These are my notes from Sam Wynn and Scott Phipps’ presentation “How We Use Open Source Software and Why You Should Too” at OTA 2009. Sam is the technology director at Vinita Public Schools in Oklahoma. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS. I AM RECORDING THIS SESSION AND WILL PUBLISH AS A PODCAST LATER. See the podcast from October 2007 “Leveraging a Variety of Free and Open Source Technology Solutions to Support Learning” with Sam for more background from about a year and a half ago in Vinita. [POSTSCRIPT: I HAVE MADE SEVERAL CORRECTIONS TO THESE NOTES BASED ON INPUT FROM SAM. I’M HOPING TO BE ABLE TO ATTEND A FULL PRESENTATION OF THIS INFO BY SAM AND SCOTT IN THE NEXT MONTH OR SO, WHICH WON’T BE INTERRUPTED BY TORNADOS!]

Using Smoothboard and VirtualBoard (use it when I want to do drawing)
– looking at these open source solutions as viable alternatives

Sam has been with Vinita for 7 years
– Sam graduated Vinita in 1987
– is a Scoutmaster there in Vinita
– OSU 1991 BS CIS
– worked for General Dynamics – Lockeed Martin TAS

for hobbies, started working with open source in 1992
– at Lockheed all they had were UNIX systems, and he wanted the same tipes

IPCOP on firewall
– using OpenOffice
– have mailserver, webserver, running on a little box at home
– I wouldn’t recommend you running a district on the same hardware I have at home, but it is great for home use
– that gave me a lot of background to setup many open source solutions at Vinita when I became the tech director there

Scott graduated from Pittsburg State University BSCS
– minors in math and graphics design
– 5 years as network administrator, handles email and messaging
– amateur photographer

in our district, we have 700 computers
– 20 servers
– 1638 students
– 214 staff
– 2 IT personnel
– 5 teacher site technicans
– 100 Mbps OC3
– now adding netbooks
– versions we are getting are going to run Linux

many of my servers are Linux servers with virtual servers running on them

We don’t get a lot out of eRate, but do get funded for our Internet connection so it is a good one
– have a fiber connection
– all sites, along 4 miles, connected with fiber with a Gig backbone (The Gig backbone and 4 miles of fiber was done at our expense.)
– have SBC connection for 100 MB


all software falls under the category of “intellectual property”

– Public Domain: works for which there is no copyright and individuals may use as s/he sees fit, no restrictions on use or distribution (either copyright has expired or someone has released it)
— is not a lot of public domain software out there

Shareware or Adware
– software for which source is not provided
– limitations on use are enforced via software handicapping, timeout, or other sticture
– may contain advertising or watermakrking of end product
– requires voluntary contribution for full functionality in many cases

Closed source software
– no source provided
– proprietary
– may or may not have monetary cost
– recurring fee to use often required
– may or may not have a monetary cost

Available source software
– public domain
– open source (OSI approved)
– software with restricted use/access source

Microsoft has a shared source initiative, many times you can see the source code for academic purposes only

OSI (Open Source Initiative) is the body which defines open source software
FOSS (free open source software)
– you can do whatever you like with it, with SOME strings attached (usually how you redistribute the code)
– requires you to redistribute the changes which you make to the source code

Pseudo Open Source Software
– any number of restrictions on both use and redistribution
– commercial products which may have some kind of licensing and redistribution, are commercial (like MS shared source initiative)

– GNU’s Not Unix and the Free Software Foundation
– around 1982 Richard M. Stallman starts Gnu’s Not Unix (GNU) project
– GNU officially annouced 1983
– RMS founds the Free Software Foundation in 1985
– has more info
– GNU Emacs General Public License 1985
– GNU GPL surfaces in 1986
– Starts distributing C compiler in 1987
– GNU GPL version 1.0 released in 1989

Open source initiative
– Eric S Raymond gives talk on “The Cathedral and the BAzaar” in 1997
– OSI established in 1998

OSS Licenses
– 72 OSI approved listed
– most common: Apache License 2.0, New and Simplified BSD licenses, GNU General Public License….more

The players in the open source game
– Microsoft: wanted to kill the entire open source movement at one point, some futurists
– Apple: has done some open source but give back a minimum amount
– Sun: has now open sourced Java and Solaris as an OS
– HP: have provided some open documentation for printers and scanner
– Novell: bought out SUSE, helped replace netware enviroment
– Red Hat: one of the big guys that started as Linux community, developers REALLY contribute back to the community
– IBM: from the start, has been a player

Video Ad by Cisco helping hawk Linux for IBM

We use IPCOP and Advproxy (Advproxy is an add-in to IPCop that includes squidGuard)
– IPCOP is an inline firewalling system with 2 NIC cards
– with Squidguard we run Advproxy
– if it is dead, you don’t get out of your network
– if you have an 8e6 device and it is down, people still get out of the network
– openvpn

We base our filtering on the machines
– there is a rules page in IPCOP
– have categories to block
– 8e6 is doing pretty well with proxies

Go find ultrasurf
– it just runs off a USB key, it can bypass IPCOP (it is proxy software)

We use
– shallalisting is free and can hook into ipcop

IPCOP can do differentiated filtering
– I know what computers are my teacher machines by IP ranges
– by setting up these ranges, I can setup the extra things that those groups can get through
– they have been advised to not let students

no true policy works if there is not enforcement

if you are filtering and caching outside your district, there is a LOT more delay
– you really need to bring that into your district

What we are using

Network services
– Drupal
– eGroupware
– Mediawiki

all teachers can login, many teachers don’t know that
– they can create pages, edit their bio pages
– has calendaring
– teachers can blog in drupal, we are getting some of our administrators to blog on our site now

– I am really liking our tracking system with this
– only site tech people submit their issues to that site
– tracker is setup, it goes to the tech support list so it gets archived

(now showing some open tickets that have come in today)

– probably the most popular wiki software out there
– a little harder to configure, but one you know is not going to go away
– can be installed in farm mode, to replicate databases, and link all core files back to the same installation
– this can be a great way to install MediaWiki
– our district does different content area and grade level collaborative teams
– build your curriculum, notes, and procedures on a wiki for collaboration and sharing

What we are using for Network adminisration and management
Cacti (graphing application, pulls cisco switches every 3 minutes and gets graphs of usage, better for archival graphs/data)
Ntop (categorizes traffic growing across machines by type, quanitity: see your top network users, good for lots of general troubleshooting, better for what is happening NOW)
OCS-NG (looks to see software that has been installed, if hardware has changed, if you have a new deployment, this will show you if a vendor shorted you on memory or hardware like a DVD drive)
Webmin (interface to multiple unix servers for management)

For servers we use
– Database: mysql
– directory server: Fedora DS
– file servers: NFS/Samba/ftp
– Uses Ghost for Linux to image systems (G4L)
– Use Openfire for messaging
— all chat logs are there
– Mail server: use postfix / dovecot / amavis / spamassassin
– for time server use ntp as the time server/service

Use VMware – workstation / player/server/converter
– not open source
– there is an open source project we are looking at as a replacement for this down the road

Maintenance and support
Clamwin (does not run automatically like Symantec, is a tool to run manually or scheduled, with proper scripting you can push that out with active directory as a scheduled application)
ffmpeg: can help you minimize the footprint of media, make smaller files accessible
g4l (Ghost for Linux)

ImageMagick can also help minimize the media footprint of server files
– Along with ffmpeg these tools take the raw or original material and can convert them to web friendly formats.


* note that some items in this presentation are not Open Source, but are still free to use. They were included to provide a complete picture of what Vinita IT staff are putting on their systems.

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