Renewed enthusiasm for Edubuntu

Free Software 2 Comments »

Renewed Enthusiasm

Recently I’ve been wondering if I really want to be involved with Edubuntu or not, I blogged about it, and have been talking to Jordan Mantha about a lot of the issues we have had. I also booked a ticket to Barcelona for the Ubuntu Developers Summit, so that we could get a few people together to figure out how we can make Edubuntu a good choice for educators and something that people will be happy and proud to contribute for. I was very pleased when I applied for accomodation sponsorship and Canonical said they’d pay for accomodation and my flight tickets (thanks Canonical, it’s very much appreciated), but I think I’m even more excited about the renewed energy in the Edubuntu community. In just the last two weeks we’ve had a surge in enthusiasm and new people dropping by being *very* eager to participate and contribute. It creates a problem where we have too many ideas and some people who are new who want to get something into Edubuntu but who don’t quite understand how Ubuntu’s processes work yet, but I’m not complaining, I think it’s great that people care about Edubuntu again, and we have ideas on how to get around those problems.

Ideas

I thought I’d jump right in and mention some of the things that we’ve been discussing recently. Currently, Edubuntu has just been an add-on CD with packages for an Ubuntu installation. There’s plenty of good reasons for this, such as the amount of space available on a CD (Ubuntu already fills a disc so you have to remove things in order to add anything else), being desktop agnostic, etc. However, the feedback that we received suggests that most people prefer a full distro installation.

We’re not sure how it’s going to happen yet, but we’re probably going to have full releases again that can be installed via DVD or USB disk. Plenty of people have stressed how important it is to be able to demo Edubuntu properly. We’re also going to be looking at getting an LTSP instance in the live environment, which will be a challenge doing it right but will also aid in demo’ing LTSP.

We also want to work better with upstream projects. It’s been stressed in Ubuntu and upstream projects how beneficial a good relationship between Edubuntu and the upstream projects can be. Edubuntu will aim to make Ubuntu (and hence the Edubuntu system) a great distribution for running KDE Edu, Sugar, Moodle an easy to use school LAMP stack and more.

We also want to integrate better with all the desktop environments. Gnome has great usability features, which makes it a good option in educational environments, but it consumes resources relatively heavily compared to Xfce which offers fairly good usability as well. Besides that, there are even lighter environments such as LXDE which runs very well on very old hardware. The improvements since KDE 4 can’t be ignored either, plasmoids for example has lots of potential in education, and considering that KDE-Edu uses KDE and QT libraries, it makes good sense to use KDE in an educational environment . We want Edubuntu to be able to easily integrate with the major desktop environments, even the Ubuntu netbook remix. Whatever the user’s choice of desktop is, we want to integrate the best that the free software world has to offer in terms of education for that environment on Ubuntu.

Also in big demand is ease of use. People keep requesting that things are easier, and that Edubuntu, Ubuntu and LTSP is in need of better documentation. We’ll keep this in mind with the changes and plans we introduce over the next few releases, and do our best to make sure that what is put out there is as supportable and intuitive as it could be.

How we see this happening

What’s mentioned above is certainly not going to happen in one release, and some of the things may take many releases to get just right. We’re considering keeping the Edubuntu distro releases as only LTS, and not releasing any other releases inbetween. This way we have to worry less about constantly testing discs and focussing more what’s on there. Perhaps add-on discs will still ocur for every release, there’s some detail there we still need to flesh out.

The plan is also to have various PPA archives available in the edubuntu-dev PPA, some for experimental or hacky code that might not be quite ready for Edubuntu, as well as stable updates for Edubuntu¬† that can be installed with confidence by users. We’re mostly going with PPA’s initially since we only have one core-dev. Hopefully that will change over time but for now the PPA’s should work as a good interim solution. There might also be community spins for very specialised installations, but we don’t want to dilute Edubuntu too much so it’s something we still have to consider.

Everybody’s Welcome

Bringing the best of education and education-related technologies to Ubuntu means that we have to extend out to others doing similar work, whether it’s K12-LTSP, Skolelinux, Guidalinux-EDU, Debian-edu, OpenSuse-edu,¬† etc. In my opinion we can learn a lot from them, and if they are having any kind of problem that we have dealt with already, then we should give them a hand as well.

Actually, I can’t say it better than Jordan Erickson, read his message sent to edubuntu-devel earlier here.

It is our goal to make Edubuntu easy and worth while to contribute to. If you’re interested in becoming involved, you are absolutely more than welcome to introduce yourself on the edubuntu-devel mailing list or joining us on the #edubuntu IRC channel.

PS: I haven’t slept much the last 2 days, so if things don’t make sense, I’ll try to clear it up later!

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More Easter Eggs in Ubuntu

Free Software 7 Comments »

Easter time! I’m going to spend the next few days off-line attending some music festivals (KKNK, KoDV, Cokefest, etc). I kept a list of all the easter eggs I’ve gathered in Ubuntu since the last time I blogged about Ubuntu Easter Eggs, enjoy!

Robots

Type about:robots in the Firefox address bar. You’ll get this message:

robots

Require Quarter

In GDM, the Ubuntu login screen, type “Require Quarter” and press enter. It will return back to the login prompt as if you haven’t typed anything at all. When the next user comes to log in, the system will display a prompt that says “Insert 25 cents to continue…”

Zenity Dress Up

Zenity is a tool that you can use to add some GUI functionality to your scripts. If you execute zenity –about, and type “zen” into the about dialog, then you will get to play dress-up Mr Potato style. This doesn’t seem to work on Jaunty anymore.

StarCalc Team

In OpenOffice.org Calc, type “=STARCALCTEAM()” into any of the cells. A picture will be displayed of the original Star Office Calc team.

star-calc-team

GEGL Eggs in Gnome

Right-click on an open space on the gnome-panel and click on properties.Right-click 3 times on any of the tabs. A GEGL cow will fly by waving at you.

gegl-cow

You can also play the gegls from outer space game. Press ALT+F2, then typs “gegls from outer space”

gegls-space

The Answer in VIM

Type :help 42 in the command field, and you will get the following message:

42

Sources:

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Not blogging enough?

Free Software, Humour, Jonathan, Music, Project Mayhem 3 Comments »

I’ve had 3 people from the Real Life (which is a very weird and disturbing place) telling me that I’m not updating my blog often enough in the last week. I’m not sure how much is supposed to be enough. I usually blog when I have some time and have something I’d really like to say. I’m completely fine with about 2 blog entries a month and perhaps more now and again when things get interesting. However, sometimes I like to cave a bit under pressure, so here’s a random blog entry for the bored:

  • I heard the I-can-ride-my-bike-with-no-handlebars song for the first time on Friday. Listened to it 20 times over the weekend so far. Aparently everyone else knows it already. It’s an awesome little song about how power can corrupt (or at least, that’s my interpretation ;) ).
  • I played with Mac OSX again yesterday. It’s annoying. Recently Mark Shuttleworth said that Ubuntu will be more attractive than a Mac in two years. I think he seriously needs to take a look at a Mac again. I’ve installed plenty of add-ons and stuff to my Mac, and I just can’t make it match the usability and productivity of my Gnome desktop with Compiz on Ubuntu. In order to make Ubuntu really more attractive to the current Mac market, it will need to run the software that’s available for a Mac. I bought my Mac because I want to use the real nice video editing software that’s available for it.
  • Still stuck in Jo’burg for work purposes. Tried to fix that but it failed. I’ll just have to try to get back home a bit harder. I guess I’ll be here for another 6 months max. At least my mother is visiting next weekend.
  • Everything else is pretty much ok.

Some pictures from the real world (not sure where they’re originally from though):


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I love my Mac!

Free Software 16 Comments »

And why not!? It runs Ubuntu beautifully!

PS: I bought this machine so that I can edit video, nothing I could find for Windows or Linux really did it for me. However, OSX is really terrible for me. It’s really way too oversimplified (and then some people complain about Gnome being too simple, really!). It’s default terminal font also hurt my eyes. When I have some spare time, I’ll run some things in Ubuntu and some in OSX and sees which performs better. Ubuntu certainly flies on this machine. Pity you can’t buy them without OSX tax. That would be awesome.

PPS: Any idea of platform independent benchmarks I could try?

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75% of my Filesystem represents… PACMAN!

Free Software, Games 4 Comments »

gnome-pacman.png

And that reminds me… some people requested that I upload the slides of the GNOME CLUG talk I presented a few weeks ago. Get them here.

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