Imagine turning three PCs into 30 -- for free -- and getting free Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop software to boot. Known as the Free the Penguins initiative, the goals of the joint project are not only to promote Linux in schools but also to save energy and be more eco-friendly.
Two Canadian firms have donated up to three Linux-based Multiplier virtualization systems to any nonprofit school or university. Each Multiplier system lets up to 10 students apiece share a single computer. The first 30 requesting schools will also receive free SUSE software.Promoting Linux
> Omni Technology Solutions, an Edmonton, Canada-based systems integrator, and Alberta, Canada-based Userful Corp., teamed up with Novell to develop the program, which is intended to encourage the use of Linux-based systems that not only cost less than Windows systems to buy and run but produce fewer greenhouse gases.
"This promotional campaign will help build awareness for SLED [SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop] … and should help grow the education market when schools see that this is eco-friendly and secure," said Grant Ho, Novell's SUSE desktop senior product marketing manager. A Novell business partner, Omni hatched the idea for the joint special promotion and approached Novell about participating, Ho said.
Userful's Multiplier virtualization system subdivides a computer hard drive into 10 separate partitions, providing a separate work space for each student, whose keyboard and monitor is connected to the PC via USB cable and video card. The main limitation of the system is space: the computer and monitors must be within 10 feet of one another to avoid signal degradation over the cable, according to Userful marketing manager Sean Rousseau.
Nevertheless, the system is ideal for computer labs and libraries where the machines are close together. They also can be used successfully in some business functions such as call centers, airports and military installations, Rousseau said.
Each 10-unit lab uses slightly more energy than a single PC and cuts greenhouse gas production by 15 tons a year, he said. They run any flavor of Linux from Novell SUSE to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Linspire, CentOS and others.
Novell's Ho said the promotion is an opportunity to increase SUSE's desktop foothold in the North American education market at a time when school IT budgets are limited. Although Novell has a few large school contracts in the U.S., SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop it is more prevalent in European schools and businesses, he said. Nevertheless, SUSE Enterprise Desktop is growing, as is the overall Linux desktop market, whose expansion is outpacing Windows and Macintosh, he said.
The special offer is available from Omni Technology Solutions at (780) 423-4200 or http://www.omni-ts.com through Nov. 30.
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