene. Da er jeg ikke lenger veldig opptatt av om det kalles "fri programvare". For skolene tror jeg "gratis" og "funksjonelt" er bedre begreper enn "fri" i forhold til programmer. De fleste skiller nok ikke mellom "fri" og "gratis". Det er nå svært mange elever som benytter OpenOffice eller LibreOffice som sin primære kontorpakke hjemme.

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
Changing the default Iceweasel start page in Debian Edu/Squeeze
10th January 2012

In the Squeeze version of Debian Edu / Skolelinux soon to be released, users of the system will get their default browser start page set from LDAP, allowing the system administrator to point all users to the school web page by updating one setting in LDAP. In addition to setting the default start page when a machine boots, users are shown the same page as a welcome page when they log in for the first time.

The LDAP object dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no have an attribute labeledURI with "http://www/ LDAP for Debian Edu/Skolelinux" as the default content. By changing this value to another URL, all users get to see the page behind this new URL.

An easy way to update it is by using the ldapvi tool. It can be called as "ldapvi -ZD '(cn=admin)'' to update LDAP with the new setting.

We have written the code to adjust the default start page and show the welcome page, and I wonder if there is an easier way to do this from within Iceweasel instead.

Tags: debian edu, english, web.
Second beta version of Debian Edu / Skolelinux based on Squeeze
7th January 2012

I am happy to announce that today we managed to wrap up and publish the second beta version of Debian Edu / Skolelinux. If you want to test a LDAP backed Kerberos server with out of the box PXE configuration for running diskless machines and installing new machines, check it out. If you need a software solution for your school, check it out too. The full announcement is available on the project announcement list.

Tags: debian edu, english.
Fixing an hanging debian installer for Debian Edu
3rd January 2012

During christmas, I have been working getting the next version of Debian Edu / Skolelinux ready for release. The initial problem I looked at was particularly interesting.

The installer would hang at the end when it was doing it post-installation configuration, and whatevery I did to try to find the cause and fix it always worked while I tested it, but never when I integrated it into the installer and ran the installation from scratch. I would try to restart processes, close file descriptors, remove or create files, and the installer would always unblock and wrap up its tasks.

Eventually the cause was found. The kernel was simply running out of entropy, causing the Kerberos setup to hang waiting for more. Pressing keys was adding entropy to the kernel, and thus all my tries to fix the problem worked not because what I was typing to fix it, but because I was typing.

The fix I implemented was to add a background process looking at the level of entropy in the kernel (by checking /proc/sys/kernel/random/entropy_avail), and if it was too small, the installer will flush the kernel file buffers and do 'find /' to generate some disk IO. Disk IO generate entropy in the kernel, and is one of the few things that can be initated from within the system to generate entropy.

The fix is in beta1 of the Debian Edu/Squeeze version, and we welcome more testers and developers. We plan to release beta2 this weekend.

Tags: debian edu, english.
Skolelinux-intervju: Peter Hansteen
11th December 2011

Etter en lang pause er det klart for neste mann ut i min serie med intervjuer av Skolelinux-relaterte personer. Denne gangen har jeg besøk av et avtroppende styremedlem i FRISK, og en mann som har vært aktiv i Linux-miljøet i Bergen siden 90-tallet.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Jeg heter Peter Hansteen, og jobber til daglig som seniorkonsulent i EDB ErgoGroup i Bergen. I praksis betyr det systemadministrasjon på Unix (primært Solaris, men en viss komponent av Linux). Men Solaris er for meg et relativt nytt bekjentskap, hovedplattformen min har generelt vært OpenBSD og til dels FreeBSD.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Jeg husker ikke helt alle detaljene mer ;) - men jeg tror det var gjennom news-gruppen no.it.os.unix.linux.diverse, efn-listen og etterhvert også BLUG-miljøet her i Bergen. Vi hadde et par Skolelinux-sentrerte BLUG-møter for noen år siden, og det har vært et par Skolelinux-utviklersamlinger her.

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Jeg bruker dessverre ikke Skolelinux daglig. Men slik jeg kjenner prosjektet har det vært i stand til å ta opp i seg det beste av fri programvare i mange kategorier, så fra et sysadmin-perspektiv ser det ut som en svært behagelig sak. For brukerne er det vel både en fordel og en ulempe at det ikke er Windows. Men vi håper at fordelene med et fritt system etterhvert vil bli åpenbare for både elever, lærekrefter og foreldre.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Vel, ulempen er vel først og fremst at andre aktører med mer kapitalmuskel har klart å etablere seg som det både lærere og foreldre føler seg trygge på, selv om det etter mitt hode ikke er noen grunn til å være spesielt trygg på de kommersielle alternativene.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Når jeg får bestemme helt selv, bruker jeg kun fri programvare. Da helst med vekt på ting som kjører greit på OpenBSD. Hjemme er det OpenBSD, Ubuntu eller FreeBSD vi bruker. På skrivebordet er det en avveining mellom Gnome, KDE eller hva-det-nå-heter som er standardvalget i Ubuntu, ellers er det de kjente tingene som LibreOffice, Emacs, mplayer. På server er det selvfølgelig Apache, for overvåking både OpenNMS og Nagios (det bare ble sånn, og forskjellige siter). Jeg skriver til tider om slikt jeg holder på med på http://bsdly.blogspot.com.

Men vi må nevne at selv vi har en Microsoft-ting som vi slår på når vi av en eller annen grunn må. Det betyr igjen vanligvis når en mobiltelefon eller en annen lukket elektronisk dings krever kontakt via en slik for å få oppdateringene sine.

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

Hadde vi hatt det rette svaret på det spørsmålet, så hadde vi gjerne hatt Skolelinux som førstevalg på alle skoler ;)

Men jeg tror vi må legge vekt på flere forskjellige ting. En helt sentral sak er å fokusere på fri programvare og åpne standarder som de demokratiske verdiene de faktisk er. Det har kanskje kommet litt for mye i bakgrunnen i forhold til strevet etter å lage det mest mulig 'brukervennlige' systemet. Det er en tung vei å gå, så det er forståelig at freenix-aktivister heller velger å skrive kode og annet som er mer lystbetont. Mer praktisk tror jeg vi må gjøre i alle fall to ting: For det første sørge for å fortsette med å levere det best mulige frie produktet, slik at det er lett å både komme i gang og holde systemene i daglig drift, og for det andre 2) spore opp mulige aktivister der de finnes, via lokale brukergrupper, sosiale medier eller annet og sørge for at de fortsetter å være aktive. Mer og mindre uformelle treff kan være nyttig i tillegg til de mer organiserte møtene med foredrag, konferanser og utviklersamlinger.

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
Skolelinux-intervju: Frode Jemtland
27th July 2011

Neste mann ut i min serie med intervjuer av Skolelinux-relaterte personer er en tidligere styreleder i FRISK som var med fra starten av Skolelinux-prosjektet.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Mitt navn er Frode Jemtland, og jeg jobber i Hedmark IKT, som er et driftsselskap for Grue, Hamar, Kongsvinger, Løten, Nord-Odal og Stange kommuner. Her er jeg leder for avdelingen Løsninger og Arkitektur. Vi har i hovedansvar for servere, infrastruktur og løsninger som helhet.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Jobbet i IBM fra 2000, og da spesielt med Linux. Dette var da et av de mest tydelige linux prosjektene i Norge, og her ønsket jeg å bidra. Var aktivt med i prosjektet i 4-5 år.

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Fordelene slik jeg ser det er den sentraliserte driftmodellen, og alle de vel gjennomtenkte løsningene som er inkludert i denne løsningen. Samtidig er det basert på en stabil, og godt kjent plattform. Dette vil si at man har en løsning som skal være mye tilgjengelig, og hvor det er relativt enkelt å få tak i personer som kan mye om den grunnleggende plattformen.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

De største utfordringene med en løsningen er at den er intensiv på f.eks nettverk. I seg selv ikke et problem for en enkelt skole, men skal løsningen kjøres i større skala, med sentraliserte servere, så gir dette noen utfordringer.

Utifra hva jeg har sett på større installasjoner så er det ikke så enkelt å skjønne, hva som bør gjøres for at den skal skaleres opp, og da ta godt vare på alle sider av dette, ikke bare mer server å fordele last/trykk, men hvordan også beholde robustheten og fleksibiliteten i løsningen.

En annen utfordring er at stadig flere produkter som skal brukes i skoleløsningen ikke er laget til å kunne brukes i en skolelinuxløsning. Det blir derfor fort mye skreddersøm i de forskjellige installasjonene, for å få diverse pedagogiske programmer, webløsninger, smartboards, m.m. til å fungere. Man er også en for liten kundebase til at leverandørene ønsker å gjøre noe med utfordringen. Problemet overlates til oss.

Det er også en kontinuerlig utfordring rundt problemet med å holde programvare på stabile versjoner, kontra å få ny funksjonalitet. Dette er jo en konflikt mellom oss som ønsker å drifte en stabil, og kostnadseffektiv løsning, mot sluttbrukerne som ønsker seg funksjoner det er vant med fra andre løsninger, eller som de må ha for at et eller annet nytt produkt skal fungere i løsningen. Dette er en utfordring også for andre plattformer.

En siste utfordring som ikke har noe med løsningen å gjøre, men med det omkringliggende miljøet denne skal kjøre i, er at de enhetene som skal drifte dataløsninger for kommuner og fylkeskommuner begynner å profesjonaliseres, og er da avhengig av å ha standard løsninger for å drifte store brukermasser. MS er selvsagt klar over dette, og har jo nå flere områder de begynner å bli veldig dominerende på. Den største, og mest problematiske er katalogtjenesten. Man får snart ikke tak i større løsninger som ikke krever en AD. Når man da har store enheter som drifter både kommunalt ansatte og skoler, så vil det være et stordriftargument å standardisere på en katalog tjeneste, og da har man ikke noe valg. Her er alle slike driftsenheter for små til å få gjort om på dette. Her burde konkurransemyndighetene kommet på banen. Men konkurransetilsynet i USA griper sjeldent (og ikke før det har gått veldig lang tid) inn i monopolsituasjoner så lenge monopolisten er et amerikansk firma, så da har vel ikke andre myndigheter så mye de skulle ha sagt....

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Privat kjører jeg Debian på alle mine datamaskiner. Det gjør jeg også på min jobbmaskin. Vi har også 15-20 linux servere av typene SuSE, Debian, Redhat, CentOS m.m. Jeg bruker derfor mye fri programvare. Av enkelt programmer kan sikkert masse nevnes. Hvis vi skal begrense oss til daglig, så må jeg si: OpenOffice, Firefox, Kontact, Kopete, Amarok, Gramps, Kate, ssh, bash, rsync, backuppc m.m.

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

Det er et godt spørsmål, som jeg har lurt på selv.

Argumentene som ofte har vært brukt om at ting koster mindre holder ikke mål når man ser på hva som faktisk koster penger. Det er de ansatte som er en kostnadsdriver. Det vil si at hvis man har et system som den ansatte kan, så vil en kostnad på dette systemet kunne forsvares ganske mye ved at den ansatte gjør dette raskere og effektivt. Også uten å måtte eventuelt leie inn folk.

Jeg syns det er viktigere å fokusere på prinsippet med å velge fri programvare, men det er også et felt hvor man fort møter lite forståelse blant de ansatte i skolen.

Her må nok strategien fortsette å være at de sentrale myndighetene må sende tydelige signaler for hva de ønsker at offentlige enheter skal gjøre. Det var mye positivt på gang ang. dette for et par år siden. Både med eNorge og eKommune planene, men dette syns jeg har stoppet opp. En del av dette kan jo kanskje være usikkerheten som etter hvert har blitt, når man har sett kompleksiteten i de prosjektene som har blitt igangsatt. Det har også blitt noe usikkerhet i markedet ref. Sun, Oracle, Novell, Microsoft m.m. Samtidig har jo også de proprietære programleverandørene sørget for å endre sine lisenser slik at man uansett ikke slipper unna kostnaden til deres produkter, selv om man skulle velge alternativer. Da er det økonomiske argumentet, som jeg nevnte tidligere, spilt ganske godt ut over sidelinjen.

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
Skolelinux-intervju: Marius Kotsbak
10th April 2011

Neste mann ut er Marius Kotsbak, styremedlem i FRISK og mangeårig bidragsyter i Skolelinux-prosjektet.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Jeg er en systemutvikler/kybernetiker og jobber med dette til daglig. På fritiden tester jeg ut/bruker mye fri programvare, og bidrar med testing og utvikling når jeg ser stort nok behov for det og jeg har noe å bidra med.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Hmm, det er lenge siden, så det er nesten så jeg ikke husker. Jeg hadde vel hørt om prosjektet i media før en gjeng i Trondheim startet opp SPIST, Skolelinux-prosjektet i Sør-Trøndelag, hvor vi hjalp noen skoler i nærområdet med å installere Skolelinux og finne brukt IT-utstyr til disse. Det var moro å gjøre noe praktisk for å spre Skolelinux, og å se hvor fort gjort det var å sette opp utrangerte klientmaskiner og få disse opp som tynnklienter på helt nye datasaler på skolene, kun med kostnaden til servere.

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Det er et system spesielt skreddersydd for drift av et stort antall klienter mot servere, og da spesielt i henhold til skolers behov. Det er enkelt og billig å installere og drifte, og det trenger ikke ny maskinvare for god ytelse.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Hardwarestøtten kunne vært bedre og i enda større grad installerbart rett ut av boksen. Distribusjonen har til tider hatt litt gammel programvare pga. at den følger Debian sine utgivelser. Kanskje man skulle vurdert en versjon basert på Ubuntu eller andre distribusjoner i tillegg?

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Oi, det er ikke lite. Her er det jeg kommer på i farta. Jeg bruker Linux og Ubuntu, og på Ubuntu programene Firefox, Thunderbird, Chromium, Pidgin, Digikam, OpenOffice, Wireshark, git og irssi. Telefonen min er en Android, og der bruker jeg programmene K-9 Mail, OI Shopping list, Shuffle, ZXing, OI Notepad og ADW Desktop. På jobb bruker jeg JBoss, Eclipse, uCLinux for Blackfin, RCF-CPP, Qt, Maven, og boost-bibliotekene for C++.

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

En bør fokusere på totalkostnader inkludert driftsbehov, fleksibilitet, åpenhet og ikke låsing til en leverandør framfor sparte lisenskostnader, samt programvarens kvalitet og fortrinn, og at den fritt kan brukes på et ubegrenset antall PC-er, også hjemme hos elevene. En bør også forbedre den fri programvaren ved testing, bugrapportering og kodebidrag om man kan, og ikke anbefale programvare uten at man har forsikret seg at den har tilstrekkelig kvalitet, ellers kan man lett oppnå det motsatte. Tror en bør selge inn konseptet til fylkes-/statsnivå, kanskje med bidrag til utviklingsarbeid fra disse som alle landets skoler kan få glede av.

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
Skolelinux-intervju: Odin Hetland Nøsen
28th March 2011

Mine bloggposter om Linux i skolene i Norge førte til at inspektør og ildsjel på Harestad skole tok kontakt og fortalte at de bruker Linux på sin skole, og lurte på om de kunne bidra til å gjøre fordelene kjent. Riktig nok bruker de ikke Skolelinux på denne skolen, men jeg synes dette er en god anledning til å gjøre flere fasetter rundt Linux-økosystemet kjent, og tok et lite intervju.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Mitt navn er Odin Hetland Nøsen og er en 70-modell. Jeg er bosatt i Stavanger og jobber nå på 9. året som undervisninginspektør på Harestad skole i Randaberg kommune (nabokommune til Stavanger).

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

I 2002 begynte daværende IKT-ansvarlige og jeg et arbeid på skolen med å gå over fra Win98 til... noe annet. Vi testet en rekke forskjellige løsninger, deriblant Skolelinux, men endte opp med RedHat. Skolelinux var den gang ikke modent for det vi ville ha. Jeg har siden fulgt jevnlig med på hva skolelinux holder på med, men har hele tiden vært bedre fornøyd med vår egen "standardiserte" løsning på RedHat/CentOS og Fedora. Vi snuser for tiden på Ubuntu som løsning på klientsiden.

I dag har vi på skolen vår en større linux-løsning med 400 klienter som kjører en blanding av LTSP (tynnklient) og DRBL (tykk klient uten harddisk) med en masse tjenere på serverrommet. Vi drifter hele sulamitten selv med webtjener, eposttjener, webmail, filtjenere, virtuelle tjenere osv. Og IT-ansvarlig har en 80% stilling som IT-ansvarlig - og så er han KoH-lærer i de resterende 20% :-)

Du kan få en ide om hva vi holder på med om du går inn på http://www.gnuskole.no/.

For å ta brodden av frykten for at ildsjeler gjør skolen sårbar om ildsjelene falle fra, har jeg forsikret kommunen og skolesjefen i Randaberg om at det finnes godt kommersielle tjenester vi kan benytte oss av - om det skulle bli nødvendig. Vi er tre stykker i kommunen som nå har god linux-kompetanse ift. å drifte et større system. IT-avdelingen i kommunen vil ikke ta på oss med ildtang - selv om vi nok har større IT-kompetanse mot linux enn det de selv har mot windows (de kjøper en masse konsulenttjenester fra ErgoGroup).

I kvantitet er Harestad og Grødem skole tilsammen et større IT-system enn resten av Randaberg kommune + Kvitsøy og Rennesøy, som kommunen også har driftsansvar for. Vi har som sagt rundt 800 maskiner, mens kommunen med sitt driftsansvar har ansvar for rundt 500 maskiner. Det er selvfølgelig litt forskjell i hvor kritiske tjenestene våre er, men det gir allikevel et litt rart bilde når IT-avdelingen overhode ikke er interessert i å snakke med oss om hvordan vi gjør ting :-)

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Fra linux-perspektivet (ikke bare Skolelinux) er det en fordel av systemet er basert på fri programvare - og dermed fritt i ordets mange betydninger. Det er alt vi trenger: stabilt, relativt enkelt å drifte (tross alt - et større windowssystem er ikke enkelt å holde live det heller), rimelig i innkjøp og drift, og sist, men ikke minst, det er moderne for sluttbruker! Linux, i sine mange varianter, ser nytt ut, fordi det hele tiden blir oppdatert. Derfor lever systemet opp til hvordan elever forventer at et moderne GUI skal være (i motsetning til WinXP :-).

Vi var veldig pragmatiske da vi begynte med linux i skolen. Det var billig, det fungerte og kunne bruke alle de gamle windows-maskinene som "nye" tynne klienter. I dag er vi mer bevisste fri programvare-tilhengere. Vi har oppdaget hva det er - og vi liker det!

En av de store fordelene med fri programvare er at vi kan installere tjenester vi ønsker å tilby brukerne våre - uten å måtte tenke på om vi har råd til lisensene (fordi det er ingen). Alt vi setter i produksjon er ut i fra brukernes behov og vår kapasitet til å drifte dem. Vi skreddersyr tjenestene etter behovet og dermed trenger vi ikke ende opp med å kjøpe en pakke der vi egentlig bare var interessert i en liten del av den.

Bruk av linux frigjør ikke økonomiske midler, fordi midlene til IKT i skole er for få i utgangspunktet - men vi får så mye mer igjen for dem når vi bruker en linux-løsning fremfor en windows-løsning. I praksis ser vi at vi måtte ut med det dobbelte på budsjettet vårt om vi skulle hatt en tilsvarende windows-løsning, som det vi i dag drifter med linux.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Ikke all pedagogisk programvare er tilgjengelig. Det er en del programvare i skolen som er laget med utviklerverktøy som bare virker i windows, f.eks. Drillpro, LingDys/LingWrite. Det er også "programmer" som bare virker om du har tilgang til Microsoft Office, f.eks. AskiRaski.

Vi sliter også litt med at video-codecer ikke alltid er like lett å få opp å gå på klientene. Det er alltid en eller annen videosnutt fra nrk.no som ikke er så samarbeidsvillig, uansett mediaplayer.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Alt :-) På skolen bruker vi det som finnes og som er nyttig. Det vi bruker mest er Firefox (jobber med Chrome, fordi det er mye raskere med Flash enn Firefox), OpenOffice (skal over til LibreOffice), GIMP osv. Standardpakken av sluttbrukerprogrammer.

På tjenernivå bruker vi OpenWebMail (skal over til Zimbra), Exim osv.

Personlig bruker jeg de fleste programmer over flere plattformer, men jeg har lagt meg til en vane å prioritere bruken av fri programvare også i Windows 7 og OSX.

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

Jeg er langt i fra sikker. For det første handler det mye om at IKT-avdelingen i kommunen ofte er de som styrer hva som er IKT på skolene - og de liker å bruke avtalene med Microsoft, som de garantert har fra før. Dessuten - Select 6-avtalen til skolene gjør Microsoft skvettbillig.

Vi la vekt på effektiv drift av systemet - og at vi kunne øke antall maskiner uten å måtte øke budsjett for utstyr eller personell særlig mye, enn om vi hadde gått for en Microsoft-løsning. I praksis ser vi at en ren linux-installasjon driftes til halve prisen av en Microsoft-løsning.

Vi har i praksis også sett at det lærerne (og elevene) liker er at vi tilbyr veldig mange tjenester som ikke er så vanlige i en Microsoft-løsning. Det er ikke så vanlig at elevene også har epost, hjemmekontor osv. Det har vi også brukt som et vellykket argument mot Microsoft.

Den beste måten er selvfølgelig at noen bare bestemmer det. Problemet er å få dem som har makt til å bestemme det til faktisk å gjøre det ;-)

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
Skolelinux-intervju: Astri Sletteng
27th February 2011

En dame som har bidratt lenge til fri programvare i skoleverket og i foreningen som organiserer skolelinux-utviklersamlinger, FRISK, er neste intervjuoffer. Det er en glede å her presentere en lærer fra Håkvik.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Jeg heter Astri Sletteng. Jeg er lærer og IKT veileder ved Håkvik skole i Narvik kommune. Min bakgrunn når det gjelder IKT: Av formell utdannelse har jeg lærerutdanning, Master i skoleledelse og IKT for lærere. Har jobba som IKT veileder siden 2002.

Det viktigste for meg som IKT veileder er å få fundamentert den 5. basisferdigheten, digital kompetanse ved skolen min på en god måte slik at hele skolesamfunnet tar i bruk IKT i alle fag. Dette arbeidet gjøres i nært samarbeid med skolens ledelse.

Min viktigste jobb som IKT veileder er å være motivator og pådriver i IKT arbeidet ved skolen.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Jobber i en kommune hvor vi satser på Fri programvare. I 2004 ble det gjort et politisk vedtak om at vi skulle innføre Skolelinux ved alle skolene i kommunen. Jeg har dermed en god del erfaring med Skolelinux, samt annen fri programvare som Open Office, Joomla, Moodle etc.

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Siden vi jobber med åpen kildekode kan vi få programmene og produktene tilpasset vår bruk. Det er jo heller ikke en ulempe at skolen kommer bedre ut økonomisk, men først og fremst er det viktig for oss at vi har digitale systemer som gjør at vi kan følge læreplanen i alle fag. Det syns jeg at vi kan gjøre gjennom Skolelinux.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Skolen er avhengige av å ha folk på IT avdelinga i kommunen som kan drive support, og være tilgjengelige når vi trenger hjelp. Det er en ulempe at ikke alle på denne avdelingen nødvendigvis er god på Linux.

Vi har også noen utfordringer når det kommer til spesielle programmer som enkelte elever er avhengige av ? og som ikke er plattform uavhengige. Her har vi i Friprog-verden, men også departement en jobb å gjøre.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Skolen vår bruker Skolelinux, Open Office, Iceweazel (Mozilla), VLC, Tux paint, Scribus, FreeMind, GIMP, digiKam, Ksnapshot, GeoGebra, Moodle (innført på alle klassetrinn + som et administrativt verktøy) og Joomla som hjemmeside.

Det er de jeg kommer på i farten. I tillegg har vi Smartboard installert på server, men det regnes vel ikke som fri programvare?

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

Først og fremst trenger skolen oppetider på sine datasystemer. Syns også at det at vi kan få tilpasset plattform og systemer til vår bruk er en god strategi å bruke.

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
Skolelinux-intervju: Rubén Romero y Cordero
16th February 2011

Styret i foreningen som organiserer skolelinux-utviklersamlinger, FRISK, er fullt av flinke folk. Denne gangen har jeg fått et ferskt styremedlem som kommer fra Ubuntu-miljøet i tale.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Rubén Romero y Cordero, 81-modell, deltidspappa (50%) for en jente på 6 år. Jobber i Oslo som Global Sales Executive hos Varnish Software og til daglig har jeg kontakt med kunder fra hele verden. Min forkjærlighet for fri programvare har gjort at jeg har nå flere års erfaring med salg av slike løsninger (bl.a. fra Redpill Linpro og Freecode) og mye innsikt og kunnskap om det globale IT-markedet. Ellers er jeg involvert i flere prosjekter bl.a. er jeg Ubuntu Community medlem, kontaktpersonen for Ubuntu Norge og driveren av SpreadUbuntu marketing prosjektet og nå fersk styremedlem i FRISK. Jeg har brukt GNU/Linux siden 1997.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Som Debian bruker siden slutten av 90-tallet var det uunngåelig å ikke komme bort i Skolelinux. Dette var vel i slutten av 2001 når jeg var student ved UiO. Flere år senere fikk jeg lastet og testet Venus (Skolelinux 1.0) på release dagen.

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Fri programvare bygges sten for sten i det åpne, slik at koden og prosessen den lages på kan gjennomskues av andre enn de som har laget det. Det er et vitenskapelig og gjennomsiktig måte å lage programvare på.

Skoler i vårt samfunn skal være steder hvor vitenskapelig kunnskap deles til alle. I dag har vi ikke et vitenskapelig tilnærming til hvordan programvaren som brukes på skolen lages. Skolelinux bringer inn at slik tilnærming i skoleverkets klasserom, siden operativsystemet er en åpent platform som gir skolene muligheten til å dra nytte av programvare som er laget av tusenvis av mennesker verden rundt og som gir elevene så vel som lærerne muligheten til å bruke, dele, forandre og forbedre OSet sitt uten begrensninger. I den forbindelsen representerer Skolelinux også konkrete resultater utfra samhandling på tvers av grenser.

Når det gjelder de tekniske fordelene av Skolelinux er jeg sikker på at andre enn meg har allerede beskrevet disse bedre enn det jeg kan. Men jeg kan likevel tilføye noe: Skolelinux som sådan er en community-drevet operativsystemplatform. Som i ethvert community-prosjekt har alle Skolelinux brukere muligheten til å påvirke retning av prosjektet og resultatet som gjenspeiles i programvaren. Dette kommer sjeldent frem og jeg mener at det er noe som burde fokuseres mer på.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

De største ulempene er:

Bedre og mer intuitive administrative verktøy kunne løst deler av problemet, men det er unektelig at ved bruk av Skolelinux må IT-personalet vite hva de gjør for å få ting gjort riktig, eller i det hele tatt. Med andre platformer er kompetansen enklere tilgjengelig og løsningene kan fungere på en tilfredstillende, om ikke riktig måte.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Har brukt GNU/Linux utelukkende sommitt skrivebord OS siden 2000. I dag bruker jeg Ubuntu og gjør det meste med friprogramvare verktøyene som er tilgjengelige der. Med over 20.000 programmer å velge mellom er dette mer enn nok for de fleste brukerne.

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

Opplysning og pragmatikk. Vi prøver å løse problemer med bruk av programvare. De fleste utfordringene skolene har på IKT-siden kan løses ved hjelp av friprogramvareverktøy i dag. Det som trenges er opplysning, kunnskap og kompetanse.

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
Skolelinux-intervju: Morten Amundsen
23rd January 2011

Denne gangen er det Tromsøkontoret til Friprog-senteret, og nyvalgt styremedlem i foreningen FRISK jeg har fått i tale i min intervjuserie med Skolelinux-folk.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Jeg heter Morten Amundsen og jobber i Friprog.no, men er for tiden leid ut til Bredbåndsfylket Troms der jeg jobber med ett prosjekt som heter "Skolefjøla" Vi ser på en åpen løsning som integrerer eksisterende lukkete løsninger sammen med fri programvare. Målet er å gi elever og lærere en plattform som de kan tilpasse utfra behov.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Skolelinux har jeg møtt ved flere anledninger opp gjennom åra, både gjennom entusiastiske skolelinuxbrukere og skeptiske "forståsegpåere" :-)

Jeg husker en leverandør av et stort OS for noen år siden mente at Skolelinux var kun for hackere og nerder og at ingen seriøse skoler kunne ta dette i bruk. Heldigvis er kunnskapen større nå og skikkelige "IT-folk" søker alltid å utvide sin kunnskap.

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Ja det er mange fordeler. Uavhengighet, stabilitet, åpenhet, standarder osv. Tror det er viktig at man ikke begrenser mulighetene på den plattformen elevene skal jobbe.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Det største hinderet er det vi opplever på andre områder rundt fri programvare, nemlig kunnskap. For mange er det trygt å velge det vi alltid har valgt. Fordi leverandørene rundt oss sitter på den kunnskapen og de vi støtter oss på har den samme. Hvis vi klarer å riste løs litt og glemme gamle kriger mellom operativsystemer og leverandører, men sette ned hva som er viktig og velge ut fra det, så hadde man kanskje kommet ut med litt andre resultat. Jeg tror IT-folk er konservative og velger tradisjonelt og det er synd.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Jeg bruker Ubuntu, Android, Jolicloud, Open Office, Zimbra, Picasa og Firefox samt en bråte med tjenester som er webbasert. Det eneste som er betalingslisens for er OSX. Ser at jeg jobber mer og mer i skyen og setter pris på alt jeg slipper egen klient til. Derfor er jeg veldig sjarmert av små kjappe operativsystemer som krever minimalt av maskinvaren.

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

Tror en blanding av krav og informasjon er veien å gå. Krav om sikkerhet, oppetid og åpne standarder. Informasjon om muligheter og alternativer. Her har leverandører, IT-avdelinger og pedagoger en vei å gå sammen. Det er til slutt LÆRING det dreier seg om, og da må man få mest mulig læring for pengene man har.

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
Skolelinux-intervju: Sturle Sunde
19th January 2011

Denne gang har jeg fått tak i en mangeårig unix-mann som etter mange år ved Universitetet i Oslo, der jeg først traff ham, har flyttet tilbake til vestlandet, og der bidratt til å revitalisere Skolelinux-oppsettet i Florø.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Sturle Sunde, ansvarleg for skulenettet i Flora kommune. Eg driv, vidareutviklar og er andrelinje brukarstøtte for datanettet ved skulane i Flora kommune. 10 skular og meir enn 700 maskiner med Linux, medrekna tynnklientar. Tidlegare jobba eg i mange år med unix-drift ved Universitetets senter for informasjonsteknologi ved Universitetet i Oslo.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Det er vanskeleg å svare konkret på. Eg har drive med Unix og Linux i alle år, og Skulelinux er eit godt kjent prosjekt i miljøet. Det var først i 2008, då eg tok til i min noverande jobb, at eg fekk bruk for Skulelinux for alvor.

Jobben min skulle vere drift av eit nytt skulenett i Flora kommune, levert av eit firma eg ikkje vil reklamere for. Systemet skulle vere ferdig levert i september året før. Dette viste seg å ta mykje lenger tid, og i haustferien 2008 hadde dei endå ikkje klart å få opp ei fungerande løysing. Situasjonen var prekær for den største skulen i kommunen med meir enn 500 elevar på ungdomssteget. Skulen hadde brukt Skulelinux før, og var tilfredse med det. No hadde dei vore utan fungerande datasystem i nesten eit år. Difor fekk eg opp ein ny tenar utanfor prosjektet og installerte Skulelinux på den. Etter litt justering av konfigurasjonen med god hjelp av #skolelinux på IRC, var den nye tenaren oppe og gjekk med både tynne og halv-tjukke klientar. Autentisering gjekk mot det nye systemet, slik at elevar og lærarar framleis har same brukarnamn og passord over alt. Dette berre fungerte, og vi bestemte oss for å erstatte delar av løysinga vi skulle få levert med Skulelinux.

Det høyrer med til historia at det nye systemet eg skulle drive frå januar 2008 endå ikkje er ferdig levert. Dei jobbar med saka, seier dei, og har von om å fullføre leveransen i løpet av 2011.

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Det er veldig mange. Eg skal ta nokre få.

Den viktigaste fordelen er at det igrunn berre er ei maskin å passe på, og det er tenaren. Med andre løysingar har ein gjerne programvare og anna som skal vedlikehaldast på kvar enkelt maskin. Med Skulelinux kan alle feil rettast og alle program oppgraderast på alle maskiner samstundes ved å gjere endringa som må til på tenaren. Eg kan sitje på kontoret og passe på alle tenarane i kommunen derifrå.

Skulelinux er lagt opp til å vere veldig lett å installere rett ut av boksen på ein heil skule av ein interessert lærar. Det er ofte ei god løysing for skulen. Å ha nokon til stades som kjenner systemet og kan forklare enkle ting eller løyse problem der og då, er uvurderleg viktig for ein stressa lærar fem minutt før det ringer inn.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

All den ferdige konfigurasjonen gjer det tungvint å tilpasse Skulelinux til eit system som skal fungere saman med mange andre installasjonar i eit felles datanett for skulane i ein kommune. Det heile er prekonfigurert for ein skule, og utviding til mange skular med eigne tenarar er ikkje berre enkelt.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Eg brukar mest alle små hjelpeprogram som føl med operativsystemet, samt scriptspråket perl. Elles er Firefox/Iceweasel, Gnome-terminal og ssh i kontinuerleg bruk. Av Linux-distribusjonar brukar eg både Debian, Ubuntu, SuSE og RedHat dagleg. Eg prøvar å finne det verktyet som passar best til kvar del av jobben.

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

Det er to målgrupper ein må sikte mot. Det eine er alle skulane som manglar eller har eit lite tilfredsstillande opplegg i dag, og ikkje har råd til å kjøpe noko nytt og blankpussa opplegg. Der er det om å gjere å gjere det enkelt for skulane å finne Skulelinux, og gjere det enkelt for dei å få hjelp til installasjon på skulen. Gjerne med lokale kontaktpersonar. Her er det dugnadsinnsats som må til, for desse skulane har ikkje råd til å betale for dette.

Den andre og kanskje viktigare målgruppa er dei meir eller mindre profesjonelle kundane. Alle store offentlege innkjøp, inkludert innkjøp av nytt datasystem for skular, må ut på offentleg anbod. Offentlege anbod er mykje meir lukka enn dei gjev inntrykk av, og både regelboka og boka med triks for å sminke tilbodet er tjukk. Det er vanskeleg å komme inn utan eit solid salsapparat i ryggen. Kanskje Skulelinux skulle prøve aktivt å få seg eit partnarskap med eit av dei store som gjerne vil sterkare inn på den offentlege IT-marknaden? Nokon som kjenner triksa og har krefter til å ta opp kampen mot både dårlege anbod og Rudolf Blostrupmoen IT AS. Leveranse til skulane i ein kommune er ein god måte å få ein fot inn døra som leverandør til ein lukrativ kommunemarknad som kjøper alle tenester. Ta kontakt med nokon som er passeleg store og ikkje er Microsoft-partnar, og fortell: «Vi har eit ferdig produkt som du kan selje. Nei vi skal ikkje ha for det. Du kan gjerne gjere kva du vil med det, berre vi får lov til å hjelpe deg. Målgruppa er alle kommunar, og det er noko dei vil ha. Det er eit godt produkt, brukt av mange og godt likt.»

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
Skolelinux-intervju: Embrik Kaslegard
16th January 2011

Neste ut i min intervjuserie med folk i Skolelinuxprosjektet er lærer, mangeårig bidragsyter på epostlistene og tidligere Skolelinux-administrator på en skole i Hemsedal.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Embrik Kaslegard, 1964-modell, fire barn (7-20 år). Begynte som lærer i 1989 - har hatt IKT-ansvar siden første året i jobb. Har jobbet som lærer/IKT-ansvarlig uavbrutt siden 1989. Jobbet med Skolelinux fra 2004 til 2010. Nå har jeg fått ny arbeidsplass og er 40% lærer og 60% IKT med Windows XP, Win2003 server og et regionalt IKT-regime som legger premissene og begrensingene for hva vi kan gjøre på skolen.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Jeg leste en artikkel om en dugnadsinstallasjon av Skolelinux på en skole på Jæren et sted. Tanken om dugnad og frihet appellerte til meg. Da vi skulle bygge ny skole var det en del vi måtte spare på, fordi vi beveget oss mot en kostnadssprekk. Kabling og investering i PC-er var en av tingene vi sparte på. Derfor kjøpe vi 72 pc-er for 390 pr stk. En filtjener og en applikasjonsserver.

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Fordelen er at så mye er satt opp fra starten. I tillegg er det tydelig at pakka er laga for skoleverket. Brukerne har egne skrivebord, tilgang på mange gode verktøyprogrammer. Vi slipper å tenke på virus. Brukerne har ikke mulighet til å ødelegge klientoppsett, men har gode muligheter til å endre eget oppsett. Dette tror jeg er inspirerende og kjekt for mange brukere. Mappestrukturen er ferdig og det er "enkelt" å designe lokale mappestrukturer via skeleton. Noen av oss i skoleverket mener skolen skal være en "mot-kultur". Da er Skolelinux et av valgene man kan ta. Et annet er å spise på indisk restaurant i stedet for Mc Donald's når vi er på bytur osv.. Ordene deling, frihet, dugnad osv er positive ord i skoleverket. Det er viktig at elevene blir bevisst dette.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Kompabiliteten er selvsagt et problem, selv om det er mindre nå enn før. For IKT-personer på skolene som skal drifte dette er det problematisk med kommandoer i terminalen. I tillegg er det alt for mange programmer i Skolelinux som ikke blir brukt. Jeg tror Skolelinux er tjent med å tone ned begrepet pedagogisk programvare. Slik jeg ser det finnes ikke denne kategorien programmer lengre slik de gjorde før, som frittsående programmer som installeres på en datamaskin eller på serveren. Det finnes en del spesialpedagogiske programmer, som Textpilot, LingDys, LingRight, AskiRaski, Ny i Norge osv. Men dette er programmer for enkelt-elever eller små grupper av elever. Det som bør være fokus er at alle undervisningsressurser som lages for nettet skal være nettleseruavhengig.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

OpenOffice bruker jeg til vanlig kontorarbeide. VLC bruker jeg som videoavspiller og av og til streaming av film. Gimp bruker jeg i undervisningen til bildemanipulering. Firefox og Chrome er mine favoritt-nettlesere. Firefox har lenge vært førstevalget mitt, nå bruker jeg mest Chrome. Opplever den som raskere og smidigere enn Firefox. Ubuntu bruker jeg som dualboot på jobb-maskinen min i tillegg til at alle PCer hjemme har en eller annen Ubuntu-distribusjon installert. Jeg bruker Clonezilla på Ubuntu 10.04 til kloning av datamaskiner på jobb. Det er selvsagt en haug andre frie programmer jeg bruker men jeg bruker dem ikke daglig. Jeg kan ramse opp: recordmydesktop, cinelerra, acidrip, soundjuicer, audacity, NX (no-machine), Kino, Rythmbox...

Hvilken strategi tror du er den rette å bruke for å få skoler til å ta i bruk fri programvare?

Jeg tror oppsøkende virksomhet er den rette strategien. Ressurspersoner gjør avtaler med rådmenn, skolesjefer, rektorer. Det er slik konkurrentene gjør det. Fokuset i slike samtaler bør være kost-nytte. Dersom personer med økonomisk ansvar ser at de kan få like godt tilbud til mindre utgifter, tror jeg det er mulighet til å få innpass. Dersom de også kan få konkrete tilbud på drift i slike samtaler, vil de kanskje bli litt mer interesserte i hvor mye penger som faktisk går til IKT i skolene. Det er også viktig at vi ikke firer for mye på krav til datamaskiner. Det er flott at Skolelinux går på "utrangert" utstyr, men dette bør bare presenteres som et alternativ. Skolelinux-installasjoner med utrangert utstyr er ikke å foretrekke dersom man kan unngå det. Det skaper ikke entusiasme hos brukerne (elever og lærere) når de bruker gamle datamaskiner som går tregt. Det er kjempefint med skoler som har kommet seg frem til Skolelinux og fri programvare av seg selv, men de lever på nåde. Slike valg må fundamenteres hos skoleeier.

Oppdatering 2011-01-16 22:40: Oppdatert svarene for de tre siste spørsmålene litt mer tekst fra Embrik.

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
Skolelinux-intervju: Viggo Fedreheim
12th January 2011

Jeg fortsetter min intervjuserie med folk i Skolelinuxprosjektet. Denne gang er det en av folkene som har vært med lenge og som har tatt i bruk Skolelinux på alle skolene i Narvik kommune som skal i ilden. Han er styremedlem i foreningen FRISK.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Mitt navn er Viggo Fedreheim, og jeg er pedagogisk og teknisk IKT-veileder for alle skoler i Narvik kommune. Jeg drifter totalt 17 servere basert på Skolelinux og Debian. Jeg holder i tillegg noen kurs mellom all driftingen. For tiden arbeider jeg med en sentral LDAP-tjener for alle skoleservere samt våre Moodle- og Joomla-installasjoner.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Gjennom en eller annen nettavis i 2001 der var det skrevet om Skolelinux. Artikkelen ga meg lyst til å prøve ut systemet.

Det startet i 2002 ved at jeg installerte en av de første utgavene av Skolelinux på en standard pc på Solneset skole i Tromsø. Denne var oppe fram til desember 2003 da jeg sluttet på den skolen og begynte i ny jobb i Narvik kommune.

I Narvik kommune var det i 2004 kun 2 servere på da totalt 15 skoler. Disse var Windows NT baserte. På disse to skolene var det lite med maskiner. Jobben med å få Narvik Kommune opp på akseptabelt nivå virket å være formidabel. Men med hjelp av gode kollegaer og leder skrev jeg en IKT plan for Narvik kommune som ble vedtatt av politikere i august 2004. I denne planen ble det bestemt at Narvik kommune skulle bruke Skolelinux. Her ble det også satt av midler til kabling av god infrastruktur på alle skoler samt innkjøp av nye datamaskiner. Så i dag har vi 17 servere hvorav 13 er på Skolelinux, med ca 1500 klienter basert på tynne, "halvtykke" og et stort antall bærbare pcer basert på Kubuntu.

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Lisenskostnader, driftkostnader og hardwarekrav som er mye lavere enn for andre systemer.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Pedagogiske programvare som ikke fungerer mot Linux. En Stoooor flaskehals og som gjør at Linux kanskje ikke blir valgt andre plasser.

Eksempler er Relemo, Lindys (lingit sine programmer), 5plus (matematikk). Disse er programmer som ikke lar seg kjøre i Linux.

Men det ser ut for at mange leverandører går over til mer nettbaserte programmer istedet for å installere lokalt. Dette med enkelte leverandører som ikke kan levere programmer til Linux er et lite problem og over tid tror jeg at denne barrieren er borte.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Kjører Kubuntu på laptoper, Debian squeeze på stasjonær kontorpc. Ut over dette arbeder jeg svært mye via konsoll mot andre servere.

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
Skolelinux-intervju: Arnt Ove Gregersen
9th January 2011

Inspirert av intervjurunden som Raphael Hertzog har startet med folk i Debianprosjektet, fikk jeg lyst til å gjøre det samme med folk i Skolelinuxprosjektet. Håpet er at de som til daglig bidrar til å fremme fri programvare i skoleverket og utvikler en linux-distribusjon spesiallaget for skolebruk kan bli bedre kjent og kanskje inspirere flere til å bidra til Skolelinux-prosjektet.

Først ut er nyvalgt leder i foreningen FRISK som organiserer utviklingen av Skolelinux-distribusjonen. FRISK trenger alltid flere medlemmer, så meld deg gjerne inn hvis du vil støtte oss.

Hvem er du, og hva driver du med til daglig?

Mitt navn er Arnt Ove Gregersen, jeg er 32 år og bor for tiden i Trondheim. Her jobber jeg som systemutvikler i et firma som heter Geomatikk IKT AS, hvor jeg er på et Vegmeldings-prosjekt for Statens Vegvesen. På fritiden er jeg styreleder i FRISK (Fri programvare i skolen) og bidrar til bl.a. Skolelinux-prosjektet når jeg får tid til det. Det er primært hjemmesiden til Skolelinux-prosjektet og Linux-veiviseren jeg har jobbet med her, men jeg har også gjort en del arbeid i forhold til FRISK sin hjemmeside.

Hvordan kom du i kontakt med Skolelinux-prosjektet?

Jeg var på en presentasjon av prosjektet i regi av Knut Yrvin på Gløshaugen i Trondheim, hvor jeg fattet stor interesse for prosjektet og ville hjelpe til så godt jeg kunne. Dette var vel i 2002 eller 2003.

Jeg hadde fra før hørt om prosjektet fra før og syntes tanken bak var ganske fin, men hadde ikke noen interesse av bruke min egen fritid på det selv.

I etterkant av presentasjonen startet jeg og noen andre fra Trondheim "Skolelinux-prosjektet i Sør-Trøndelag" . Hvor vi var med å bidra til at Trondheim kommune satte igang Selsbakk ungdomskole som et pilotprosjekt med Skolelinux, som egentlig var og er en stor suksess, men det virker ut som det ikke skjer noe mer på. I tillegg var vi med på dugnad på Brundalen videregående skole hvor vi installerte Skolelinux som såvidt jeg vet fortsatt kjører på Skolelinux.

Hva er fordelene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Det bygger på fri programvare og har lav kostnad i forhold til nytteverdien. Dette fordi det har forholdsvis lav inngangsum og bruker en arkitektur med sentral-drift som gir mange driftfordeler. I tillegg vil det kunne frigjøre kostnader for skolene slik at de kan bruke dem til å ansette f,eks flere lærere om det er ønskelig.

Hva er ulempene med Skolelinux slik du ser det?

Ikke all pedagogisk programvare er tilgjengelig der, som f.eks Drillpro om jeg ikke husker feil.

Hvilken fri programvare bruker du til daglig?

Til utvikling av Java-applikasjoner og Android bruker jeg Eclipse og Quanta til web-utvikling via php. For all bildebehandling bruker jeg GIMP og Blender til 3d-modellering . Dessverre har Blender en bratt læringskurve i starten, men det er absolutt verdt det.

Til musikk bruker jeg stort Rhytmbox. Firefox til surfing på nettet og Thunderbird og Evolution til e-post,

På database-siden bruker jeg PostgreSQL, Postgis og av og til Mysql.

Når jeg får tid til å spille bruker jeg som regel et strategi-spill som er basert på TA Spring-motoren (springrts.com), her er det et veldig bra utvalg av gratis spill som er av høy kvalitet. Veldig lett å bli hektet :)

Tags: debian edu, intervju, norsk.
Inspirerende fra en ukjent Skolelinux-skole
4th January 2011

Følgende inspirerende historie fant jeg i kommentarfeltet hos digi.no i forbindelse med en trist sak om hvordan skolen i Hemsedal har fått ødelagt sin Skolelinux-installasjon. Jeg har fikset endel åpenbare skrivefeil for lesbarhetens skyld.

Lignende situasjon i annen kommune, se bare her:
av Inspektør Siri (gjest)

Kommunen min har to omtrent jevnstore tettsteder, og en ungdomsskole i hvert av tettstedene. Den minste av disse har ca 300 elever og til denne sogner det 3 barneskoler. Den største har ca 350 elever og til denne sogner det 4 barneskoler.

  • Kommunen har i veldig lang tid forsømt IKT i skolen, og det har bare blitt gitt smuler i ny og ne. Det er kun den største av ungdomsskolene som har hatt en skikkelig datapark, og dette takket være en naturfaglærer som ble lei av å vente på kommunen. Det gjorde at vi bestemte oss for å ta ting i egne hender, og da vha skolelinux. En testinstallasjon med 10 gamle PCer ble gjort, og vi så raskt at dette var veldig lovende. Neste etappe var å gi alle lærere egen PC på arbeidsplassene sine (2004), og så sette opp 16 PCer på to datarom. Vi har kun basert oss på å kjøpe inn brukte maskiner, og aldri dyrere enn 1000 kr pr klient. For to år siden så hadde vi klienter i alle klasserom, og totalt hadde vi da rundt 250 stk. Rundt 40 klienter brukes av lærerne og kjører på en egen server. Elvene har resten, og kjører også en egen server. Servere har vi også kjøpt brukt, 2 år gamle servere koster 6-7000 kroner.
  • Skolen vår er et relativt gammelt bygg, men en meget dyktig vaktmester har sammen med IKT-ansvarlig/Naturfaglærer lagt kabler til alle rom. Gradvis har vi byttet ut billige svitsjer med mer solide saker som er mulig å fjernstyre.
  • Vi har i all hovedsak greid å få dette til over eget budsjett, men vi har også passet på å få penger når de andre skolene har fått bærbare PCer til lærere osv.
  • Vår IKT-ansvarlig har gjort (og gjør) en fenomenal jobb, og vi har en maskinpark som de andre av kommunens skoler bare kan drømme om.

Så skjer det som ofte skjer. Det kommer en eller annen selger/blåruss og skal fikse ALT. I vårt tilfelle betyr dette også sentralisering av drift. Den ny-ansatte på kommunens IT-avdelingen skal også ha jobb, og ser for seg å ta over skoledriften. Kommunen kjøper inn eksterne driftstjenester, og nekter i samme slengen å ta hensyn til skolen vår. Dette til tross for at vi alene har like mange datamaskiner som de andre til sammen.

  • Det blir krevd at vi skal innlemmes i de kommunale systemet, og det er VI som får ansvar for at dette kommer på plass. Og det er her de horrible tingene begynner å skje.
  • Det settes opp en lukket Exchange server som gjør av vi ikke kan hente epost for våre ansatte. Og det kreves at vi finner løsning på dette.
  • Det velges sak arkivsystem som vi pålegges å bruke, noe som gjør at vi må bruke en terminalløsning mot kommunal server. Ikke i seg selv et problem i følge IKT-ansvarlig hos oss. Men kommunens IT-avd nektet faktisk å åpne de porter OSV som vi måtte bruke.
  • Vi blir pålagt å flytte på innsiden av det kommunale nettverket. Dette gjorde at vi mistet hjemmekontor for lærere og elever. Å få åpnet porter i kommunal brannmur var ikke aktuelt. Mulighet for fjerndrift ble også vekk i samme slengen.
  • Vår LMS Moodle er ikke mulig å nå for elevene og lærerne.

Den andre ungdomsskolen i kommunen begynner så å kreve at de skal få bedre datatetthet, og komme opp på et nivå som ligner det vi har. De ser at vi kan avholde eksamen hvor alle 10. klassingene får sitte ved hver sin PC. Og de har fått tilbakemelding (klager) fra VGS om manglende datakompetanse på elevene som kommer fra dem. Dette fører videre til at kommunen endelig innser at de må ta grep.

Grepet betyr sentralisering, og farvel til vår plattform får vi høre. Det blir gjort en rekke bestemmelser og vedtak som vi ikke får være en del av. Det blir helt klart at vi må redusere antall maskiner, og det skal satses på bærbare maskiner. Siden vi ikke har fått tatt del i prosessene som angår oss, så bruker vi fagforening. Vi har ikke blitt hørt i forbindelse med endringer som er betydelig for vår hverdag, og greier å stoppe omlegging. I tillegg så har vi et politisk vedtak i kommunen på at vi skal kjøre Linux på elevnett, og dette vedtaket kan ikke administrasjonen i kommunene helt uten videre tilsidesette.

I sum har dette gjort at vi har fått jobbe videre i fred. Og en del runder i kommunens kontrollutvalg har gjort det tydelig at vi har blitt systematisk motarbeidet.

I dag har de andre skolene fått sine bærbare maskiner til elever og lærere, men etter 2 år med innkjøring er det fremdeles problemer her.

  • Ungdomsskolen med windows kan ikke kjøre eksamen med sine bærbare, det er for mye arbeid å renske disse for innhold slik at juks ikke er mulig.
  • Utskrift er et mareritt, etter sigende pga at utskrift først sendes til sentral server, og så sendes ut til rett skriver. I snitt så tar det 7-8 minutter før utskrift starter på enkelte av skolene.
  • Trådløst skaper store problemer, og det er i perioder helt umulig å komme seg på nett. Og lagring på felles server er bare å glemme i perioder.

Vi har slitt mye, kranglet og sloss. Ikke med tekniske problemer, men med omgivelsene rundt som vil oss til livs. Men det har vært verdt hver dråpe med svette, og timer med irritasjon. Men vi har begynt å få rutine her nå.

  • Vi har fremdeles et system som vi styrer helt selv.
  • Vi har vist at argumentet med at vår IKT-ansvarlig kan finne seg annen jobb ikke holder mål. Vi har kjøpt driftskonto hos et firma i tilfelle krise, og vi har kjørt opplæring på flere av de yngre lærerne.
  • Vi har til enhver tid en lærling IKT driftsfag, og velger selvsagt ut dem som satser på Linux. Vi har nå begynt å få tilbake av våre tidligere elever som vil til oss nettopp fordi vi har Linux.
  • Vi har vist at vi greier å opprettholde en dobbelt så stor datapark som naboskolen, og det til en billigere penge.
  • Vi har datastøtte og support på huset, ALLTID tilgjengelig. De andre skolene må vente flere dager hvis det ikke er noe kritisk.
  • Vår IKT-ansvarlig har 50% stilling som lærer og 50% som IKT-ansvarlig.
  • Vi har en lærer på hvert trinn som har 3 timer i uka til å drive support/støtte til de andre lærerne.
  • Vi opplever at de yngste lærerne ved den andre ungdomsskolen ønsker seg over til oss.

Vi skal i løpet av året starte prosess med å planlegge ny skole, og vi har fått gjennomslag for at jeg (inspektør) og IKT-ansvarlig skal ha det fulle og hele ansvar for IKT/Infrastruktur. Begrunnelsen vår som ble avgjørende her, var at IT-avd i kommunen ikke kan noe om data i skolen.

Beklager hvis dette ble litt usammenhengende, men det ble tastet i fei, og jeg har ikke lest gjennom

Det kom raskt et lite svar:

SV: Lignende situasjon i annen kommune, se bare her:
av captain_obvious

Inspirerende å lese. Har dere gjort noe for å fortelle denne historien videre?

Hadde vært svært interessant om dere tok kontakt med dokument 2 eller lignende for å fortelle hvordan det egentlig står til med IT-satsningen i kommune-Norge. Om ikke annet kan du begynner med å raffinere innlegget ditt og få en gjesteartikkel på digi.no

Og deretter en lengre oppfølging.

SV: Lignende situasjon i annen kommune, se bare her:
av Inspektør Siri (gjest)

Joda, vi har lekt med tanken, og vi har t.o.m skrevet flere lengre leserinnlegg myntet på aviser. Disse er ikke sendt til aviser, men brukt internt i forbindelse med møter med kommune. Vår IKT-ansvarlig har også truet med å si opp jobben sin hvis det ikke ble tatt hensyn i større grad enn hva som har vært tilfelle. VI kan også dokumentere flere brudd på anbudsregler, og vi kjenner til at relativt store IT-leverandører som ikke har fått tatt del i disse anbudene, rett og slett ikke tør melde fra av redsel for å få et dårlig rykte.

Alt ser ut til å roe seg ned, og vi har fått opp øynene på politikerne. I sum gjør dette at vi ikke ønsker for mye publisitet nå, det vil bare rote til igjen.

Jeg glemte å nevne at vi nå nesten ikke bruker tid på å drifte systemet vårt, noe som gjør at det aller meste av tid blir brukt til å støtte lærerne og elevene. F.eks så bruker vår IKT-ansvarlig den første timen på jobb, 0730-0830 kun til å gå ute på arbeidsplassene til læreren. Dette for å kunne svare på små og store problem, gi tips og råd, eller bare for å plukke opp hva som er behovet ute i undervisningsarealene. Det er dessverre ikke slik at alle lærerne har nok digital kompetanse til å kunne formulere alle spørsmålene de har, men ved å kunne få vise eller lufte tanker med IKT-ansvarlig så er det utrolig hva som kommer fram.

  • Jeg ser at mange bruker økonomi som argument i forhold til å bruke SkoleLinux, og jeg skal ikke legge skjul på at det var dette som i utgangspunktet var årsaken til vårt valg. Men diskusjonene og kampen med kommunens IT-avdeling har gjort at vi har fått et noe annet fokus. Fordelene med drift og stabilitet, gjør at vi ville ha valgt samme løsning selv om den var dyrere. At vi slipper langt billigere unna, som følge av 0,- lisenskostnader og lave maskinvarekostnader, er bare en bonus.
  • Etter å ha kranglet oss til å få skikkelig oversikt over hva de andre skolene i kommunen bruker på IT, så har vi fått gehør for å få samme midler til innkjøp. Dette har gjort at vi nå kan kjøpe inn utstyr som de andre skolene bare kan se langt etter. Vi har nettopp kjøpt inn 3 videokamera i semiproff-klassen for å kunne lage film, samt sende live fra skoleteater/konserter. Vi har kjøpt inn digitale kompaktkamera til alle klassene. Vi har et team av lærere som skal i gang med å teste ut tablets på svake elever. Håpet et at teknologien kan være med på å gi noen av elevene litt mer motivasjon. Vi har kjøpt inn et halvt klassesett med pulsklokker, noe som har vist seg å være overraskende inspirerende for en del av elevene. Vi har også oss på fag på en høyskole litt lengre sør for oss, slik at 3 av oss nå skal ta faget "Linux tjenestedrift". Som inspektør og en del av skolens administrasjon er det veldig praktisk å kunne trå til hvis det kniper. Men IKT-ansvarlig har vært UTROLIG flink til å lage rene smørbrødlister for hvordan de mest vanlige driftsproblem løses, så det er lett for flere av oss å ta del i den daglige driften. Vi har svært stor nytte av lærling (som også hjelper to av naboskolene), men det er nesten blitt slik at det er om å gjøre å komme til først for å få løse problem. Det å få fingrene på problem og utfordringer er den aller beste læremester.

Når vi nå tar til med planlegging av ny skole, så vil det være med tanke på at det skal være mulig med datautstyr på alle plasser. Vi kommer i all hovedsak til å legge kabel til alle tenkelige og utenkelige plasser. WiFi koster tilnærmet NULL å sette opp i ettertid.

Vi har ikke vært noe flink til å bidra til SkoleLinux-prosjektet, vi har rett og slett vært for opptatt med vår egen kamp. Vi har hentet mye inspirasjon fra diskusjoner som har gått i det miljøet, og vi håper at vi nå framover kan få tid til å bidra. Vi er i ferd med å bytte ut en av serverne våre, og da vil denne trolig bli satt opp som testserver for neste versjon av Skolelinux. På den måten vil vi i alle fall kunne gi tilbakemeldinger og rapportere feil. I tillegg så vil det kanskje gi oss noen nye utfordringer, for som lærlingen vår sier: "Skolelinux er noe herk, det skjer jo ikke noe galt og hvordan skal jeg da lære?"

Det er veldig hyggelig å høre at Skolelinux fungerer så bra i skoleverdagen etter å ha jobbet med det i 10 år.

Tags: debian edu, norsk.
How to test if a laptop is working with Linux
22nd December 2010

The last few days I have spent at work here at the University of Oslo testing if the new batch of computers will work with Linux. Every year for the last few years the university have organised shared bid of a few thousand computers, and this year HP won the bid. Two different desktops and five different laptops are on the list this year. We in the UNIX group want to know which one of these computers work well with RHEL and Ubuntu, the two Linux distributions we currently handle at the university.

My test method is simple, and I share it here to get feedback and perhaps inspire others to test hardware as well. To test, I PXE install the OS version of choice, and log in as my normal user and run a few applications and plug in selected pieces of hardware. When something fail, I make a note about this in the test matrix and move on. If I have some spare time I try to report the bug to the OS vendor, but as I only have the machines for a short time, I rarely have the time to do this for all the problems I find.

Anyway, to get to the point of this post. Here is the simple tests I perform on a new model.

By now I suspect you are really curious what the test results are for the HP machines I am testing. I'm not done yet, so I will report the test results later. For now I can report that HP 8100 Elite work fine, and hibernation fail with HP EliteBook 8440p on Ubuntu Lucid, and audio fail on RHEL6. Ubuntu Maverik worked with 8440p. As you can see, I have most machines left to test. One interesting observation is that Ubuntu Lucid has almost twice the frame rate than RHEL6 with glxgears. No idea why.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english.
Debian Edu development gathering and General Assembly for FRiSK
29th November 2010

On friday, the first Debian Edu / Skolelinux development gathering in a long time take place here in Oslo, Norway. I really look forward to seeing all the good people working on the Squeeze release. The gathering is open for everyone interested in learning more about Debian Edu / Skolelinux.

On Saturday, the Norwegian member organization taking care of organizing these development gatherings, Fri Programvare i Skolen, will hold its General Assembly for 2010. Membership is open for all, and currently there are 388 people registered as members. Last year 32 members cast their vote in the memberdb based election system. I hope more people find time to vote this year.

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug.
Why isn't Debian Edu using VLC?
27th November 2010

In the latest issue of Linux Journal, the readers choices were presented, and the winner among the multimedia player were VLC. Personally, I like VLC, and it is my player of choice when I first try to play a video file or stream. Only if VLC fail will I drag out gmplayer to see if it can do better. The reason is mostly the failure model and trust. When VLC fail, it normally pop up a error message reporting the problem. When mplayer fail, it normally segfault or just hangs. The latter failure mode drain my trust in the program.

But even if VLC is my player of choice, we have choosen to use mplayer in Debian Edu/Skolelinux. The reason is simple. We need a good browser plugin to play web videos seamlessly, and the VLC browser plugin is not very good. For example, it lack in-line control buttons, so there is no way for the user to pause the video. Also, when I last tested the browser plugins available in Debian, the VLC plugin failed on several video pages where mplayer based plugins worked. If the browser plugin for VLC was as good as the gecko-mediaplayer package (which uses mplayer), we would switch.

While VLC is a good player, its user interface is slightly annoying. The most annoying feature is its inconsistent use of keyboard shortcuts. When the player is in full screen mode, its shortcuts are different from when it is playing the video in a window. For example, space only work as pause when in full screen mode. I wish it had consisten shortcuts and that space also would work when in window mode. Another nice shortcut in gmplayer is [enter] to restart the current video. It is very nice when playing short videos from the web and want to restart it when new people arrive to have a look at what is going on.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, multimedia, video, web.
Lenny->Squeeze upgrades of the Gnome and KDE desktop, now with apt-get autoremove
22nd November 2010

Michael Biebl suggested to me on IRC, that I changed my automated upgrade testing of the Lenny Gnome and KDE Desktop to do apt-get autoremove when using apt-get. This seem like a very good idea, so I adjusted by test scripts and can now present the updated result from today:

This is for Gnome:

Installed using apt-get, missing with aptitude

apache2.2-bin aptdaemon baobab binfmt-support browser-plugin-gnash cheese-common cli-common cups-pk-helper dmz-cursor-theme empathy empathy-common freedesktop-sound-theme freeglut3 gconf-defaults-service gdm-themes gedit-plugins geoclue geoclue-hostip geoclue-localnet geoclue-manual geoclue-yahoo gnash gnash-common gnome gnome-backgrounds gnome-cards-data gnome-codec-install gnome-core gnome-desktop-environment gnome-disk-utility gnome-screenshot gnome-search-tool gnome-session-canberra gnome-system-log gnome-themes-extras gnome-themes-more gnome-user-share gstreamer0.10-fluendo-mp3 gstreamer0.10-tools gtk2-engines gtk2-engines-pixbuf gtk2-engines-smooth hamster-applet libapache2-mod-dnssd libapr1 libaprutil1 libaprutil1-dbd-sqlite3 libaprutil1-ldap libart2.0-cil libboost-date-time1.42.0 libboost-python1.42.0 libboost-thread1.42.0 libchamplain-0.4-0 libchamplain-gtk-0.4-0 libcheese-gtk18 libclutter-gtk-0.10-0 libcryptui0 libdiscid0 libelf1 libepc-1.0-2 libepc-common libepc-ui-1.0-2 libfreerdp-plugins-standard libfreerdp0 libgconf2.0-cil libgdata-common libgdata7 libgdu-gtk0 libgee2 libgeoclue0 libgexiv2-0 libgif4 libglade2.0-cil libglib2.0-cil libgmime2.4-cil libgnome-vfs2.0-cil libgnome2.24-cil libgnomepanel2.24-cil libgpod-common libgpod4 libgtk2.0-cil libgtkglext1 libgtksourceview2.0-common libmono-addins-gui0.2-cil libmono-addins0.2-cil libmono-cairo2.0-cil libmono-corlib2.0-cil libmono-i18n-west2.0-cil libmono-posix2.0-cil libmono-security2.0-cil libmono-sharpzip2.84-cil libmono-system2.0-cil libmtp8 libmusicbrainz3-6 libndesk-dbus-glib1.0-cil libndesk-dbus1.0-cil libopal3.6.8 libpolkit-gtk-1-0 libpt2.6.7 libpython2.6 librpm1 librpmio1 libsdl1.2debian libsrtp0 libssh-4 libtelepathy-farsight0 libtelepathy-glib0 libtidy-0.99-0 media-player-info mesa-utils mono-2.0-gac mono-gac mono-runtime nautilus-sendto nautilus-sendto-empathy p7zip-full pkg-config python-aptdaemon python-aptdaemon-gtk python-axiom python-beautifulsoup python-bugbuddy python-clientform python-coherence python-configobj python-crypto python-cupshelpers python-elementtree python-epsilon python-evolution python-feedparser python-gdata python-gdbm python-gst0.10 python-gtkglext1 python-gtksourceview2 python-httplib2 python-louie python-mako python-markupsafe python-mechanize python-nevow python-notify python-opengl python-openssl python-pam python-pkg-resources python-pyasn1 python-pysqlite2 python-rdflib python-serial python-tagpy python-twisted-bin python-twisted-conch python-twisted-core python-twisted-web python-utidylib python-webkit python-xdg python-zope.interface remmina remmina-plugin-data remmina-plugin-rdp remmina-plugin-vnc rhythmbox-plugin-cdrecorder rhythmbox-plugins rpm-common rpm2cpio seahorse-plugins shotwell software-center system-config-printer-udev telepathy-gabble telepathy-mission-control-5 telepathy-salut tomboy totem totem-coherence totem-mozilla totem-plugins transmission-common xdg-user-dirs xdg-user-dirs-gtk xserver-xephyr

Installed using apt-get, removed with aptitude

cheese ekiga eog epiphany-extensions evolution-exchange fast-user-switch-applet file-roller gcalctool gconf-editor gdm gedit gedit-common gnome-games gnome-games-data gnome-nettool gnome-system-tools gnome-themes gnuchess gucharmap guile-1.8-libs libavahi-ui0 libdmx1 libgalago3 libgtk-vnc-1.0-0 libgtksourceview2.0-0 liblircclient0 libsdl1.2debian-alsa libspeexdsp1 libsvga1 rhythmbox seahorse sound-juicer system-config-printer totem-common transmission-gtk vinagre vino

Installed using aptitude, missing with apt-get

gstreamer0.10-gnomevfs

Installed using aptitude, removed with apt-get

[nothing]

This is for KDE:

Installed using apt-get, missing with aptitude

ksmserver

Installed using apt-get, removed with aptitude

kwin network-manager-kde

Installed using aptitude, missing with apt-get

arts dolphin freespacenotifier google-gadgets-gst google-gadgets-xul kappfinder kcalc kcharselect kde-core kde-plasma-desktop kde-standard kde-window-manager kdeartwork kdeartwork-emoticons kdeartwork-style kdeartwork-theme-icon kdebase kdebase-apps kdebase-workspace kdebase-workspace-bin kdebase-workspace-data kdeeject kdelibs kdeplasma-addons kdeutils kdewallpapers kdf kfloppy kgpg khelpcenter4 kinfocenter konq-plugins-l10n konqueror-nsplugins kscreensaver kscreensaver-xsavers ktimer kwrite libgle3 libkde4-ruby1.8 libkonq5 libkonq5-templates libnetpbm10 libplasma-ruby libplasma-ruby1.8 libqt4-ruby1.8 marble-data marble-plugins netpbm nuvola-icon-theme plasma-dataengines-workspace plasma-desktop plasma-desktopthemes-artwork plasma-runners-addons plasma-scriptengine-googlegadgets plasma-scriptengine-python plasma-scriptengine-qedje plasma-scriptengine-ruby plasma-scriptengine-webkit plasma-scriptengines plasma-wallpapers-addons plasma-widget-folderview plasma-widget-networkmanagement ruby sweeper update-notifier-kde xscreensaver-data-extra xscreensaver-gl xscreensaver-gl-extra xscreensaver-screensaver-bsod

Installed using aptitude, removed with apt-get

ark google-gadgets-common google-gadgets-qt htdig kate kdebase-bin kdebase-data kdepasswd kfind klipper konq-plugins konqueror ksysguard ksysguardd libarchive1 libcln6 libeet1 libeina-svn-06 libggadget-1.0-0b libggadget-qt-1.0-0b libgps19 libkdecorations4 libkephal4 libkonq4 libkonqsidebarplugin4a libkscreensaver5 libksgrd4 libksignalplotter4 libkunitconversion4 libkwineffects1a libmarblewidget4 libntrack-qt4-1 libntrack0 libplasma-geolocation-interface4 libplasmaclock4a libplasmagenericshell4 libprocesscore4a libprocessui4a libqalculate5 libqedje0a libqtruby4shared2 libqzion0a libruby1.8 libscim8c2a libsmokekdecore4-3 libsmokekdeui4-3 libsmokekfile3 libsmokekhtml3 libsmokekio3 libsmokeknewstuff2-3 libsmokeknewstuff3-3 libsmokekparts3 libsmokektexteditor3 libsmokekutils3 libsmokenepomuk3 libsmokephonon3 libsmokeplasma3 libsmokeqtcore4-3 libsmokeqtdbus4-3 libsmokeqtgui4-3 libsmokeqtnetwork4-3 libsmokeqtopengl4-3 libsmokeqtscript4-3 libsmokeqtsql4-3 libsmokeqtsvg4-3 libsmokeqttest4-3 libsmokeqtuitools4-3 libsmokeqtwebkit4-3 libsmokeqtxml4-3 libsmokesolid3 libsmokesoprano3 libtaskmanager4a libtidy-0.99-0 libweather-ion4a libxklavier16 libxxf86misc1 okteta oxygencursors plasma-dataengines-addons plasma-scriptengine-superkaramba plasma-widget-lancelot plasma-widgets-addons plasma-widgets-workspace polkit-kde-1 ruby1.8 systemsettings update-notifier-common

Running apt-get autoremove made the results using apt-get and aptitude a bit more similar, but there are still quite a lott of differences. I have no idea what packages should be installed after the upgrade, but hope those that do can have a look.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english.
Migrating Xen virtual machines using LVM to KVM using disk images
22nd November 2010

Most of the computers in use by the Debian Edu/Skolelinux project are virtual machines. And they have been Xen machines running on a fairly old IBM eserver xseries 345 machine, and we wanted to migrate them to KVM on a newer Dell PowerEdge 2950 host machine. This was a bit harder that it could have been, because we set up the Xen virtual machines to get the virtual partitions from LVM, which as far as I know is not supported by KVM. So to migrate, we had to convert several LVM logical volumes to partitions on a virtual disk file.

I found a nice recipe to do this, and wrote the following script to do the migration. It uses qemu-img from the qemu package to make the disk image, parted to partition it, losetup and kpartx to present the disk image partions as devices, and dd to copy the data. I NFS mounted the new servers storage area on the old server to do the migration.

#!/bin/sh

# Based on
# http://searchnetworking.techtarget.com.au/articles/35011-Six-steps-for-migrating-Xen-virtual-machines-to-KVM

set -e
set -x

if [ -z "$1" ] ; then
    echo "Usage: $0 <hostname>"
    exit 1
else
    host="$1"
fi

if [ ! -e /dev/vg_data/$host-disk ] ; then
    echo "error: unable to find LVM volume for $host"
    exit 1
fi

# Partitions need to be a bit bigger than the LVM LVs.  not sure why.
disksize=$( lvs --units m | grep $host-disk | awk '{sum = sum + $4} END { print int(sum * 1.05) }')
swapsize=$( lvs --units m | grep $host-swap | awk '{sum = sum + $4} END { print int(sum * 1.05) }')
totalsize=$(( ( $disksize + $swapsize ) ))

img=$host.img
#dd if=/dev/zero of=$img bs=1M count=$(( $disksize + $swapsize ))
qemu-img create $img ${totalsize}MMaking room on the Debian Edu/Sqeeze DVD

parted $img mklabel msdos
parted $img mkpart primary linux-swap 0 $disksize
parted $img mkpart primary ext2 $disksize $totalsize
parted $img set 1 boot on

modprobe dm-mod
losetup /dev/loop0 $img
kpartx -a /dev/loop0

dd if=/dev/vg_data/$host-disk of=/dev/mapper/loop0p1 bs=1M
fsck.ext3 -f /dev/mapper/loop0p1 || true
mkswap /dev/mapper/loop0p2

kpartx -d /dev/loop0
losetup -d /dev/loop0

The script is perhaps so simple that it is not copyrightable, but if it is, it is licenced using GPL v2 or later at your discretion.

After doing this, I booted a Debian CD in rescue mode in KVM with the new disk image attached, installed grub-pc and linux-image-686 and set up grub to boot from the disk image. After this, the KVM machines seem to work just fine.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english.
Lenny->Squeeze upgrades, apt vs aptitude with the Gnome and KDE desktop
20th November 2010

I'm still running upgrade testing of the Lenny Gnome and KDE Desktop, but have not had time to spend on reporting the status. Here is a short update based on a test I ran 20101118.

I still do not know what a correct migration should look like, so I report any differences between apt and aptitude and hope someone else can see if anything should be changed.

This is for Gnome:

Installed using apt-get, missing with aptitude

apache2.2-bin aptdaemon at-spi baobab binfmt-support browser-plugin-gnash cheese-common cli-common cpp-4.3 cups-pk-helper dmz-cursor-theme empathy empathy-common finger freedesktop-sound-theme freeglut3 gconf-defaults-service gdm-themes gedit-plugins geoclue geoclue-hostip geoclue-localnet geoclue-manual geoclue-yahoo gnash gnash-common gnome gnome-backgrounds gnome-cards-data gnome-codec-install gnome-core gnome-desktop-environment gnome-disk-utility gnome-screenshot gnome-search-tool gnome-session-canberra gnome-spell gnome-system-log gnome-themes-extras gnome-themes-more gnome-user-share gs-common gstreamer0.10-fluendo-mp3 gstreamer0.10-tools gtk2-engines gtk2-engines-pixbuf gtk2-engines-smooth hal-info hamster-applet libapache2-mod-dnssd libapr1 libaprutil1 libaprutil1-dbd-sqlite3 libaprutil1-ldap libart2.0-cil libatspi1.0-0 libboost-date-time1.42.0 libboost-python1.42.0 libboost-thread1.42.0 libchamplain-0.4-0 libchamplain-gtk-0.4-0 libcheese-gtk18 libclutter-gtk-0.10-0 libcryptui0 libcupsys2 libdiscid0 libeel2-data libelf1 libepc-1.0-2 libepc-common libepc-ui-1.0-2 libfreerdp-plugins-standard libfreerdp0 libgail-common libgconf2.0-cil libgdata-common libgdata7 libgdl-1-common libgdu-gtk0 libgee2 libgeoclue0 libgexiv2-0 libgif4 libglade2.0-cil libglib2.0-cil libgmime2.4-cil libgnome-vfs2.0-cil libgnome2.24-cil libgnomepanel2.24-cil libgnomeprint2.2-data libgnomeprintui2.2-common libgnomevfs2-bin libgpod-common libgpod4 libgtk2.0-cil libgtkglext1 libgtksourceview-common libgtksourceview2.0-common libmono-addins-gui0.2-cil libmono-addins0.2-cil libmono-cairo2.0-cil libmono-corlib2.0-cil libmono-i18n-west2.0-cil libmono-posix2.0-cil libmono-security2.0-cil libmono-sharpzip2.84-cil libmono-system2.0-cil libmtp8 libmusicbrainz3-6 libndesk-dbus-glib1.0-cil libndesk-dbus1.0-cil libopal3.6.8 libpolkit-gtk-1-0 libpt-1.10.10-plugins-alsa libpt-1.10.10-plugins-v4l libpt2.6.7 libpython2.6 librpm1 librpmio1 libsdl1.2debian libservlet2.4-java libsrtp0 libssh-4 libtelepathy-farsight0 libtelepathy-glib0 libtidy-0.99-0 libxalan2-java libxerces2-java media-player-info mesa-utils mono-2.0-gac mono-gac mono-runtime nautilus-sendto nautilus-sendto-empathy openoffice.org-writer2latex openssl-blacklist p7zip p7zip-full pkg-config python-4suite-xml python-aptdaemon python-aptdaemon-gtk python-axiom python-beautifulsoup python-bugbuddy python-clientform python-coherence python-configobj python-crypto python-cupshelpers python-cupsutils python-eggtrayicon python-elementtree python-epsilon python-evolution python-feedparser python-gdata python-gdbm python-gst0.10 python-gtkglext1 python-gtkmozembed python-gtksourceview2 python-httplib2 python-louie python-mako python-markupsafe python-mechanize python-nevow python-notify python-opengl python-openssl python-pam python-pkg-resources python-pyasn1 python-pysqlite2 python-rdflib python-serial python-tagpy python-twisted-bin python-twisted-conch python-twisted-core python-twisted-web python-utidylib python-webkit python-xdg python-zope.interface remmina remmina-plugin-data remmina-plugin-rdp remmina-plugin-vnc rhythmbox-plugin-cdrecorder rhythmbox-plugins rpm-common rpm2cpio seahorse-plugins shotwell software-center svgalibg1 system-config-printer-udev telepathy-gabble telepathy-mission-control-5 telepathy-salut tomboy totem totem-coherence totem-mozilla totem-plugins transmission-common xdg-user-dirs xdg-user-dirs-gtk xserver-xephyr zip

Installed using apt-get, removed with aptitude

arj bluez-utils cheese dhcdbd djvulibre-desktop ekiga eog epiphany-extensions epiphany-gecko evolution-exchange fast-user-switch-applet file-roller gcalctool gconf-editor gdm gedit gedit-common gnome-app-install gnome-games gnome-games-data gnome-nettool gnome-system-tools gnome-themes gnome-utils gnome-vfs-obexftp gnome-volume-manager gnuchess gucharmap guile-1.8-libs hal libavahi-compat-libdnssd1 libavahi-core5 libavahi-ui0 libbind9-50 libbluetooth2 libcamel1.2-11 libcdio7 libcucul0 libcurl3 libdirectfb-1.0-0 libdmx1 libdvdread3 libedata-cal1.2-6 libedataserver1.2-9 libeel2-2.20 libepc-1.0-1 libepc-ui-1.0-1 libexchange-storage1.2-3 libfaad0 libgadu3 libgalago3 libgd2-noxpm libgda3-3 libgda3-common libggz2 libggzcore9 libggzmod4 libgksu1.2-0 libgksuui1.0-1 libgmyth0 libgnome-desktop-2 libgnome-pilot2 libgnomecups1.0-1 libgnomeprint2.2-0 libgnomeprintui2.2-0 libgpod3 libgraphviz4 libgtk-vnc-1.0-0 libgtkhtml2-0 libgtksourceview1.0-0 libgtksourceview2.0-0 libgucharmap6 libhesiod0 libicu38 libisccc50 libisccfg50 libiw29 libjaxp1.3-java-gcj libkpathsea4 liblircclient0 libltdl3 liblwres50 libmagick++10 libmagick10 libmalaga7 libmozjs1d libmpfr1ldbl libmtp7 libmysqlclient15off libnautilus-burn4 libneon27 libnm-glib0 libnm-util0 libopal-2.2 libosp5 libparted1.8-10 libpisock9 libpisync1 libpoppler-glib3 libpoppler3 libpt-1.10.10 libraw1394-8 libsdl1.2debian-alsa libsensors3 libsexy2 libsmbios2 libsoup2.2-8 libspeexdsp1 libssh2-1 libsuitesparse-3.1.0 libsvga1 libswfdec-0.6-90 libtalloc1 libtotem-plparser10 libtrackerclient0 libvoikko1 libxalan2-java-gcj libxerces2-java-gcj libxklavier12 libxtrap6 libxxf86misc1 libzephyr3 mysql-common rhythmbox seahorse sound-juicer swfdec-gnome system-config-printer totem-common totem-gstreamer transmission-gtk vinagre vino w3c-dtd-xhtml wodim

Installed using aptitude, missing with apt-get

gstreamer0.10-gnomevfs

Installed using aptitude, removed with apt-get

[nothing]

This is for KDE:

Installed using apt-get, missing with aptitude

autopoint bomber bovo cantor cantor-backend-kalgebra cpp-4.3 dcoprss edict espeak espeak-data eyesapplet fifteenapplet finger gettext ghostscript-x git gnome-audio gnugo granatier gs-common gstreamer0.10-pulseaudio indi kaddressbook-plugins kalgebra kalzium-data kanjidic kapman kate-plugins kblocks kbreakout kbstate kde-icons-mono kdeaccessibility kdeaddons-kfile-plugins kdeadmin-kfile-plugins kdeartwork-misc kdeartwork-theme-window kdeedu kdeedu-data kdeedu-kvtml-data kdegames kdegames-card-data kdegames-mahjongg-data kdegraphics-kfile-plugins kdelirc kdemultimedia-kfile-plugins kdenetwork-kfile-plugins kdepim-kfile-plugins kdepim-kio-plugins kdessh kdetoys kdewebdev kdiamond kdnssd kfilereplace kfourinline kgeography-data kigo killbots kiriki klettres-data kmoon kmrml knewsticker-scripts kollision kpf krosspython ksirk ksmserver ksquares kstars-data ksudoku kubrick kweather libasound2-plugins libboost-python1.42.0 libcfitsio3 libconvert-binhex-perl libcrypt-ssleay-perl libdb4.6++ libdjvulibre-text libdotconf1.0 liberror-perl libespeak1 libfinance-quote-perl libgail-common libgsl0ldbl libhtml-parser-perl libhtml-tableextract-perl libhtml-tagset-perl libhtml-tree-perl libio-stringy-perl libkdeedu4 libkdegames5 libkiten4 libkpathsea5 libkrossui4 libmailtools-perl libmime-tools-perl libnews-nntpclient-perl libopenbabel3 libportaudio2 libpulse-browse0 libservlet2.4-java libspeechd2 libtiff-tools libtimedate-perl libunistring0 liburi-perl libwww-perl libxalan2-java libxerces2-java lirc luatex marble networkstatus noatun-plugins openoffice.org-writer2latex palapeli palapeli-data parley parley-data poster psutils pulseaudio pulseaudio-esound-compat pulseaudio-module-x11 pulseaudio-utils quanta-data rocs rsync speech-dispatcher step svgalibg1 texlive-binaries texlive-luatex ttf-sazanami-gothic

Installed using apt-get, removed with aptitude

amor artsbuilder atlantik atlantikdesigner blinken bluez-utils cvs dhcdbd djvulibre-desktop imlib-base imlib11 kalzium kanagram kandy kasteroids katomic kbackgammon kbattleship kblackbox kbounce kbruch kcron kdat kdemultimedia-kappfinder-data kdeprint kdict kdvi kedit keduca kenolaba kfax kfaxview kfouleggs kgeography kghostview kgoldrunner khangman khexedit kiconedit kig kimagemapeditor kitchensync kiten kjumpingcube klatin klettres klickety klines klinkstatus kmag kmahjongg kmailcvt kmenuedit kmid kmilo kmines kmousetool kmouth kmplot knetwalk kodo kolf kommander konquest kooka kpager kpat kpdf kpercentage kpilot kpoker kpovmodeler krec kregexpeditor kreversi ksame ksayit kshisen ksig ksim ksirc ksirtet ksmiletris ksnake ksokoban kspaceduel kstars ksvg ksysv kteatime ktip ktnef ktouch ktron kttsd ktuberling kturtle ktux kuickshow kverbos kview kviewshell kvoctrain kwifimanager kwin kwin4 kwordquiz kworldclock kxsldbg libakode2 libarts1-akode libarts1-audiofile libarts1-mpeglib libarts1-xine libavahi-compat-libdnssd1 libavahi-core5 libavc1394-0 libbind9-50 libbluetooth2 libboost-python1.34.1 libcucul0 libcurl3 libcvsservice0 libdirectfb-1.0-0 libdjvulibre21 libdvdread3 libfaad0 libfreebob0 libgd2-noxpm libgraphviz4 libgsmme1c2a libgtkhtml2-0 libicu38 libiec61883-0 libindex0 libisccc50 libisccfg50 libiw29 libjaxp1.3-java-gcj libk3b3 libkcal2b libkcddb1 libkdeedu3 libkdegames1 libkdepim1a libkgantt0 libkleopatra1 libkmime2 libkpathsea4 libkpimexchange1 libkpimidentities1 libkscan1 libksieve0 libktnef1 liblockdev1 libltdl3 liblwres50 libmagick10 libmimelib1c2a libmodplug0c2 libmozjs1d libmpcdec3 libmpfr1ldbl libneon27 libnm-util0 libopensync0 libpisock9 libpoppler-glib3 libpoppler-qt2 libpoppler3 libraw1394-8 librss1 libsensors3 libsmbios2 libssh2-1 libsuitesparse-3.1.0 libswfdec-0.6-90 libtalloc1 libxalan2-java-gcj libxerces2-java-gcj libxtrap6 lskat mpeglib network-manager-kde noatun pmount tex-common texlive-base texlive-common texlive-doc-base texlive-fonts-recommended tidy ttf-dustin ttf-kochi-gothic ttf-sjfonts

Installed using aptitude, missing with apt-get

dolphin kde-core kde-plasma-desktop kde-standard kde-window-manager kdeartwork kdebase kdebase-apps kdebase-workspace kdebase-workspace-bin kdebase-workspace-data kdeutils kscreensaver kscreensaver-xsavers libgle3 libkonq5 libkonq5-templates libnetpbm10 netpbm plasma-widget-folderview plasma-widget-networkmanagement xscreensaver-data-extra xscreensaver-gl xscreensaver-gl-extra xscreensaver-screensaver-bsod

Installed using aptitude, removed with apt-get

kdebase-bin konq-plugins konqueror

Tags: debian, debian edu, english.
Gnash buildbot slave and Debian kfreebsd
20th November 2010

Answering the call from the Gnash project for buildbot slaves to test the current source, I have set up a virtual KVM machine on the Debian Edu/Skolelinux virtualization host to test the git source on Debian/Squeeze. I hope this can help the developers in getting new releases out more often.

As the developers want less main-stream build platforms tested to, I have considered setting up a Debian/kfreebsd machine as well. I have also considered using the kfreebsd architecture in Debian as a file server in NUUG to get access to the 5 TB zfs volume we currently use to store DV video. Because of this, I finally got around to do a test installation of Debian/Squeeze with kfreebsd. Installation went fairly smooth, thought I noticed some visual glitches in the cdebconf dialogs (black cursor left on the screen at random locations). Have not gotten very far with the testing. Noticed cfdisk did not work, but fdisk did so it was not a fatal problem. Have to spend some more time on it to see if it is useful as a file server for NUUG. Will try to find time to set up a gnash buildbot slave on the Debian Edu/Skolelinux this weekend.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, nuug.
Making room on the Debian Edu/Sqeeze DVD
7th November 2010

Prioritising packages for the Debian Edu / Skolelinux DVD, which is supposed provide a school with all the services and user applications needed on the pupils computer network has always been hard. Even schools without Internet connections should be able to get Debian Edu working using this DVD.

The job became a lot harder when apt and aptitude started installing recommended packages by default. We want the same set of packages to be installed when using the DVD and the netinst CD, and that means all recommended packages need to be on the DVD. I created a patch for debian-cd in BTS report #601203 to do this, and since this change was applied to the Debian Edu DVD build, we have been seriously short on space.

A few days ago we decided to drop blender, wxmaxima and kicad from the default installation to save space on the DVD, believing that those needing these applications are few and can get them from the Debian archive.

Yesterday, I had a look what source packages to see which packages were using most space. A few large packages are well know; openoffice.org, openclipart and fluid-soundfont. But I also discovered that lilypond used 106 MiB and fglrx-driver used 53 MiB. The lilypond package is pulled in as a dependency for rosegarden, and when looking a bit closer I discovered that 99 MiB of the 106 MiB were the documentation package, which is recommended by the binary package. I decided to drop this documentation package from our DVD, as most of our users will use the GUI front-ends and do not need the lilypond documentation. Similarly, I dropped the non-free fglrx-driver package which might be installed by d-i when its hardware is detected, as the free X driver should work.

With this change, we finally got space for the LXDE and Gnome desktop packages as well as the language specific packages making the DVD more useful again.

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug.
Software updates 2010-10-24
24th October 2010

Some updates.

My gnash pledge to raise money for the project is going well. The lower limit of 10 signers was reached in 24 hours, and so far 13 people have signed it. More signers and more funding is most welcome, and I am really curious how far we can get before the time limit of December 24 is reached. :)

On the #gnash IRC channel on irc.freenode.net, I was just tipped about what appear to be a great code coverage tool capable of generating code coverage stats without any changes to the source code. It is called kcov, and can be used using kcov <directory> <binary>. It is missing in Debian, but the git source built just fine in Squeeze after I installed libelf-dev, libdwarf-dev, pkg-config and libglib2.0-dev. Failed to build in Lenny, but suspect that is solvable. I hope kcov make it into Debian soon.

Finally found time to wrap up the release notes for a new alpha release of Debian Edu, and just published the second alpha test release of the Squeeze based Debian Edu / Skolelinux release. Give it a try if you need a complete linux solution for your school, including central infrastructure server, workstations, thin client servers and diskless workstations. A nice touch added yesterday is RDP support on the thin client servers, for windows clients to get a Linux desktop on request.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, multimedia.
Some notes on Flash in Debian and Debian Edu
4th September 2010

In the Debian popularity-contest numbers, the adobe-flashplugin package the second most popular used package that is missing in Debian. The sixth most popular is flashplayer-mozilla. This is a clear indication that working flash is important for Debian users. Around 10 percent of the users submitting data to popcon.debian.org have this package installed.

In the report written by Lars Risan in August 2008 («Skolelinux i bruk – Rapport for Hurum kommune, Universitetet i Agder og stiftelsen SLX Debian Labs»), one of the most important problems schools experienced with Debian Edu/Skolelinux was the lack of working Flash. A lot of educational web sites require Flash to work, and lacking working Flash support in the web browser and the problems with installing it was perceived as a good reason to stay with Windows.

I once saw a funny and sad comment in a web forum, where Linux was said to be the retarded cousin that did not really understand everything you told him but could work fairly well. This was a comment regarding the problems Linux have with proprietary formats and non-standard web pages, and is sad because it exposes a fairly common understanding of whose fault it is if web pages that only work in for example Internet Explorer 6 fail to work on Firefox, and funny because it explain very well how annoying it is for users when Linux distributions do not work with the documents they receive or the web pages they want to visit.

This is part of the reason why I believe it is important for Debian and Debian Edu to have a well working Flash implementation in the distribution, to get at least popular sites as Youtube and Google Video to working out of the box. For Squeeze, Debian have the chance to include the latest version of Gnash that will make this happen, as the new release 0.8.8 was published a few weeks ago and is resting in unstable. The new version work with more sites that version 0.8.7. The Gnash maintainers have asked for a freeze exception, but the release team have not had time to reply to it yet. I hope they agree with me that Flash is important for the Debian desktop users, and thus accept the new package into Squeeze.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, multimedia, video, web.
Broken hard link handling with sshfs
30th August 2010

Just got an email from Tobias Gruetzmacher as a followup on my previous post about sshfs. He reported another problem with sshfs. It fail to handle hard links properly. A simple way to spot this is to look at the . and .. entries in the directory tree. These should have a link count >1, but on sshfs the count is 1. I just tested to see what happen when trying to hardlink, and this fail as well:

% ln foo bar
ln: creating hard link `bar' => `foo': Function not implemented
%

I have not yet found time to implement a test for this in my file system test code, but believe having working hard links is useful to avoid surprised unix programs. Not as useful as working file locking and symlinks, which are required to get a working desktop, but useful nevertheless. :)

The latest version of the file system test code is available via git from http://github.com/gebi/fs-test

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug.
Skolelinux i Osloskolen
26th August 2010

Denne høsten skal endelig alle Osloskolene få mulighet til å bruke Skolelinux. Ny IT-løsning har vært rullet ut i noen måneder nå, og så vidt jeg fikk vite før sommeren skulle alle skoler ha nytt opplegg på plass før oppstart nå i høst. På alle skolene skal en kunne velge ved installasjon om en skal ha Windows eller Skolelinux på maskinene, og en kan i tillegg PXE-boote maskinene over nett som tynne klienter eller diskløse arbeidsstasjoner. Jeg er spent på hvor mange skoler som velger å ta i bruk Skolelinux, og gleder meg til å se hvordan dette utvikler seg. Løsningen leveres av Logica med Skolelinux Drift AS som underleverandør, og jeg har vært involvert i utviklingen av løsningen via Skolelinux Drift AS siden prosjektet starter. Jeg synes det er fantastisk at Skolelinux er kommet så langt siden vi startet i 2001 at alle elevene i Osloskolene nå skal få mulighet til å bruke løsningen. Jeg håper de vil sette pris på alle de fantastiske brukerprogrammene som er tilgjengelig i Skolelinux.

Tags: debian edu, norsk.
Broken umask handling with sshfs
26th August 2010

My file system sematics program presented a few days ago is very useful to verify that a file system can work as a unix home directory,and today I had to extend it a bit. I'm looking into alternatives for home directory access here at the University of Oslo, and one of the options is sshfs. My friend Finn-Arne mentioned a while back that they had used sshfs with Debian Edu, but stopped because of problems. I asked today what the problems where, and he mentioned that sshfs failed to handle umask properly. Trying to detect the problem I wrote this addition to my fs testing script:

mode_t touch_get_mode(const char *name, mode_t mode) {
  mode_t retval = 0;
  int fd = open(name, O_RDWR|O_CREAT|O_LARGEFILE, mode);
  if (-1 != fd) {
    unlink(name);
    struct stat statbuf;
    if (-1 != fstat(fd, &statbuf)) {
      retval = statbuf.st_mode & 0x1ff;
    }
    close(fd);
  }
  return retval;
}

/* Try to detect problem discovered using sshfs */
int test_umask(void) {
  printf("info: testing umask effect on file creation\n");

  mode_t orig_umask = umask(000);
  mode_t newmode;
  if (0666 != (newmode = touch_get_mode("foobar", 0666))) {
    printf("  error: Wrong file mode %o when creating using mode 666 and umask 000\n",
           newmode);
  }
  umask(007);
  if (0660 != (newmode = touch_get_mode("foobar", 0666))) {
    printf("  error: Wrong file mode %o when creating using mode 666 and umask 007\n",
           newmode);
  }

  umask (orig_umask);
  return 0;
}

int main(int argc, char **argv) {
  [...]
  test_umask();
  return 0;
}

Sure enough. On NFS to a netapp, I get this result:

Testing POSIX/Unix sematics on file system
info: testing symlink creation
info: testing subdirectory creation
info: testing fcntl locking
  Read-locking 1 byte from 1073741824
  Read-locking 510 byte from 1073741826
  Unlocking 1 byte from 1073741824
  Write-locking 1 byte from 1073741824
  Write-locking 510 byte from 1073741826
  Unlocking 2 byte from 1073741824
info: testing umask effect on file creation

When mounting the same directory using sshfs, I get this result:

Testing POSIX/Unix sematics on file system
info: testing symlink creation
info: testing subdirectory creation
info: testing fcntl locking
  Read-locking 1 byte from 1073741824
  Read-locking 510 byte from 1073741826
  Unlocking 1 byte from 1073741824
  Write-locking 1 byte from 1073741824
  Write-locking 510 byte from 1073741826
  Unlocking 2 byte from 1073741824
info: testing umask effect on file creation
  error: Wrong file mode 644 when creating using mode 666 and umask 000
  error: Wrong file mode 640 when creating using mode 666 and umask 007

So, I can conclude that sshfs is better than smb to a Netapp or a Windows server, but not good enough to be used as a home directory.

Update 2010-08-26: Reported the issue in BTS report #594498

Update 2010-08-27: Michael Gebetsroither report that he found the script so useful that he created a GIT repository and stored it in http://github.com/gebi/fs-test.

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug.
No hardcoded config on Debian Edu clients
9th August 2010

As reported earlier, the last few days I have looked at how Debian Edu clients are configured, and tried to get rid of all hardcoded configuration settings on the clients. I believe the work to be mostly done, and the clients seem to work just fine with dynamically generated configuration.

What is the point, you might ask? The point is to allow a Debian Edu desktop to integrate into an existing network infrastructure without any manual configuration.

This is what happens when installing a Debian Edu client here at the University of Oslo using PXE. With the PXE installation, I am asked for language (Norwegian Bokmål), locality (Norway) and keyboard layout (no-latin1), Debian Edu profile (Roaming Workstation), if I accept to reformat the hard drive (yes), if I want to submit info to popcon.debian.org (no) and root password (secret). After answering these questions, the installer goes ahead and does its thing, and after around 50 minutes it is done. I press enter to finish the installation, and the machine reboots into KDE. When the machine is ready and kdm asks for login information, I enter my university username and password, am told by kdm that a local home directory has been created and that I must log in again, and finally log in with the same username and password to the KDE 4.4 desktop. At no point during this process did it ask for university specific settings, and all the required configuration was dynamically detected using information fetched via DHCP and DNS. The roaming workstation is now ready for use.

How was this done, you might wonder? First of all, here is the list of things that need to be configured on the client to get it working properly out of the box:

(Hm, did I forget anything? Let me knew if I did.)

The points marked (*) are not required to be able to use the machine, but needed to provide central storage and allowing system administrators to track their machines. Since yesterday, everything but the sitesummary collector URL is dynamically discovered at boot and installation time in the svn version of Debian Edu.

The IP and DNS setup is fetched during boot using DHCP as usual. When a DHCP update arrives, the proxy setup is updated by looking for http://wpat/wpad.dat and using the content of this WPAD file to configure the http and ftp proxy in /etc/environment and /etc/apt/apt.conf. I decided to update the proxy setup using a DHCP hook to ensure that the client stops using the Debian Edu proxy when it is moved outside the Debian Edu network, and instead uses any local proxy present on the new network when it moves around.

The DNS names of the LDAP, Kerberos and syslog server and related configuration are generated using DNS information at boot. First the installer looks for a host named ldap in the current DNS domain. If not found, it looks for _ldap._tcp SRV records in DNS instead. If an LDAP server is found, its root DSE entry is requested and the attributes namingContexts and defaultNamingContext are used to determine which LDAP base to use for NSS. If there are several namingContexts attibutes and the defaultNamingContext is present, that LDAP subtree is used as the base. If defaultNamingContext is missing, the subtrees listed as namingContexts are searched in sequence for any object with class posixAccount or posixGroup, and the first one with such an object is used as the LDAP base. For Kerberos, a similar search is done by first looking for a host named kerberos, and then for the _kerberos._tcp SRV record. I've been unable to find a way to look up the Kerberos realm, so for this the upper case string of the current DNS domain is used.

For the syslog server, the hosts syslog and loghost are searched for, and the _syslog._udp SRV record is consulted if no such host is found. This algorithm works for both Debian Edu and the University of Oslo. A similar strategy would work for locating the sitesummary server, but have not been implemented yet. I decided to fetch and save these settings during installation, to make sure moving to a different network does not change the set of users being allowed to log in nor the passwords required to log in. Usernames and passwords will be cached by sssd when the user logs in on the Debian Edu network, and will not change as the laptop move around. For a non-roaming machine, there is no caching, but given that it is supposed to stay in place it should not matter much. Perhaps we should switch those to use sssd too?

The user's SMB mount point for the network home directory is located when the user logs in for the first time. The LDAP server is consulted to look for the user's LDAP object and the sambaHomePath attribute is used if found. If it isn't found, the home directory path fetched from NSS is used instead. Assuming the path is of the form /site/server/directory/username, the second part is looked up in DNS and used to generate a SMB URL of the form smb://server.domain/username. This algorithm works for both Debian edu and the University of Oslo. Perhaps there are better attributes to use or a better algorithm that works for more sites, but this will do for now. :)

This work should make it easier to integrate the Debian Edu clients into any LDAP/Kerberos infrastructure, and make the current setup even more flexible than before. I suspect it will also work for thin client servers, allowing one to easily set up LTSP and hook it into a existing network infrastructure, but I have not had time to test this yet.

If you want to help out with implementing these things for Debian Edu, please contact us on debian-edu@lists.debian.org.

Update 2010-08-09: Simon Farnsworth gave me a heads-up on how to detect Kerberos realm from DNS, by looking for _kerberos TXT entries before falling back to the upper case DNS domain name. Will have to implement it for Debian Edu. :)

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug.
Testing if a file system can be used for home directories...
8th August 2010

A few years ago, I was involved in a project planning to use Windows file servers as home directory servers for Debian Edu/Skolelinux machines. This was thought to be no problem, as the access would be through the SMB network file system protocol, and we knew other sites used SMB with unix and samba as the file server to mount home directories without any problems. But, after months of struggling, we had to conclude that our goal was impossible.

The reason is simply that while SMB can be used for home directories when the file server is Samba running on Unix, this only work because of Samba have some extensions and the fact that the underlying file system is a unix file system. When using a Windows file server, the underlying file system do not have POSIX semantics, and several programs will fail if the users home directory where they want to store their configuration lack POSIX semantics.

As part of this work, I wrote a small C program I want to share with you all, to replicate a few of the problematic applications (like OpenOffice.org and GCompris) and see if the file system was working as it should. If you find yourself in spooky file system land, it might help you find your way out again. This is the fs-test.c source:

/*
 * Some tests to check the file system sematics.  Used to verify that
 * CIFS from a windows server do not work properly as a linux home
 * directory.
 * License: GPL v2 or later
 * 
 * needs libsqlite3-dev and build-essential installed
 * compile with: gcc -Wall -lsqlite3 -DTEST_SQLITE fs-test.c -o fs-test
*/

#define _FILE_OFFSET_BITS 64
#define _LARGEFILE_SOURCE 1
#define _LARGEFILE64_SOURCE 1

#define _GNU_SOURCE /* for asprintf() */

#include <errno.h>
#include <fcntl.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <sys/file.h>
#include <sys/stat.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <unistd.h>

#ifdef TEST_SQLITE
/*
 * Test sqlite open, as done by gcompris require the libsqlite3-dev
 * package and linking with -lsqlite3.  A more low level test is
 * below.
 * See also <URL: http://www.sqlite.org./faq.html#q5 >.
 */
#include <sqlite3.h>
#define CREATE_TABLE_USERS                                              \
  "CREATE TABLE users (user_id INT UNIQUE, login TEXT, lastname TEXT, firstname TEXT, birthdate TEXT, class_id INT ); "
int test_sqlite_open(void) {
  char *zErrMsg;
  char *name = "testsqlite.db";
  sqlite3 *db=NULL;
  unlink(name);
  int rc = sqlite3_open(name, &db);
  if( rc ){
    printf("error: sqlite open of %s failed: %s\n", name, sqlite3_errmsg(db));
    sqlite3_close(db);
    return -1;
  }

  /* create tables */
  rc = sqlite3_exec(db,CREATE_TABLE_USERS, NULL,  0, &zErrMsg);
  if( rc != SQLITE_OK ){
    printf("error: sqlite table create failed: %s\n", zErrMsg);
    sqlite3_close(db);
    return -1;
  }
  printf("info: sqlite worked\n");
  sqlite3_close(db);
  return 0;
}
#endif /* TEST_SQLITE */

/*
 * Demonstrate locking issue found in gcompris using sqlite3.  This
 * work with ext3, but not with cifs server on Windows 2003.  This is
 * done in the sqlite3 library.
 * See also
 * <URL:http://www.cygwin.com/ml/cygwin/2001-08/msg00854.html> and the
 * POSIX specification
 * <URL:http://www.opengroup.org/onlinepubs/009695399/functions/fcntl.html>.
 */
int test_gcompris_locking(void) {
  struct flock fl;
  char *name = "testsqlite.db";
  unlink(name);
  int fd = open(name, O_RDWR|O_CREAT|O_LARGEFILE, 0644);
  printf("info: testing fcntl locking\n");

  fl.l_whence = SEEK_SET;
  fl.l_pid    = getpid();
  printf("  Read-locking 1 byte from 1073741824");
  fl.l_start  = 1073741824;
  fl.l_len    = 1;
  fl.l_type   = F_RDLCK;
  if (0 != fcntl(fd, F_SETLK, &fl) ) printf(" - error!\n"); else printf("\n");

  printf("  Read-locking 510 byte from 1073741826");
  fl.l_start  = 1073741826;
  fl.l_len    = 510;
  fl.l_type   = F_RDLCK;
  if (0 != fcntl(fd, F_SETLK, &fl) ) printf(" - error!\n"); else printf("\n");

  printf("  Unlocking 1 byte from 1073741824");
  fl.l_start  = 1073741824;
  fl.l_len    = 1;
  fl.l_type   = F_UNLCK;
  if (0 != fcntl(fd, F_SETLK, &fl) ) printf(" - error!\n"); else printf("\n");

  printf("  Write-locking 1 byte from 1073741824");
  fl.l_start  = 1073741824;
  fl.l_len    = 1;
  fl.l_type   = F_WRLCK;
  if (0 != fcntl(fd, F_SETLK, &fl) ) printf(" - error!\n"); else printf("\n");

  printf("  Write-locking 510 byte from 1073741826");
  fl.l_start  = 1073741826;
  fl.l_len    = 510;
  if (0 != fcntl(fd, F_SETLK, &fl) ) printf(" - error!\n"); else printf("\n");

  printf("  Unlocking 2 byte from 1073741824");
  fl.l_start  = 1073741824;
  fl.l_len    = 2;
  fl.l_type   = F_UNLCK;
  if (0 != fcntl(fd, F_SETLK, &fl) ) printf(" - error!\n"); else printf("\n");

  close(fd);
  return 0;
}

/*
 * Test if permissions of freshly created directories allow entries
 * below them.  This was a problem with OpenOffice.org and gcompris.
 * Mounting with option 'sync' seem to solve this problem while
 * slowing down file operations.
 */
int test_subdirectory_creation(void) {
#define LEVELS 5
  char *path = strdup("test");
  char *dirs[LEVELS];
  int level;
  printf("info: testing subdirectory creation\n");
  for (level = 0; level < LEVELS; level++) {
    char *newpath = NULL;
    if (-1 == mkdir(path, 0777)) {
      printf("  error: Unable to create directory '%s': %s\n",
	     path, strerror(errno));
      break;
    }
    asprintf(&newpath, "%s/%s", path, "test");
    free(path);
    path = newpath;
  }
  return 0;
}

/*
 * Test if symlinks can be created.  This was a problem detected with
 * KDE.
 */
int test_symlinks(void) {
  printf("info: testing symlink creation\n");
  unlink("symlink");
  if (-1 == symlink("file", "symlink"))
    printf("  error: Unable to create symlink\n");
  return 0;
}

int main(int argc, char **argv) {
  printf("Testing POSIX/Unix sematics on file system\n");
  test_symlinks();
  test_subdirectory_creation();
#ifdef TEST_SQLITE
  test_sqlite_open();
#endif /* TEST_SQLITE */
  test_gcompris_locking();
  return 0;
}

When everything is working, it should print something like this:

Testing POSIX/Unix sematics on file system
info: testing symlink creation
info: testing subdirectory creation
info: sqlite worked
info: testing fcntl locking
  Read-locking 1 byte from 1073741824
  Read-locking 510 byte from 1073741826
  Unlocking 1 byte from 1073741824
  Write-locking 1 byte from 1073741824
  Write-locking 510 byte from 1073741826
  Unlocking 2 byte from 1073741824

I do not remember the exact details of the problems we saw, but one of them was with locking, where if I remember correctly, POSIX allow a read-only lock to be upgraded to a read-write lock without unlocking the read-only lock (while Windows do not). Another was a bug in the CIFS/SMB client implementation in the Linux kernel where directory meta information would be wrong for a fraction of a second, making OpenOffice.org fail to create its deep directory tree because it was not allowed to create files in its freshly created directory.

Anyway, here is a nice tool for your tool box, might you never need it. :)

Update 2010-08-27: Michael Gebetsroither report that he found the script so useful that he created a GIT repository and stored it in http://github.com/gebi/fs-test.

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug.
Autodetecting Client setup for roaming workstations in Debian Edu
7th August 2010

A few days ago, I tried to install a Roaming workation profile from Debian Edu/Squeeze while on the university network here at the University of Oslo, and noticed how much had to change to get it operational using the university infrastructure. It was fairly easy, but it occured to me that Debian Edu would improve a lot if I could get the client to connect without any changes at all, and thus let the client configure itself during installation and first boot to use the infrastructure around it. Now I am a huge step further along that road.

With our current squeeze-test packages, I can select the roaming workstation profile and get a working laptop connecting to the university LDAP server for user and group and our active directory servers for Kerberos authentication. All this without any configuration at all during installation. My users home directory got a bookmark in the KDE menu to mount it via SMB, with the correct URL. In short, openldap and sssd is correctly configured. In addition to this, the client look for http://wpad/wpad.dat to configure a web proxy, and when it fail to find it no proxy settings are stored in /etc/environment and /etc/apt/apt.conf. Iceweasel and KDE is configured to look for the same wpad configuration and also do not use a proxy when at the university network. If the machine is moved to a network with such wpad setup, it would automatically use it when DHCP gave it a IP address.

The LDAP server is located using DNS, by first looking for the DNS entry ldap.$domain. If this do not exist, it look for the _ldap._tcp.$domain SRV records and use the first one as the LDAP server. Next, it connects to the LDAP server and search all namingContexts entries for posixAccount or posixGroup objects, and pick the first one as the LDAP base. For Kerberos, a similar algorithm is used to locate the LDAP server, and the realm is the uppercase version of $domain.

So, what is not working, you might ask. SMB mounting my home directory do not work. No idea why, but suspected the incorrect Kerberos settings in /etc/krb5.conf and /etc/samba/smb.conf might be the cause. These are not properly configured during installation, and had to be hand-edited to get the correct Kerberos realm and server, but SMB mounting still do not work. :(

With this automatic configuration in place, I expect a Debian Edu roaming profile installation would be able to automatically detect and connect to any site using LDAP and Kerberos for NSS directory and PAM authentication. It should also work out of the box in a Active Directory environment providing posixAccount and posixGroup objects with UID and GID values.

If you want to help out with implementing these things for Debian Edu, please contact us on debian-edu@lists.debian.org.

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug.
Debian Edu roaming workstation - at the university of Oslo
3rd August 2010

The new roaming workstation profile in Debian Edu/Squeeze is fairly similar to the laptop setup am I working on using Ubuntu for the University of Oslo, and just for the heck of it, I tested today how hard it would be to integrate that profile into the university infrastructure. In this case, it is the university LDAP server, Active Directory Kerberos server and SMB mounting from the Netapp file servers.

I was pleasantly surprised that the only three files needed to be changed (/etc/sssd/sssd.conf, /etc/ldap.conf and /etc/mklocaluser.d/20-debian-edu-config) and one file had to be added (/usr/share/perl5/Debian/Edu_Local.pm), to get the client working. Most of the changes were to get the client to use the university LDAP for NSS and Kerberos server for PAM, but one was to change a hard coded DNS domain name in the mklocaluser hook from .intern to .uio.no.

This testing was so encouraging, that I went ahead and adjusted the Debian Edu scripts and setup in subversion to centralise the roaming workstation setup a bit more and avoid the hardcoded DNS domain name, so that when I test this tomorrow, I expect to get away with modifying only /etc/sssd/sssd.conf and /etc/ldap.conf to get it to use the university servers.

My goal is to get the clients to have no hardcoded settings and fetch all their initial setup during installation and first boot, to allow them to be inserted also into environments where the default setup in Debian Edu has been changed or as with the university, where the environment is different but provides the protocols Debian Edu uses.

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug.
First Debian Edu test release (alpha0) based on Squeeze is released
27th July 2010

I just posted this announcement culminating several months of work with the next Debian Edu release. Not nearly done, but one major step completed.

This is the first test release based on Squeeze. The focus of this release is to test the user application selection. To have a look, install the standalone profile and let the developers know if the set of installed packages i.e. applications should be modified. If some user application is missing, or if there are some applications that no longer make sense to be included in Debian Edu, please let us know. Also, if a useful application is missing the translation for your language of choice, please let us know too.

In addition, feedback and help to polish the desktop (menus, artwork, starters, etc.) is appreciated. We would like to ship a nice and handy KDE4 desktop targeted for schools out of the box.

The other profiles should be installable, but there is a lot more work left to be done before they are ready, so do not expect to much.

Changes compared to the lenny based version

  • Everything from Debian Squeeze
    • Desktop environment KDE 4.4 => the new KDE desktop in combination with some new artwork
    • Web browser Iceweasel 3.5
    • OpenOffice.org 3.2
    • Educational toolbox GCompris 9.3
    • Music creator Rosegarden 10.04.2
    • Image editor Gimp 2.6.10
    • Virtual universe Celestia 1.6.0
    • Virtual stargazer Stellarium 0.10.4
    • 3D modeler Blender 2.49.2 (new application)
    • Video editor Kdenlive 0.7.7 (new application)
  • Now using Kerberos for password checking (migration not finished). Enabled for:
    • PAM
    • LDAP
    • IMAP
    • SMTP (sender verification)
  • New experimental roaming workstation profile for laptops.
  • Show welcome page to users when they first log in. The URL is fetched from LDAP.
  • New LXDE desktop option, in addition to KDE (default) and Gnome.
  • General cleanup (not finished)

The following features are not working as they should

  • No web based administration tool for creating users and groups. The scripts ldap-createuser-krb and ldap-add-user-to-group can be used for testing.
  • DVD installs are missing debian-installer images for the PXE boot, and do not set up the PXE menu on eth0 because of this. LTSP clients should still boot from eth1 on thin client servers.
  • The restructured KDE menu is not implemented.
  • The LDAP server setup need to be reviewed for security.
  • The LDAP directory structure need to be reworked.
  • Different sets of packages are installed when using the DVD and the netinst CD. More packages are installed using the netinst CD.
  • The jackd package fail to install. This is believed to be caused by some ongoing transition, and hopefully should be solved soon. The jackd1 package can be installed manually for those that need it.
  • Some packages lack translations. See http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEdu/Status/Squeeze for updated status, and help out with translations.

To download this multiarch netinstall release you can use

To download this multiarch dvd release you can use

There is no source DVD available yet. It will be prepared when we get closer to the final release.

The MD5SUM of these images are

  • 3dbf45d59f42a53518b6e3c9ec3b5eb6 debian-edu-6.0.0+edua0-CD.iso
  • 22f2cbfce281d1c6e478be452638675d debian-edu-6.0.0+edua0-DVD.iso

The SHA1SUM of these images are

  • c53d1b69b40cf37cd27aefaf33f6f6a3821bedf0 debian-edu-6.0.0+edua0-CD.iso
  • 2ec29d7db676d59d32197b05c277ffe16348376c debian-edu-6.0.0+edua0-DVD.iso

How to report bugs: http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEdu/HowTo/ReportBugsInBugzilla

Please direct replies to debian-edu@lists.debian.org

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug.
One step closer to single signon in Debian Edu
25th July 2010

The last few months me and the other Debian Edu developers have been working hard to get the Debian/Squeeze based version of Debian Edu/Skolelinux into shape. This future version will use Kerberos for authentication, and services are slowly migrated to single signon, getting rid of password questions one at the time.

It will also feature a roaming workstation profile with local home directory, for laptops that are only some times on the Skolelinux network, and for this profile a shortcut is created in Gnome and KDE to gain access to the users home directory on the file server. This shortcut uses SMB at the moment, and yesterday I had time to test if SMB mounting had started working in KDE after we added the cifs-utils package. I was pleasantly surprised how well it worked.

Thanks to the recent changes to our samba configuration to get it to use Kerberos for authentication, there were no question about user password when mounting the SMB volume. A simple click on the shortcut in the KDE menu, and a window with the home directory popped up. :)

One step closer to a single signon solution out of the box in Debian Edu. We already had PAM, LDAP, IMAP and SMTP in place, and now also Samba. Next step is Cups and hopefully also NFS.

We had planned a alpha0 release of Debian Edu for today, but thanks to the autobuilder administrators for some architectures being slow to sign packages, we are still missing the fixed LTSP package we need for the release. It was uploaded three days ago with urgency=high, and if it had entered testing yesterday we would have been able to test it in time for a alpha0 release today. As the binaries for ia64 and powerpc still not uploaded to the Debian archive, we need to delay the alpha release another day.

If you want to help out with implementing Kerberos for Debian Edu, please contact us on debian-edu@lists.debian.org.

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug, sikkerhet.
What are they searching for - PowerDNS and ISC DHCP in LDAP
17th July 2010

This is a followup on my previous work on merging all the computer related LDAP objects in Debian Edu.

As a step to try to see if it possible to merge the DNS and DHCP LDAP objects, I have had a look at how the packages pdns-backend-ldap and dhcp3-server-ldap in Debian use the LDAP server. The two implementations are quite different in how they use LDAP.

To get this information, I started slapd with debugging enabled and dumped the debug output to a file to get the LDAP searches performed on a Debian Edu main-server. Here is a summary.

powerdns

Clues on how to set up PowerDNS to use a LDAP backend is available on the web.

PowerDNS have two modes of operation using LDAP as its backend. One "strict" mode where the forward and reverse DNS lookups are done using the same LDAP objects, and a "tree" mode where the forward and reverse entries are in two different subtrees in LDAP with a structure based on the DNS names, as in tjener.intern and 2.2.0.10.in-addr.arpa.

In tree mode, the server is set up to use a LDAP subtree as its base, and uses a "base" scoped search for the DNS name by adding "dc=tjener,dc=intern," to the base with a filter for "(associateddomain=tjener.intern)" for the forward entry and "dc=2,dc=2,dc=0,dc=10,dc=in-addr,dc=arpa," with a filter for "(associateddomain=2.2.0.10.in-addr.arpa)" for the reverse entry. For forward entries, it is looking for attributes named dnsttl, arecord, nsrecord, cnamerecord, soarecord, ptrrecord, hinforecord, mxrecord, txtrecord, rprecord, afsdbrecord, keyrecord, aaaarecord, locrecord, srvrecord, naptrrecord, kxrecord, certrecord, dsrecord, sshfprecord, ipseckeyrecord, rrsigrecord, nsecrecord, dnskeyrecord, dhcidrecord, spfrecord and modifytimestamp. For reverse entries it is looking for the attributes dnsttl, arecord, nsrecord, cnamerecord, soarecord, ptrrecord, hinforecord, mxrecord, txtrecord, rprecord, aaaarecord, locrecord, srvrecord, naptrrecord and modifytimestamp. The equivalent ldapsearch commands could look like this:

ldapsearch -h ldap \
  -b dc=tjener,dc=intern,ou=hosts,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no \
  -s base -x '(associateddomain=tjener.intern)' dNSTTL aRecord nSRecord \
  cNAMERecord sOARecord pTRRecord hInfoRecord mXRecord tXTRecord \
  rPRecord aFSDBRecord KeyRecord aAAARecord lOCRecord sRVRecord \
  nAPTRRecord kXRecord certRecord dSRecord sSHFPRecord iPSecKeyRecord \
  rRSIGRecord nSECRecord dNSKeyRecord dHCIDRecord sPFRecord modifyTimestamp

ldapsearch -h ldap \
  -b dc=2,dc=2,dc=0,dc=10,dc=in-addr,dc=arpa,ou=hosts,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no \
  -s base -x '(associateddomain=2.2.0.10.in-addr.arpa)'
  dnsttl, arecord, nsrecord, cnamerecord soarecord ptrrecord \
  hinforecord mxrecord txtrecord rprecord aaaarecord locrecord \
  srvrecord naptrrecord modifytimestamp

In Debian Edu/Lenny, the PowerDNS tree mode is used with ou=hosts,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no as the base, and these are two example LDAP objects used there. In addition to these objects, the parent objects all th way up to ou=hosts,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no also exist.

dn: dc=tjener,dc=intern,ou=hosts,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
objectclass: top
objectclass: dnsdomain
objectclass: domainrelatedobject
dc: tjener
arecord: 10.0.2.2
associateddomain: tjener.intern

dn: dc=2,dc=2,dc=0,dc=10,dc=in-addr,dc=arpa,ou=hosts,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
objectclass: top
objectclass: dnsdomain2
objectclass: domainrelatedobject
dc: 2
ptrrecord: tjener.intern
associateddomain: 2.2.0.10.in-addr.arpa

In strict mode, the server behaves differently. When looking for forward DNS entries, it is doing a "subtree" scoped search with the same base as in the tree mode for a object with filter "(associateddomain=tjener.intern)" and requests the attributes dnsttl, arecord, nsrecord, cnamerecord, soarecord, ptrrecord, hinforecord, mxrecord, txtrecord, rprecord, aaaarecord, locrecord, srvrecord, naptrrecord and modifytimestamp. For reverse entires it also do a subtree scoped search but this time the filter is "(arecord=10.0.2.2)" and the requested attributes are associateddomain, dnsttl and modifytimestamp. In short, in strict mode the objects with ptrrecord go away, and the arecord attribute in the forward object is used instead.

The forward and reverse searches can be simulated using ldapsearch like this:

ldapsearch -h ldap -b ou=hosts,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no -s sub -x \
  '(associateddomain=tjener.intern)' dNSTTL aRecord nSRecord \
  cNAMERecord sOARecord pTRRecord hInfoRecord mXRecord tXTRecord \
  rPRecord aFSDBRecord KeyRecord aAAARecord lOCRecord sRVRecord \
  nAPTRRecord kXRecord certRecord dSRecord sSHFPRecord iPSecKeyRecord \
  rRSIGRecord nSECRecord dNSKeyRecord dHCIDRecord sPFRecord modifyTimestamp

ldapsearch -h ldap -b ou=hosts,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no -s sub -x \
  '(arecord=10.0.2.2)' associateddomain dnsttl modifytimestamp

In addition to the forward and reverse searches , there is also a search for SOA records, which behave similar to the forward and reverse lookups.

A thing to note with the PowerDNS behaviour is that it do not specify any objectclass names, and instead look for the attributes it need to generate a DNS reply. This make it able to work with any objectclass that provide the needed attributes.

The attributes are normally provided in the cosine (RFC 1274) and dnsdomain2 schemas. The latter is used for reverse entries like ptrrecord and recent DNS additions like aaaarecord and srvrecord.

In Debian Edu, we have created DNS objects using the object classes dcobject (for dc), dnsdomain or dnsdomain2 (structural, for the DNS attributes) and domainrelatedobject (for associatedDomain). The use of structural object classes make it impossible to combine these classes with the object classes used by DHCP.

There are other schemas that could be used too, for example the dnszone structural object class used by Gosa and bind-sdb for the DNS attributes combined with the domainrelatedobject object class, but in this case some unused attributes would have to be included as well (zonename and relativedomainname).

My proposal for Debian Edu would be to switch PowerDNS to strict mode and not use any of the existing objectclasses (dnsdomain, dnsdomain2 and dnszone) when one want to combine the DNS information with DHCP information, and instead create a auxiliary object class defined something like this (using the attributes defined for dnsdomain and dnsdomain2 or dnszone):

objectclass ( some-oid NAME 'dnsDomainAux'
    SUP top
    AUXILIARY
    MAY ( ARecord $ MDRecord $ MXRecord $ NSRecord $ SOARecord $ CNAMERecord $
          DNSTTL $ DNSClass $ PTRRecord $ HINFORecord $ MINFORecord $
          TXTRecord $ SIGRecord $ KEYRecord $ AAAARecord $ LOCRecord $
          NXTRecord $ SRVRecord $ NAPTRRecord $ KXRecord $ CERTRecord $
          A6Record $ DNAMERecord
    ))

This will allow any object to become a DNS entry when combined with the domainrelatedobject object class, and allow any entity to include all the attributes PowerDNS wants. I've sent an email to the PowerDNS developers asking for their view on this schema and if they are interested in providing such schema with PowerDNS, and I hope my message will be accepted into their mailing list soon.

ISC dhcp

The DHCP server searches for specific objectclass and requests all the object attributes, and then uses the attributes it want. This make it harder to figure out exactly what attributes are used, but thanks to the working example in Debian Edu I can at least get an idea what is needed without having to read the source code.

In the DHCP server configuration, the LDAP base to use and the search filter to use to locate the correct dhcpServer entity is stored. These are the relevant entries from /etc/dhcp3/dhcpd.conf:

ldap-base-dn "dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no";
ldap-dhcp-server-cn "dhcp";

The DHCP server uses this information to nest all the DHCP configuration it need. The cn "dhcp" is located using the given LDAP base and the filter "(&(objectClass=dhcpServer)(cn=dhcp))". The search result is this entry:

dn: cn=dhcp,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
cn: dhcp
objectClass: top
objectClass: dhcpServer
dhcpServiceDN: cn=DHCP Config,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no

The content of the dhcpServiceDN attribute is next used to locate the subtree with DHCP configuration. The DHCP configuration subtree base is located using a base scope search with base "cn=DHCP Config,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no" and filter "(&(objectClass=dhcpService)(|(dhcpPrimaryDN=cn=dhcp,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no)(dhcpSecondaryDN=cn=dhcp,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no)))". The search result is this entry:

dn: cn=DHCP Config,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
cn: DHCP Config
objectClass: top
objectClass: dhcpService
objectClass: dhcpOptions
dhcpPrimaryDN: cn=dhcp, dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
dhcpStatements: ddns-update-style none
dhcpStatements: authoritative
dhcpOption: smtp-server code 69 = array of ip-address
dhcpOption: www-server code 72 = array of ip-address
dhcpOption: wpad-url code 252 = text

Next, the entire subtree is processed, one level at the time. When all the DHCP configuration is loaded, it is ready to receive requests. The subtree in Debian Edu contain objects with object classes top/dhcpService/dhcpOptions, top/dhcpSharedNetwork/dhcpOptions, top/dhcpSubnet, top/dhcpGroup and top/dhcpHost. These provide options and information about netmasks, dynamic range etc. Leaving out the details here because it is not relevant for the focus of my investigation, which is to see if it is possible to merge dns and dhcp related computer objects.

When a DHCP request come in, LDAP is searched for the MAC address of the client (00:00:00:00:00:00 in this example), using a subtree scoped search with "cn=DHCP Config,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no" as the base and "(&(objectClass=dhcpHost)(dhcpHWAddress=ethernet 00:00:00:00:00:00))" as the filter. This is what a host object look like:

dn: cn=hostname,cn=group1,cn=THINCLIENTS,cn=DHCP Config,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
cn: hostname
objectClass: top
objectClass: dhcpHost
dhcpHWAddress: ethernet 00:00:00:00:00:00
dhcpStatements: fixed-address hostname

There is less flexiblity in the way LDAP searches are done here. The object classes need to have fixed names, and the configuration need to be stored in a fairly specific LDAP structure. On the positive side, the invidiual dhcpHost entires can be anywhere without the DN pointed to by the dhcpServer entries. The latter should make it possible to group all host entries in a subtree next to the configuration entries, and this subtree can also be shared with the DNS server if the schema proposed above is combined with the dhcpHost structural object class.

Conclusion

The PowerDNS implementation seem to be very flexible when it come to which LDAP schemas to use. While its "tree" mode is rigid when it come to the the LDAP structure, the "strict" mode is very flexible, allowing DNS objects to be stored anywhere under the base cn specified in the configuration.

The DHCP implementation on the other hand is very inflexible, both regarding which LDAP schemas to use and which LDAP structure to use. I guess one could implement ones own schema, as long as the objectclasses and attributes have the names used, but this do not really help when the DHCP subtree need to have a fairly fixed structure.

Based on the observed behaviour, I suspect a LDAP structure like this might work for Debian Edu:

ou=services
  cn=machine-info (dhcpService) - dhcpServiceDN points here
    cn=dhcp (dhcpServer)
    cn=dhcp-internal (dhcpSharedNetwork/dhcpOptions)
      cn=10.0.2.0 (dhcpSubnet)
        cn=group1 (dhcpGroup/dhcpOptions)
    cn=dhcp-thinclients (dhcpSharedNetwork/dhcpOptions)
      cn=192.168.0.0 (dhcpSubnet)
        cn=group1 (dhcpGroup/dhcpOptions)
    ou=machines - PowerDNS base points here
      cn=hostname (dhcpHost/domainrelatedobject/dnsDomainAux)

This is not tested yet. If the DHCP server require the dhcpHost entries to be in the dhcpGroup subtrees, the entries can be stored there instead of a common machines subtree, and the PowerDNS base would have to be moved one level up to the machine-info subtree.

The combined object under the machines subtree would look something like this:

dn: dc=hostname,ou=machines,cn=machine-info,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
dc: hostname
objectClass: top
objectClass: dhcpHost
objectclass: domainrelatedobject
objectclass: dnsDomainAux
associateddomain: hostname.intern
arecord: 10.11.12.13
dhcpHWAddress: ethernet 00:00:00:00:00:00
dhcpStatements: fixed-address hostname.intern

One could even add the LTSP configuration associated with a given machine, as long as the required attributes are available in a auxiliary object class.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, ldap, nuug.
Combining PowerDNS and ISC DHCP LDAP objects
14th July 2010

For a while now, I have wanted to find a way to change the DNS and DHCP services in Debian Edu to use the same LDAP objects for a given computer, to avoid the possibility of having a inconsistent state for a computer in LDAP (as in DHCP but no DNS entry or the other way around) and make it easier to add computers to LDAP.

I've looked at how powerdns and dhcpd is using LDAP, and using this information finally found a solution that seem to work.

The old setup required three LDAP objects for a given computer. One forward DNS entry, one reverse DNS entry and one DHCP entry. If we switch powerdns to use its strict LDAP method (ldap-method=strict in pdns-debian-edu.conf), the forward and reverse DNS entries are merged into one while making it impossible to transfer the reverse map to a slave DNS server.

If we also replace the object class used to get the DNS related attributes to one allowing these attributes to be combined with the dhcphost object class, we can merge the DNS and DHCP entries into one. I've written such object class in the dnsdomainaux.schema file (need proper OIDs, but that is a minor issue), and tested the setup. It seem to work.

With this test setup in place, we can get away with one LDAP object for both DNS and DHCP, and even the LTSP configuration I suggested in an earlier email. The combined LDAP object will look something like this:

  dn: cn=hostname,cn=group1,cn=THINCLIENTS,cn=DHCP Config,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
  cn: hostname
  objectClass: dhcphost
  objectclass: domainrelatedobject
  objectclass: dnsdomainaux
  associateddomain: hostname.intern
  arecord: 10.11.12.13
  dhcphwaddress: ethernet 00:00:00:00:00:00
  dhcpstatements: fixed-address hostname
  ldapconfigsound: Y

The DNS server uses the associateddomain and arecord entries, while the DHCP server uses the dhcphwaddress and dhcpstatements entries before asking DNS to resolve the fixed-adddress. LTSP will use dhcphwaddress or associateddomain and the ldapconfig* attributes.

I am not yet sure if I can get the DHCP server to look for its dhcphost in a different location, to allow us to put the objects outside the "DHCP Config" subtree, but hope to figure out a way to do that. If I can't figure out a way to do that, we can still get rid of the hosts subtree and move all its content into the DHCP Config tree (which probably should be renamed to be more related to the new content. I suspect cn=dnsdhcp,ou=services or something like that might be a good place to put it.

If you want to help out with implementing this for Debian Edu, please contact us on debian-edu@lists.debian.org.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, ldap, nuug.
Idea for storing LTSP configuration in LDAP
11th July 2010

Vagrant mentioned on IRC today that ltsp_config now support sourcing files from /usr/share/ltsp/ltsp_config.d/ on the thin clients, and that this can be used to fetch configuration from LDAP if Debian Edu choose to store configuration there.

Armed with this information, I got inspired and wrote a test module to get configuration from LDAP. The idea is to look up the MAC address of the client in LDAP, and look for attributes on the form ltspconfigsetting=value, and use this to export SETTING=value to the LTSP clients.

The goal is to be able to store the LTSP configuration attributes in a "computer" LDAP object used by both DNS and DHCP, and thus allowing us to store all information about a computer in one place.

This is a untested draft implementation, and I welcome feedback on this approach. A real LDAP schema for the ltspClientAux objectclass need to be written. Comments, suggestions, etc?

# Store in /opt/ltsp/$arch/usr/share/ltsp/ltsp_config.d/ldap-config
#
# Fetch LTSP client settings from LDAP based on MAC address
#
# Uses ethernet address as stored in the dhcpHost objectclass using
# the dhcpHWAddress attribute or ethernet address stored in the
# ieee802Device objectclass with the macAddress attribute.
#
# This module is written to be schema agnostic, and only depend on the
# existence of attribute names.
#
# The LTSP configuration variables are saved directly using a
# ltspConfig prefix and uppercasing the rest of the attribute name.
# To set the SERVER variable, set the ltspConfigServer attribute.
#
# Some LDAP schema should be created with all the relevant
# configuration settings.  Something like this should work:
# 
# objectclass ( 1.1.2.2 NAME 'ltspClientAux'
#     SUP top
#     AUXILIARY
#     MAY ( ltspConfigServer $ ltsConfigSound $ ... )

LDAPSERVER=$(debian-edu-ldapserver)
if [ "$LDAPSERVER" ] ; then
    LDAPBASE=$(debian-edu-ldapserver -b)
    for MAC in $(LANG=C ifconfig |grep -i hwaddr| awk '{print $5}'|sort -u) ; do
	filter="(|(dhcpHWAddress=ethernet $MAC)(macAddress=$MAC))"
	ldapsearch -h "$LDAPSERVER" -b "$LDAPBASE" -v -x "$filter" | \
	    grep '^ltspConfig' | while read attr value ; do
	    # Remove prefix and convert to upper case
	    attr=$(echo $attr | sed 's/^ltspConfig//i' | tr a-z A-Z)
	    # bass value on to clients
	    eval "$attr=$value; export $attr"
	done
    done
fi

I'm not sure this shell construction will work, because I suspect the while block might end up in a subshell causing the variables set there to not show up in ltsp-config, but if that is the case I am sure the code can be restructured to make sure the variables are passed on. I expect that can be solved with some testing. :)

If you want to help out with implementing this for Debian Edu, please contact us on debian-edu@lists.debian.org.

Update 2010-07-17: I am aware of another effort to store LTSP configuration in LDAP that was created around year 2000 by PC Xperience, Inc., 2000. I found its files on a personal home page over at redhat.com.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, ldap, nuug.
jXplorer, a very nice LDAP GUI
9th July 2010

Since my last post about available LDAP tools in Debian, I was told about a LDAP GUI that is even better than luma. The java application jXplorer is claimed to be capable of moving LDAP objects and subtrees using drag-and-drop, and can authenticate using Kerberos. I have only tested the Kerberos authentication, but do not have a LDAP setup allowing me to rewrite LDAP with my test user yet. It is available in Debian testing and unstable at the moment. The only problem I have with it is how it handle errors. If something go wrong, its non-intuitive behaviour require me to go through some query work list and remove the failing query. Nothing big, but very annoying.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, ldap, nuug.
Lenny->Squeeze upgrades, apt vs aptitude with the Gnome desktop
3rd July 2010

Here is a short update on my my Debian Lenny->Squeeze upgrade testing. Here is a summary of the difference for Gnome when it is upgraded by apt-get and aptitude. I'm not reporting the status for KDE, because the upgrade crashes when aptitude try because of missing conflicts (#584861 and #585716).

At the end of the upgrade test script, dpkg -l is executed to get a complete list of the installed packages. Based on this I see these differences when I did a test run today. As usual, I do not really know what the correct set of packages would be, but thought it best to publish the difference.

Installed using apt-get, missing with aptitude

at-spi cpp-4.3 finger gnome-spell gstreamer0.10-gnomevfs libatspi1.0-0 libcupsys2 libeel2-data libgail-common libgdl-1-common libgnomeprint2.2-data libgnomeprintui2.2-common libgnomevfs2-bin libgtksourceview-common libpt-1.10.10-plugins-alsa libpt-1.10.10-plugins-v4l libservlet2.4-java libxalan2-java libxerces2-java openoffice.org-writer2latex openssl-blacklist p7zip python-4suite-xml python-eggtrayicon python-gtkhtml2 python-gtkmozembed svgalibg1 xserver-xephyr zip

Installed using apt-get, removed with aptitude

bluez-utils dhcdbd djvulibre-desktop epiphany-gecko gnome-app-install gnome-mount gnome-vfs-obexftp gnome-volume-manager libao2 libavahi-compat-libdnssd1 libavahi-core5 libbind9-50 libbluetooth2 libcamel1.2-11 libcdio7 libcucul0 libcurl3 libdirectfb-1.0-0 libdvdread3 libedata-cal1.2-6 libedataserver1.2-9 libeel2-2.20 libepc-1.0-1 libepc-ui-1.0-1 libexchange-storage1.2-3 libfaad0 libgd2-noxpm libgda3-3 libgda3-common libggz2 libggzcore9 libggzmod4 libgksu1.2-0 libgksuui1.0-1 libgmyth0 libgnome-desktop-2 libgnome-pilot2 libgnomecups1.0-1 libgnomeprint2.2-0 libgnomeprintui2.2-0 libgpod3 libgraphviz4 libgtkhtml2-0 libgtksourceview1.0-0 libgucharmap6 libhesiod0 libicu38 libisccc50 libisccfg50 libiw29 libkpathsea4 libltdl3 liblwres50 libmagick++10 libmagick10 libmalaga7 libmtp7 libmysqlclient15off libnautilus-burn4 libneon27 libnm-glib0 libnm-util0 libopal-2.2 libosp5 libparted1.8-10 libpisock9 libpisync1 libpoppler-glib3 libpoppler3 libpt-1.10.10 libraw1394-8 libsensors3 libsmbios2 libsoup2.2-8 libssh2-1 libsuitesparse-3.1.0 libswfdec-0.6-90 libtalloc1 libtotem-plparser10 libtrackerclient0 libvoikko1 libxalan2-java-gcj libxerces2-java-gcj libxklavier12 libxtrap6 libxxf86misc1 libzephyr3 mysql-common swfdec-gnome totem-gstreamer wodim

Installed using aptitude, missing with apt-get

gnome gnome-desktop-environment hamster-applet python-gnomeapplet python-gnomekeyring python-wnck rhythmbox-plugins xorg xserver-xorg-input-all xserver-xorg-input-evdev xserver-xorg-input-kbd xserver-xorg-input-mouse xserver-xorg-input-synaptics xserver-xorg-video-all xserver-xorg-video-apm xserver-xorg-video-ark xserver-xorg-video-ati xserver-xorg-video-chips xserver-xorg-video-cirrus xserver-xorg-video-dummy xserver-xorg-video-fbdev xserver-xorg-video-glint xserver-xorg-video-i128 xserver-xorg-video-i740 xserver-xorg-video-mach64 xserver-xorg-video-mga xserver-xorg-video-neomagic xserver-xorg-video-nouveau xserver-xorg-video-nv xserver-xorg-video-r128 xserver-xorg-video-radeon xserver-xorg-video-radeonhd xserver-xorg-video-rendition xserver-xorg-video-s3 xserver-xorg-video-s3virge xserver-xorg-video-savage xserver-xorg-video-siliconmotion xserver-xorg-video-sis xserver-xorg-video-sisusb xserver-xorg-video-tdfx xserver-xorg-video-tga xserver-xorg-video-trident xserver-xorg-video-tseng xserver-xorg-video-vesa xserver-xorg-video-vmware xserver-xorg-video-voodoo

Installed using aptitude, removed with apt-get

deskbar-applet xserver-xorg xserver-xorg-core xserver-xorg-input-wacom xserver-xorg-video-intel xserver-xorg-video-openchrome

I was told on IRC that the xorg-xserver package was changed in git today to try to get apt-get to not remove xorg completely. No idea when it hits Squeeze, but when it does I hope it will reduce the difference somewhat.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english.
Caching password, user and group on a roaming Debian laptop
1st July 2010

For a laptop, centralized user directories and password checking is a bit troubling. Laptops are typically used also when not connected to the network, and it is vital for a user to be able to log in or unlock the screen saver also when a central server is unavailable. This is possible by caching passwords and directory information (user and group attributes) locally, and the packages to do so are available in Debian. Here follow two recipes to set this up in Debian/Squeeze. It is also possible to set up in Debian/Lenny, but require more manual setup there because pam-auth-update is missing in Lenny.

LDAP/Kerberos + nscd + libpam-ccreds + libpam-mklocaluser/pam_mkhomedir

This is the traditional method with a twist. The password caching is provided by libpam-ccreds (version 10-4 or later is needed on Squeeze), and the directory caching is done by nscd. The directory lookup and password checking is done using LDAP. If one want to use Kerberos for password checking the libpam-ldapd package can be replaced with libpam-krb5 or libpam-heimdal. If one is happy having a local home directory with the path listed in LDAP, one can use the pam_mkhomedir module from pam-modules to make this happen instead of using libpam-mklocaluser. A setup for pam-auth-update to enable pam_mkhomedir will have to be written until a fix for bug #568577 is in the archive. Because I believe it is a bad idea to have local home directories using misleading paths like /site/server/partition/, I prefer to create a local user with the home directory in /home/. This is done using the libpam-mklocaluser package.

These packages need to be installed and configured

libnss-ldapd libpam-ldapd nscd libpam-ccreds libpam-mklocaluser

The ldapd packages will ask for LDAP connection information, and one have to fill in the values that fits ones own site. Make sure the PAM part uses encrypted connections, to make sure the password is not sent in clear text to the LDAP server. I've been unable to get TLS certificate checking for a self signed certificate working, which make LDAP authentication unsafe for Debian Edu (nslcd is not checking if it is talking to the correct LDAP server), and very much welcome feedback on how to get this working.

Because nscd do not have a default configuration fit for offline caching until bug #485282 is fixed, this configuration should be used instead of the one currently in /etc/nscd.conf. The changes are in the fields reload-count and positive-time-to-live, and is based on the instructions I found in the LDAP for Mobile Laptops instructions by Flyn Computing.

	debug-level		0
	reload-count		unlimited
	paranoia		no

	enable-cache		passwd		yes
	positive-time-to-live	passwd		2592000
	negative-time-to-live	passwd		20
	suggested-size		passwd		211
	check-files		passwd		yes
	persistent		passwd		yes
	shared			passwd		yes
	max-db-size		passwd		33554432
	auto-propagate		passwd		yes

	enable-cache		group		yes
	positive-time-to-live	group		2592000
	negative-time-to-live	group		20
	suggested-size		group		211
	check-files		group		yes
	persistent		group		yes
	shared			group		yes
	max-db-size		group		33554432
	auto-propagate		group		yes

	enable-cache		hosts		no
	positive-time-to-live	hosts		2592000
	negative-time-to-live	hosts		20
	suggested-size		hosts		211
	check-files		hosts		yes
	persistent		hosts		yes
	shared			hosts		yes
	max-db-size		hosts		33554432

	enable-cache		services	yes
	positive-time-to-live	services	2592000
	negative-time-to-live	services	20
	suggested-size		services	211
	check-files		services	yes
	persistent		services	yes
	shared			services	yes
	max-db-size		services	33554432

While we wait for a mechanism to update /etc/nsswitch.conf automatically like the one provided in bug #496915, the file content need to be manually replaced to ensure LDAP is used as the directory service on the machine. /etc/nsswitch.conf should normally look like this:

passwd:         files ldap
group:          files ldap
shadow:         files ldap
hosts:          files mdns4_minimal [NOTFOUND=return] dns mdns4
networks:       files
protocols:      files
services:       files
ethers:         files
rpc:            files
netgroup:       files ldap

The important parts are that ldap is listed last for passwd, group, shadow and netgroup.

With these changes in place, any user in LDAP will be able to log in locally on the machine using for example kdm, get a local home directory created and have the password as well as user and group attributes cached.

LDAP/Kerberos + nss-updatedb + libpam-ccreds + libpam-mklocaluser/pam_mkhomedir

Because nscd have had its share of problems, and seem to have problems doing proper caching, I've seen suggestions and recipes to use nss-updatedb to copy parts of the LDAP database locally when the LDAP database is available. I have not tested such setup, because I discovered sssd.

LDAP/Kerberos + sssd + libpam-mklocaluser

A more flexible and robust setup than the nscd combination mentioned earlier that has shown up recently, is the sssd package from Redhat. It is part of the FreeIPA project to provide a Active Directory like directory service for Linux machines. The sssd system combines the caching of passwords and user information into one package, and remove the need for nscd and libpam-ccreds. It support LDAP and Kerberos, but not NIS. Version 1.2 do not support netgroups, but it is said that it will support this in version 1.5 expected to show up later in 2010. Because the sssd package was missing in Debian, I ended up co-maintaining it with Werner, and version 1.2 is now in testing.

These packages need to be installed and configured to get the roaming setup I want

libpam-sss libnss-sss libpam-mklocaluser
The complete setup of sssd is done by editing/creating /etc/sssd/sssd.conf.
[sssd]
config_file_version = 2
reconnection_retries = 3
sbus_timeout = 30
services = nss, pam
domains = INTERN

[nss]
filter_groups = root
filter_users = root
reconnection_retries = 3

[pam]
reconnection_retries = 3

[domain/INTERN]
enumerate = false
cache_credentials = true

id_provider = ldap
auth_provider = ldap
chpass_provider = ldap

ldap_uri = ldap://ldap
ldap_search_base = dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
ldap_tls_reqcert = never
ldap_tls_cacert = /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt

I got the same problem here with certificate checking. Had to set "ldap_tls_reqcert = never" to get it working.

With the libnss-sss package in testing at the moment, the nsswitch.conf file is update automatically, so there is no need to modify it manually.

If you want to help out with implementing this for Debian Edu, please contact us on debian-edu@lists.debian.org.

Tags: debian edu, english, ldap, nuug.
LUMA, a very nice LDAP GUI
28th June 2010

The last few days I have been looking into the status of the LDAP directory in Debian Edu, and in the process I started to miss a GUI tool to browse the LDAP tree. The only one I was able to find in Debian/Squeeze and Lenny is LUMA, which has proved to be a great tool to get a overview of the current LDAP directory populated by default in Skolelinux. Thanks to it, I have been able to find empty and obsolete subtrees, misplaced objects and duplicate objects. It will be installed by default in Debian/Squeeze. If you are working with LDAP, give it a go. :)

I did notice one problem with it I have not had time to report to the BTS yet. There is no .desktop file in the package, so the tool do not show up in the Gnome and KDE menus, but only deep down in in the Debian submenu in KDE. I hope that can be fixed before Squeeze is released.

I have not yet been able to get it to modify the tree yet. I would like to move objects and remove subtrees directly in the GUI, but have not found a way to do that with LUMA yet. So in the mean time, I use ldapvi for that.

If you have tips on other GUI tools for LDAP that might be useful in Debian Edu, please contact us on debian-edu@lists.debian.org.

Update 2010-06-29: Ross Reedstrom tipped us about the gq package as a useful GUI alternative. It seem like a good tool, but is unmaintained in Debian and got a RC bug keeping it out of Squeeze. Unless that changes, it will not be an option for Debian Edu based on Squeeze.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, ldap, nuug.
Idea for a change to LDAP schemas allowing DNS and DHCP info to be combined into one object
24th June 2010

A while back, I complained about the fact that it is not possible with the provided schemas for storing DNS and DHCP information in LDAP to combine the two sets of information into one LDAP object representing a computer.

In the mean time, I discovered that a simple fix would be to make the dhcpHost object class auxiliary, to allow it to be combined with the dNSDomain object class, and thus forming one object for one computer when storing both DHCP and DNS information in LDAP.

If I understand this correctly, it is not safe to do this change without also changing the assigned number for the object class, and I do not know enough about LDAP schema design to do that properly for Debian Edu.

Anyway, for future reference, this is how I believe we could change the DHCP schema to solve at least part of the problem with the LDAP schemas available today from IETF.

--- dhcp.schema    (revision 65192)
+++ dhcp.schema    (working copy)
@@ -376,7 +376,7 @@
 objectclass ( 2.16.840.1.113719.1.203.6.6
        NAME 'dhcpHost'
        DESC 'This represents information about a particular client'
-       SUP top
+       SUP top AUXILIARY
        MUST cn
        MAY  (dhcpLeaseDN $ dhcpHWAddress $ dhcpOptionsDN $ dhcpStatements $ dhcpComments $ dhcpOption)
        X-NDS_CONTAINMENT ('dhcpService' 'dhcpSubnet' 'dhcpGroup') )

I very much welcome clues on how to do this properly for Debian Edu/Squeeze. We provide the DHCP schema in our debian-edu-config package, and should thus be free to rewrite it as we see fit.

If you want to help out with implementing this for Debian Edu, please contact us on debian-edu@lists.debian.org.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, ldap, nuug.
Lenny->Squeeze upgrades, removals by apt and aptitude
13th June 2010

My testing of Debian upgrades from Lenny to Squeeze continues, and I've finally made the upgrade logs available from http://people.skolelinux.org/pere/debian-upgrade-testing/. I am now testing dist-upgrade of Gnome and KDE in a chroot using both apt and aptitude, and found their differences interesting. This time I will only focus on their removal plans.

After installing a Gnome desktop and the laptop task, apt-get wants to remove 72 packages when dist-upgrading from Lenny to Squeeze. The surprising part is that it want to remove xorg and all xserver-xorg-video* drivers. Clearly not a good choice, but I am not sure why. When asking aptitude to do the same, it want to remove 129 packages, but most of them are library packages I suspect are no longer needed. Both of them want to remove bluetooth packages, which I do not know. Perhaps these bluetooth packages are obsolete?

For KDE, apt-get want to remove 82 packages, among them kdebase which seem like a bad idea and xorg the same way as with Gnome. Asking aptitude for the same, it wants to remove 192 packages, none which are too surprising.

I guess the removal of xorg during upgrades should be investigated and avoided, and perhaps others as well. Here are the complete list of planned removals. The complete logs is available from the URL above. Note if you want to repeat these tests, that the upgrade test for kde+apt-get hung in the tasksel setup because of dpkg asking conffile questions. No idea why. I worked around it by using 'echo >> /proc/pidofdpkg/fd/0' to tell dpkg to continue.

apt-get gnome 72
bluez-gnome cupsddk-drivers deskbar-applet gnome gnome-desktop-environment gnome-network-admin gtkhtml3.14 iceweasel-gnome-support libavcodec51 libdatrie0 libgdl-1-0 libgnomekbd2 libgnomekbdui2 libmetacity0 libslab0 libxcb-xlib0 nautilus-cd-burner python-gnome2-desktop python-gnome2-extras serpentine swfdec-mozilla update-manager xorg xserver-xorg xserver-xorg-core xserver-xorg-input-all xserver-xorg-input-evdev xserver-xorg-input-kbd xserver-xorg-input-mouse xserver-xorg-input-synaptics xserver-xorg-input-wacom xserver-xorg-video-all xserver-xorg-video-apm xserver-xorg-video-ark xserver-xorg-video-ati xserver-xorg-video-chips xserver-xorg-video-cirrus xserver-xorg-video-cyrix xserver-xorg-video-dummy xserver-xorg-video-fbdev xserver-xorg-video-glint xserver-xorg-video-i128 xserver-xorg-video-i740 xserver-xorg-video-imstt xserver-xorg-video-intel xserver-xorg-video-mach64 xserver-xorg-video-mga xserver-xorg-video-neomagic xserver-xorg-video-nsc xserver-xorg-video-nv xserver-xorg-video-openchrome xserver-xorg-video-r128 xserver-xorg-video-radeon xserver-xorg-video-radeonhd xserver-xorg-video-rendition xserver-xorg-video-s3 xserver-xorg-video-s3virge xserver-xorg-video-savage xserver-xorg-video-siliconmotion xserver-xorg-video-sis xserver-xorg-video-sisusb xserver-xorg-video-tdfx xserver-xorg-video-tga xserver-xorg-video-trident xserver-xorg-video-tseng xserver-xorg-video-v4l xserver-xorg-video-vesa xserver-xorg-video-vga xserver-xorg-video-vmware xserver-xorg-video-voodoo xulrunner-1.9 xulrunner-1.9-gnome-support

aptitude gnome 129
bluez-gnome bluez-utils cpp-4.3 cupsddk-drivers dhcdbd djvulibre-desktop finger gnome-app-install gnome-mount gnome-network-admin gnome-spell gnome-vfs-obexftp gnome-volume-manager gstreamer0.10-gnomevfs gtkhtml3.14 libao2 libavahi-compat-libdnssd1 libavahi-core5 libavcodec51 libbluetooth2 libcamel1.2-11 libcdio7 libcucul0 libcupsys2 libcurl3 libdatrie0 libdirectfb-1.0-0 libdvdread3 libedataserver1.2-9 libeel2-2.20 libeel2-data libepc-1.0-1 libepc-ui-1.0-1 libfaad0 libgail-common libgd2-noxpm libgda3-3 libgda3-common libgdl-1-0 libgdl-1-common libggz2 libggzcore9 libggzmod4 libgksu1.2-0 libgksuui1.0-1 libgmyth0 libgnomecups1.0-1 libgnomekbd2 libgnomekbdui2 libgnomeprint2.2-0 libgnomeprint2.2-data libgnomeprintui2.2-0 libgnomeprintui2.2-common libgnomevfs2-bin libgpod3 libgraphviz4 libgtkhtml2-0 libgtksourceview-common libgtksourceview1.0-0 libgucharmap6 libhesiod0 libicu38 libiw29 libkpathsea4 libltdl3 libmagick++10 libmagick10 libmalaga7 libmetacity0 libmtp7 libmysqlclient15off libnautilus-burn4 libneon27 libnm-glib0 libnm-util0 libopal-2.2 libosp5 libparted1.8-10 libpoppler-glib3 libpoppler3 libpt-1.10.10 libpt-1.10.10-plugins-alsa libpt-1.10.10-plugins-v4l libraw1394-8 libsensors3 libslab0 libsmbios2 libsoup2.2-8 libssh2-1 libsuitesparse-3.1.0 libswfdec-0.6-90 libtalloc1 libtotem-plparser10 libtrackerclient0 libxalan2-java libxalan2-java-gcj libxcb-xlib0 libxerces2-java libxerces2-java-gcj libxklavier12 libxtrap6 libxxf86misc1 libzephyr3 mysql-common nautilus-cd-burner openoffice.org-writer2latex openssl-blacklist p7zip python-4suite-xml python-eggtrayicon python-gnome2-desktop python-gnome2-extras python-gtkhtml2 python-gtkmozembed python-numeric python-sexy serpentine svgalibg1 swfdec-gnome swfdec-mozilla totem-gstreamer update-manager wodim xserver-xorg-video-cyrix xserver-xorg-video-imstt xserver-xorg-video-nsc xserver-xorg-video-v4l xserver-xorg-video-vga zip

apt-get kde 82
cupsddk-drivers karm kaudiocreator kcoloredit kcontrol kde kde-core kdeaddons kdeartwork kdebase kdebase-bin kdebase-bin-kde3 kdebase-kio-plugins kdesktop kdeutils khelpcenter kicker kicker-applets knewsticker kolourpaint konq-plugins konqueror korn kpersonalizer kscreensaver ksplash libavcodec51 libdatrie0 libkiten1 libxcb-xlib0 quanta superkaramba texlive-base-bin xorg xserver-xorg xserver-xorg-core xserver-xorg-input-all xserver-xorg-input-evdev xserver-xorg-input-kbd xserver-xorg-input-mouse xserver-xorg-input-synaptics xserver-xorg-input-wacom xserver-xorg-video-all xserver-xorg-video-apm xserver-xorg-video-ark xserver-xorg-video-ati xserver-xorg-video-chips xserver-xorg-video-cirrus xserver-xorg-video-cyrix xserver-xorg-video-dummy xserver-xorg-video-fbdev xserver-xorg-video-glint xserver-xorg-video-i128 xserver-xorg-video-i740 xserver-xorg-video-imstt xserver-xorg-video-intel xserver-xorg-video-mach64 xserver-xorg-video-mga xserver-xorg-video-neomagic xserver-xorg-video-nsc xserver-xorg-video-nv xserver-xorg-video-openchrome xserver-xorg-video-r128 xserver-xorg-video-radeon xserver-xorg-video-radeonhd xserver-xorg-video-rendition xserver-xorg-video-s3 xserver-xorg-video-s3virge xserver-xorg-video-savage xserver-xorg-video-siliconmotion xserver-xorg-video-sis xserver-xorg-video-sisusb xserver-xorg-video-tdfx xserver-xorg-video-tga xserver-xorg-video-trident xserver-xorg-video-tseng xserver-xorg-video-v4l xserver-xorg-video-vesa xserver-xorg-video-vga xserver-xorg-video-vmware xserver-xorg-video-voodoo xulrunner-1.9

aptitude kde 192
bluez-utils cpp-4.3 cupsddk-drivers cvs dcoprss dhcdbd djvulibre-desktop dosfstools eyesapplet fifteenapplet finger gettext ghostscript-x imlib-base imlib11 indi kandy karm kasteroids kaudiocreator kbackgammon kbstate kcoloredit kcontrol kcron kdat kdeadmin-kfile-plugins kdeartwork-misc kdeartwork-theme-window kdebase-bin-kde3 kdebase-kio-plugins kdeedu-data kdegraphics-kfile-plugins kdelirc kdemultimedia-kappfinder-data kdemultimedia-kfile-plugins kdenetwork-kfile-plugins kdepim-kfile-plugins kdepim-kio-plugins kdeprint kdesktop kdessh kdict kdnssd kdvi kedit keduca kenolaba kfax kfaxview kfouleggs kghostview khelpcenter khexedit kiconedit kitchensync klatin klickety kmailcvt kmenuedit kmid kmilo kmoon kmrml kodo kolourpaint kooka korn kpager kpdf kpercentage kpf kpilot kpoker kpovmodeler krec kregexpeditor ksayit ksim ksirc ksirtet ksmiletris ksmserver ksnake ksokoban ksplash ksvg ksysv ktip ktnef kuickshow kverbos kview kviewshell kvoctrain kwifimanager kwin kwin4 kworldclock kxsldbg libakode2 libao2 libarts1-akode libarts1-audiofile libarts1-mpeglib libarts1-xine libavahi-compat-libdnssd1 libavahi-core5 libavc1394-0 libavcodec51 libbluetooth2 libboost-python1.34.1 libcucul0 libcurl3 libcvsservice0 libdatrie0 libdirectfb-1.0-0 libdjvulibre21 libdvdread3 libfaad0 libfreebob0 libgail-common libgd2-noxpm libgraphviz4 libgsmme1c2a libgtkhtml2-0 libicu38 libiec61883-0 libindex0 libiw29 libk3b3 libkcal2b libkcddb1 libkdeedu3 libkdepim1a libkgantt0 libkiten1 libkleopatra1 libkmime2 libkpathsea4 libkpimexchange1 libkpimidentities1 libkscan1 libksieve0 libktnef1 liblockdev1 libltdl3 libmagick10 libmimelib1c2a libmozjs1d libmpcdec3 libneon27 libnm-util0 libopensync0 libpisock9 libpoppler-glib3 libpoppler-qt2 libpoppler3 libraw1394-8 libsmbios2 libssh2-1 libsuitesparse-3.1.0 libtalloc1 libtiff-tools libxalan2-java libxalan2-java-gcj libxcb-xlib0 libxerces2-java libxerces2-java-gcj libxtrap6 mpeglib networkstatus openoffice.org-writer2latex pmount poster psutils quanta quanta-data superkaramba svgalibg1 tex-common texlive-base texlive-base-bin texlive-common texlive-doc-base texlive-fonts-recommended xserver-xorg-video-cyrix xserver-xorg-video-imstt xserver-xorg-video-nsc xserver-xorg-video-v4l xserver-xorg-video-vga xulrunner-1.9

Tags: debian, debian edu, english.
Automatic upgrade testing from Lenny to Squeeze
11th June 2010

The last few days I have done some upgrade testing in Debian, to see if the upgrade from Lenny to Squeeze will go smoothly. A few bugs have been discovered and reported in the process (#585410 in nagios3-cgi, #584879 already fixed in enscript and #584861 in kdebase-workspace-data), and to get a more regular testing going on, I am working on a script to automate the test.

The idea is to create a Lenny chroot and use tasksel to install a Gnome or KDE desktop installation inside the chroot before upgrading it. To ensure no services are started in the chroot, a policy-rc.d script is inserted. To make sure tasksel believe it is to install a desktop on a laptop, the tasksel tests are replaced in the chroot (only acceptable because this is a throw-away chroot).

A naive upgrade from Lenny to Squeeze using aptitude dist-upgrade currently always fail because udev refuses to upgrade with the kernel in Lenny, so to avoid that problem the file /etc/udev/kernel-upgrade is created. The bug report #566000 make me suspect this problem do not trigger in a chroot, but I touch the file anyway to make sure the upgrade go well. Testing on virtual and real hardware have failed me because of udev so far, and creating this file do the trick in such settings anyway. This is a known issue and the current udev behaviour is intended by the udev maintainer because he lack the resources to rewrite udev to keep working with old kernels or something like that. I really wish the udev upstream would keep udev backwards compatible, to avoid such upgrade problem, but given that they fail to do so, I guess documenting the way out of this mess is the best option we got for Debian Squeeze.

Anyway, back to the task at hand, testing upgrades. This test script, which I call upgrade-test for now, is doing the trick:

#!/bin/sh
set -ex

if [ "$1" ] ; then
    desktop=$1
else
    desktop=gnome
fi

from=lenny
to=squeeze

exec < /dev/null
unset LANG
mirror=http://ftp.skolelinux.org/debian
tmpdir=chroot-$from-upgrade-$to-$desktop
fuser -mv .
debootstrap $from $tmpdir $mirror
chroot $tmpdir aptitude update
cat > $tmpdir/usr/sbin/policy-rc.d <<EOF
#!/bin/sh
exit 101
EOF
chmod a+rx $tmpdir/usr/sbin/policy-rc.d
exit_cleanup() {
    umount $tmpdir/proc
}
mount -t proc proc $tmpdir/proc
# Make sure proc is unmounted also on failure
trap exit_cleanup EXIT INT

chroot $tmpdir aptitude -y install debconf-utils

# Make sure tasksel autoselection trigger.  It need the test scripts
# to return the correct answers.
echo tasksel tasksel/desktop multiselect $desktop | \
    chroot $tmpdir debconf-set-selections

# Include the desktop and laptop task
for test in desktop laptop ; do
    echo > $tmpdir/usr/lib/tasksel/tests/$test <<EOF
#!/bin/sh
exit 2
EOF
    chmod a+rx $tmpdir/usr/lib/tasksel/tests/$test
done

DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive
DEBIAN_PRIORITY=critical
export DEBIAN_FRONTEND DEBIAN_PRIORITY
chroot $tmpdir tasksel --new-install

echo deb $mirror $to main > $tmpdir/etc/apt/sources.list
chroot $tmpdir aptitude update
touch $tmpdir/etc/udev/kernel-upgrade
chroot $tmpdir aptitude -y dist-upgrade
fuser -mv

I suspect it would be useful to test upgrades with both apt-get and with aptitude, but I have not had time to look at how they behave differently so far. I hope to get a cron job running to do the test regularly and post the result on the web. The Gnome upgrade currently work, while the KDE upgrade fail because of the bug in kdebase-workspace-data

I am not quite sure what kind of extract from the huge upgrade logs (KDE 167 KiB, Gnome 516 KiB) it make sense to include in this blog post, so I will refrain from trying. I can report that for Gnome, aptitude report 760 packages upgraded, 448 newly installed, 129 to remove and 1 not upgraded and 1024MB need to be downloaded while for KDE the same numbers are 702 packages upgraded, 507 newly installed, 193 to remove and 0 not upgraded and 1117MB need to be downloaded

I am very happy to notice that the Gnome desktop + laptop upgrade is able to migrate to dependency based boot sequencing and parallel booting without a hitch. Was unsure if there were still bugs with packages failing to clean up their obsolete init.d script during upgrades, and no such problem seem to affect the Gnome desktop+laptop packages.

Tags: bootsystem, debian, debian edu, english.
Skolelinux er laget for sentraldrifting, naturligvis
9th June 2010

Det er merkelig hvordan myter om Skolelinux overlever. En slik myte er at Skolelinux ikke kan sentraldriftes og ha sentralt plasserte tjenermaskiner. I siste Computerworld Norge er IT-sjef Viggo Billdal i Steinkjer intervjuet, og forteller uten blygsel:

Vi hadde Skolelinux, men det har vi sluttet med. Vi testet om det lønte seg med Microsoft eller en åpen plattform. Vi fant ut at Microsoft egentlig var totalt sett bedre egnet. Det var store driftskostnader med Skolelinux, blant annet på grunn av desentraliserte servere. Det var komplisert, så vi gikk vekk fra det og bruker nå bare Windows.

En rask sjekk mot den norske brukerlista i Skolelinuxprosjektet forteller at Steinkjers forsøk foregikk fram til 2004/2005, og at Røysing skole i Steinkjer skal ha vært svært fornøyd med Skolelinux men at kommunen overkjørte skolen og krevde at de gikk over til Windows. Et søk på nettet sendte meg til Dagens IT nr. 18 2005 hvor en kan lese på side 18:

Inge Tømmerås ved Røysing skole i Steinkjer kjører ennå Microsoft, men forteller at kompetanseutfordringen med Skolelinux ikke var så stor. ­ Jeg syntes Skolelinux var utrolig lett å drifte uten forkunnskaper. Men man må jo selvsagt ha tilgang på ekstern kompetanse til installasjoner og maskinvarefeil, sier Tømmerås.

Som systemarkitekten bak Skolelinux, kan jeg bare riste på hodet over påstanden om at Skolelinux krever desentraliserte tjenere. Skolelinux-arkitekturen er laget for sentralisert drift og plassering av tjenerne lokalt eller sentralt alt etter behov og nettkapasitet. Den er modellert på nettverks- og tjenerløsningen som brukes på Universitetet i Tromsø og Oslo, der jeg jobber med utvikling av driftstjenester. Dette er det heldigvis noen som har fått med seg, og jeg er glad for å kunne sitere fra en kommentar på den overnevnte artikkelen. Min venn og gamle kollega Sturle Sunde forteller der:

I Flora kommune køyrer vi Skulelinux på skular med alt frå 15 til meir enn 500 elevar. Dei store skulane har eigen tenar, for det er mest praktisk. Eg, som er driftsansvarleg for heile nettet, ser sjeldan dei tenarane fysisk, men at dei står der gjer skulane mindre avhengige av eksterne linjer som er trege eller dyre. Dei minste skulane har ikkje eigen tenar. Å bruke sentral tenar er heller ikkje noko problem. Småskulane klarar seg fint med 1 mbit-linje til ein sentral tenar eller tenaren på ein større skule.

Det beste med Skulelinux er halvtjukke klientar. Dei treng ikkje harddisk og brukar minimalt med ressursar på tenaren fordi dei køyrer programma lokalt. Eit klasserom med 30 sju-åtte år gamle maskiner har mykje meir CPU og RAM totalt enn nokon moderne tenar til under millionen. Det trengst to kommandoar på den sentrale tenaren for å oppdatere alle klientane, både tynne og halvtjukke. Vi har ingen problem med diskar som ryk heller, som var eit problem før fordi elevane sat og sparka i maskinene. Og dei krev lite bandbreidde i nettet, so det er fullt mogleg å køyre slike på småskular med trege linjer mot tenaren på ein større skule.

Flora kommune har nesten 800 Linux-maskiner i sitt skulenett, og ein person som tek seg av drift av heile nettet, inkludert tenarar, klientar, operativsystem, programvare, heimekontorløysing og administrasjon av brukarar.

No skal det seiast at vi ikkje køyrer rein Skulelinux ut av boksen. Vi har gjort ein del tilpassingar mot noko Novell-greier som var der frå før, og som har komplisert installasjonen vår. Etter at oppsettet var gjort har løysinga vore stabil og kravd minimalt med arbeid.

Jeg vet at Narvik, Harstad og Oslo er kommuner der Skolelinux sentraldriftes med sentrale tjenere. Det forteller meg at Steinkjers IT-sjef neppe bør skylde på Skolelinux-løsningen for sine 5 år gamle minner.

Tags: debian edu, norsk, nuug.
A manual for standards wars...
6th June 2010

Via the blog of Rob Weir I came across the very interesting essay named The Art of Standards Wars (PDF 25 pages). I recommend it for everyone following the standards wars of today.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, standard.
Sitesummary tip: Listing computer hardware models used at site
3rd June 2010

When using sitesummary at a site to track machines, it is possible to get a list of the machine types in use thanks to the DMI information extracted from each machine. The script to do so is included in the sitesummary package, and here is example output from the Skolelinux build servers:

maintainer:~# /usr/lib/sitesummary/hardware-model-summary
  vendor                    count
  Dell Computer Corporation     1
    PowerEdge 1750              1
  IBM                           1
    eserver xSeries 345 -[8670M1X]-     1
  Intel                         2
  [no-dmi-info]                 3
maintainer:~#

The quality of the report depend on the quality of the DMI tables provided in each machine. Here there are Intel machines without model information listed with Intel as vendor and no model, and virtual Xen machines listed as [no-dmi-info]. One can add -l as a command line option to list the individual machines.

A larger list is available from the the city of Narvik, which uses Skolelinux on all their shools and also provide the basic sitesummary report publicly. In their report there are ~1400 machines. I know they use both Ubuntu and Skolelinux on their machines, and as sitesummary is available in both distributions, it is trivial to get all of them to report to the same central collector.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, sitesummary.
KDM fail at boot with NVidia cards - and no one try to fix it?
1st June 2010

It is strange to watch how a bug in Debian causing KDM to fail to start at boot when an NVidia video card is used is handled. The problem seem to be that the nvidia X.org driver uses a long time to initialize, and this duration is longer than kdm is configured to wait.

I came across two bugs related to this issue, #583312 initially filed against initscripts and passed on to nvidia-glx when it became obvious that the nvidia drivers were involved, and #524751 initially filed against kdm and passed on to src:nvidia-graphics-drivers for unknown reasons.

To me, it seem that no-one is interested in actually solving the problem nvidia video card owners experience and make sure the Debian distribution work out of the box for these users. The nvidia driver maintainers expect kdm to be set up to wait longer, while kdm expect the nvidia driver maintainers to fix the driver to start faster, and while they wait for each other I guess the users end up switching to a distribution that work for them. I have no idea what the solution is, but I am pretty sure that waiting for each other is not it.

I wonder why we end up handling bugs this way.

Tags: bootsystem, debian, debian edu, english.
Parallellized boot seem to hold up well in Debian/testing
27th May 2010

A few days ago, parallel booting was enabled in Debian/testing. The feature seem to hold up pretty well, but three fairly serious issues are known and should be solved:

All in all not many surprising issues, and all of them seem solvable before Squeeze is released. In addition to these there are some packages with bugs in their dependencies and run level settings, which I expect will be fixed in a reasonable time span.

If you report any problems with dependencies in init.d scripts to the BTS, please usertag the report to get it to show up at the list of usertagged bugs related to this.

Update: Correct bug number to file-rc issue.

Tags: bootsystem, debian, debian edu, english.
More flexible firmware handling in debian-installer
22nd May 2010

After a long break from debian-installer development, I finally found time today to return to the project. Having to spend less time working dependency based boot in debian, as it is almost complete now, definitely helped freeing some time.

A while back, I ran into a problem while working on Debian Edu. We include some firmware packages on the Debian Edu CDs, those needed to get disk and network controllers working. Without having these firmware packages available during installation, it is impossible to install Debian Edu on the given machine, and because our target group are non-technical people, asking them to provide firmware packages on an external medium is a support pain. Initially, I expected it to be enough to include the firmware packages on the CD to get debian-installer to find and use them. This proved to be wrong. Next, I hoped it was enough to symlink the relevant firmware packages to some useful location on the CD (tried /cdrom/ and /cdrom/firmware/). This also proved to not work, and at this point I found time to look at the debian-installer code to figure out what was going to work.

The firmware loading code is in the hw-detect package, and a closer look revealed that it would only look for firmware packages outside the installation media, so the CD was never checked for firmware packages. It would only check USB sticks, floppies and other "external" media devices. Today I changed it to also look in the /cdrom/firmware/ directory on the mounted CD or DVD, which should solve the problem I ran into with Debian edu. I also changed it to look in /firmware/, to make sure the installer also find firmware provided in the initrd when booting the installer via PXE, to allow us to provide the same feature in the PXE setup included in Debian Edu.

To make sure firmware deb packages with a license questions are not activated without asking if the license is accepted, I extended hw-detect to look for preinst scripts in the firmware packages, and run these before activating the firmware during installation. The license question is asked using debconf in the preinst, so this should solve the issue for the firmware packages I have looked at so far.

If you want to discuss the details of these features, please contact us on debian-boot@lists.debian.org.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english.
Pieces of the roaming laptop puzzle in Debian
19th May 2010

Today, the last piece of the puzzle for roaming laptops in Debian Edu finally entered the Debian archive. Today, the new libpam-mklocaluser package was accepted. Two days ago, two other pieces was accepted into unstable. The pam-python package needed by libpam-mklocaluser, and the sssd package passed NEW on Monday. In addition, the libpam-ccreds package we need is in experimental (version 10-4) since Saturday, and hopefully will be moved to unstable soon.

This collection of packages allow for two different setups for roaming laptops. The traditional setup would be using libpam-ccreds, nscd and libpam-mklocaluser with LDAP or Kerberos authentication, which should work out of the box if the configuration changes proposed for nscd in BTS report #485282 is implemented. The alternative setup is to use sssd with libpam-mklocaluser to connect to LDAP or Kerberos and let sssd take care of the caching of passwords and group information.

I have so far been unable to get sssd to work with the LDAP server at the University, but suspect the issue is some SSL/GnuTLS related problem with the server certificate. I plan to update the Debian package to version 1.2, which is scheduled for next week, and hope to find time to make sure the next release will include both the Debian/Ubuntu specific patches. Upstream is friendly and responsive, and I am sure we will find a good solution.

The idea is to set up the roaming laptops to authenticate using LDAP or Kerberos and create a local user with home directory in /home/ when a usre in LDAP logs in via KDM or GDM for the first time, and cache the password for offline checking, as well as caching group memberhips and other relevant LDAP information. The libpam-mklocaluser package was created to make sure the local home directory is in /home/, instead of /site/server/directory/ which would be the home directory if pam_mkhomedir was used. To avoid confusion with support requests and configuration, we do not want local laptops to have users in a path that is used for the same users home directory on the home directory servers.

One annoying problem with gdm is that it do not show the PAM message passed to the user from libpam-mklocaluser when the local user is created. Instead gdm simply reject the login with some generic message. The message is shown in kdm, ssh and login, so I guess it is a bug in gdm. Have not investigated if there is some other message type that can be used instead to get gdm to also show the message.

If you want to help out with implementing this for Debian Edu, please contact us on debian-edu@lists.debian.org.

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug.
Parallellized boot is now the default in Debian/unstable
14th May 2010

Since this evening, parallel booting is the default in Debian/unstable for machines using dependency based boot sequencing. Apparently the testing of concurrent booting has been wider than expected, if I am to believe the input on debian-devel@, and I concluded a few days ago to move forward with the feature this weekend, to give us some time to detect any remaining problems before Squeeze is frozen. If serious problems are detected, it is simple to change the default back to sequential boot. The upload of the new sysvinit package also activate a new upstream version.

More information about dependency based boot sequencing is available from the Debian wiki. It is currently possible to disable parallel booting when one run into problems caused by it, by adding this line to /etc/default/rcS:

CONCURRENCY=none

If you report any problems with dependencies in init.d scripts to the BTS, please usertag the report to get it to show up at the list of usertagged bugs related to this.

Tags: bootsystem, debian, debian edu, english.
Sitesummary tip: Listing MAC address of all clients
14th May 2010

In the recent Debian Edu versions, the sitesummary system is used to keep track of the machines in the school network. Each machine will automatically report its status to the central server after boot and once per night. The network setup is also reported, and using this information it is possible to get the MAC address of all network interfaces in the machines. This is useful to update the DHCP configuration.

To give some idea how to use sitesummary, here is a one-liner to ist all MAC addresses of all machines reporting to sitesummary. Run this on the collector host:

perl -MSiteSummary -e 'for_all_hosts(sub { print join(" ", get_macaddresses(shift)), "\n"; });'

This will list all MAC addresses assosiated with all machine, one line per machine and with space between the MAC addresses.

To allow system administrators easier job at adding static DHCP addresses for hosts, it would be possible to extend this to fetch machine information from sitesummary and update the DHCP and DNS tables in LDAP using this information. Such tool is unfortunately not written yet.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, sitesummary.
Forcing new users to change their password on first login
2nd May 2010

One interesting feature in Active Directory, is the ability to create a new user with an expired password, and thus force the user to change the password on the first login attempt.

I'm not quite sure how to do that with the LDAP setup in Debian Edu, but did some initial testing with a local account. The account and password aging information is available in /etc/shadow, but unfortunately, it is not possible to specify an expiration time for passwords, only a maximum age for passwords.

A freshly created account (using adduser test) will have these settings in /etc/shadow:

root@tjener:~# chage -l test
Last password change                                    : May 02, 2010
Password expires                                        : never
Password inactive                                       : never
Account expires                                         : never
Minimum number of days between password change          : 0
Maximum number of days between password change          : 99999
Number of days of warning before password expires       : 7
root@tjener:~#

The only way I could come up with to create a user with an expired account, is to change the date of the last password change to the lowest value possible (January 1th 1970), and the maximum password age to the difference in days between that date and today. To make it simple, I went for 30 years (30 * 365 = 10950) and January 2th (to avoid testing if 0 is a valid value).

After using these commands to set it up, it seem to work as intended:

root@tjener:~# chage -d 1 test; chage -M 10950 test
root@tjener:~# chage -l test
Last password change                                    : Jan 02, 1970
Password expires                                        : never
Password inactive                                       : never
Account expires                                         : never
Minimum number of days between password change          : 0
Maximum number of days between password change          : 10950
Number of days of warning before password expires       : 7
root@tjener:~#  

So far I have tested this with ssh and console, and kdm (in Squeeze) login, and all ask for a new password before login in the user (with ssh, I was thrown out and had to log in again).

Perhaps we should set up something similar for Debian Edu, to make sure only the user itself have the account password?

If you want to comment on or help out with implementing this for Debian Edu, please contact us on debian-edu@lists.debian.org.

Update 2010-05-02 17:20: Paul Tötterman tells me on IRC that the shadow(8) page in Debian/testing now state that setting the date of last password change to zero (0) will force the password to be changed on the first login. This was not mentioned in the manual in Lenny, so I did not notice this in my initial testing. I have tested it on Squeeze, and 'chage -d 0 username' do work there. I have not tested it on Lenny yet.

Update 2010-05-02-19:05: Jim Paris tells me via email that an equivalent command to expire a password is 'passwd -e username', which insert zero into the date of the last password change.

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug, sikkerhet.
Thoughts on roaming laptop setup for Debian Edu
28th April 2010

For some years now, I have wondered how we should handle laptops in Debian Edu. The Debian Edu infrastructure is mostly designed to handle stationary computers, and less suited for computers that come and go.

Now I finally believe I have an sensible idea on how to adjust Debian Edu for laptops, by introducing a new profile for them, for example called Roaming Workstations. Here are my thought on this. The setup would consist of the following:

I believe all the pieces to implement this are in Debian/testing at the moment. If we work quickly, we should be able to get this ready in time for the Squeeze release to freeze. Some of the pieces need tweaking, like libpam-ccreds should get support for pam-auth-update (#566718) and nslcd (or perhaps debian-edu-config) should get some integration code to stop its daemon when the LDAP server is unavailable to avoid long timeouts when disconnected from the net. If we get Kerberos enabled, we need to make sure we avoid long timeouts there too.

If you want to help out with implementing this for Debian Edu, please contact us on debian-edu@lists.debian.org.

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug.
Kerberos for Debian Edu/Squeeze?
14th April 2010

Yesterdays NUUG presentation about Kerberos was inspiring, and reminded me about the need to start using Kerberos in Skolelinux. Setting up a Kerberos server seem to be straight forward, and if we get this in place a long time before the Squeeze version of Debian freezes, we have a chance to migrate Skolelinux away from NFSv3 for the home directories, and over to an architecture where the infrastructure do not have to trust IP addresses and machines, and instead can trust users and cryptographic keys instead.

A challenge will be integration and administration. Is there a Kerberos implementation for Debian where one can control the administration access in Kerberos using LDAP groups? With it, the school administration will have to maintain access control using flat files on the main server, which give a huge potential for errors.

A related question I would like to know is how well Kerberos and pam-ccreds (offline password check) work together. Anyone know?

Next step will be to use Kerberos for access control in Lwat and Nagios. I have no idea how much work that will be to implement. We would also need to document how to integrate with Windows AD, as such shared network will require two Kerberos realms that need to cooperate to work properly.

I believe a good start would be to start using Kerberos on the skolelinux.no machines, and this way get ourselves experience with configuration and integration. A natural starting point would be setting up ldap.skolelinux.no as the Kerberos server, and migrate the rest of the machines from PAM via LDAP to PAM via Kerberos one at the time.

If you would like to contribute to get this working in Skolelinux, I recommend you to see the video recording from yesterdays NUUG presentation, and start using Kerberos at home. The video show show up in a few days.

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug.
After 6 years of waiting, the Xreset.d feature is implemented
6th March 2010

6 years ago, as part of the Debian Edu development I am involved in, I asked for a hook in the kdm and gdm setup to run scripts as root when the user log out. A bug was submitted against the xfree86-common package in 2004 (#230422), and revisited every time Debian Edu was working on a new release. Today, this finally paid off.

The framework for this feature was today commited to the git repositry for the xorg package, and the git repository for xdm has been updated to use this framework. Next on my agenda is to make sure kdm and gdm also add code to use this framework.

In Debian Edu, we want to ability to run commands as root when the user log out, to get rid of runaway processes and do general cleanup after a user. With this framework in place, we finally can do that in a generic way that work with all display managers using this framework. My goal is to get all display managers in Debian use it, similar to how they use the Xsession.d framework today.

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug.
Debian Edu / Skolelinux based on Lenny released, work continues
11th February 2010

On Tuesday, the Debian/Lenny based version of Skolelinux was finally shipped. This was a major leap forward for the project, and I am very pleased that we finally got the release wrapped up. Work on the first point release starts imediately, as we plan to get that one out a month after the major release, to include all fixes for bugs we found and fixed too late in the release process to include last Tuesday.

Perhaps it even is time for some partying?

After this first point release, my plan is to focus again on the next major release, based on Squeeze. We will try to get as many of the fixes we need into the official Debian packages before the freeze, and have just a few weeks or months to make it happen.

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug.
Automatic Munin and Nagios configuration
27th January 2010

One of the new features in the next Debian/Lenny based release of Debian Edu/Skolelinux, which is scheduled for release in the next few days, is automatic configuration of the service monitoring system Nagios. The previous release had automatic configuration of trend analysis using Munin, and this Lenny based release take that a step further.

When installing a Debian Edu Main-server, it is automatically configured as a Munin and Nagios server. In addition, it is configured to be a server for the SiteSummary system I have written for use in Debian Edu. The SiteSummary system is inspired by a system used by the University of Oslo where I work. In short, the system provide a centralised collector of information about the computers on the network, and a client on each computer submitting information to this collector. This allow for automatic information on which packages are installed on each machine, which kernel the machines are using, what kind of configuration the packages got etc. This also allow us to automatically generate Munin and Nagios configuration.

All computers reporting to the sitesummary collector with the munin-node package installed is automatically enabled as a Munin client and graphs from the statistics collected from that machine show up automatically on http://www/munin/ on the Main-server.

All non-laptop computers reporting to the sitesummary collector are automatically monitored for network presence (ping and any network services detected). In addition, all computers (also laptops) with the nagios-nrpe-server package installed and configured the way sitesummary would configure it, are monitored for full disks, software raid status, swap free and other checks that need to run locally on the machine.

The result is that the administrator on a school using Debian Edu based on Lenny will be able to check the health of his installation with one look at the Nagios settings, without having to spend any time keeping the Nagios configuration up-to-date.

The only configuration one need to do to get Nagios up and running is to set the password used to get access via HTTP. The system administrator need to run "htpasswd /etc/nagios3/htpasswd.users nagiosadmin" to create a nagiosadmin user and set a password for it to be able to log into the Nagios web pages. After that, everything is taken care of.

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug, sitesummary.
Opphavet til Skolelinux-prosjektet
17th December 2009

De færreste er klar over at Skolelinux-prosjektet kom som et resultat av en avgjørelse på årsmøtet i NUUG i 2000-06-29, der Håkon Wium Lie, da varamedlem i styret, tok på seg oppdraget om å starte et initiativ kalt "Teach the Teacher", som skulle være et initiativ for å få fri programvare og unix-lignende operativsystemer inn i Skolen. Tanken var at en måtte starte med lærerne for at ungene skulle få mulighet til å møte en bedre IT-hverdag. Jeg var tilstede på møtet, og hadde sans for ideen, men intet skjedde. På vårparten 2001 ble det arrangert en demonstrasjon i anledning at First Tuesday hadde invitert Microsoft til et møte for å fortelle om fremtidens Internet. Dette provoserte endel av oss, og EFN og NUUG tok initiativ til å arrangere en demonstrasjon utenfor lokalene 2001-05-21. Blant de som sto bak demonstrasjonen var Vidar Bakke fra NUUG og Håkon W. Lie fra EFN. Etter demonstrasjonen arrangerte Håkon en fest hjemme hos seg der alle som hadde vært aktive i demonstrasjonsplanlegging og gjennomføringen deltok. Før festen var jeg blitt lei av å vente på at Håkon skulle ta initiativ til "Teach the Teacher", og for å forsøke å få litt fremgang besteme jeg meg for å benytte anledningen hos Håkon til å snakke om behovet for å hjelpe skolene i gang med bedre datasystemer bestående av fri programvare og unix-lignende operativsystemer. Flere var interessert, og Knut Yrvin tenkte på ideen. Han ropte sammen til et stiftelsesmøte i prosjektet i sin arbeidsgivers Objectwares lokaler ved Ullevål stadion 2001-07-02, og jeg ble med. Resten er historie. :)

Tags: debian edu, norsk, nuug.
Endelig operativt webbasert medlemsregister for Fri programvare i skolen
2nd November 2009

Under helgens utviklersamling i Skolelinux fikk jeg endelig satt meg ned sammen med Ronny Aasen i styret for å få et webbasert medlemsregister tilbake på plass for foreningen som passer på skolelinuxprosjektet. Etter flere års knot og problemer, er nå memberdb satt opp og klart til bruk. Import av det gamle medlemsregisteret har vist seg vanskelig, så alle medlemmer bes om å registrere seg på nytt. Hvis du støtter FRiSKs formål så er du hjertelig velkommen til å melde deg inn. Formålet lyder:

Linux i skolen skal tilrettelegge for og informere om bruk av fri programvare, i henhold til Debian Free Software Guidelines av 2002-02-03, i den norske skolen, slik som f.eks. Linux og GNU.
Tags: debian edu, norsk.
Returning from Skolelinux developer gathering
29th March 2009

I'm sitting on the train going home from this weekends Debian Edu/Skolelinux development gathering. I got a bit done tuning the desktop, and looked into the dynamic service location protocol implementation avahi. It look like it could be useful for us. Almost 30 people participated, and I believe it was a great environment to get to know the Skolelinux system. Walter Bender, involved in the development of the Sugar educational platform, presented his stuff and also helped me improve my OLPC installation. He also showed me that his Turtle Art application can be used in standalone mode, and we agreed that I would help getting it packaged for Debian. As a standalone application it would be great for Debian Edu. We also tried to get the video conferencing working with two OLPCs, but that proved to be too hard for us. The application seem to need more work before it is ready for me. I look forward to getting home and relax now. :)

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, nuug.
Time for new LDAP schemas replacing RFC 2307?
29th March 2009

The state of standardized LDAP schemas on Linux is far from optimal. There is RFC 2307 documenting one way to store NIS maps in LDAP, and a modified version of this normally called RFC 2307bis, with some modifications to be compatible with Active Directory. The RFC specification handle the content of a lot of system databases, but do not handle DNS zones and DHCP configuration.

In Debian Edu/Skolelinux, we would like to store information about users, SMB clients/hosts, filegroups, netgroups (users and hosts), DHCP and DNS configuration, and LTSP configuration in LDAP. These objects have a lot in common, but with the current LDAP schemas it is not possible to have one object per entity. For example, one need to have at least three LDAP objects for a given computer, one with the SMB related stuff, one with DNS information and another with DHCP information. The schemas provided for DNS and DHCP are impossible to combine into one LDAP object. In addition, it is impossible to implement quick queries for netgroup membership, because of the way NIS triples are implemented. It just do not scale. I believe it is time for a few RFC specifications to cleam up this mess.

I would like to have one LDAP object representing each computer in the network, and this object can then keep the SMB (ie host key), DHCP (mac address/name) and DNS (name/IP address) settings in one place. It need to be efficently stored to make sure it scale well.

I would also like to have a quick way to map from a user or computer and to the net group this user or computer is a member.

Active Directory have done a better job than unix heads like myself in this regard, and the unix side need to catch up. Time to start a new IETF work group?

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, ldap, nuug.
Endelig er Debian Lenny gitt ut
15th February 2009

Endelig er Debian Lenny gitt ut. Et langt steg videre for Debian-prosjektet, og en rekke nye programpakker blir nå tilgjengelig for de av oss som bruker den stabile utgaven av Debian. Neste steg er nå å få Skolelinux / Debian Edu ferdig oppdatert for den nye utgaven, slik at en oppdatert versjon kan slippes løs på skolene. Takk til alle debian-utviklerne som har gjort dette mulig. Endelig er f.eks. fungerende avhengighetsstyrt bootsekvens tilgjengelig i stabil utgave, vha pakken insserv.

Tags: debian, debian edu, norsk.
Endelig norsk stavekontroll med støtte for ord med bindestrek
26th December 2008

Etter flere års mislykkede forsøk på å skrive om byggesystemet for den norske stavekontrollen for bokmål og nynorsk til å ikke bruke bindestrek som ordskillemarkør, lyktes jeg endelig første juledag. Bruken av bindestrek som ordskillemarkør har gjort det umulig å få med ord med bindestrek i stavekontrolldatagrunnlaget, slik at ord som e-post og CD-spiller ikke kunne godtas av stavekontrollen. Hadde litt tid til overs å bruke på stavekontrollen, og satte meg ned med to kopier av byggsystemet og en liten testdatafil, og byttet ut - med = på utvalgte steder i byggsystemet og datafilen helt til jeg fikk samme resultat med det gamle og det nye byggsystemet. Dette tror jeg var forsøk 4, der de foregående har feilet uten at jeg klarte å forstå hvorfor. Det sier kanskje litt om kompleksiteten i det originale byggsystemet som Rune Kleveland laget i sin tid.

Etter å ha endret byggsystemet, var neste steg å importere ordene med bindestrek. Vi har en rekke slike i databasene for bokmål og nynorsk for korrektur av datagrunnlaget for stavekontrollen, og etter importen skulle nå 10350 nye ord bli godkjent som korrekt stavede ord av stavekontrollen.

Tags: debian edu, norsk, stavekontroll.
Devcamp brought us closer to the Lenny based Debian Edu release
7th December 2008

This weekend we had a small developer gathering for Debian Edu in Oslo. Most of Saturday was used for the general assemly for the member organization, but the rest of the weekend I used to tune the LTSP installation. LTSP now work out of the box on the 10-network. Acer Aspire One proved to be a very nice thin client, with both screen, mouse and keybard in a small box. Was working on getting the diskless workstation setup configured out of the box, but did not finish it before the weekend was up.

Did not find time to look at the 4 VGA cards in one box we got from the Brazilian group, so that will have to wait for the next development gathering. Would love to have the Debian Edu installer automatically detect and configure a multiseat setup when it find one of these cards.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, ltsp.
The sorry state of multimedia browser plugins in Debian
25th November 2008

Recently I have spent some time evaluating the multimedia browser plugins available in Debian Lenny, to see which one we should use by default in Debian Edu. We need an embedded video playing plugin with control buttons to pause or stop the video, and capable of streaming all the multimedia content available on the web. The test results and notes are available on the Debian wiki. I was surprised how few of the plugins are able to fill this need. My personal video player favorite, VLC, has a really bad plugin which fail on a lot of the test pages. A lot of the MIME types I would expect to work with any free software player (like video/ogg), just do not work. And simple formats like the audio/x-mplegurl format (m3u playlists), just isn't supported by the totem and vlc plugins. I hope the situation will improve soon. No wonder sites use the proprietary Adobe flash to play video.

For Lenny, we seem to end up with the mplayer plugin. It seem to be the only one fitting our needs. :/

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, multimedia, web.

RSS Feed

Created by Chronicle v4.6