Ubuntu on school laptops in Umeå

Wouldn’t it be awesome if open source software was the de facto standard in state-funded organisations? Not only because of costs and easy licensing, but mostly the general idea of an open and free infrastructure. Something which is especially necessary within information technology – and principally even more so within government related work. Transparency is a keyword for trust.

So I thought, yesterday when I fiddled around with a school laptop, that “wouldn’t it be neat to run Ubuntu on these?”. The laptop I played around with was a Lenovo Thinkpad 7440 something running the official Umeå school configured Windows XP install with access to a heavily filtered wireless network and stuff. Interestingly enough the machine also had a Vista Basic license tag with a CD key underneath… (have they paid for Vista Basic licensing as well?)

To run Ubuntu you have to be able to boot a USB key or install somehow, for example with Wubi. Booting is practically impossible since Lenovo has delivered the laptops with TPM chips and thus you can’t select another boot device without the correct password. And unfortunately you can’t merely reset the CMOS… When installing with wubi there was a random error I didn’t bother looking into more closely. Instead I figured it might be more fun to actually install it with a legitimate reason and official support from the schools…

So this morning I went to Umeå municipality’s IT department and spoke to a person there I’ve met before in various other errands regarding IT and networking. He directed me to a person more related to my actual inquiries about running Ubuntu as a pilot project to see how well it works in practice. Everyone were positive and talked about how Microsoft really lures its users into a trap with software. The ones I talked to mentioned possible incompatibilities with current setup and software, like the wireless network using certificates and certain software which not work (i.e. for people who are sight or hearing impaired). For their own part, they had investigated Edubuntu and experimented with it at home and such. So far so good!

I then took my bike to the offices for the high school’s administration [gymnasieförvaltningen] where I talked to more people I’ve been in touch with before. Randomly enough it seems my interests coincide over time with the same people. Perhaps it’s a consequence of my narrow hobbies, or it might be that Umeå is rather small – in either case I definitely appreciate it. In any case, they were positive to hear this idea on trying Ubuntu (since it’s a rather common distribution I suppose) in a real-world situation. Having a couple of students smash around with Linux on their laptops would be very interesting for future reference.

Something interesting was that everyone knew what Ubuntu was.
It’s common knowledge today!

So now me and folks at Östra gymnasiet here in Umeå will put down our names in an e-mail and send it to the school administration. Then we can only hope it won’t take too long to start this pilot project, evaluate it later this term and really try to smash and crash the system as much as possible to see what can go wrong.

Umeå will hopefully be one of the pioneering cities in Sweden in the field of free software, open standards and leaving the clutches of Microsoft and proprietary retardedness.

3 thoughts on “Ubuntu on school laptops in Umeå”

  1. Grymt initiativ och lovande mottagning! Grymt.

    Jag vill definitivt höra mer! (ska scanna din blogg efter mer poster strax)

    Om det ter sig gå bra i Umeå kan jag introducera konceptet i Lycksele. Ett problem är att laptopparna skolan har idag är gemensamma och använder windows remote desktop. Förresten kommer jag kanske på piratmötet nästa vecka!

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