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African schools Linux distribution releases community edition

By   |  May 10, 2004

DireqLearn, developers of the OpenLab Linux thin-client solution, today announced the release of a community edition of their software.

\”The Free and Open-Source Software communities gave us the tools we use. This is our gift back to them, the results of using those tools,\” says A.J. Venter, lead developer on the OpenLab project.

Venter says the OpenLab distribution is currently in use in many schools in Nigeria and Namibia and is in daily use in more than 200 schools.

The community edition is a freedownload to all interested. Add-on products and services as well as disksets are also available and can be ordered from the community site, however the download is free of cost or obligation.

The project team have also set up a community site for the project at

Venter says hte downloads section is currently being mirrored to several places, a few is up already, and more will be coming up over the course of the next few days. The system is also available on the GNUtella network, and

bittorrents are in progress.


4 Responses to “African schools Linux distribution releases community edition”

  1. FYI
    May 23rd, 2004 @ 12:00 am

    Interesting gift to the community. A fudged up implementation of LTSP on Slackware with some non-free educational content.

    If anyone is looking for a real thin client solution for schools. Look no further than K12 LTSP (or just LTSP on any distro), it makes Openlab completely pointless, and look very shoddy.

  2. Andy Kiloh
    May 31st, 2004 @ 12:00 am

    Happy to see that there are comments out there, both negative and positive are required to ensure that we always get a balanced picture. As Openlab3 is based on Slackware and LTSP we felt obliged to release our operating system back to the community as many people in the education sector were interested in using the same solution on standalone machines at home and the office to compliment their use at school. As to the comment about it being rather shoddy I would be grateful if FYI would be more specific and perhaps in the spirit of the opensource movement suggest some changes that they think are necessary.

  3. Andy Kiloh
    May 31st, 2004 @ 12:00 am

    A further comment that needs to be addressed is that there should be NO educational content available on this community edition at all.

  4. A.J. Venter
    June 1st, 2004 @ 12:00 am

    While, \”FYI\” is entitled to his opinion, that should certainly entitle me to state some facts:

    1) \” A fudged up implementation of LTSP\”

    In what way is it fudged up ? Like all software, ours have bugs and whenever a bug report reaches us we work really hard to fix it as fast as possible. We\’ve never had a bug report on ou r LTSP stuff (which is very minimal – we hardly changed anything in the normal LTSP installs – this is what is technically called \’compatibility\’), it works just fine, and we have the benchmarks to prove it. If indeed you have discovered bugs in it, please be so kind as to report those to us so we can fix them. Since you have not, you cannot point fingers.

    2) \”some non-free educational content\”

    This proves that Mr. \’FYI\’ has never even seen the community edition. It contains no content whatsoever, where can there be non-free content in a content-free system ? In fact.

    Also regarding content, I discussed this issue with Mr. Richard Stallman himself at the idlelo conference in Cape Town, and he agreed that there are no ethical requirements for content to be \’free\’ either as in beer or speech. This ethical requirement pertains to software, not artistic creation (e.g. content). While there are many sound technical reasons for open content to be encouraged, there are no ethical grounds for insisting on it.

    ID software uses the same model, they give you the code for their games and charge you for the artwork (the content).

    It sounds like Mr. \’FYI\’ has either used an older (non community) version of OpenLab (perhaps 1 or 2) or possibly even got to run one of the early 3.0 beta\’s, he clearly has not seen the community edition, if he had, he would know that it doesn\’t contain content.

    It is fine to post a review, even a bad one, we learn from those and try to improve – but at least get your facts straight.

    \’It makes OpenLab completely pointless, and look very shoddy\’.

    \”shoddy\” is a subjective term, you offer no technical backing for the use of this term. Many others seem to dissagree, like all the people who posted congratulaitons, thanks and kudos on our community forums. Yes we got bug reports as well, there always will be. Mr. \’FYI\’ derides the system as \’shoddy\’ when it is obvious from his post he has never seen it. Then he calls it \’pointless\’. This reminds me of someone who once told me \’mothertongue education is the perfect act of racism, how better to permanently keep any nation down than to have them know any other languages than English, and the best bit is – they will thank you for it.\’ – This idea that only the Anglo-centric approach to anything is at all good. K12LTSP is nice for American schools, but I am in fact currently in communication with an American company who after many hassles, have just tossed it, choosing to sell OpenLab to their schools instead:\”It performs far better, and in the long run, the simple, elegant standards compliant back-end just proves far easier to support and maintain.\”

    Strange how someone here derides an African attempt at creating a distribution suited to the needs of African schools, yet Americans are choosing our product OVER the one created there, for them (the same one he recomends) on solid technical grounds.

    OpenLab is not for everyone, no software product is. But for a very large number of people, we believe it is a solid, powerful and easy to use distribution.

    In short, a bad review I can deal with, a bad review where the absense of facts indicate a reviewer who has never seen the product, and which furthermore is completely empty of any technical motivation, reading instead like an emotional rant by a disgruntled postal worker with a submachine gun… well such a post deserves to be flamed.

    Final note: I used my real name, yes I work for direqlearn but I choose to take responsibility for my opinions.

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