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My belief is that open source software is ideal in an educational establishment, especially in a primary environment. Unfortunately Microsoft dominates the home and educational sector and brings along its maintenance issues. While Apple Macs, which would be ideal for education, are reserved for the remaining elite and bring along ongoing costs.

Applications that were once required installed on a PC can now be run directly from the Internet. Media on the Internet could only once be distributed via CD. Browsers are becoming the only tool required by a computer user to access resources, films, music and more importantly applications. Quite an incredible evolution, in a digital way.

In education, children are taught the basics of ICT, all the way up to year 6. They only therefore need the basic tools. Why buy each of those children a pencil and a set of crayons if all you wanted for them to draw was a picture? The basics, open source, can be provided to every child while more elaborate tools, Windows or Apple Macs, should be provided as an alternative.

Schools can't afford the ongoing costs that come with a Microsoft environment. They're budget wouldn't stretch much further than maintaining a suite of 30 computers. In our school of 230 pupils, that would be a 1:7 ratio of PCs to pupils. Our long term objective is to get this as low as 2:1 and eventually 1:1.

At this level, space becomes a real issue. Thankfully, very small PCs, capable of running the same applications of it's bigger brother, are now becoming a reality. Its very exciting.

There are Open Source alternatives to satisfy every part of the KS1 and 2 ICT curriculum requirements. The believe is that training would then become a barrier to not making the best use of those new tools. I aim to dispel those myths.

Today proved successful for Holmfirth. We managed to get the opportunity to evaluate three different models of thin clients, the HP t5125 the IGEL 2110 and IGEL 3210. I look forward to setting up our first mini thin client network.

I was advised by a friendly woman from Thin Store which model would better suit our needs.
My first requirement was the size, it had to fit on the back of a monitor. My second was its ability to boot from the network - this feature was called PXE. My final requirement was it's cost.

I was recommended the 3 models and was told they would all fit on the back of a monitor, although size is not too important at this stage.

Our aim would be to scale down in size as much as possible given a budget of between £100 - £200. An overall budget of £250 - £350 per machine would be realistic given the price of monitor, keyboard, mouse and cables. 4 computers could be purchased for £1000, this price will only decrease given time. At this stage I'd like to experiment with LTSP. I've looked into using an open source operating system called Ubuntu Linux, this has a tremendous amount of support and is of course without any added license fees.

I've previously installed Ubuntu Server on a Pentium 4, 1GB Ram PC @ nabb. As yet I have not setup LTSP. I have recently discovered that the server version of Ubuntu is unnecessary so have installed Ubuntu as well in a dual boot fashion. This can later be amended.

Now I look forward to reading through various resources to get the system working and start experimenting. Information on setting such a system up is available given google keywords 'ubuntu' and 'ltsp'

Thin client models
HP t5125
IGEL 2110,id,52,nodeid,52,p,0,_language,en.html

IGEL 3210,id,53,nodeid,53,p,0,_language,en.html

Thin client sales



Ubuntu Linux

The Project at hand

I'm nearly 26 and I've been working at Holmfirth primary school for over 7 months now. I came in as an electrician with backgrounds in Media, IT and communications. I hope to leave with a wealth of knowledge in the field of open source, thin clients, ICT and education.

From the moment I walked through the door at Nabb in September 2006, I knew there would be more to the experience than fitting trunking and running wires.

I'd never minded much for Linux, I just presumed it was complex and surplus to any requirements of mine. I was asked to look into it by the head - David Murgett. This was the start of a very exciting journey.