Warrington School/Planning/Warrington's Ubuntu Journey

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Warrington School's Open Journey


34 pupils, 3 teachers, 2 ancillary staff, a cleaner and a principal, 2 laptops, a server, 3 computers less than 4 years old and 4 needing to be retired. Software was all proprietary apart from the server which used Linux. The library software was costing about $500 a year and was going to cost an extra $500 to upgrade. The school's volunteer computer technician was resigning and needed his (loaned) server. It was important to install a new server and hire a technician to set us up.

We bought five new computers and a server, retaining or locating unwanted old monitors to save money. All computers were set to run Microsoft apart from the server (Debian).

Four very old computers were no longer able to be supported by MS, so they were placed in a cupboard awaiting disposal - it was suggested by a knowledgeable parent to try Ubuntu or Edubuntu on them.

The school principal and the cleaner used a downloaded copy of Edubuntu 5.10 with some printed instructions. Neither had ever done this type of thing before. Within a few days the retired machines were running, connected to the internet and to the server.

Demands to upgrade our library software were coming in. The school's server technician investigated the Koha open source integrated library software from Horowhenua NZ. This cost the school some technician hours but the software has been running hassle free ever since.

The school now had a few Edubuntu machines in the senior class but as they were the "old dogs" they were mainly used for internet searches and the occasional word processing. The pupils also had to learn a new method of saving their work to their folder on the server.

To learn more about how Edubuntu worked, the principal's Compaq laptop was setup (by the principal) to dual-boot xpand Edubuntu. He was then able to play at home on a fast Edubuntu computer to learn a few new tricks.

The school was given a few old computers which were also set up to run Edubuntu. The pupils began to get frustrated that work that they had saved in open office was not recognised by Microsoft. So we then downloaded Open Office to all the XP computers and moved the children into using this as their default program for all presentations and word processing.

At the end of 2006 we were able to source some PI and PIIs from the local medical school and the idea for a terminal server and thin clients was mooted. We found that we needed PIIs as they could be easily disconnected from their hard drives and told to "look" for the terminal server.

We experimented with a loaned computer as the terminal server and soon had seven computers running from it. This involved some work from our school technician but once it was set up it continued to run the rest of the year without a hitch. The terminals took about a minute to initially load but then ran as fast as a new MS running computer for internet, word processing etc.


Our Christmas holidays allowed us the opportunity to make some computer tables from heavy plywood and we continued with the terminal computer and seven thin clients - we could run more but our switches and physical space were becoming full to capacity.

The junior pupils who were jealously looking at the wonderful Edubuntu software that was being used elsewhere in the school had their computers set up to dual boot.

We received many more old computers to "play with" and began releasing some into the wider Warrington community.


50+ pupils, 4 teachers, 2 ancillary staff, a cleaner and a principal using 5 laptops, 14 stand alone computers, 7 thin clients, a server and a terminal server.


A crashed xp laptop was fixed by using an Ubuntu install to retrieve personal data that was placed onto a memory stick - this computer was then "repaired" by doing a full install of Ubuntu. This laptop was running so well that at the end of its lease July 2008 the classroom teacher wanted to purchase it for her son.


Two new Ubuntu laptops for the two new teachers, these were two Acer computers from Dick Smith already installed with Ubuntu. They were chosen as they were a cheap option and also as a way for the school to show its commitment to the belief in Ubuntu. The school submitted its Gnu/Linux goalPDF down.png to the Ministry of Education.


The final laptop in the school had its conversion to Ubuntu as the teacher owner begged to be able to do the things that the other teachers were doing on their laptops.


A new HP Compaq 8510p arrives for the principal as the Ministry lease has lapsed on his old laptop. Removal from the cardboard boxes and onto the desk for a complete install of Ubuntu 8.04. An hour later it was hooked to the server, printing, receiving emails via Mozilla Thunderbird and accessing the internet via Mozilla Firefox. The only ongoing glitch is the internal SD Card reader is not working.

Talking to the senior class year 5-8 pupils about what the Gnu/linux goal will mean for them. Discussed how people were interested in little old Warrington, that we had lots to share with our Ubuntu experiences and possibly how our computers look shabby to others but they are running Ubuntu. One boy indicated thats its "whats going on on the inside that matters".

Two boys both struggling with written language wanted to take their studies of the automotive industry and machinery to another level with some drawings. Introduced them to GNU paint and Inkscape Vector Graphics Editor to explore getting ideas from their head to a screen. Straight away a chainsaw and a vehicle were being drawn. Colours added and I was then quizzed on how to spell Stihl so this could be added to the chainsaw. Both sets of drawings were then saved into pupil's own file on our server.

A group of children had decided to make a movie and used our Digital Canon A520 camera to film it. I even got a part of the evil wizard. After lunch we talked about how we had previously used Movie Maker to edit any movies we had made and that as part of our goal we are to try and use a Ubuntu computer and a GNU/Linux programme. They were happy to proceed. After school and playing with the Kino I am now wondering how I can convert AVI files so that Kino can use them. The Ubuntu forum has a thread leading me to various downloads to try (blast and damnation) - fiddling about to do and not a lot of time. I choose to give Kino another go and ignore messages about incorrect format and proceed. I now have a test movie saved to the desktop that has had special effects added all ready for my pupils in the morning. Like many other instances of being one step ahead of my pupils with my limited software knowledge, being able to show the potential and then allowing pupils to play and learn at their own pace seems to work well. The following day was a quick look at my saved Kino movie and then the pupils were off creating their own in a collaborative manner.

Staff meeting June 25th to finalise the use of "Open Office" school report template.[1] We believe it may be the first school report in New Zealand that is produced on Ubuntu running computers using ODT format.

There was also discussions on importing photos onto the laptop and server using F-Spot Photo Manager [2] and how to create playlists using Rhythmbox music player. [3]


A Kubuntu computer was dropped into the mix of Ubuntu computers in the class to see what would happen. This was changed after a week to Ubuntu as we found that the web browser and different approach to connecting to the server was causing problems.

Staff meeting we learnt to install Picasa2 onto laptops and found out how to use Picasa for locating photos and printing. Still need to work on using Picasa to email photos. Staff were also interested in how other applications were installed and used the Add/Remove programme to install some child friendly games onto their laptops.

The junior school teacher takes her new leased laptop home with a Ubuntu 8.04 CD and instructions on how to install it. The following day she arrived at school with her laptop successfully running Ubuntu - Microsoft completely erased and just requiring some tweaks for security updates,internet,email and printing. Her comment was "it was so easy I just followed the instructions step by step". Her previous comment was "I can't do that".

Pupil reports have been issued to children and their parents using Open Office and Ubuntu Laptops.


Donated computers and flat screen monitors are installed and set up to replace the terminal server.

Wiki, wiki, wiki - using wiki educator to share what the school is doing.2 teachers, the school cleaner, a parent and some pupils are beginning to add content and edit information on the school wikieducator site.


Software freedom day - based around the international day with pupils involved in installing Ubuntu on 18 computers during the day. Giving away 2 spare computers to school families.

Hello, I am a 9 year old boy and I attend Warrington School - it is the best school in the world. I am doing a study on computers and people and as part of my study I am sharing information from a pupils point of view on this wiki about how we use open source computing in our school. I am a BIG fan of GNU/Linux computers for schools because they have Educational games and normal games which are fun to use.There are games such as BurgerSpace, KQ, KCC, Airstrike, Battle for Wesnoth, Super Tux, KStars, Blinken and Dr.Geo. I like playing games but my class do heaps of other things on our Gnu/Linux computers such as making criteria sheets, modifying graphics to use in our presentations in documents. Linux is on our server which connects our school computers and where my own work folder is found. The server connects our 5 Windows and 14 Edu/Ubuntu computers. More about my loading a computer with Kubuntu next term.


Similar to above plus

  • Warrington is completely proprietary free apart from such things as Adobe Flash - the free equivalent doesn't do the job.
  • We have nearly half of the pupils at the school run Ubuntu at home on free/donated computers - now 62 pupils
  • We continue to save:
  1. $600 by using Open Office rather than a School Management System
  2. $700 from using Koha library management software
  3. $400 by no longer paying for copyright licensing - we use creative commons products or copy within acceptable copy limits
  • A staff member heads to Antarctica and uses WikiEducator to share her experiences with the world
  • Ricoh copier still needing decent printer drivers - waiting, waiting!
  • A meeting was held to look at running a radio station from the school
  • Used Debian on 2 computers that were not responding to Ubuntu installs
    • Found Debian to basic for our school needs


  • 33 computers running Gnu/Linux at the School including 2 that are now part of Blueskin Bay FM
  • Tested Sugar on a stick -
  • August using Kubuntu as finding some older Dell computers don't like Ubunutu
  • BBOSI (Blueskin Bay Open Source Initiative) set up to give away a surplus of computers
  • Collaboratively created the missing piece - a student management spreadsheet
Road Works.svg Work in progress, expect frequent changes. Help and feedback is welcome. See discussion page. Road Works.svg