Something Old, Something New

Three years ago I purchased an Asus Eee PC 900 series computer. Since that time, I’ve taken it with me on a lot of trips to conferences and meetings. My little companion often served as a secondary computer for note-taking and another means of web-browsing while my other computers were busy being used for digital video editing.

Although the Eee PC came loaded with a useful Linux-based operating system known as Xandros, I couldn’t keep myself from installing any number of other operating systems (both Windows and Linux) to see what my little netbook could and would do. I enjoy experimenting. I made bootable USBs and loaded operating systems such as Eeebuntu (the Aurora Project has links to old and new versions of this OS) , Puppy Linux, Xubuntu, as well as Hexxeh’s hugely popular ChromiumOS build, Flow, on the machine. Each time I did, I learned something new (like how and why to use Windows Image WriterUNetbootin, and other related resources).

After my numerous fits of tinkering, I began to understand that the Eee PC needed a restoration back to its original factory settings. Unfortunately, I misplaced the restore DVD that came with the machine.  Ugh! Thankfully, after visiting the eeeUser Forum and reading a number of posts (and learning about tips like the nifty F9 trick), I was able to get my machine back to its original settings. After getting everything back to its original state, I dropped by the Ubuntu site and downloaded the netbook version of the Ubuntu OS.

If You Knew SUSE…

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Your school system could be helping students hone their 21st century skills without expending a great of money. Sponsored by Novell, the openSUSE for Schools project is all about providing free learning tools for educators. This robust site has a huge assortment of rich desktop applications designed to run on a Linux desktop.

Virtually every school system has a number of PC lying around that no one is using. What a wonderful way to breathe new life into old hardware! Best of all, even if the plan doesn’t go as expected, no money has been lost. It’s FREE. Why stop there, though? Relatively inexpensive netbooks could be used as well.

If you really want to students to learn and be prepared for life in a 21st century economy, model what you expect–learn something new! Take a risk and give the openSUSE for Schools project a try. You’ll learn valuable lessons along the way and open up new opportunities for your students.

Walking Through a Linux Wonderland

Anyone checking my blog can see that I’ve been taking it easy. Aside from slacking off from my posting and occasionally checking my mail, I’ve been playing around with all kinds of Linux distros. I’m fortunate to have a reputation for being a guy who takes worn-out PCs. I got a lot of old laptops and desktops to experiment upon in my quest for tried and tested tools for free computing. When I get aging machines I enjoy loading the hardware with all manner of open source and free software. For the last five days I’ve been working my way through all of the flavors of Ubuntu.

My wife, bless her, has been very accommodating with my holiday hobby. Antiquated computers adorn my home like scattered toys. My floors may be messy but they bear witness to my zeal. I’ve been installing, examining, reviewing, and testing stuff like:

I’ve known about and used these resources for a few years and I’m still eager to explore their potential. The kind individuals who invest time and knowledge in refining all of these variations of Ubuntu make the prospect of using the systems irresistible. That’s why I’m on holiday from Windows and thrilled about touring an alternative operating system or two. Why not take the plunge and see what Ubuntu or one of its cousins has to offer? Better yet, burn a few Ubuntu CDs and give them to your friends!

Opening Up to Open Source: IBM’s Progressive Move

My good pal Joe rang me up today and brought something supremely interesting to my attention. He told me about a news story that caught his eye. While exploring Google News, he discovered that IBM is launching a line of computers that do not use Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Instead, IBM’s machines will combine its own open source Lotus Symphony desktop package with the Linux operating system. According to the news story,

“IBM claims the system can save businesses $500 to $800 per user on Microsoft software licenses and an additional $258 per user “since there is no need to upgrade hardware to support Windows Vista and Office.”

That’s important. Why? Even before the recent economic downturn, many schools lacked the funds necessary for maintaining Windows-based computers. Money was scarce even before money was scarce. With the added stress of the loss of what little funds they had, it’s no wonder that many schools are coming around to the possibility of using Windows-free computers.

For the last three years, Joe has been investigating and using a variety of open source programs and freeware. He knows his stuff. Whether it’s Inkscape, Audacity, or TuxPaint, Joe has been carefully researching all manner of computer programs that students can use for free. He fervently believes that the tools of learning can and should be free. With IBM’s bold move, maybe they will be.


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