A new toy arrived

Thin Client

My little new toy arrived! It’s a Thin Client Tux@Home Q-Box 270 (Intel Atom) with 1GB RAM and 500GB hard disk. One of the nice things about the device is the low power consumption, only 10-15Watt. This is important because I want to use the device as a small home server. To avoid paying the “windows tax / proprietary software tax” I bought the computer at ixsoft.de, a online shop which sells hardware with GNU/Linux pre-installed. It came with Fedora GNU/Linux and now runs the Debian GNU/Linux (Squeeze) operating system which I consider more suitable for the tasks I want to use the device.

Now the more interesting part: What software / services should run on this little helper? In a first step I want to enable ssh access from outside, install an IRC bouncer and a subversion (SVN) server. The next think I would like to install is some kind of address book and calendar which can be used from any device (desktop computer, laptop, smart phone). But therefor I have to look into some solutions first. Kolab looks quite interesting. But I have to see how well it works with my software/hardware setup (Claws-Mail (Thunderbird) and Android). OwnCloud is another project I want to look at. Maybe this could be a nice solution for some file hosting.

If you have a tip for a good address book and calender solution or any other fancy idea what could be done with the Thin Client than drop me a mail or add a comment.

A successful year for the 1. RFC Stuttgart

This year it was the first time I participated at RoboCup tournaments. It was quite stressful but also really exiting and most important successful!

In April the year started with the German Open in Hanover. It was a hard week, we lived in a bus and worked every day far into the night. But it was worthwhile. After many years of struggle the 1. RFC Stuttgart finale made it and win the German Open!

Here you can see a summary of the final game in Hanover against Osnabrück (Stuttgart = cyan; Osnabrück = magenta):

(direct link to the video)

But this was not the end of our success in 2009. Last week we went to Graz, Austria for the RoboCup world championship. Like a few weeks ago in Hanover it was again a hard week. At the end we went home with two cups! First we won the free challenge with the presentation of our “Automatic Camera Man” and at Sunday we finally won the final and became world champion for the first time!

The tournament started quite well with 6:0 wins in the first round robin. In the second round robin we had our only defeat and finished the round with 3:1 wins. The third round robin ended with 2:0 wins. In the semifinal we won against MRL (Iran) 4:1. Than in the final we met Tech United (Eindhoven, Netherlands) and beat them 4:1 for the world championship.

This is the team which made all this happen:

Below you can see a video, recorded by Tech United, from the final (Stuttgart = magenta; Tech United = cyan).

(direct link to the video)

By the way, all robots are powered by Debian GNU/Linux and the software is developed with C++ and Qt (for graphical tools)…

Free Software in Schools

At the moment Free Software in education is one of my main interests in the Free Software ecosystem. FSFE’s Fellowship wiki already provides some useful information on this topic. It’s quite interesting to see the development in this area. Further I think schools play an important role for the adoption of Free Software in many areas. What pupils learn and get used to during school is what they want to use and what they demand if they enter the business world. I also think that it is important to get as early as possible at least a basic idea about the role of software in the information society.

Today I read an interesting article about a school in Austria which uses GNU/Linux systems on USB sticks (German only). With LinuxAdvanced the school created their own distribution based on Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 (aka Lenny) and the lightweight desktop environment Xfce.

The Kremser Bundesgymnasium uses this system since two years on all computers in the computer science classrooms. Now they decided to switch from local installations to live systems on USB sticks. The advantage: The pupils can carry their system around with themselves. They can use it at school, at home or at any computer they want. About 50% of all pupils uses the system regularly at home. It seems like especially the young pupils using the system quite naturally and have no reservations. Further Rene Schwarzinger explains: “We don’t want to encourage our pupils to create illegal copies just to be able to work at home with the same programs as at school”. The obvious solution to avoid this is to use only Free Software at school and pass it down to the pupils.

In autumn they want to introduce netbooks together with the GNU/Linux USB stick to the pupils.

I really like the idea using USB sticks instead of normal installations on hard disks. Live systems are nothing new but I think it makes much sense in this scenario. With the USB sticks the pupils can work with their systems and their data wherever they want without having to convince their parents to install a new operating system at home which could be quite challenging, both technically and philosophically.

I’m interested in more success stories about Free Software and GNU/Linux in schools. Please let me know if you know schools (especially in Germany or Europe) which already uses GNU/Linux or prepare the switch to Free Software.