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What is Linux?

What are the Implications for
Education?



By: Susana Chan
ETEC 531
Thematic Media Production 1




Linux was created by Linus Torvalds (hence,
the name) in Helsinki, Finland. He was in
his early years of university studies in
Computer Science, when he created this
operating system.

Linus Torvalds selected Larry
Ewing’s creation of Tux, the Linux
penguin, as the logo or mascot.


Ewing generously gave his creation
for the promotion of Linux.


Thank you Larry for
sharing me with the
world.
Linux is the movement to open
source software.


Instead of closed software,
it allows the software to be
distributed freely.
However, Linux truly began from the
inspiration of a brilliant man:


Richard Stallman

Who is Richard Stallman?

 Founder of the Free Software Foundation in
1985, for the GNU Project.

 Wrote the free software license called the GNU
General Public License (GNU GPL).

 His goal was to provide an alternative to
proprietary software.

General Public License (GPL) granted
users rights to:

 Run the program for any general purpose.
 Study, modify and/or improve the program to suit
personal needs. Access source codes are needed
prior to such action.
 Redistribute copies of program to the public at no
cost.
With that being said…
 Linus Torvald decided to adopt the GNU
GPL to his creation of Linux.

 His creation began in 1991. He first created
Linux version 0.02, from inspiration of his Minix
Unix system that he was running at the time.

 By 1994, Linux Kernel Version 1.0 was
released.

Adoption of Linux
 Linux’s availability and functionality have
won the hearts of both commercial and
non-commercial users. Many have
adopted this open source system as their
home and office desktop operating
system.
Companies that run Linux servers
include…
Visit www.sourceforge.net for a comprehensive list
of open source projects and participants.
Why Choose Linux?
Linux operating system uses a graphical
user interface that is similar to other
proprietary operating systems.
(example: Microsoft XP or Mac OSX)

Linux vs. Windows
Linux Windows
 Linux has different versions,
depending on which vendor
develops and runs it. Linux
vendors include: Linspire, Red
Hat, SuSE, Ubuntu, Mandriva,
Knoppix, Slackware, Caldera,
Debian
 Windows has different
versions. It started with Win3.x,
Win9x, WinME, WinNT, Win2000,
WinXP. It is a proprietary software
produced by Microsoft.



Linux
Cost
Windows
Cost
 Linux is cheap or free to run. It
can be downloaded from various
Linux vendors.

 Linux may run off a server so
numerous computers may have
access to the program.
 Windows is expensive to run. The
price to purchase a full version of
Windows XP Professional is $400
CAD.
 Only one copy of Windows may be
used on a computer. Activation with
Microsoft is needed.
Linux
Cost
Windows
Cost
 Linux is an open source
software. Source codes are
freely distributed to the public, of
which programmers had
reviewed to improve
performance, eliminate bugs and
strengthen security.
 Windows is a proprietary closed
source software. Codes are not
released to the public.
Linux
OS Stability
Windows
OS Stability
 When properly configured,
Linux will run until the hardware
fails or if the system is shut
down.
 Linux claims that it may
continuously run up to more than
a year without freezing or
shutting down.
 It is not as prone to bugs and
viruses as most are geared
towards Windows.
 It is known to crash easily, and be
infected by bugs and viruses.
Linux
Technical Support
Windows
Technical Support
 As source codes are easily
accessible, solving technical
problems are effective and
efficient.
 Linux users rely on installation
guides, or Linux forums to
receive advice and suggestions
from other users on technical
problems. Very few businesses
have trained staff to solve Linux
bugs.

 Proprietary software requires
technicians to rely on Microsoft for
technical information to fix bugs and
problems.
 Numerous businesses have on site
technicians that are Microsoft
Certified Professionals.
There is a catch.
 Any modifications made to any programs must
be released to the public. This is known as
“Copyleft”

 According to Richard Stallman, software
developers have the right to make changes,
share codes, use and redistribute, but are not
bound to give away any derived work.
Linux and Education
As a certified and practicing teacher with
the Vancouver School Board, I see both
positive and negative implications of
Linux on Education.

I shall address both sides of each
implication.

Installation,
technical
support

Transition
Period

Software
applicability


Software
requirement
Hardware
requirement
Cost
Linux
and
Education
Cost
Problem/Question Possible Solution
 Expensive to purchase proprietary
software licenses.
 Linux can be obtained for free or at
a low cost.
 Expensive to upgrade proprietary
software.

 Software upgrades or modifications
to programs are offered to the public
at no cost.

 Schools have a tight technology
budget and are limited to the number
of licenses they can purchase. As a
result, not all systems in a lab will run
the same kinds of programs.

 Linux runs on a server.
Linux and Education
Cost
Hardware Requirement
Linux and Education
Hardware Requirement
Problem/Question Possible Solution
 Due to budget constraint, many
schools still run on 486, Pentium I, II,
III. This is evident in many inner-city
schools where the communities cannot
afford to upgrade technology.
 Expensive to upgrade hardware for
proprietary software.
They are slow, and incompatible with
the new versions of Windows or other
current software applications that
require more RAM.

 Linux runs on networked servers and
so may continue to use the 486,
Pentium I, II, III.
The community can also donate their
old systems to their neighborhood
school.
 Linux runs on minimal hardware
requirements.
 Linux forums recommend that the
minimal system requirements to
function with decent performance is
Pentium III, 128MB memory, 3Gb hard
drive space, and bootable CD drive.

Software

Linux and Education
Software Requirement
Problem/Question Possible Solution
 Expensive to purchase proprietary
software licenses.
 Linux can be obtained for free or at
a low cost.
 Expensive to upgrade proprietary
software.

 Software upgrades or modifications
to programs are offered to the public
at no cost.
 Old systems without graphical
interface and minimum applications
will not be compatible with recent
Linux versions.
 Schools have a tight technology
budget and are limited to the number
of licenses they can purchase. As a
result, not all systems in a lab will run
the same kinds of programs.

 Linux runs on a server and
computers can be networked to all run
on the same programs.
Linux and Education
Software Applicability
Problem/Question Possible Solution
 The school board had spent millions
of dollars in purchasing software
licenses. This includes Windows,
Microsoft Office and Educational
games. If the movement of Linux is
successful, the investment of these
licenses are non-refundable.
 There are Linux software programs
similar to the function of Windows
Microsoft. This includes Open Office,
Star Office, KOffice.

 In the future, when the student
needs to use Windows in the
workforce, and not Linux-they would
lack the knowledge and training.

No Solution
 Very few game editors publish Linux
versions of their games. Schools will
have no choice other than to stay with
Windows.

Installation and Technical Support

Linux and Education
Installation and Technical Support
Problem/Question Possible Solution
 As the majority of school board
owned computers do not run on Linux,
they lack on-site trained and
experienced technicians to install and
provide technical support.
 There is already a shortage of
technicians hired by the school board
due to budget constraint.
 Design professional-development
workshops to train existing and new
technicians with Linux, as well as teach
teachers so they may educate their
students in return.
 It takes fewer people to manage the
Linux machines than Windows
machines.

Transition

Linux and Education
Transition Period
Problem/Question Possible Solution
 Windows and Linux operating
system do not work similarly. Users
need to invest time to adapt to the
change in OS.
 Some Windows applications may run
on Linux, when an emulator is used.
A common emulator is called Wine.
 Install Windows and Linux on the
same computer, which may act as an
easier transition for beginners or those
who are fans of both OS.

With all that being said,
Would you adopt Linux into your classroom today?
References
Definition of Linux
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux
General information of Richard Stallman
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Stallman
General information of GPL
http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html
General information of Linux
http://www.linux.org/
http://www.linuxtoday.com/
General information of Microsoft
http://www.microsoft.com
Linux Vendors
http://www.sourceforge.net
Linux vs. Windows
http://www.michaelhorowitz.com/Linux.vs.Windows.html
Images
Microsoft PowerPoint Clip Art
http://www.dell.com/
http://www.ibm.com/us/
http://www.hp.com/
http://www.ml.com/
http://www.walmart.com/