doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

A Free Educational Idea

I know this isn’t the first time that I’ve talked about this and I certainly wasn’t the first and won’t be the last.  However, playing around with Natty Narwhal (Ubuntu 11.04) and the applications that are installed make it worth another post.

Apparently, cutbacks on classroom computer hardware will be extended for another year.  This means that folks are doing their best to struggle with the limited dollars – buying second hand computers, using computers for an extra year, purchasing netbooks instead of notebooks or desktops or just plain downsizing.  With Ubuntu 11.04, there may be another alternative.  Why not breathe new life into your computers with a new operating system and all the good that comes with it?  

But, will it work?  I know that there are huge groups in Europe that have gone this route and many folks on this side of the ocean have built an expertise in Linux and in particular, Ubuntu.  I know that a friend of mine used to go on restoration projects with his students…they would bring in an old PC and wipe the hard drive installing Ubuntu and walking away with an internet ready, software rich machine.  The price – $0.00.  Now, there will be those experts who will talk about the “real” cost of computing but if you can stick a bootable CD-ROM in a drive, you’re good to go.  While networking is very easy with Linux, it may well be that you would be asked to keep the machines off the network and that’s OK.  If you can live with what comes with Ubuntu, you should be able to get some additional life and functionality from your hardware.

Security?  Just make the student user a desktop user and they can’t install software onto your machine.  Period.  With the Unity launcher, it’s a matter of loading it up with the apps that you want and away you go.

Anyway, here’s a quick list of what comes with Ubuntu to get you started….


Ubuntu 11.04 – Your operating system – $0.00

Firefox – Your browser – $0.00

LibreOffice – Your office suite:  wordprocessor, spreadsheet, presentation package compatible with Microsoft Office.  Chances are, you’re already using LibreOffice or OpenOffice already – $0.00

Skype – If you’re going to be lucky enough to connect to the internet, Skype is Skype – $0.00

Audacity – Chances are you’re already using that on your existing computer – $0.00

Banshee Media Player – For all your multimedia playing needs – $0.00

Gbrainy – Application to keep you thinking – $0.00

Shotwell Photo Manager – Manage your digital photos – $0.00

Tux Paint – For editing digital photos and graphics – $0.00

Tux Math – For your math needs – $0.00

Pitivi Video Editor – Turn those movies into epics – $0.00

Simple Scan – If you have a digital scanner and need to bring content to your computer – $0.00

Screenshot – For those great screencasts you and your students do – $0.00

and more.


This, before we even head over to the Ubuntu Software Centre to browse there for more applications.  All for free and some of the best software that you’ve never heard of!

With a little installation, you can soup up those machines in no time at all.  Or, even if you’re not going to do it at school, how about that old pokey in the corner that you just can’t bear to recycle yet?  Install Ubuntu and the requisite apps and you may well have yourself a brand new friend.  Did I mention that you can do it for no cost beyond your original investment in the hardware which you’ve alread done!


One response to “A Free Educational Idea”

  1. I always install Gimp for real photo editing power.


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