Hack 83 Educate Yourself with Freeduc

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Hack 83 Educate Yourself with Freeduc

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Freeduc is a Knoppix-based distribution with a focus on providing free software to schools . The Freeduc CD boots into an XFCE environment configured with many tools suitable for classroom use .

A Knoppix CD is a fantastic way to demonstrate an entirely free operating system to a free-software newbie. At OFSET (The Organization for Free Software in Education and Teaching, http://www.ofset.org), we've found that a customized version of Knoppix is the perfect way to demonstrate to educators and parents what is available for them within the free-software community. To make our demonstrations even more targeted , we decided to produce a customized version of Knoppix, called Freeduc (short for FREe EDUCation). Eventually, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, http://www.unesco.org) decided to support us in the release of Freeduc 1.4. According to UNESCO:

FREEDUC . . . is at the disposal of UNESCO to facilitate the use of free software in education and teaching. The gratis distribution of this international version of FREEDUC to teachers will help to promote access to information and communication technologies for education and teaching.

We want Freeduc's users to focus on the free applications and not on the desktop, so we decided to include only one light desktop environment and save CD-ROM space for more applications. We chose XFCE3 because it's light, consistent, and very stable. The XFCE3 application bar has 10 dedicated drawers for launching applications. The drawers organize applications into the following categories:

Basic computer access

Includes killing/destroying a window, formatting a floppy, and opening a terminal


Includes Mozilla, gftp , and sylpheed


Includes Dr. Geo, gnumeric , and gtkgraph


Includes gstar , pymol , kstars , and chemtool


Includes audacity , rosegarden , and gmplayer


Includes dia , pcb , tkgate , qcad , tuxpaint , and the Gimp


Includes xrmap and grass


Includes gnome-dictionary , hanzim , and collatinus

Educational games

Includes gcompris , freeciv , xlincity , and xboard

Word processing and help tools

Includes OpenOffice.org , abiword , scribus , and tkman

About 40 applications for education and teaching are available on the CD-ROM (some, such as GCompris and Dr. Geo, we developed ourselves ).

8.5.1 Contributing to the Freeduc Project

When we first began working on Freeduc 1.4, several of us were spread out in France. We found a need for a central repository to hold the in-development, unpacked Freeduc. Klaus Knopper graciously offered to host a server at LinuxTag. We were able to synchronize local copies on the developer workstation with the repository using rsync .

However, we found we needed to secure the way we were using rsync to update our local copy or the repository. We wrote a simple bash script to encapsulate the use of rsync with the use of a lock file in the repository to prevent upload when another developer was working on it.

Therefore, when a developer wants to start working in Freeduc, she first sets a lock in the repository with the command:

 knoppix@ttyp0[knoppix]$  fcs lock  

Her local copy is updated with the repository content, then a simple lock file is set in the repository. That way, the other developers cannot modify the repository until the first developer unlocks it. This tool also handles updates and other syncing issues, and can be downloaded from our CVS repository at http:// sourceforge .net/projects/ofset.

8.5.2 See Also

  • The official Freeduc page at http://www.ofset.org/freeduc-cd.

Hilaire Fernandes

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Knoppix Hacks. 100 Tips and Tricks
Knoppix Hacks. 100 Tips and Tricks
Year: 2004
Pages: 166

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