Testing of educational tools (Edubuntu) on thin-clients in Government high schools, Yediyur

In a proposal to RMSA (Rashtriya Madhyamika Shikshana Abhiyana), IT for Change (ITfC), suggested the creation of Subject Teachers Forums (Kalika Balaga) across the state. And to back this initiative, we had to confirm to RMSA that the educational tools required for creating such forums could be made available in the existing set-up.

After DSERT's approval to use 3 government high schools that are a part of the Image removed.ICT @ school project (phase II) of the Government of Karnataka, we, Anupama, Shariff and Sindhu, the technical team of ITfC, ventured out to test the working of educational tools on the present thin-client system in the schools systems. The existing infrastructure set up was a server with Windows 2003 Server Edition and Redhat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 4 dual boot and 10 HCL WINBee thin-clients – inexpensive, bare-bone computer set-up that serves as a user interface device in a client-server architecture. A thin client does not have any processor or data storage device but, in contrast, has enough RAM to run a slimmed down version of an operating system. Thin clients are preferred in large establishments where a low total cost of ownership (TCO) is desirable with Internet facility. RHEL was not configured properly in the server and the clients did not boot from it, however, as expected they booted flawlessly from Windows 2003 server.

On the day one of testing, we installed Edubuntu (the Educational Ubuntu with Linux terminal server support (LTSP) which is required for thin-clients) on the server. The clients did not boot from the server. We called the not-so-useful HCL helpline and they said that the thin clients were built only for licensed software. After a lot of internet digging, thanks to the search engine, we found that someone in Kerala had had a similar issue and had it fixed. We called him (he was google-able) and he gave us some hints. So we went back again on the day two to fix the issue. And we did it. The clients were the mirror image of the server, and Internet worked effortlessly on the clients.

Anupama, Shariff and Sindhu