Linux: Ubuntu In My Lab

What Doesn’t Work

Let’s be honest here though, not everything is roses and gold with Ubuntu either. My biggest gripe comes hand in hand with the statement made in previous paragraph about using only clean and non-pirated software. The exception to this statement is the fact that the situation on the ground in Kenya forces me to install reverse-engineered multimedia codices of varying legality. Why do I say forced? Because as a volunteer here trying to spread the use of ICT, I need lures, and the biggest lures are multimedia related. In Kenya, sometimes it’s cheaper to buy MP3 CDs off the black market then your next meal, and listening to music is what gets my kids interested in the potential of computers. That and being able to watch videos. This type of stimulation is oftentimes new to some of my students coming in from more rural parts of the country, and after weighing all options, the notion that a proprietary-format piece of data can entice a youth to use a computer he would have otherwise ignored is far more important than forcibly upholding Open Source data standards… for the moment.

However, even with these codices installed, not all the discs work on Ubuntu. I have had many instances where VideoCDs will run just fine in VLC on a Windows partition, but not run at all on VLC installed on Ubuntu with all codices I know of. Even DVDs made by my sister on her Vista machine will not run on a supposedly, “fully equipped,” Ubuntu machine. This leaves some of my students frustrated and me scratching my head as to what kinds of funky encoding schemes are being employed on the black market these days.

On the same note, Ubuntu’s biggest problem in gaining acceptance amongst the more educated folks I work with (read: who already know how to use a computer) is that it’s not called, “Windows.” Many of my teachers who know computers learned on Windows machines, and I face a constant battle to win people over, especially if I am trying to do so on principles alone. Many just don’t care about free software when for the most part all of the Windows software they use is pirated and therefore free in the first place. On top of that, “Open Source philosophy,” has about as much influence as a wisp of air, and when I tell them that they cannot specifically use AutoCAD (though they can use a replacement), ears stop listening and minds shut down. I am sure I have at least a handful of teachers who do not use my lab because most of the computers are running Ubuntu and not Windows.


1 Comment

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One response to “Linux: Ubuntu In My Lab

  1. Great post on some of the problems with ITC in Africa. USB viruses are the bane of all volunteers existence. Do you have all your teachers put an autorun.inf folder on the drive? At least stops the virus from spreading.

    The distribution model of Linux is horribly suited for the low bandwidth experienced here, but when I used it back home in the States it was amazing! The amount of FLOSS software that is out there is amazing. Though not all of it lives up to professional standards that are definitely sufficient for everyday use. One thing I really want to do here is a photo editing class using GIMP, but the right combination of motivation and timing from my counter parts hasn’t happened yet.

    Have you looked into the games available in the Ubuntu repos. Might be another good way to get people to try them out. Personal I like simple logic games like those found in the package sgt-puzzles, but there are tons of 3-D games too.

    Thanks for the link to Looks like a cool organization, need to look into it more.