jbolger at socc.ie (John Bolger) on 17/12/2000 00:26:49
To: John Gay/ENG/CIR/Celestica at Celestica
cc: ilug at linux.ie
Subject: Re: [ILUG] Exporting display to other X-Terminals
and networked StarOffice?
> I know there is some StarOffice experienced people on this list. I just hope
> someone knows a way to export a display to the X-Terminals. This would really
> a great thing!
I tried to setup staroffice with Helix GNOME in a classroom enviornment. To call
the result a complete disaster would be an understatement.
Sorry to here about your troubles.
Your first problem is that staroffice is too unstable. You WILL get frequent
crashes, hanging and segfaults. You WILL lose files, settings, even entire
staroffice setups to these crashes. Students and staff (and admins) will
become very pissed offf very quickly at having such an unusable setup. You will
end up spending more time on helping students with problems than actually
teaching them (my experience shows this goes to about 70% support/30% teaching
on a good day). Having a solution available for free isnt much use if it
I didn't know that StarOffice was actually unstable? I know it needs a lot of
horse-power, It would take so long to boot on my system with PII350 and 64M of
ram, I jsut never used it much. Now that I have 2 PII's and 128M of ram it at
least loads in a decent amount of time, but I still prefer to use other tools.
If you want to roll it out to a lot of students be prepared to write some
and buying a LOT of disks. In my experience with the /net option, the home
still take over 5Mb a user. To setup this initially it asks stuedents through
a long set of questions to install it. If they fill it in wrong your left with
a class with every student desktop being different. I scripted this setup for
1900 users - the result was 8GB on our central /home wasted.
I only need it for 8 or 9 PC's, as the student terminals are just X-Terminals.
The main reason I was considering StarOffice was for M$ Office compatibility.
I'll have to look deeper into StarOffice.
Also dont even *think* of NFS mounting the main staroffice installation. In
my experience this will kill your network (even with 100Mbps network). It will
also cause staroffice an unacceptable long time to start (in my case it was
3 minutes). For this reason you will need all of stariffice on the servers
which are running it.
I was hoping to reduce the load on the individual PC's by using the Network
capabilities of StarOffice by running the main StarOffice on one machine with
plently of memory and just having clients on the less-capable systems. Of course
I would have to test the feasablilty of this before actually using it.
My staroffice on the desktop project was suspended in October. I really dont
it - it was eating up admin time and getting no results. My advice is - use
Windows on the desktop. I know I'll probably get flamed to death for saying this
but Windows will do better on the desktop on a school network. MS Office
is a lot more stable and a lot more performant on the hardware you will have
at your disposal. Just use samba for home dirs, edit the registry on the
to rename "My Documents" to "H:\", add a login script and it will work without
endless amounts of hassle.
I might look at KOffice and AbiSuite and other options if they are better. At
the moment the school does not use the PC's for much. I am just hoping to make
their resources more useful to them.
Linux makes a fine server in a school, and this is where you should use it. It
does not (yet) make a good desktop. To be honest I tought it would at this
stage, but the apps are not "multi-user". In a school network you cant have
an installation program coming up on first install (eg. with staroffice or
the gimp). You need a central configuration system, and the ability to lock
it down and prevent users from changing or overriding anything. Apps need
to be simple and stable. None of the Linux desktop enviornments fit these
criteria (yet). If anyone on this list is developing such apps, _please_
The main 'apps' used at the school are the Dell 'Education package' that came
with the original PC's. As far as Desktops go, I find my current KDE desktop to
be quite usable even though it is a bastardized install on Debian. I found the
Mandrake KDE to be quite good. It's not usable on my daughter's PC, as she only
has 16M of ram, but the install I did for my Dad was quite good. I'm currently
doing another install for a co-worker and am getting some time to play around
with it first.
As far as 'locking things down', With only 10 actual systems, and numerous
X-Terminals attached for a primary school with little knowledge of computers,
especially UNIX-based ones, I was just going to give them some basic apps,
set-up the networking and back-up the config files to CD for safe keeping.
Finally apologies for the rant :)
Thanks for the input! your experience is quite valuable to me. It is the current
set-up at SOCC that inspired me in the first place. I did have a look at linux
for kids, which have a link for Debian JR. that is quite interesting! And, since
Debian JR. is starting with under 8's, it should be a great place to start for
setting up a desktop for primary school kids. I'll certainly keep your
experiences with StarOffice in mind, but I suspect some StarOffice supporters
will disagree with your opinion. As I said, I've never used StarOffice for much
myself so I can only go by others experiences and what Sun have to say about it.
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