W. Chris Shank on 19 Jan 2008 15:06:08 -0800

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Re: [PLUG] One True OS

I hope you understand, I'm only trying to discourage you because I  
think what you have in mind is really difficult to accomplish without  
money, varied expertise, buy-in and support from all levels, lots of  
time and the patience of everyone involved. It doesn't sound like your  
setup for success and any failures surrounding Linux get back to  
Microsofties and they use it to further bad-mouth Linux and OSS.

If you want some pointers as to how you could manage your Windows  
network with Linux and other OSS tools, I'm happy to help.

On Jan 19, 2008, at 5:02 PM, James Barrett wrote:

> On Sat, Jan 19, 2008 at 03:25:23PM -0500, W. Chris Shank wrote:
>> He's not starting from scratch, even if he thinks he is. I have been
>> involved in enough of these to know there is always some legacy stuff
>> they have to keep or some infrastructure they have to utilize.
> I do realize that I am not starting from scratch.  Whatever was  
> meant by
> infrastructure, wikipedia defines it as:
> Infrastructure is generally structural elements that provide the
> framework supporting an entire structure.
> The machines, operating system, networking connections, cabling,
> switches, routers and Internet access are structural elements.  Entire
> structure would be the computer lab and curriculum.  There is an
> infrastructure at the school even though it does not involve Exchange,
> norton ghost servers, or anything aside from a bunch of windows  
> machines
> and printers connected together.
> Now, if
>> the school was still using green-screen dumb terminals and he was
>> replacing it with PCs, he'd be starting from scratch. No, he has an
>> exiting infrastructure he needs to get under control and move up from
>> there.
>> And it won't be easy. I've seen spaghetti network wiring in these
>> schools with multiple patch panels spread randomly, switches buried  
>> in
>> classroom closets for no reason, and other craziness that will leave
>> you saying  - "What were they thinking". But in fact, they weren't.  
>> In
>> most of the schools I've been in (probably a half-dozen so far) -
>> their IT was strung together by a series of volunteers who ran out of
>> time or motivation to see their project through. The computers
>> usually  consist of mostly a random collection of donated equipment
>> from various vintages with some of the higher ups actually having
>> modern ones. People think they are doing their school a favor by
>> "donating" their old PC - when in reality, this donation turns into
>> more of a problem for them, unless they have a _really_ well  
>> organized
>> IT department. But staff like that is usually beyond the reach of
>> their budget. What I have seen on several occasions is a lot of half-
>> completed attempts to get things together.
> IIRC the school stopped taking donations.  It costs too much to test,
> part the goods and and dispose of the rest.  We need new networking
> equipment, but might not happen unless we get a grant or something.
> Of the schools I've been
>> in, I've only seen one that was well organized. For that school, a
>> parent volunteer who happens to be a high level MCSE set it up. That
>> network is running well because of his skill and knowledge. However,
>> there was a considerable software and hardware expense initially.
>> I'm frustrated with the notion that somehow replacing everything with
>> Linux is going to save the day. Yes Linux is a great OS and yes it
>> _could_ save money _if_ all your applications, peripherals, and
>> hardware is compatible _and_ your staff is knowledgeable enough to
>> transition to it _and_ all their tools are available and the students
>> can take work back and forth, and - and - and - and. Unless the only
>> applications they use are non-collaborative Email and web browsing,
>> anytime you push Linux in without a significant plan - your setting
>> yourself up for failure. And each time someone shoehorns Linux into a
>> network without a clear plan for success, it becomes fodder for the
>> anti-Linux crowd.
> I have decided to take one of the "broken" computers and make a linux
> workstation out of it for myself in the back room, for testing and
> debugging the network.  I will put the Linux migration very very far  
> on
> the back burner (far enough that it might be teetering off the edge).
> I will also make two more linux machines to fix the network and  
> provide
> some content filtering.  I have also decided to keep my efforts  
> honed on
> supporting them for the next few weeks.  I do realize that rushing  
> into
> things is a bad idea.
>> I'm sorry if I'm ranting. I'm really not anti-Linux. I use it to a
>> tremendous extent and even commercially support about a dozen Linux
>> desktops. So I know from experience, Linux itself isn't the answer to
>> a poorly designed network or untrained users or crappy hardware or an
>> inadequate IT budget. It will in fact will make your life miserable
>> and make users skeptical about using Linux in the future when it  
>> truly
>> has overcome the few remaining hurdles. I guess I'm jaded because  
>> I've
>> been there - done that, and it sucks to see your effort fail. This
>> hits close to home for me because I've been in James position and
>> attempted to do just what he's trying to do about 5 years ago. Back
>> then, instead of Vista as the problem OS it was XP and Windows 98 as
>> the incumbent. But the story is very similar. Linux is more mature
>> than it was then, but XP is also far superior to Windows 98, so the
>> starting points aren't that far off.
>> What these schools need is a real _comprehensive solution_ that
>> addresses all their needs and pain points. Just sticking Linux in the
>> lab is only going to make his life harder because he'll have more
>> complexity to try to manage.
> Right.  A full Linux migration is probably not the best idea.  I  
> suppose
> if we had some teachers to instruct the students on how to use Linux  
> it
> would not be as much of a problem.  Too bad the Linux-qualified people
> charge $45/hour more than what the school could afford to pay.
>> Arrgg - sorry - i just find this whole topic so frustrating.
> My sentiments exactly.
> You bring up LOTS of good points that I have not thought about, Chris.
> Thanks!
> ___________________________________________________________________________
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W. Chris Shank
ACE Technology Group, LLC
(610) 640-4223

Philadelphia Linux Users Group         --        http://www.phillylinux.org
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