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Education Software Linux

KDE Desktops For 52 Million Students In Brazil 201

Posted by kdawson
from the early-introduction-to-the-penguin dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Mauricio Piacentini writes about a deployment of systems running Linux and KDE in Brazil's schools; some 52 million students are to be served by this initiative. 'What is interesting about this project is that it not only provides infrastructure (computers and net connectivity) but also open content to students in public schools. The software installed on these systems is "Linux Educacional 2.0," a very clean Debian-based distribution, with KDE 3.5, KDE-Edu, KDE-Games, and some tools developed by the project.' The distro comes in Portuguese only at this time." quarterbuck notes that Linux is making other inroads in the BRIC economies (Brazil-Russia-India-China): India and China are getting a custom-designed Ubuntu laptop from Dell, and Russia is making their own Ubuntu laptop this year.
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KDE Desktops For 52 Million Students In Brazil

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  • Excellent! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:36AM (#23197586)
    From a selfish perspective, this is great. So long as Linux gains significant adoption somewhere in the world, we will get better hardware support. Much as I like linux, drivers are the main problem.
    • Re:Excellent! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by daliman (626662) <slashdot@ontheroa d . n e t.nz> on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:50AM (#23197764) Homepage
      Do you really have such a problem with hardware support?

      I only buy hardware with Linux support. The companies I have worked for, when they have decided on Linux, ensure that the hardware they buy will work with the OS they have selected.

      Hardware support has not been a large problem for me. Drivers are not a huge problem.

      • by tepples (727027) <tepples@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Friday April 25, 2008 @10:14AM (#23198066) Homepage Journal

        I only buy hardware with Linux support

        That's good if you're building a new computer. I think timeOday's problem is that (s)he is trying to switch an existing computer from Windows to Linux or from Windows to dual-boot Windows/Linux. In that case, you have to choose software that works with what you have unless you want to have to replace 10 to 50 percent of your hardware.

        For those building a new computer, such as the situation of the article, do you recommend particular brands of Linux-compatible desktop or laptop PC hardware?

        • by Hadlock (143607) on Friday April 25, 2008 @10:18AM (#23198144) Homepage Journal
          I've had really good luck with intel brand motherboards. Other than futzing about with an eithernet driver on a 7.x version of ubuntu (works in most recent version), intel has pretty good driver support, and the boards exceedingly rarely fail. Price/features are competitive with other name brand boards like Asus.
          • I think the big thing here in driver support is going to be for things like printers. PRINTER SUPPORT PLEASE!
            I'll assume the schools will go with HP carefully selected printers, because they're really the best supported printers out there, but they can still use a bit of work. Last I looked you were lucky if the software could tell you how much ink was left and a lot of the lower end networked printers weren't reported as working at all in Linux. I'd just like a $200-$300 laser printer on the network, from
            • "...networked printers weren't reported as working on the network at all in Linux"
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Hadlock (143607)
              Last time I checked Laserjet IIs have been supported since linux's conception. They go for less than $100 and often have the eithernet adapter added already. That printer will probably outlive your children. Dropped mine from 5' up on it's corner onto concrete and still runs like a champ.
              • Ok, I went back today, specifically to the HPLIP site. I guess my problem was going to shopping.hp.com and then looking them up on HPLIP.

                Check out http://hplip.sourceforge.net/models/laserjet/hp_laserjet_p1505.html [sourceforge.net] compared to http://hplip.sourceforge.net/models/laserjet/hp_laserjet_p1505n.html [sourceforge.net], two models where the only difference is networking, and networking is not functional. When shopping for printers on the HP site I had figured that a Networked printer that was supported, would be supported on the n

                • At my old job we had a Laserjet 2605dn and it worked fine over the network in Ubuntu Gutsy. Maybe I've just been lucky, but with HP printers in general, I've found using printers far easier than others who use windows. I plug the usb cable in, 15 seconds later a message pops up saying the printer is ready to use, and I print (except for in OpenOffice, which seems to have to be restarted to use new printers). Compare to my S-I-L who uses XP on her laptop, and has to go and get a driver for every printer s
            • by indifferent children (842621) on Friday April 25, 2008 @11:49AM (#23199504)
              I'd just like a $200-$300 laser printer on the network, from the printer compatibility lists I've found there isn't one.

              I run a Brother 5250dn on my home network, with no problems printing from linux or Windows. My mother runs one of the cheap ($100) Brother lasers (no duplexing) on her home network, and prints from linux with no trouble. Even the setup was a breeze; the CUPS configuration GUI found the printer, and suggested the correct driver. I was shocked at how seamless this was.

          • by davidsyes (765062) *
            When I get enough cash together I want to pay $100 to someone to help me resolve problems with my Gateway P-6301 laptop that Gateway (made in Taiwan, I think) didn't see fit to take care of in advance:

            -- enable the multimedia finger-glider panel (yeh, I downloaded driver from alternate sites...)
            -- enable the screen dimming
            -- enable the wireless NIC

            Audio works, mouse is of course fine, and of course the Ethernet CAT-5 NIC works.

            This might be a few months away. Next time, I'm going to spec a laptop that has a
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by timeOday (582209)

          That's good if you're building a new computer. I think timeOday's problem is that (s)he is trying to switch an existing computer from Windows to Linux

          Nah, I've been using Linux for 10 years. But, for instance, I bought both my printer and my wireless print server because they claimed Linux support. Yet both, either alone or together, are so unreliable when printing from Linux that they're almost worse than useless.

          Again, the nvidia driver in my laptop. Is it "linux supported"? The official answer is

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        There are still a few issues with hardware support in Linux. The biggest problem with is with wireless cards. There's also quite a few video cards that lose a lot of features or speed when you move to Linux. And then there's software modems. Most other stuff seems to be fine, with some support even being better than Windows. But it's hard to deny that there is quite a bit of hardware that doesn't work under Linux. You can find stuff that works, and it isn't that hard. But it's not like you can go to t
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      I just hope people can understand that drivers aren't magically the fault of Linux. At least no more than drivers are the fault of Microsoft.
    • Re:Excellent! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kebes (861706) on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:56AM (#23197848) Journal
      If the numbers in TFA are true (36 million students, growing to 52 million by the end of 2009), then this is absolutely huge in terms of Linux install base. In fact, I think this project would approximately double the install base.

      I know that "counting" the number of Linux installs is essentially impossible, but here are some random numbers I've accumulated that point to the approximate size of the Linux user base:
      1. The Linux Counter [li.org] estimated 29 million installs in 2005. This estimate involved numerous assumptions, such as extrapolating from 8 million installs reported by Red Hat in 1998.
      2. According to [zdnet.co.uk] an IDC study, the Linux marketshare for PCs was ~3% in 2003.
      3. There are about 1 billion Internet users [internetworldstats.com]. Browser logs indicate that Linux accounts for ~0.8% to ~3.9% of web traffic [wikipedia.org]. This gives us an estimate of 8 million to 39 million Linux users. (The upper estimate is undoubtedly an over-estimate since the value comes from W3Schools [w3schools.com], which probably has a greater fraction of 'technical' users.)
      4. According to Canonical's server logs from OS updates, there are approximately 6 million active users of Ubuntu (see here [linux.com] and here [sys-con.com]). Assuming that Ubuntu represents 30% of Linux usage (based on this [desktoplinux.com]), you can come up with an estimate of 20 million Linux users.
      5. According to Fedora's logs for OS updates [fedoraproject.org], there are approximately 2.8 million installations of Fedora Core 6, and 1.6 million of Fedora 7. Assuming Fedora represents 9% of Linux installs (again, based on this [desktoplinux.com]), you can estimate 48 million Linux users.

      Obviously all of these methods have their own problems. I'm not claiming that any of these estimates are robust. However they do at least suggest a range for the number of Linux users (~20 million) and the marketshare of Linux (~1% to 2%).

      So, this single project, it would seem, is drastically increasing (doubling?) Linux usage. This is huge, in my opinion, because a generation of students who have learned Linux will be far more likely to use and improve upon FLOSS when they enter the job market.
      • Re:Excellent! (Score:5, Informative)

        by abigor (540274) on Friday April 25, 2008 @10:08AM (#23198008)
        Actually, it's only around 825 000 installs (55 000 labs * 15 "access points" per lab) serving several tens of millions of students. It's still a lot, but not as huge as one install per student.
        • install # isn't relevant, the number of people using it is.
          • by abigor (540274)
            Fair enough, but I was responding to the original poster's numbers, which seemed to refer specifically to installs.
        • by Kjella (173770)
          What I want to hear if all the labs will be Linux labs. Back when I went to university Linux was also available but it was one lab open for everyone, so obviously you could but most used Windows. If we're talking 52 million exclusive users I'm very impressed. If we're talking 825.000 linux installs and millions of Windows installs, impressed but not quite as much...
        • by rtb61 (674572)
          Well in M$ donation terms it is 825,000 x $999.00 (M$ window server edition is the nearest equivalent) $824,175,000, the open source community giving without charging a wacking great percentage. It always helps to put in perspective exactly what proprietary lock in really costs and what the open source community and the companies that support open source do to help community, hmm, quite a generous donation isn't it.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by xSacha (1000771)
        There is a huge take up of linux in schools now. I heard about some very large install base but forgot where. Heck, there are even doing it here in Melbourne, Australia: http://freesoftnews.com/archives/7184 [freesoftnews.com] (13th April, 2008)! Problem with those estimates is they they extrapolate linearly. I think the growth is exponentially increasing -- especially with this hunk of rubbish called vista.
      • by ch-chuck (9622)
        Frankly trying to count the number of people who use a free os kinda disturbs me - of course business people who make $$$ off each unit license sale are very interested, and maybe people just like to know these things. But it's like some tyrant used to charge people for cannisters of oxygen, then someday someone finds out that it's ok to breath air. Who cares how many people breath air? The point is they are no longer enslaved to a tyrant demanding tribute.

        • by rohan972 (880586)
          It helps in influencing hardware vendors to provides specs or drivers, for example. And governments to make sure essential services (info, tax returns) are accessible). Number counting types who have influence over things that affect us.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by deragon (112986)
      Drivers are not the only issue. Linux support on the web is important. The more Linux users, the more websites that are IE/Windows only centric will switch to become OS independent. The more Linux users, the more software will be written for it and better the interoperability will be.
      • by CSMatt (1175471)
        What are you talking about? I primarily use Ubuntu and I have hardly ever come across a site that demands Windows.
        • by rohan972 (880586)
          How long have you been primarily using Ubuntu? My current financial institution was chosen because they were one of two who offered product features I wanted, and the other had a website that wouldn't work on linux. About 3 years ago. I've had government pages that wouldn't work a few years ago, not so much now. Things have changed a lot in the last 2-3 years from my experience.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by orasio (188021)
      XP has the same issues.

      I got a new laptop with Vista Ultimate (Toshiba Qosmio F45, already out of production).

      I am barely used to XP (lots of previous windows experience, tough), so I don't have enough experience to beta test Vista. I have been having some problems, like random freezes, random network failures and permission problems I don't understand, and can't be bothered to learn. That, aside from the performance issues I have been suffering.

      So, I decided I should install XP Professional, so I can work
  • by elh_inny (557966) on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:37AM (#23197600) Homepage Journal
    This is very important.

    Back when I were in school, we had no other choice than to use Windows. Even back then, I realized the clever tactic of Microsoft - if everyone is taught to use Windows the have plenty of market.
    But Microsoft is just too greedy, instead of giving the software away to educators, which, in the en would result in bigger market share, insist on licensing and charging everyone - which in turn makes initiatives like these worthwhile.

    The only marketing methods I've been exposed to as admin for a bunch of libraries, is the scare and bribery methods they used on a country-wide level, which resulted in M$ centric solutions being shoved down our throats.

    The director of the libraries I've working on, has been told that installing Linux will result in BSA audit. We did, nothing happened, obviously, but all the other libraries are still using Windows servers.

    And paying for that, instead of buying books or journals.

    This has happened in EU approx 3 years ago.

    • by penguin_dance (536599) on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:58AM (#23197884)
      Back when I were in school, we had no other choice than to use Windows. Even back then, I realized the clever tactic of Microsoft - if everyone is taught to use Windows the have plenty of market.

      But Microsoft is just too greedy, instead of giving the software away to educators, which, in the en would result in bigger market share, insist on licensing and charging everyone - which in turn makes initiatives like these worthwhile.


      Early on in the US, Apple was donating systems to schools in order accomplish the same thing. But by the time MS got involved, they already got a foothold on business. Most people wanted a computer that was compatible with the type they used at work. MS gave some licenses away, but just like a crack dealer they just gave them enough to replace Apples with PCs. The next hit you pay for. Then it became the defacto OS and so the school hierarchy thought--no sense teaching children the Apple when business are all using Windows....

      The director of the libraries I've working on, has been told that installing Linux will result in BSA audit. We did, nothing happened, obviously, but all the other libraries are still using Windows servers.

      Yes, I'm sure the MS rep told him that!

    • by headkase (533448)
      When I was in school we had two computer labs, an IBM one which ran DOS and WordPerfect (the DOS version where you couldn't see your text styles and had to hide/unhide control codes to let you imagine how they would print) and a Macintosh lab - the original Macs. The Macs bitmapped display in glorious black and white was King compared to DOS and I spent many hours after school playing Netrek on them (a NETWORK, AMAZING!!!) against similar souls. This was circa 1989. Of course my Amiga 500 at home kicked
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by domatic (1128127)

      The director of the libraries I've working on, has been told that installing Linux will result in BSA audit. We did, nothing happened, obviously, but all the other libraries are still using Windows servers.

      The thing to do there is to start dealing with Red Hat and then when that threat is made, passing it on to Red Hat. If you doubt they'll get anywhere with antitrust then I still doubt Novell would take kindly to MS pissing in their Wheaties that way and would be happy to create more European antitrust

    • by RichMan (8097)

      The director of the libraries I've working on, has been told that installing Linux will result in BSA audit. We did, nothing happened, obviously, but all the other libraries are still using Windows servers.
      And if they did switch to Linux they would not fear the BSA. Only people who use Windows have to fear the BSA and the byzantine maze of license issues.
       
      • This is commercial software for Linux. Just because your OS is open source free as in beer doesn't mean that you can't get high end commercial software.
    • When I was in school, we (and basically every other elementary/middle school in America) used only Apple computers, because Apple had nice donation and fund-raising programs.
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:39AM (#23197616) Journal
    These press releases would also state how many millions of dollars these contracts are worth to the company supplying the products.

    What is even better about this is that not only is there no dollar value in the story to make it worth hearing, but millions and millions of people will be using F/OSS software rather than beginning a life of paying for the privilege of 'using' software.

    So the story is about success and growth rather than money and contracts. A positive story. Sure, it's good for Dell monetarily, and Ubuntu too but it's not all about money, profit, and contracts. Just reading it make me feel the world is a bit more free.

    (cynicism on) How long before we see stories about MS doing deals to counteract these successes? (cynicism off)
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      So the story is about success and growth rather than money and contracts. A positive story. Sure, it's good for Dell monetarily, and Ubuntu too but it's not all about money, profit, and contracts. Just reading it make me feel the world is a bit more free.

      From a security standpoint, is replacing one mono-culture with another really that great of a "win"?

      All it takes is 1 unreleased or 0-day exploit and you have 53,000 labs (each with a server and multiple desktops) waiting to join a botnet.

      Linux is more secure than Windows on the desktop, but they both still get regularly exploited.

      • by zappepcs (820751) on Friday April 25, 2008 @10:31AM (#23198338) Journal
        While I agree with you on the point of both being exploited, having used both I have to say that GNU/Linux (Ubuntu) is far more securely set up right out of the box than any Windows installation. period.

        There is nothing in the Windows world that ever gave me the joy that I experienced last night: I logged into my Ubuntu laptop and up popped a window for updates. It said there is a new version of Ubuntu ready and asked if I would like to upgrade. Sure, it took all night to upgrade, but it was FREE! All I had to give was my consent.

        This morning I had a cup of coffee, scanned the news, and checked out Ubuntu 8.04 briefly. This is an experience that Windows users will never have. Specifically I mean free upgrades, improvements, patches (free for both-ish, but you never know exactly why or what MS is patching) and security improvements. The sense that I get from GNU/Linux and F/OSS is that they are working to HELP me, not the other way around.

        Point of info: I donated to Fedora, Ubuntu, DSL, Puppy, OOo, Gimp, ClamAV, and will probably donate to others this year if I find I'm using their code regularly. So when I say free I don't mean I'm freeloading. I truly feel that I'm getting damned good value for the money I donated.

        Eventually, there will be an exploit but in the meantime I'm not paying someone to put that exploit on my machine for them, I'm donating money to pay for the hard work that went into creating world class software that I use. There is quite a difference between the two cultures, even if both will be attacked at some point.

        Back on topic, the F/OSS world is opening up the information age to many people who would not otherwise be privy to it. That means an entire class of people are giving this to them, sharing it with them. RMS should be proud of what he has promoted and done.
      • by rbanffy (584143)
        It's replacing a closed monopoly-abusing mono-culture with an open, free competing mono-culture.

        I assume it's a vast improvement.

        Let's go one step at a time.
  • by xtracto (837672) * on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:40AM (#23197624) Journal
    I have always said that using Open Source in government schools and other offices makes complete sense. Specially if they are not inside the USA.

    My reasoning is that, as a tax payer in say, Brazil. I know that part of my taxes are going into buying whatever I.T. infrastructure is needed for the government (and there are countries and states where the government is *the* most important economy).

    Therefore, as a tax payer, I prefer my contribution to go to Open Source projects (say, for example Open Office), which I would be able to use, instead of having to pay the proprietary software (Microsoft Office in this case) and giving that money to other countries (to the USA in such case).

    Governments should mandate that all the software that is used in the government must be Open Source. The money with which the software is being bought is the money of all the contributors, and is in their best benefit to put that money in open standards, but most importantly in technology that *they* will be able to use.

    Unfortunately, strong forces at the top of the governments impede such thing (at least in my own country) where big corporations push governments with "discrete" bribes in order to make them adopt whatever closed technology they sell.

    It seems that the countries that will adopt Open Source as common initiative are the ones where socialism is not seen as such as scary term, akin to communism. And even the word communism does not equate to "Russian soviet slaves". Unlike USA and other countries that are *very* influenced by Capitalism.
    • by rbanffy (584143)
      I love to say all the money spent in Microsoft products creates a lot of jobs in Redmond.

      Bangalore is more likely, but ruins the punchline.
    • If Brazil's free software government initiative was serious, you would have a gazillion Brazilian C++ hackers toiling away at OpenOffice, all under a federal payroll.

      Some will say "but what has government to do with funding software development?" Of course, these hypocrites will then go and praise the Brazilian government for their support of open source software.

      Now, you talk to anybody in those Brazilian IT agencies and guys will tell you that they "used to program in Cobol" (or a funny Assembler flavor,
  • by javilon (99157) on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:40AM (#23197630) Homepage
    Apple is getting the high margin users that want a good desktop experience, and Linux is getting more and more users that need good value deals.

    Microsoft is in the middle, giving up market share on both sides.
    • by dintech (998802)
      You're comparing Apples and Lemons.
    • by blindd0t (855876)

      Apple is getting the high margin users that want a good desktop experience

      I certainly agree with you here

      and Linux is getting more and more users that need good value deals

      I agree with you here, but disagree with what you might have inadvertently implied (even though you're not explicitly stating Windows provides a better desktop experience). ^_^

      A big point used in making the decision of what OS to use is also largely determined from what a person is already familiar with, and what a person is alread

    • That must be why (Score:4, Interesting)

      by symbolset (646467) on Friday April 25, 2008 @12:24PM (#23199908) Journal

      PC shipments for the last quarter are up 12% over the same quarter last year, and Windows revenues are down 24% over the same period. Serious changes are happening.

    • Yes.

      The joy of not caring about what the X.org dudes will do next to fuck up my GUI experience.
  • (Lifting pinkie finger to corner of lips, grinning with satisfaction)

    "52 million students..."

    This is great news!
  • OpenEducationDisc (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pluke (801200) on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:48AM (#23197744) Homepage
    About time. Profiteering should have no place when it comes to a child's access to education. I'm an ICT teacher and we are trying to teach skills and not packages. But it is more than that, you can;t teach kids everything in school and being able to access the skills and tools that you implement in school at home is essential to complement what they are learning in school. After two years of quite severe debate, our school now uses several OSS packages and the kids are given copies of the OpenEducationDisc. Teachers and students can't believe it is free. I now have kids making music, 2D and 3D graphics and actually able to complete written assignments at home as they have something to write with and open word docs with (OOo). For me propriety formats do not have a foot to stand on when you take the home situation into hand. The latest version of the openeducationdisc is here: http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=203390 [sourceforge.net]
  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:51AM (#23197774) Homepage
    The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donates software to Brazilian schools
    • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donates software to Brazilian schools

      There's got to be a "Maybe they can compromise and do the Samba" joke in there somewhere.

    • by Locutus (9039)
      I've heard they( BMGF ) typically require no use of open source software in the contracts. So some schools or libraries may have taken money from BMGF for some locations but probably not many or this would be a much smaller effort.

      LoB
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Friday April 25, 2008 @09:52AM (#23197798) Journal
    Because MS just cannot NOT do something about it. Without a stranglehold on the OS market, MS just can't compete. And -52 million is quite a dent in the marketshare, methinks, for a country like Brazil.

    In any case, interesting times ahead. Pass the popcorn, thnk you.
    • by rbanffy (584143)
      I think they will start aggressively promoting Windows to teachers so they pressure their IT folks to install it (or just do it covertly, Microsoft won't care).

    • by Locutus (9039)
      they declare an increase in piracy to the financial sector in hopes people won't notice what is really going on.

      LoB
      • What would that get MS, though? Only a very fleeting PR without long-term consequence. Unless I missunderstood what you meant?
        • by Locutus (9039)
          it was meant as a joke since Microsoft's latest financial report claimed some losses were do to increased piracy of Microsoft software. That was probably stated because the PC industry has been saying that there was around 15% growth in PC sales but Microsofts numbers only claimed something like 11% PC growth. They had to explain that somehow and they picked piracy. Nobody asked what that means but we know that previous statements about white box vendors was that they are for piracy.

          clear as mud? ;-)

          LoB
          • Got it. Didn't know about MS' latest quarterly statement, I thought they did rather well, but it's interesting to hear their growth didn't match the PC market growth.
  • How long before Microsoft hijack this deal?

  • by lixee (863589) on Friday April 25, 2008 @10:24AM (#23198238)
    In other news, chairs are expected to rain...
  • by Bombula (670389) on Friday April 25, 2008 @10:36AM (#23198404)
    India and China are getting a custom-designed Ubuntu laptop from Dell

    At least their technical support calls won't be long distance...

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