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Re: PTS News & DebianEdu's future

[Raphael Hertzog]
> I'd love to see that happen if it doesn't prevent us to provide a
> simple single-desktop CD image ... for home use or whatever. That's
> the key point for me : we should not focalize on a single thing and
> let people work where they want.

A single-desktop CD image would be the focus of another Debian
sub-project (debian-desktop).  No need to have that focus in
debian-edu.  And having a specific goal and a limited focus in
debian-edu will not stop anyone from making modifications to make it
easier to use debian-edu in new and interesting ways.

I think it is better for each sub-project in Debian to have a clear
and limited goal for the project, instead of trying to include
everything.  If it is to include everything, it is the Debian project,
not a sub-project.

A limited goal will make it easier for everyone to pull in the same
direction, and will produce a better result.  When the initial goal is
accomplished, a new one can be found.  The result will always be a
better Debian system, step by step.

> That doesn't mean that each person should work on its own little
> thing.  But that we must have separate goals covering all possible
> aspects of education. We won't reach all the goals at the same time
> but that's not a problem.

I believe we must choose one goal at the time, and work together to
get there.  This will not block anyone from working on their goals,
but it will get more people working on the same goal.

I suggest making the goal of debian-edu to make one CD image including
every software package and service needed by the primary schools (age
6-16), and preconfigure the software to work out of the box after it
is (almost) automatically installed on server, workstations and thin
client servers.  This will include finding, translating and packaging
desktop software, choosing and configuring server software, and
writing documentation and lecture materials for the teachers and
system administrators.  All end user software shall be available in
the pupils native language. The services should support simple
centralized administration, and make it possible to automate most
routine operations done at a school.  We want all our changes to be
included in Debian, to make sure more people get to use them and to
increase the quality of our changes due to more testers and
developers.  This is the expressed goal of the Skolelinux project.  We
are almost there.

When this goal is accomplished, the result will be useful also outside
primary schools, but by limiting the initial goal, it will be easier
to get everyone to agree on how things should be done.  A lot of
flexibility will have to be hidden or removed to reach this goal.  My
experience is that most admins/teachers in primary schools are not
empowered by all the options and "control" provided by Debian.  They
want something to work.  If we use the flexible Debian packages, and
provide reasonable configuration out of the box, a lot more schools
will be able to start using a well-configured network of servers and

Making this system is not rocket science.  All the services is already
present.  Most of the desktop software is already present.  Some of
the sysadmin tools for automatic user and host administration is
already present.  All that is needed is for someone to spend the time
to find, choose, configure and tune among the 9000 packages in Debian.
Some packages are still missing in Debian and need to be packaged, but
this is the minority.

Simple installation is important.  If it can be configured after
installation, it should be done after installation.  For skolelinux,
we decided to specify the IP-ranges used, and ask people with existing
IP network to use a maskerading/NATing router if their existing
network uses a different IP range.  This make it easier to
preconfigure the services, and thus make sure everything works out of
the box.  (If someone really want to change the IP range used by
Skolelinux, they are of course free to do so, but this will currently
not be supported out of the box.  It should not be too much work to
get it working out of the box, but we are focusing our efforts on more
important parts at the moment.)

Hm, I guess I should stop here.  This is long enough now.  Is this
something more people would want to work on, or should debian-edu move
in another direction.  The Skolelinux project will still continue, but
a little slower without the help from all of you. :)

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