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Copyright © 2010 Userful Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Userful MultiSeat™ & the logo are trademarks of Userful Corporation. All other third-party trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Userful’s software that turns 1 computer into 10, Userful MultiSeat™. Userful MultiSeat™ replaces the Userful Multiplier™ brand.

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EXCLUSION OF LIABILITY

DISCLAIMER: RELIANCE ON INFORMATION, MATERIAL, ADVICE, OR OTHER LINKED OR RECOMMENDED RESOURCES, WITHIN THIS DOCUMENT, SHALL BE AT YOUR SOLE RISK,AND USERFUL CORPORATION AND ITS PARTNERS ASSUME NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY ERRORS, OMISSIONS, OR DAMAGES ARISING. USERS OF THIS DOCUMENT ARE ENCOURAGED TO CONFIRM INFORMATION RECEIVED WITH OTHER SOURCES, AND TO SEEK LOCAL QUALIFIED ADVICE IF EMBARKING ON ANY ACTIONS THAT COULD CARRY PERSONAL OR ORGANISATIONAL LIABILITIES.

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The purpose of this document is to familiarize the reader with Linux and share some of the most important aspects and benefits of this operating system.

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Overview

The following information is covered in this module:

1.0 An Introduction to Linux 2.0 The History of Linux 3.0 Linux Today

4.0 Ubuntu

5.0 Open Source Software

6.0 The Userful MultiSeat Computer Lab

7.0 Open Source Equivalents to Proprietary Software 8.0 Summary

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1.0 An Introduction to Linux

The Linux operating system, and open source application software, provide free, secure, and customizable alternatives to the Microsoft Windows operating system, and proprietary application software.

Users worried about switching to Linux can rest easy: virtually every Windows application has an

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2.0 The History of Linux

In the 1970’s, there was UNIX, a server operating system created by a group of AT&T employees at Bell Labs. UNIX broke new ground in portability and stability, and steadily grew in popularity until the 1990’s, when it was used on the majority of the worlds servers. At first, Unix was distributed with the source code for its kernel (the core of the program), which made it very popular with programmers who enjoyed tinkering with the code; development expanded until there were dozens of ‘flavors’ of the operating system. UNIX was commercialized in 1983, which meant that licenses got more expensive and the code became proprietary.

Also in 1983, Richard Stallman at MIT spearheaded a project to bring back free software – free meaning the freedom to copy, distribute, and most importantly improve programs, which is only possible if the source code is available. Stallman’s initiative was called the GNU Project (GNU is a recursive acronym that stands for “GNU’s Not Unix”). The founding goal of the project was to develop a free UNIX-like operating system.

As the GNU project was in development, a Dutch university professor wrote a small open-source UNIX-like operating system he dubbed MINIX (MINimal unIX). The MINIX open-source code was available, but the software was licensed strictly for educational use. A Finnish student named Linux Torvalds was frustrated by the restrictions on MINIX use, and so in 1991 he created the Linux kernel as a personal project.

In 1992 Torvald’s released the Linux kernel under a General Public License (GPL), making it free for anyone to copy, use, distribute, and modify. His Linux kernel was combined with code from the GNU project, forming the first completely free software operating system. Development has continued since then, and now there are thousands of free software applications for Linux. There are also many variations of Linux (called ‘distributions’), including both server and desktop versions.

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Today Linux is the most popular operating system for servers, and is used on 90% of the world’s top 500 supercomputers. Linux is also becoming increasingly popular on desktop computers, especially among governments and schools. Many schools make use of Linux and Open Source Software. Some common reasons include:

3.0 Linux Today

1. Saving money! Linux is a free alternative to Microsoft Windows. Other open source applications such as the OpenOffice.org office suite and the GIMP graphics suite provide free alternatives to proprietary software such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop. Open source software can, for example, allow schools to equip every station with a graphics suite rather than just one or two.

2. Deploying Linux based computer infrastructure frees schools from depending on Microsoft, and allows governments to engage local companies to source and customize a Linux distribution and open source software stack uniquely suited to the needs and language of their region.

3. Linux is more secure than Windows. If set up properly, Linux is virtually immune to viruses and spyware. This reduces computer downtime, and eliminates the cost of virus protection software.

4. Open source software is one of the most influential developments in the world of ICT. Providing a comprehensive education using open source software teaches skills that help students get jobs.

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The most popular desktop Linux distribution used in schools is Ubuntu. Traditionally, Linux distributions were tailored to technical professionals. They were extremely secure, stable, powerful and customizable, but extremely complicated to set up and use, and often didn’t have a well-developed graphical user interface (GUI). This discouraged widespread adoption of Linux by the general public.

In 2004 Ubuntu emerged as a Linux distribution for the layman. It sought to simplify the entire user experience, and create an interface that would be intuitive to anyone familiar with Microsoft Windows or Apple OS, and it was successful. Installing Ubuntu is as simple as inserting the disc and following the prompts. To run or install a program, simply double click on it. A user can access virtually all functionality directly through the GUI, without any knowledge of the command-line. The interface is so intuitive that a casual user might assume that they are using a Microsoft Windows machine, when in fact they are using Ubuntu.

While Ubuntu is commonly used in schools, there is also an education specific version of the distribution called Edubuntu. Edubuntu is designed for students aged 6-18. It comes bundled with education specific software including Astronomy, Chemistry, Languages, Mathematics, Planning, and other educational applications.

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Regardless of what Linux distribution schools choose, they have a wealth of free Open Source Software to use such as the iTALC classroom computer management software for teachers, the Firefox web browser, and the OpenOffice office suite. There are also many education and edutainment specific applications available.

5.0 Open Source Software

A listing of the most common open source software applications for schools is available at the following web address: http://www.schoolforge.net.

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The Userful MultiSeat Computer Lab uses Linux operating systems. This offers a range of benefits such as immunity to viruses and the wide availability of free or low-cost open source applications.

The Userful MultiSeat Computer Lab provides students and teachers with access to a broad spectrum of open source application software ranging from Internet browsers to custom programming course development.

There are Linux equivalents for virtually all proprietary software. Use of programs that are not Linux-based, (for example using emulators to run software from a different operating system) is also possible with Userful MultiSeat. For example, Userful MultiSeat Linux has a program included that is specifically for running Windows programs on Linux.

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Below is a list of open source tools you may wish to have available in your Userful MultiSeat Computer Lab:

7.0 Open Source Equivalents to Proprietary Software

Requirement Open Source Tool

Operating System (Linux Distribution) Ubuntu, Fedora, CentOS, Mandriva, Open Suse, SLED, Debian and others.

Internet Navigation/Browser Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Chromium

Office Suite (Word Processor, Spreadsheet, Presentation, Database)

OpenOffice.org

Messenger – Chat aMSN

Email Client Mozilla Thunderbird Instructional/classroom Tools for Teachers iTALC

School Administration Atutor, Online Grades, Open Admin for Schools, FET.

Educational Applications Edubuntu, GCompris, Scratch, KDE-Edu, Octave, Qt-Octave, Tux Paint, KStars, KwordQuiz, Childsplay.

Recording and Editing Sounds, Podcasts Audacity Concept Mapping FreeMind Free Web Meeting Dimdim Wiki Processing Applications Mediawiki

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You may contact your local Userful partner for more information about other Linux applications that you may be interested in.

Requirement Open Source Tool Content Management System Joomla

Graphic Design GIMP, Inkscape Web Application Framework Moonlight Keyboarding Skill Training KTouch

Programming in Python Anjuta DevStudio WEB Programming using PHP NetBeans, Geany .NET-type Object Oriented Programming Gambas

Programming in C# Anjuta DevStudio Programming in Java Anjuta DevStudio Programming in C++ Anjuta DevStudio Programming in HTML Nvu

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For more information on Linux, please visit the Linux Foundation web site at: http://www.linuxfoundation.org

Linux is the most popular operating system for servers and supercomputers, and is becoming increasingly popular on desktop computers, especially among governments and schools. The Linux operating system, and open source application software, provide free, secure, and customizable alternatives to the Microsoft Windows operating system, and proprietary application software. Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution used in schools. Ubuntu, and it’s education specific version Edubuntu, provide a user interface that is intuitive to anyone familiar with Microsoft Windows or Apple OS. Not only is there a wealth of open source education and edutainment specific applications available, but virtually every Windows application has an open source equivalent.

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