This entry is the third in a series covering GNU/Linux, an Operating System consisting of the Linux Kernel and applications from the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community, with an emphasis on its connections to the developing world. These articles assume at least a moderate understanding of the Linux and FOSS communities. For more information regarding these, I would direct interested parties to Linux.org as well as the Free Software Foundation and finally, for the truly interested, the GNU Manifesto. With all of this knowledge now in hand, I hope you enjoy the series. If you have not already done so, I suggest you go ahead and read the first and second posts in the series: Linux: Not Ready for the Big Time and Linux: It’s Everywhere and Nowhere.
I have been teaching at National Youth Service for a year now, and I have been administering a modern computing facility for about nine months. For those nine months the computers in my lab have been dual-booted with Windows and Ubuntu. Over these nine months I have learned a thing or two about administering systems in the developing world and thought that I would continue my Linux series with an overview of what I have picked up, so that maybe my experiences will help future system admins finding themselves in a similar position as myself.
Let’s get the details out of the way. My computer lab currently consists of one HP Compaq Dual Core Intel machine which has been designated the teacher’s computer (i.e. me), though it has accounts on it for anyone to interact with. I also have 8 HP Pentium D machines with 120 gig hard drives and 512 MB of RAM. Finally, I have 15 Lenovo machines running Intel dual cores with 1 gig of RAM and 80 gig hard drives. There is also a rudimentary network connecting the 9 HP machines together and also to an HP Laserjet 4250 through the use of a D-Link 24-port switch and D-Link 4-port wired Ethernet router. Currently the network is down because it traditionally serves the purpose of allowing the HP machines (due to proximity) to print, but currently we have no toner for the printer, and thus I have not rebuilt the network since taking it down for safety concerns over the holiday.
As for software, all computers are currently running Ubuntu 9.04 and the 8 HP’s (not including my teacher computer) dual boot into Windows XP SP2. Before my Linux-enthusiast readers get all huffy, the fact of the matter is that many people who already know how to use a computer in Kenya have learned on Windows. I am slowly gaining converts, especially considering now the majority of computers run Linux, but for the sake of practicality, it’s good to have a Windows partition or two lying around for those, “must-have,” cases. I teach exclusively in Ubuntu however.