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Multiplied Linux Desktop Strategy Delivers Cost Savings for Illinois School District

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Omni Technology Solutions Inc.

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Posted: 2 Mar 2007
 

Overview

In August 2006, the State of Indiana announced that more than 20,000 Linux workstations would be deployed in Indiana schools under the program, "Affordable Classroom Computers for Every Secondary Student" (ACCESS). "Lower costs, higher functionality and early successes" were reported as the key drivers behind the decision.

"We have a million kids in the state of Indiana," said Mike Huffman, special assistant for technology at the Indiana Department of Education. "If we were to pay $100 for software on each machine, each year, that's $100 million for software. That's well beyond our ability. That's why open source is so attractive. We can cut those costs down to $5 [on each computer] per year." [1]

Danville School District 118, located in neighboring Illinois, has taken their Linux desktop savings one step further. By pioneering Omni's "Multiplied" SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop Strategy, Danville School District 118 has reduced their hardware costs by 50%, their electricity costs by 62%, and saved the district thousands of dollars on costly Internet drops, switches, network wiring and other infrastructure and support costs. [2]

The Challenge

"The computer-to-student ratio for our middle schools is approximately 10-to-1," said Christel Powell, Manager of Information Systems for Danville School District. "In the past, expensive hardware, licensing and infrastructure costs have hampered our ability to deliver wider desktop computer access to students in our classrooms, libraries and computer labs."

"With Omni's Multiplied Linux Desktop Strategy, we have implemented a solution that allows up to 10 students to work at the same time on a single Linux PC.  We used SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop and the Linux Desktop Multiplier, powered by Userful, to effectively eliminate the hardware, maintenance, electricity and infrastructure costs associated with 9 out of every 10 physical PCs," continued Christel Powell.

The Solution

Danville School District purchased the certified Multiplied SLED 10 Hardware Bundle from Illinois-based white-box PC maker, R Cubed Technologies. R Cubed recently partnered with Omni to deliver a pre-configured, certified Novell SLED 10 and Desktop Multiplier hardware and software solution to simplify purchasing and setup.

Danville selected an 8-user Linux Desktop Bundle for their classrooms that included an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.1 Ghz system with 2 GB of RAM, a 250 GB hard drive, 8 monitors, 8 USB keyboards and mice, 8 audio headsets and a USB hub. SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, OpenOffice (compatible with Microsoft Office documents), GroupWise, Novell Client for Linux, Squid Web Proxy Cache, the Linux Desktop Multiplier and several other Linux education applications were pre-installed.

Linux Education Applications

  • Kdeedu3:  Linux education programs including "Simon" clone, periodic table, tasks with fractions, form-based exams, geography, hangman, mathematical function plotter, typing program, flashcards and vocabularly learning program.
  • Klogic:  Linux education application for building and simulating digital circuits easily.
  • Notedit:  Music note editor for KDE under Linux.
  • Scribus:  Professional layout and publishing software for Linux that supports EPS, SVG import/export and PDF documents.
  • Tuxmath:  Linux-based math arcade game starring Tux, the Linux mascot. Tux must defend his cities by solving math problems.
  • Ksudoku:  Full-featured Linux Sudoku puzzle generator and solver for KDE.
  • Stellarium:  Free, open source planetarium for Linux desktops.
  • Tuxpaint:  Free, award-winning Linux drawing program for children ages 3 to 12.
  • Gcompris:  Linux education software that includes games on algebra, science, geography, reading and more.
"We engaged R Cubed's professional services to help deploy the solution in our schools.  R Cubed's Chief Technology Officer, Joe Ryner, supervised the setup of the systems and provided introductory training for our IT staff on the Multiplied Linux Desktop computers. The students were absolutely thrilled with the arrival of the new systems! They gathered around Joe while the systems were being connected and couldn't wait to login and start exploring," said Christel Powell.

"In our middle schools, our objective is for students to have fast Internet access, access to curriculum support software and standard office productivity applications. Going with the pre-configured Multiplied SLED 10 systems from R Cubed and Omni was a wise decision.  Students have access to OpenOffice, Firefox, GroupWise, the Novell Client for Linux, multimedia applications and multiple Linux education applications."

"We are very pleased that the Linux single login with the Novell Client for Linux allows students to authenticate to Novell eDirectory and access their home directory and other network resources.  To simplify managing the Multiplied systems, I installed Cygwin, a Linux emulator for Windows, onto my Windows XP desktop. Cygwin lets me login to the Multiplied system, access YAST, manage user accounts, systems settings, applications and remotely shut down the systems as required.  Having remote management from my desktop is a great time-saving management tool."

The Results

"Each multi-station Linux desktop delivers exceptional performance. Students have access to USB audio headsets and can save their files to USB memory keys. The Linux Desktop Multiplier is transparent to users.  Students login normally and authenticate to our Novell network with the Novell Client for Linux."

"By using Omni's Multiplied Linux Desktop Strategy in our classrooms, we have saved over 50% on our Linux desktop hardware costs, 62% on electricity costs, and saved our district thousands of dollars on costly Internet drops, switches, network wiring and other infrastructure and support costs. The Multiplied Linux Desktop Strategy will allow us to stretch our limited IT budget and use those savings to provide better computer access for all students in the district."

"Our students, staff and community are thrilled with the results of the Multiplied Linux Desktops.  We are looking to implement this strategy throughout our district."

Resources

NOTES:

[1]   Moltzen, E. (2006, August 16). "Hoosier Daddy? In Indiana Schools, It's Linux." Retrieved February 22, 2007, from http://www.crn.com.

[2]   A traditional stand-alone desktop uses 140 Watts of electricity. Therefore, eight stand-alone desktops consume 1,120 W (8 x 140 W) compared to an 8-user Multiplied Linux Desktop that uses 430 W of power. This represents an electricity and pollution savings of approximately 62%.

The costs quoted to install conduit and wire for (2) 120-volt circuits in a single middle class library was $2,720.00. Each classroom already had one data port. By using Multiplied Linux Desktops, no additional network or electrical wiring changes were required.

Another factor to consider is the cost of switch ports. Adding eight PCs to each classroom would have required additional switches to be purchased.


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