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Date:      Thu, 9 Jul 2009 11:10:01 -0400
From:      Jerry McAllister <>
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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On Thu, Jul 09, 2009 at 07:58:21AM -0700, 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).
-> 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.
-> 2. Am I too lean on the specs for the free AMD/Intel boxes we
-> are requesting parents cough up?

Well, I don't think that you need 256 GB of ram.   Probably 
less than 1 GB, in fact maybe 256 MB will be plenty.   10 GB
of hard disk might be a little tight, but if you aren't doing
databases and making big permanent sites, but only just small
teaching web pages, then you should get by.


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