Saturday, November 03, 2007

Desktops libres help to introduce other (libres) technologies.

In Gran Canaria's College (ULPGC) we are going to give a course about Ruby on Rails during the following days. The point is where are we going to do it. The computer lab has a nice structure based on one server with CENTOS4 + XEN + 4 virtual machines with Debian, and another server with W2k.

  • The first virtual machine has the LTSP system.

  • The second virtual machine has user's home directories.

  • The third one has some free desktops.

  • The fourth one has the monitoring system

There are some thin clients and some new and recycled PCs on the computer lab. The windows server will be used to check (through rdesktop) that everything it is done by students works on Internet Explorer. Validation goes through the old NIS the college has. This computer lab is called Aula Sostenible (something like Sustainable Lab).

If you analyze the ratio cost/power of these kind of structures compared to similar ones with propietary software (Windows, IBM or Solaris, for example) you find out why we are so strong. But most of this technology is some years old. We could configure something like this (or close) three or four years ago. What has happened for us to be able to sell these kind of solutions much easier now than before?

Mature free desktops help us to convince many people that software libre is 100% usable. That allow us to promote other technologies and solutions, like virtual machines, thin clients or monitoring software, for example. From a marketing point of view, KDE is a very strong way of breaking walls so many people open their doors by giving free software a chance. Many times you convince more people to buy software libre by showing your laptop instead of talking an hour about the benefits of this and that. This is something I live more and more frecuently.
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