project got its
start in Norway in 2001. At that time the initial
included using a Debian-based distribution with applications
localized in two Norwegian dialects, Bokmål and Nynorsk, and in the
Northern Sami language. The solution was envisioned as a server with thin
clients, well documented and easy to use. Any teacher, even those without
computer experience, should be able to install the system and have it ready
for students without much effort.
Skolelinux has been on the LWN Distribution list since before pre release 41 was announced (November 2,
2003). That was about the time that the Skolelinux project and the
Debian-Edu project decided that one big project was better than two little
projects. The merger of the two mailing lists was completed in early 2004.
Skipping forward to the present, Skolelinux/Debian-Edu 3.0 has been released. It is based on Debian 4.0 "etch"
and therefore compatible with LSB 3.1, using kernel 2.6.18 and KDE 3.5.5.
This new release has full support for networked thin clients, diskless
clients, workstations and laptops. There are more than 80 instructional
applications, translated to more than 50 languages. Skolelinux receives
support from regional and national projects in Germany, Spain, France,
Greece and Norway.
The next milestone for Skolelinux will be to merge the Debian based gnuLinEx distribution, which is used by
more than 250,000 students and public employees in the region of
Extremadura in Spain. According to the road
map, the merger will start with the educational installations of LinEx
in primary and secondary schools. LinEx has many other installations in
health care, government and small business that will not be affected, at
least in the early stages.
There are some differences
between LinEx and Debian-Edu that will need to addressed during the
merger. For example, LinEx does not currently support thin and diskless
clients, or use web-based system administration. Also LinEx uses GNOME and
Skolelinux KDE, so GNOME will need to be integrated into the final
product. Ideally all the required packages would be in the Debian
repository, but there are licensing issues with packages that use Squeak,
Flash or Java and LinEx contains some Spanish documentation, tutorials and
training courses that have restrictive licenses. There are other LinEx
specific packages could go into the Debian repository, they just aren't
there now. Currently there are different packages in LinEx and Debian-Edu
that do the same task, so one may be chosen over the other.
There are hurdles to overcome, but one of the largest may be that of
producing a system that is familiar and comfortable for the users of both
LinEx and Skolelinux, and by users I mean the teachers and administrators.
The students will adapt.
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