Edubuntu: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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Well, after several months of using Edubuntu in a LTSP thin client environment I will share my thoughts and experience…. the good the bad and the ugly.

The good:

  1. The software is free and open source.

  2. We have been able to recycle some old machines and nearly double the number of public work stations at the main library.

  3. Speed: when all is running well, applications including Firefox run much faster than they do on our Windows stand alone PC’s

  4. Security Updates: Since all of the terminals run off of the same server, all updates are done on the server. This is much less time consuming than the process we go through with the Windows PC’s. They have Deep Freeze installed on them, so they must first be “Thawed” then updated, the “Refrozen.” With windows security updates, Anti virus updates, Java and flash updates etc. This is VERY time consuming.

  5. Edubuntu’s included software package is excellent. While on the window’s machines, we have purchased additional software such as Microsoft Office, Educational Games, and Faronic’s Deep Freeze, Edubuntu has all of the software we need, including Open Office, The excellent Gcompris suite of educational Games, Tuxmath and Tuxpaint, as well as many multimedia and image editing software like the GIMP and the Rhythmbox Music Player.

The Bad:

  1. People are not as familiar with the way things work in LINUX. While most things are fairly intuitive, some people just don’t feel comfortable in a non Windows environment. I am finding however, that more and more people have no problem using these machines, especially for simple web browsing.

  2. We have had some printing issues. We have HP 4050TN Network Printers. For some reason, after working perfectly for a few weeks, they began printing only to the manual tray. This meant that our circulation staff had to feed in paper for each of the print jobs from the Linux machines. After several weeks of trying to find an answer. An update appeared and fixed the problem.

  3. Streaming video is a bit choppy. While it didn’t take to much configuration to get Flash and Java working (there was a bit of trouble getting sound to work) Streaming video over the network is not seamless. I suspect that this is a problem of the terminal server, client relationship, not any problem with Edubuntu.

  4. Mounting USB drives sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.

  5. Many games that people download and play on windows, will not work.

The Ugly:

  1. We have five adult stations, and two kids stations. The kids stations freeze all of the time. This is especially true when running Tuxpaint and Tuxmath. It also happens when running the Gcompris games. I tried installing a newer version of Tuxmath, and it did help a bit, but the machines with 128 Megs of RAM (which is almost all of them) still freeze.

  2. The adult machines also freeze from time to time. Sometimes Ctrl Alt Bkspc does not fix this, and the machine must be turned of and restarted.

  3. I still have quite a few instances of Firefox not being able to open. I get the “Firefox is already running but is not responding” Error.

Moving Forward:

  1. I have not upgraded to the newest version Gutsy Gibbon. There have been many people talking about there bad experience with the upgrade, and folks on the list have warned me not to try on a live system. I don’t have an “extra server” to try with, so I am still waiting.

  2. I have had so much trouble with the kids stations freezing, that I installed the OS natively on the machines and I am not trying to run them as thin clients. This seems to have fixed all of the problems I was having with them.

About ashkev

The Fiddling Librarian 3.0 is Kevin Smith’s personal weblog. Kevin is a recent graduate with an MLS from IUPUI. Kevin is the Assistant Director of the Cass District Library which is in Cass County Michigan.
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