Petter Reinholdtsen

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.

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