Dell's SX260 is a nifty little computer that works great with LTSP, Linux Terminal Server Project. Our school has received a bunch of these little critters which originally came loaded with Windows XP. Now, I like XP, but I didn't want to deal with purchasing software and the problems concerning virus protection, etc. Ubuntu has been great and I have been running it in my classroom on 16 computers using LTSP and have upgraded that lab to the SX260s. Great improvement from the floppy disk PXE image boot that I had to create in order to connect to the server with my old Compaqs.
I have more of these computers and I was able to find an Ubuntu 8.04 image that works. This is a whole other story. Anyway, I want to use a more recent software option and went through a whole involved process to get Ubuntu 10.04 to work.
Why go through the trouble? Open Source Software is the way of the future. It is a way for schools like mine to provide quality technology for students to use at almost no cost to the school and virtually no cost to the district. If you are using Linux, your computers have built in protection. I have been using Linux in my classroom and at home for three years and have not even experienced a hint of a virus invading my systems. My students do research, write papers, practice typing, play games, play math games, study basic python programming, look up reading levels of their books, etc. I do all this using recycled computers. My district wants to discard them, I catch them at the door. My school is at the poor south end of our district with no funding for technology. It seems as though my partners and I are being watched to see if our little experiment is working. The district is allowing me to do what I want to do. How lucky is that? After all, it is not costing them anything and it is good for kids.
I've also noticed something else. When your intentions are good and when people see you struggling to make something work, like being able to accomplish a goal linked to technology to teach our kids, with minimal resources, old resources, they want to nurture your efforts. I have found angels and resources, or they have found me, that want to help. Now, I am receiving donations. I have to show progress. I can't slow down. My fifth graders keep me moving along as well. All this is worth the trouble, a sweet challenge, creating something from nothing using resources from all around the world!
Good job!!! You are making a significant difference in your students, and therefore, in the world.
If I ever can help, I'll be happy!
An update is due regarding the Dell SX260. It has been awhile and this little computer worked well with Edubuntu LTSP 8.04 back in 2011. Well, it is January 2014 and they are still going strong. However, I am not using 8.04 any longer. Edubuntu LTSP 12.04.3 is working just fine. It is funny because when 12.04 came out there were issues with supporting the graphics on the SX260. I guess through updates all this has been solved which has given at least two more years of life to my system.
NEW STUFF. I am using a stand alone Ubuntu derivative called Ubermix on the SX260 on other computers. Imagine a turnkey solution which will erase your hard drive and install a full blown Ubuntu 12.04 with 60 education based software included in 5 MINUTES. Yes, 5 minutes, and you can re-image your computer in seconds if a student manages to mess everything up without going to a server. Pop in a flash drive and voila all is right in the world. To get started go to http://ubermix.org/download.html. You will need at least 500 Mb ram and a P4 processor, oh, and a flash drive with 2 or more gigabytes.