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Date:      Thu, 9 Jul 2009 14:37:47 -0700
From:      Chris <>
Cc:        FreeBSD-Questions Questions <>
Subject:   Re: FreeBSD for a high school class? (long)
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <>
References:  <>

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I'm going to top post this because it's not replying to my post.

Thanks for the numerous responses on-list and the many others
that came off list. I'm going to synopsize what I've received. I'll
respond to the questions asked too. I think I'm good to go
though and wanted to summarize for the record.

XFCE seems to be the consensus with 2 KDE recommendations.
One additional suggestion was to use PCBSD or Freesbie. That
might make sense but I'm an old dog and have been using
the standard FreeBSD for a lot of years. I will fire XFCE up on
my test box as soon as I can source upgrade it (I think it's living
at 6.2).

Disk-wise, the 10GB was questioned. Probably not an issue, I
have a few old 40GB drives laying around if a machine comes
with less. I was noting a 1999 Compaq came stock with 30GB
so it may not be an issue. I adjusted the spec to 20GB. 256MB
appears to be acceptable. Only have one computer volunteered
thus far at that level, everything is 512 to 2G. Amazing what
people have to give up on when running windows ;-).

On having apache: It's there to let students
see their supplied products work in what looks like the real
website for the program they are in. The real site
has a superstructure of PERL that handles authentication and
calls the many pages they will be providing. The final will be
for them to provide real content for given classes in the
program and develop each classes webpage. If they have a
server running, I can mock the real site without giving them
access to the live FreeBSD server (bad idea with a group of
mischievous kids!). httpd shouldn't be too much of a drain.

vi? Yes it would be great to teach, but a trimester is
short and half the kids would be left behind. The head of
the program was considering an open-source OS install
class for later. That's where vi might come in. Different
class, different goals, fewer students will sign up.

Installing from ports? Yes, that would be my goal. Just
looked on one of my servers and I see XFCE4 in ports
so looks good.

OSX appearance? Thanks for those suggestions, it's cool
that people have developed such but the actual appearance
isn't that important. Just same level of application such
that class time isn't wasted on differences in platforms.
We've already had more systems volunteered than I
expected. Ideally, we can forget the Macs altogether. In
the last 3 hours, 6 acceptable machines have been
volunteered. By fall I imagine we can have 12 and cap
registration at that. All on FreeBSD.

Thanks very much for all the help. Maybe we'll spawn
a new generation of developers ;-).

On Jul 9, 2009, at 7:58 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).
> 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?
> 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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