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Date:      Thu, 9 Jul 2009 11:07:19 -0400
From:      Glen Barber <>
To:        Chris <>
Cc:        FreeBSD-Questions Questions <>
Subject:   Re: FreeBSD for a high school class? (long)
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <>
References:  <>

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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,

> I don't mean cosmetically, just enough that there isn't too much
> needing to teach a window manager. Finder is relatively invisible
> from a teaching standpoint as is Textedit, Firefox is going to be
> reasonably standard (this is going to teach HTML standards, not
> how to use windowed drag and drop page generation products,
> they will be using a text editor and working with raw HTML, CSS
> and JavaScript). But what I don't want to be doing is having some
> learning vi (even though if this were an advanced class, that is
> precisely what I'd expect ;-)), while others are using textedit.
> The course is HTML. Mouse button operations should be close,
> a window that gives a simple file directory and a text editor that
> doesn't require learning a character command set would be the
> target.

You should begin teaching them Vi now. :)

> 2. Am I too lean on the specs for the free AMD/Intel boxes we
> are requesting parents cough up?

Are you going to be building apache / xorg / ${YOUR_BROWSER} from
ports or installing packages?  If from ports, this may be a bit
painful as it will take (seemingly) forever to build xorg, etc.

> The district sadly is being forced to go to windows by the
> state, and now only has these old antique Macs

Monopoly, anyone?

> free and has no Intel/AMD boxes. These will all come from
> parents of the program and leverage the fact that people
> like to replace perfectly good boxes because of spyware on
> windows. I personally still have boxes with less than 100GB
> RAM and sub-500 mhz processors running 6.x (and I think 7.0)
> but I use those as firewalls, I've never used a window manager
> so perhaps my view of FreeBSDs efficiency is optimistic. Are
> the specs too low for *some* X environment?
> Constraint: I already broached the subject of putting FreeBSD
> on the G3s using the PowerPC version. Unfortunately, the 6
> Apples are used by another class on OS-X.


Glen Barber

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