As One Laptop Per Child rolls out hundreds of laptops at each school, there is a need as well for some infrastructure that connects these students to digital materials, and teachers to manage their lesson plans and other activities.
I have been working with OLPC Nepal on their deployment of two servers. One is a library server that provides digital content in the local language, ebooks, pictures, and reference materials. The other is a school server that provides filtering, caching and connectivity to the outside internet.
However well we design this, there will be a need for local "system administrators" to put together and maintain these systems and perform the care-and-feeding needed to keep the systems operating properly.
While the exact details of what stack of software will run on these is still in development, we have agreed they would be based on the free and open source software bundle known as the LAMP platform, which stands for the combination of:
- Linux operating system, Fedora 7 in this case
- Apache web server
- MySQL database
- PHP, Perl and Python programming languages
The local teams I am working with have expressed concern that there is a lack of written documentation. Actually, there is probably plenty in both written and online form, we just need to identify it, select the best of the best, and either make that available somewhere or send them physical books and CDs of the content.
Want to help? Here's what we could really use:
- If you know of great books or websites that have easy-to-understand instructions on deploying and maintaining the LAMP platform, how to administer Linux in general, how to write PHP programs, and other tutorials, please post a comment below.
For example, I have been using the 900-page "Fedora 7 Unleashed" from SAMS Publishing, but I suspect there are other books and websites out there that others might consider useful or easier to carry.
- If you have books that you no longer need, because they are too introductory or basic for you, consider donating them to an OLPC project. Intro to Linux, Intro to PHP, intro to SQL database query language, would all be useful.
- If you have a PC that you aren't using, and are interested in helping out, consider installing the OLPC server software yourself, and document your experiences, this would greatly help out testing out the bugs, figuring out what needs tuning or adjustment, and to see how well the procedures work on different types of equipment. See the wiki for more details.