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Date:      Sun, 12 Jul 2009 17:20:14 -0800
From:      Mel Flynn <>
Subject:   Re: FreeBSD for a high school class? (long)
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <>
References:  <> <>

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On Thursday 09 July 2009 07:07:19 Glen Barber wrote:
> Hi, Chris
> On Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 10:58 AM, Chris<> wrote:
> > Sorry for the OT-ness of this. I only work with FreeBSD for servers.
> > Have used it as the sole systems for a business since the late 1900s.
> > Twice I've put up X-Windows machines but we never bothered to
> > use them for one reason or another. Now my son's school is short
> > computers for a High School HTML class I'm going to help teach
> > this fall. The official teacher is excited about FreeBSD since we can
> > use old equipment that is donated.
> >
> > There are two issues. We will not get enough FreeBSD systems up
> > to cover all kids in the class. Some will have to use the 10.4/3 OS-X
> > G3s we already have. For the remainder of systems, I've told them
> > I need a minimum 256GB Ram, 500+Mhz, ~10GB hard drive. I will
> > put Apache on both types of boxes so they have a testing platform,
> > hope to put firefox on each so they have a consistent browser. The
> > confusing thing will be Finder and Textedit, versus whatever I use for
> > a window manager on the FreeBSD systems.
> >
> > The two questions are:
> >
> > 1. Taking the specs into account, what is the window manager that
> > will provide the closest match to the Apple desktop for mouse ops,
> > browsing files/directories, and editing text files. I suppose I should
> > add running Firefox (or a reasonable similar browser that will
> > render HTML and execute Javascript identically).
> Although I will probably be lit on fire for this, I'd have to say KDE3
> would probably be the closest.  There even is the baghira theme, which
> mimics the OSX interface.  I haven't used either in over a year or so,
> however.

I remember running KDE3 with firefox-1 on a P-III 900 with 256MB, FBSD 4.x and 
window switching ('alt-tab') wasn't a joy, being in permanent swap. On the 
plus side, you could install Quanta, which is more geared to web development, 
but in default mode is just a fancy text editor with a file tree on the left-
hand side of the canvas.
I would however, go with firefox2, which is sufficient for your classes and 
firefox3 will have too much bloat. Opera-9.x is also something you should 
seriously consider, although part of it's speed comes from using memory 
aggressively so the 256MB might come into play. It's my primary browser at the 
moment and I have so far only reported 1 site that is unusable and I'm not 
sure it was Opera's fault to begin with (in case you're interested: - hover the shop button).
I also had apache running (+ mysqld + php), all for local development. The key 
is to strip down anything fancy you don't need in the GUI and apache modules.
Additionally you could assign them an NFS directory and centralize apache on a 
server. It is trivial to assign www.$studentname.$class.lan to the webserver 
IP, mapping the vhost to the NFS directory. A bonus is that students would be 
able to see each others' work and better understand the client-server model 
that always comes into play with web development.


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