Test driving the OpenSuSE Education distribution
Schools need open source. They need it to save money and they need it for reliability an flexibility. The problem is there aren't many distributions geared towards educational institutions. Because of the OpenSuSE Education distribution, a plethora of distributions isn't necessary. But does this promising distribution fill all the gaps? In this introductory article I will kick the tires and see where it hits and where (or if) it misses.
What exactly is OpenSuSE Education?
This distribution is exactly what you would think it is - a Linux distribution geared specifically for educational environments. But it does take it a bit further than that. Not only does OpenSuSE Edu contain a large amount of software for schools (for both the classroom and the administrative sides) it also extends to the home user adding content filtering and tools students need to complete their work.
OpenSuSE edu is supported by the OpenSuSE project and benefits from all of the outstanding work going into OpenSuSE. Now let's take a look at some of the applications that make OpenSuSE Edu special.
What might surprise you is the vast amount of applications that are installed on the live CD. Naturally some of this software is not geared specifically for educational institutions, but you will be surprised at how much is. Let's take a look at the highlights. These applications are above and beyond the standard Linux installation. OpenSuSE Edu contains all of the standard applications as well.
- Brain Workshop: Mental exercises.
- Cr. Geo: Interactive geometry
- Euler Math Toolbox: A powerful, versatile, mature software for numerical and symbolic computations.
- i GNU it: Flashcard trainer.
- iTest: On-line testing.
- Chemtool: Chemstry toolset.
- GCompris: Educational Suite.
- gElemental: Periodic table.
- iTALC: View and remote control desktops.
- KSeg: Explore geometric constructions.
- KSimus: Network simulator.
- Multiplication Station: Mathematical games.
- QCad: 2D CAD
- Tux Math: Educational math game
Now let's take a look at what OpenSuSE Edu offers on the server/administrative end. You will not find all of these softwares on the Live CD as some of these tools are far more complex to run on a Live CD.
- iTest Server: Server side of iTest testing tool.
- iTALC Server: Server side of iTALC
- Moodle: Course management system.
- OpenSIS: Student Information System.
- OpenBiblio: Library system.
- FreeSMS: Managing educational facility.
- ATutor: Web-based learning center.
And much more.
What does it look like?
As you can see (in Figure 1), the OpenSuSE Education distribution looks fairly similar to the standard OpenSuSE distribution.
If you click on the more applications you will see what I mean about the amount of software installed.
How does it run?
OpenSuSE is one of the finer Linux distributions. It's smooth, fast, solid benefits from the SuSE distribution owned and supported by Novell. And once installed OpenSuSE Edu runs as well as any Linux distributions. Installing this distribution, however, isn't quite as smooth. In fact, installing this distribution takes a surprisingly long time. I understand why - there is so much software to install. But at some point (during the installation) you are going to wonder if something has gone wrong. Let the installation continue...it's just slow.
It's a breath of fresh air to see a distribution singling out the educational institutions. This is exactly what schools need. Now the hardest part is making those schools aware of its existence. If OpenSuSE Edu can tackle that, they will have a huge success on their hands.Advertisement