Christopher Tozzi, Contributing Editor

October 25, 2012

2 Min Read
Edubuntu, Canonical and the Education Channel

Most recent buzz in the Ubuntu world has centered around the mobile and business markets, not education. But the team behind Edubuntu, an official variant of Ubuntu designed for use in the classroom, has been quietly at work shaping future versions of that platform. Here’s what they’re hoping to bring to the open source channel in upcoming releases.

Although Canonical endorses Edubuntu as an official Ubuntu spinoff, and not merely a community-based variant, the education-oriented face of Ubuntu remains a much more low-key, grassroots affair than its more commercial cousins, including Ubuntu Business Remix. Its core development team includes only a handful of programmers who in some months exchange no development-related emails at all.

Yet Edubuntu remains a very active project. Last week, it introduced its latest release, Edubuntu 12.10, in conjunction with the debut of Ubuntu 12.10. The newest version of Edubuntu is available for download, and a Web-based tour is available online.

Plotting Edubuntu’s Future

Meanwhile, Edubuntu developers are already looking ahead to upcoming releases as they chart their strategy for the future. Stéphane Graber, a Canonical employee and one of the leaders of the Edubuntu project, outlined the team’s vision recently on his personal blog.

And there turns out to be a lot of interesting plans in the works. Edubuntu developers don’t envision simply plodding along by making incremental improvements to their distribution. They’re also working on several major new initiatives, including:

  • Edubuntu Server, a new component of the Edubuntu project intended to provide the technical backend of a network of Edubuntu, Ubuntu or Windows clients. It will support a variety of basic server functions such as Web hosting and file backup, as well as the open source SchoolTool information management system.

  • Edubuntu Tablet, which will do exactly what its name implies by tailoring Edubuntu to tablet hardware. This initiative aligns with the goals Mark Shuttleworth highlighted recently for pushing the Ubuntu development community to begin working through a “mobile lens.”

  • Out of the box support for joining Edubuntu clients to Microsoft Active Directory domains at installation time.

Work is already under way on all three of these efforts, and more details should emerge after the upcoming Ubuntu Developer Summit. For now, the timetable remains broad, with developers targeting Edubuntu 14.04,the next longterm support (LTS) release of the operating system, which will debut in April 2014, for the implementation of most major changes.

Even if the development pace remains moderate, however, the ambitious goals that the Edubuntu team has set for itself are a reminder that many opportunities remain for Linux and open source in the education channel. Primary school classrooms may not be as exciting as smartphones, but they’re an area to keep watching closely as open source moves forward.

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About the Author(s)

Christopher Tozzi

Contributing Editor

Christopher Tozzi started covering the channel for The VAR Guy on a freelance basis in 2008, with an emphasis on open source, Linux, virtualization, SDN, containers, data storage and related topics. He also teaches history at a major university in Washington, D.C. He occasionally combines these interests by writing about the history of software. His book on this topic, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” is forthcoming with MIT Press.

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