Some Updates

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  • Had flu the last month or so, finally been getting over it this week, starting to feel human again. I thought I had H1N1, but I had it checked and it turns out it was just a nasty flu. My concentration was just gone the last month so I ended up watching a lot of old Star Trek Voyager and Third Rock From the Sun episodes.
  • Kind of bummed that the rest of the world gets to see District 9 already, and in South Africa, where the story actually plays off, we only get to see it in a week from now on the 28th of August.
  • Attended the Obstreperous Olive Geekdinner at the Pasta Factory. Staff was very friendly, food could have been better for the price. Talks were a bit too markety and “done”, as a result I’m volunteering for a more geeky talk next month. Overall it was very good and I got to catch up with a few people I haven’t seen in way too long.
  • I got my first few packages in Ubuntu, I’ve been working on LTSP cluster ( seems to have some trouble currently) packaging and 5 out of the 6 packages are currently in the archives. ltsp-cluster-pxeconfig is next, it’s in REVU at the moment, it should make it in before feature freeze next week. Thank you to Stéphane Graber who has been mentoring me on this, he’s also the upstream for LTSP Cluster and sponsoring my packages. Also thanks to Jordan, Oliver and Anthony for reviewing my packages on REVU.
  • Ubuntu-ZA is having monthly meetings now, I was kind of dazed at the last one due to flu and medicine, but it’s refreshing to see the energy and enthusiasm, we’ll have the first of our monthly reports ready within the next week or so.
  • Edubuntu is in a bit of a squeeze. The good news is that a DVD install disc and enabling universe packages for the builds have been approved, unfortunately the Edubuntu seeds need work and need to be finalised within the next week or so, and our two core-devs have had other urgent issues to tend to. If there’s a core-dev available to give some guidance and sponsorship over the next week, it would be much appreciated.
  • Some other nice things in my feed reader from the Ubuntu world:
    • 100 Paper cuts is at round 7, I think David Siegel is really cool for taking it on and sticking in there with it.
    • Daniel Holbach blogged about the Ubuntu Global Jam, some of us in CLUG considered doing a package jam for a CLUG talk, but due to time limitations and the recent threads on the CLUG lists where users are requesting more intro-level talks, I’m wondering whether we should have a kind of tips-and-tricks jam, where a bunch of us show how we use Ubuntu to be more productive.
    • Ubuntu Developer Week is kicking off in a bit more than a week, be sure to be there if you’re interested in contributing to Ubuntu!
  • botonbrown
  • Free Ubuntu Books for approved loco teams, also a copy of Art of Community. Ubuntu-ZA applied for the first 2 books that will be hosted at AIMS in Cape Town and available for anyone who wants to drop by and read it. We’ll probably keep the Art of Community book in Johannesburg somewhere under a similar arrangement.
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Edubuntu Swimming with the ducks



  • Introduced Edubuntu and it’s current status
  • Went through the current Edubuntu Strategy Doc on Gobby, and explained why we have what we do in there and why we purposely kept it so simple
  • Real-life problems that the Guadalinex Edu team is facing currently. They currently have to add dpkg-diverts to 43 different packages to implement the menu system required by the local education department.
  • Installation media: Assumptions can’t really be made, there will always be schools who don’t have either an optical drive, support for USB booting or even a local area network.
  • Briefly touched on the roadmap and goals that we can consider for Karmic and Karmic+1, but then we ran out of time.

Planning LTSP for Karmic


  • dhclient is big and clunky, ipconfig is small but doesn’t really work to well. Microdhcp could be a good option, it supplies the details as environment variables and then you could do with it what you want. The foundations team will be contacted for a resolution on this.
  • LTSP could probably not work for EC2 since EC2 doesn’t provide layer 2 network layer support so DHCP woudln’t work. Besides that LTSP clients could be completely virtualised. Local apps could work for server-type services.
  • Ogra is still waiting for someone to implement a call-center out of the box based on LTSP :)
  • Revolution Linux is currently running 50 LTSP servers with 5000 clients using LTSP Cluster, adding another 500 machines soon.
  • Further improvements for local-apps: mime-types, gconf (gconf writes at the same time on the home directory on the server and on the client, messing up some XML files). Oliver suggests a more proper implementation of dbus, he discussed it with Scott, but there’s no proper way to implement that with dbus currently. Oli also suggested taking a look at gabriel, which allows you to run gconf over ssh.
  • Checking for Compiz on LTSP currently is currently a hack and a better way should be found to enable compiz by default for Karmic.
  • Scanning on LTSP for Karmic can be solved by adding xsane as a dependency for the LTSP chroot.
  • Functionality to let users choose their security level might be useful, ie. switching between ssh encryption and not.
  • Oliver said that the new union mount infrastructure, it’s possible that it will be quite slower than than the current unionfs tools.

Helping Ubuntu With NGOs

This session was a nice surprise. I joined it without knowing much what it was about or where it came from. It’s about what we can do as the Ubuntu community to help NGO’s get started with running Ubuntu. The idea of an Ubuntu users showcase / Behind Ubuntu users came up again. There will probably be a follow-up meeting in about a month or so, Daniel Holbach will announce in about 2 weeks or so.

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  • LTSP Clustering support is coming to Ubuntu. Yay \o/
  • Samba 3 and Samba 4 can be run together on the same server as an AD/MS file server replacecment.
  • Porting applications to Wine properly is sometimes trivial and can even be done in as little as 4 hours.
  • mdz
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Renewed enthusiasm for Edubuntu

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.


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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My name is…

There’s been a discussion in the local blogosphere about nicknames versus given/birth names, and how it should be used. Here’s some links to recent entries from Bubulle, Martin, and Daniel. I’ve called people from my LUG by their IRC names before, with mixed reactions. For me, it’s completely natural to call people by their IRC nicks in meatspace, since that’s usually how I got to know them. I’m probably different to many people since I spend a huge amount of time on IRC, and it’s been my main medium of communication for a while now.

Last year in Spain, I had a discussion with a Debian/Ubuntu/LTSP developer who works exclusively by an alias, and nearly no one knows his real name. We had a long discussion about it one evening. The discussion turned into a discussion about how “real” the name is, and of course, turned into a conversation about what “real” means. In the end, the conclusion was that his alias is pretty much as real as any other name he has ever had.

I’m fine with people calling me highvoltage (my IRC nick), especially in places like my LUG where we have 5 Jonathans, and I get a bit annoyed with namespace clashes. Some of my friends and colleges at work also call me Jono, which I’m ok with. “Jon” annoys me, don’t call me that :)

I also feel that ‘highvoltage’ is as real as any other name I have. Many people who I communicate with on a daily basis calls me that where we communicate. What I’ve also found is that people have a real high resistance to nick change. I’ve tried to change my nick to something more mature (like jcc, my initials (which could also refer to a future Jonathanian C compiler (hey, we have our own verson of emacs))), but people didn’t like any of the new nick names I tried. ‘highvoltage’ comes from a song I used to listen to a lot from the Linkin Park Reanimation album shortly after it was released. I quickly had to choose a username when signing up with an ISP at that stage and used highvoltage, and it kind of stuck.

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Ubuntu Testing Time

As Christer Edwards reports, the 4th Alpha release of Ubuntu 7.10 is available for testing. Christer sums up everything quite nicely, but I’d just like to add one thing though. If you have restricted bandwidth, you can use rsync to update between builds, whether they are daily builds or new alpha builds. Rsync (mostly) only downloads the differences between CD images, saving you time and bandwidth.

If you have an Edubuntu alpha server ISO for example, and you’d want to update it, and the new ISO image is located at, then you simply need to replace the ‘http’ with ‘rsync’, and add a ‘cdimage’ after the ‘’, then you can use it with the rsync command to sync it to the latest image:

$ rsync -avP rsync:// gutsy-server-i386.iso

You need to do that in a directory that currently contains an older copy of the ISO image. I suggest you make a copy of the old ISO, just in case there is something wrong with a newer build that makes the image unusable!

While you’re at it, also try out the newest LTSP builds available for Gutsy. LTSP has made some important strides in this release. One of the most interesting changes, is that NFS has been dropped in favour of NBD, which currently provides increased performance, and will allow for better security in the future.

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Join Edubuntu

About Edubuntu

Edubuntu is the official education-specific Ubuntu installation. Currently, Edubuntu gives you a classroom server with a pre-installed LTSP server, making it a turnkey solution and super cost effective. Edubuntu also features educational software, including the GCompris Suite, the KDE-edu Suite and some of the Tux4Kids programs.
The feature set of Edubuntu has been pretty much the same for the last few releases, and most of the work has gone into improving LTSP and related services and graphical managers. We’d like to expand the amount of improvements in Edubuntu for the following releases. Previously, we were heavily limited by the amount of software we can fit onto the Edubuntu disc, but from Feisty onward, there will be an add-on disc, where we can fit on all kinds of new goodies. Edubuntu is at a good stage now to accept many contributors, the technical side is getting together very nicely, and the focus on the educational part is becoming more and more important. Edubuntu currently runs best in primary school environments, but the goal is to work well in high school and university environments as well.

Edubuntu membership = Ubuntu membership

When you contribute to the Edubuntu project, all your contributions go into the Ubuntu archives, and is considered a direct Ubuntu contribution. When you have made significant and sustainable contribution, you will be eligible for Edubuntu membership, and Edubuntu membership automatically means that you’ll have Ubuntu membership, which serves as an official recognition of your work. You also get some benefits in the form of a “” and “” email address, for more information on membership, please refer to the membership page on the Ubuntu website.

Who can contribute?

Edubuntu needs artists, software testers, developers and writers (for Edubuntu documentation). We appreciate any contribution in any form. If you have children, they can also get involved and give feedback. If you’re an educator, or a student, you can provide feedback on how you’d like the system to work. You can also get involved in the Google Summer of Code, there’s some more information about it on the Edubuntu/Ubuntu wiki.

How to get involved

Please introduce yourself on the edubuntu-devel mailing list! Let us know where you’re from, what your interests are, and how you’d like to contribute to the project. You can also say come in and say hello on the Edubuntu IRC channel, which you can find at #edubuntu on the freenode network. Even if you don’t have any ideas, there’s plenty of work to hand out, so feel free to join anytime, do it today!

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