Linux, and open source based educational applications are catching up very fast among schools, colleges and other educational institutions. There are two pressing constraints for any educational institution with growing number of students every year – the cost of buying new computers, and the cost of operating system/ application licenses!
But what all of us are missing is, Linux is a very mature operating system these days and there are a lot of high quality free applications developed by open source enthusiasts around the world for Linux.
For an average computer user, deploying Linux Operating system and installing applications on it might give a nightmare. At least, they think it will give them a night mare! That’s one of the reasons why integrated approach of infrastructure + application deployment (and maintenance) from a single vendor has always worked with Linux and other open source based applications. Let the professionals do the installation, while you can just learn how to use the system.
Secondly, there are a lot of schools that still do not have enough computers to accommodate all the students. Cost of buying computers / operating systems/ applications have deterred the use of adequate computers.
Userful Multiseat Linux educational hardware + application solution might come close to solving both the above problems with a single solution!
On the hardware front, they deploy a desktop virtualization solution that enables the customer to share one physical Computer CPU to create up to ten computers by just adding keyboard, monitor and mouse. Of course, a lighter hardware to enable all the connectivity / provide minimum display processing locally is involved in this, but the cost of that device is quite less compared to a full fledged CPU.
On the Operating System & Applications front, Userful Multiseat Linux uses Edubuntu Operating System which is a special operating system designed exclusively for educational segment with a lot of in-built applications for educational institutions/ students. The package also includes student management software, educational games and many other things that an educational institution might need, normally purchased independently.
Of course, the big advantage is that with Userful Multiseat Linux, all this come as a package. Which means, the interoperability is already tested and installation for multiple applications is possible with a single click! Even the desktop virtualization hardware components are supplied by them. But as it is with other open source based installations, its important to check the capabilities of the systems integrator who would be integrating the whole solution together.
To give you an idea, consider the following situation: You need to set up a new lab with ten computers (for example). Instead of buying ten physical computers, you can buy one CPU unit and ten sets of monitors/ keyboards and mouse.
There after, its over to the system integrator. They install the Userful Linux CD on that single computer. The operating system, applications installed there would be available to all the students in all the other computers connected to it through desktop virtualization.
The students can come in, sit in any system and just login with their user-name/ password to get their personalized desktop environment. They can have a local storage (on the main CPU, but individual students can access only their files), work on all the applications installed in the main CPU, browse the Internet, attach any USB based storage device to their virtual desktop to transfer files or just share files on a common directory so that it can be accessed by other students/ teachers.
The cost savings, especially on the software licenses are huge. And Open Source based operating systems/ applications are already popular with mainstream educational institutions / enterprise companies. In fact, there is not much difference between working on Libre Office and MS Office. Both are simple to use and easy to learn office productivity suits!
So, why not consider this for your institution? In addition to reducing a lot of cost, the students/ faculty might as well learn some new stuff, which is cool! Some Governments and educational institutions have even mandated the use of open source based applications.
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