bakoolguy2
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:48 pm

Re: Educational Computer Lab Setup

Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:41 am

Hello everybody!

I work for a non-profit in the US which has recently received a grant to setup a computer lab with 8 computers and to teach youth in the community about how to use them.

RaspberryPi was my obvious choice.  I have a few questions.

I plan on ordering 10 when they become available, which should be any day now, correct?

Would it be faster to run the OS off of the SD card or USB key, or should I look into network mount/boot?

Which is the preferred OS for the device?  Is it the Fedora Remix from the recent blog post, or something else? I thought I saw Eben demo on a non-Fedora Linux distro.

Anybody know of some good programming platforms to teach 4-8th graders?

Would open office work on RPi or should I look into LibreOffice?

Clearly it would be ideal for a keyboard/mouse that uses only one USB port so to have the other free for a USB drive or something else.  I know you can get wireless solutions with keyboard/mouse on one USB port; but this will be a public lab and I want to minimize maintenance. I don't want to be replacing batteries every week (or paying for them!) Does such a wired keyboard/mouse solution exist?

Anybody found any good deals on cheap HDMI screens?

What kind of Network management tools are available? i.e. if I wanted to wipe them all with a clean install in one command?

Thanks for your input!

JeremyF
Posts: 515
Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:06 pm
Contact: Website

Re: Educational Computer Lab Setup

Tue Feb 21, 2012 1:44 am

bakoolguy2 said:


Hello everybody!

I work for a non-profit in the US which has recently received a grant to setup a computer lab with 8 computers and to teach youth in the community about how to use them.

RaspberryPi was my obvious choice.  I have a few questions.

I plan on ordering 10 when they become available, which should be any day now, correct?

Would it be faster to run the OS off of the SD card or USB key, or should I look into network mount/boot?

Which is the preferred OS for the device?  Is it the Fedora Remix from the recent blog post, or something else? I thought I saw Eben demo on a non-Fedora Linux distro.

Anybody know of some good programming platforms to teach 4-8th graders?

Would open office work on RPi or should I look into LibreOffice?

Clearly it would be ideal for a keyboard/mouse that uses only one USB port so to have the other free for a USB drive or something else.  I know you can get wireless solutions with keyboard/mouse on one USB port; but this will be a public lab and I want to minimize maintenance. I don"t want to be replacing batteries every week (or paying for them!) Does such a wired keyboard/mouse solution exist?

Anybody found any good deals on cheap HDMI screens?

What kind of Network management tools are available? i.e. if I wanted to wipe them all with a clean install in one command?

Thanks for your input!



1. They will be available by the end of the month, but you can only order one unit at time of launch, and only an estimated 10% of people who want one will get one at all. (100K on mailing list, 10K boards manufactured)

2. No idea which will be faster, but the bootloader BIOS-esque "thing" (which I myself don't completely understand) is only able to boot from SD card. To boot from a USB drive (or somewhere else), there would have to a program on an SD card to know to be looking there. (as far as I can tell/know)

3. The official OS is a Fedora Remix with LXDE but other GUIs (or no GUI at all) will be supported along with other distros. As long as you're running Linux, people will help you, so this shouldn't matter that much.

4. I personally recommend Python for proving, but for the younger kids, there is Scratch (MIT Media Lab), but it may be too easy.

5. Both OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice have been ported to ARM (running generally on Debian "squeeze") but may use too much memory. Just based on my experience, I am fairly certain OpenOffice.org is less memory intensive. Note that Google Docs and the likes of that are always an option.

6. There are keyboards with USB ports in them, and considering how little power a mouse needs, it should be fine, but not sure. Come to think of it, a bus powered (vs. AC wall plug powered) hub with just a mouse and keyboard actually will have enough power, I think. This is an area I am definitely unsure of. Do not quote me at all.

7. I haven't been able to find any really good deals on HDMI monitors, but since you can buy HDMI to DVI converters for only a few dollars (or often less -- and they work since no real "conversion" is done), you may want to look into monitors that accept DVI-D. (which shouldn't be that hard in this modern era; I've been able to find for around $70, often less)

8. No idea, I've never liked computers where a network admin has control.
{sig} Setup: Original version Raspberry Pi (B, rev1, 256MB), Dell 2001FP monitor (1600x1200), 8GB Class 4 SD Card with Raspbian and XBMC, DD-WRT wireless bridge

oninoshiko
Posts: 76
Joined: Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:16 pm

Re: Educational Computer Lab Setup

Tue Feb 21, 2012 4:32 am

JeremyF said:


bakoolguy2 said:


What kind of Network management tools are available? i.e. if I wanted to wipe them all with a clean install in one command?


8. No idea, I've never liked computers where a network admin has control.


As one of those BOFH admins who do this kind of thing, I understand where where the poster is comming from, but maybe the best approch here is to assign each student a SD card. Then you only have to worry about reprogramming the spacific students who break their individual installation.

I realize its not the answer to the question posted, but maybe it's a solution to the problem.

gimliflea
Posts: 76
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2011 4:14 pm

Re: Educational Computer Lab Setup

Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:44 am

People have found usb keyboards with built in touch pads which is minimum h/w.

Will boot of sd card first. Usb drive almost certainly slower.

Network boot would require something (Unetbootn?) loaded on sd card.

Educational release Q3 2012? will have cases and documentation.

andyl
Posts: 265
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:05 am

Re: Educational Computer Lab Setup

Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:13 pm

Another option would be something like the Logitech MK520 which is a cordless keyboard and separate mouse which works with a tiny unifying receiver that plugs into a single USB port.

Personally I've just bought a Filco Majestouch keyboard (with cherry blue switches) which is considerably more expensive than the Pi (although I use it with my laptop as well).  I prefer proper mechanical keyboards far more than membrane ones.  My normal keyboard is an IBM Model M which is coming up to 19 years old.

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