We bring to your attention an interview with Yury Azovtsev, who is the coordinator of the Nizhny Novgorod Linux Users Group (NNLUG). NNLUG is a non-profit organization that deals with various projects one way or another connected with open source software (Free Software). Currently, the group is actively engaged in implementing open source software in schools in Nizhny Novgorod and the region. This interview was published in the October issue of Web Analytics.INFO, which was recently published and is available absolutely free in PDF format on the website of the publication. Interviewed by Alexei Shaferov aka lsh
Hello, Yuri! Glad to meet you in the pages of the journal Web Analytic.INFO. Yuri, please tell us a little about your acquaintance with Linux and how you learned about NNLUG.Yuri Azovtsev:
Good day, Alexey. I am 26 years old, I have been working in Linux for about 8 years. The first acquaintance with Linux almost coincided with joining NNLUG. It all started with the creation of a home computer network. For the year 2001, a small local area network between neighboring houses was thrown by us with a neighbor and several other guys. One of the houses was at a certain distance, and for connecting it, an intermediate computer with several network cards was required, the computer connected different types of networks. For this purpose, we had an old system block with Windows 98, which had a problem with IP addresses. The fact is that every time after rebooting the computer, I had to pull and re-plug the wires to determine which IP on which connection "sat" this time. Once I got fed up with it and I decided to try to set up the same system using Linux. On the radio market, only RedHat was found on three CDs. At the same time, the guys from the market had only two second and third discs. The first installation CD was missing.
After asking my fellow students at the institute, I learned that we have an Internet club at NNGASU and a guy who knows Linux works there. So I met with one of the participants of NNLUG - Sergey Smirnov (aka Sergous). He told me when and where meetings take place, and I decided to go to one of them.
It was late autumn, the meeting was held on Gorky Square. At the meeting there were three founders of NNLUG, from whom I received the SlackWare distribution. About two weeks I was busy with the distribution kit, expecting to see the usual graphical interface after installation. But, as I later learned, there were some problems with the video card on that old computer. During these two weeks I managed to buy and read a book on SlackWare. Actually, this was the beginning of my acquaintance with Linux, so to speak, immediately “in practice”. Linux provided uninterrupted work of a local home network, connecting its various parts among themselves, and subsequently, providing access to files, films and music placed on it.A. Sh.:
An interesting story, I remembered how I myself started with Red Hat 7. Yuri, tell our readers about the creation of the group, its activities and development.Yu. A.:
The group appeared about six months before my appearance in it. The founders of NNLUG were Mikhail Zvonilov, Alexander Sidorov and Dmitry Gubanov. In the first few years of the group’s existence, we’ve been studying Linux. Virtually every NNLUG member at the time had a small local area network. And at meetings, we did not lose the opportunity to consult on the settings of certain things with Mikhail Zvonilin and other founders of the Nizhny Novgorod LUG.
A year and a half later we learned that free seminars on Linux were held at the Nizhny Novgorod Polytechnic Institute. As representatives of NNLUG, we could not miss such an event, and attended the second seminar. There they met a lecturer - Evgeny Samsonov (aka SabutR), who in collaboration with the Student Council of the Nizhny Novgorod Polytechnic University organized and conducted Linux courses. We offered our help, and further courses were already conducted with the participation of NNLUG. Also Eugene became one of the active members of our group.
During the eight years of the group’s existence, our activity has changed many times. We have implemented and continue a large number of projects, among which I would like to mention:
• Russian translation of the RevolutionOS film (2006).
• Creating a Ubuntu repository for users of the Nizhny Novgorod Internet Ring (2008).
• Open Linux seminars at the Polytechnic University, which have already become an annual tradition (2004-2010).
• Linux InstallFest conducted on the basis of the Nizhny Novgorod RadioTechnical College, where everyone can get help in installing and configuring Linux (since 2007).
• Translation of the Nizhny Novgorod Radio Engineering College (NRTK) to open source software (From 2007 to the present).
• Installation of open source software in schools in Nizhny Novgorod and the region free of charge (2010).A. SH:
As far as I know, you have a lot of projects with the Nizhny Novgorod Radio Engineering College, the largest of which is transferring a college to an ACT. Please tell us more about this process. How did it start?Yu. A.:
One of the largest and longest projects that lasts to this day is the translation to Linux and open source software and the support of the NRTK information system. The project began in 2007 when, after the “Ponovos affair,” the question arose about the licensed purity of the software used. Considering the cost of buying licenses for all software used at that time in college, the college director decided to start switching to open source software. The participants of NNLUG in collaboration with the employees of the CC NRTC began the process of transferring the college infrastructure to Linux. The main technical works were completed in 4 months. Then began the training of staff and teachers, as well as the search and study of free analogues of the software used earlier.A. Sh.:
Yuri, as you said, the main project at the moment is the installation of open source software for schools in the city and region. Why did you decide to do this? How did the project start?Yu. A.:
One of the tasks formulated in the manifesto about Linux user groups is the item “promoting Linux and informing users”. If we are called NNLLUG, then we take on some responsibilities and obligations. A community can only exist with real work. On the other hand, schools have a problem with software licensing. We raised this question before, communicated with different schools, but the answer was about the same: “there are no guidelines from the mines. education to use Linux in the learning process. " Two and a half years ago, the Free Software Package, which from a technical point of view is one of the Linux distributions, was created on the order of mines of education for schools. The initiative and support from the ministry has opened the way for Linux to schools. But here, as always, our reality intervened. The distribution kit was done, the methodical material too, but they didn’t think who would implement all this. Here NNLUG is the most indispensable structure. On the one hand, it unites interested and competent people, on the other hand, it has connections and a name in an academic environment.
The project officially began at the end of May with an offer to students who attended HowTo Linux 2010 Open Seminars to take part in a short-term administration training for School Linux. Linux School Administration seminars began in June within the walls of the NTRC. And originally they were from 20 to 30 people. About a month later, about 12 interested participants remained, most of whom joined the main project team.A. Sh.:
What is the current status of this project?Yu. A.:
In the three summer months we completed the installation of a comprehensive solution in 20 secondary schools in Nizhny Novgorod. In Pavlovo, Bor and in several other cities in the region, schools also had the opportunity to smoothly transfer the learning process to School Linux, over the next six months. In August, the project moved to the second round. The director of the LLC ELSIS company and at the same time the participant of NNLUG Sergey Bessonov held talks in the Education Administration of the City of Dzerzhinsk and told them about our success in Nizhny Novgorod. The administration staff was very interested in our experience, and subsequently it was decided to make the implementation of School Linux in all schools of the city of Dzerzhinsk with further training of teachers. Within two weeks, with active support from the education administration of the city of Dzerzhinsk, NNLUG participants installed School Linux in all 48 schools in the city of Dzerzhinsk. Officially, the School Project NNLUG ended September 1. But, despite this, we still receive applications from various schools in the city and region.A. Sh.:
How do you find schools for implementation?Yu. A.:
At first, these were schools in which relatives or acquaintances worked for one of the NNLUG participants, or they themselves studied there and remained in contact with their informatics teacher. Then the employees of one of the schools told us about us, where we were already at the meeting at NIRO and we started calling ourselves.
There were attempts to make rounds and telephone calls to schools with the proposal to install School Linux. But this method was not effective. There were always questions "Who are you?" Where are you from? ”And we ran across a wall of misunderstanding. We decided to abandon the “unwilling beliefs” and work only with those who “want it themselves,” and there were a lot of such schools.
A. Sh.: What attitude did you meet on the part of school staff and teachers?Yu. A.:
The whole project took place in the summer and at school we met only as a computer science teacher or director. Other employees were on vacation, but those who were present accepted us very cordially. Still, IT specialists who are ready to help solve technical issues with computers in the computer science class do not appear often. In the course of the installation, the NNLUG participants managed to repair non-working system units, mice, keyboards and other peripherals for half a year.A. Sh.:
Tell me, why did you choose Alt Linux, and not any other distribution kit?Yu. A.:
We considered various distributions. I must say that the Nizhny Novgorod RadioTechnical College has been working on the Ubuntu distribution for two years now, and Ubuntu was somewhat closer to us. But after seeing School Linux, we found in the distribution a lot of interesting and useful things for use in the computer science classroom.
First, it was the class management system iTalc. It is already included in the distribution and is installed along with the entire system.
Secondly, after finding out the technical feasibility of installing the Content Filter, it turned out that the “recommended mandatory” for all schools NetPolice content filter exists only in the variant for School Linux. In theory, it can be installed on Ubuntu, but it will require additional labor costs.
And thirdly, all the methodological materials and developments made during the competition “code of freedom” and posted on the website www.armd.ru
were made on School Linux. All images and illustrations show exactly its interface.
By and large, the distribution is not so important, it is important that the developer supports it. At first, teachers will have to learn many new things, and it is desirable to facilitate this process for them. Let them first have a unified solution based on which they will be able to exchange experience and use the knowledge gained at our seminars. Once they have mastered, the distribution kit will not play a role, and they will be able to choose what they like best.A. Sh.:
You said that the company ESIS helped you to negotiate with the administration of the city of Dzerzhinsk. And besides this, she helps you with something else? Maybe other companies support you?Y. A .: The
school project was supported by several Nizhny Novgorod IT companies. We received the main support from ELSIS LLC (organization assistance, informational support, hosting for the project site, contacts, communications) and GNU / Linuxcenter-nn (equipment, contacts, communications).
I would like to express special thanks to Baevsky Yuri Evgeniyevich. At the beginning of the implementation in Dzerzhinsk, we needed the equipment, which he provided free of charge as soon as possible.
A. Sh.: You have conducted a fairly large-scale introduction of open source software, now you are engaged in support. Tell us about the technical and organizational difficulties that have arisen in the implementation of such a complex project.
Yu. A.: The main technical difficulty was the need to keep an existing OS on computers. Windows is a very capricious operating system. Often it was not possible to change the size of the existing partition due to incorrect shutdown of the system. Sometimes we had to pack the entire system into an archive and, by changing the entire disk geometry, deploy it back. Basically, these processes and eaten up to 70% of working time.
I would also mention the presence of not very good peripheral equipment as technical difficulties. For example, printers from Canon. Although the manufacturer releases drivers, the printer works poorly. However, in Dzerzhinsk, we were lucky in this regard, and the problem technology was no more than fifteen percent, and the Education Department of the city of Dzerzhinsk decided to simply replace the problem periphery.
To organizational difficulties, I would refer two points. First, it is overhead. Although the project was volunteer, we still carried the overhead of travel (food provided to us on the spot). This is to some extent an appeal to those who will continue to work with LUGs. Do not forget that the guys are coming to you and taking at least a set of equipment for work. It costs money and it is desirable to compensate for this, even if they do not ask for it.
Secondly, sometimes there were questions "Why Linux?". Such issues were resolved thanks to the support of the Office of Education. It was much easier for us to answer such questions when the initiative came from the governing structure.A. Sh.:
You say that sometimes there are questions "Why Linux?". And how could you generally characterize the attitude of teachers to OSS?Yu. A.:
For the most part “smooth”. The teachers simply do not know what it is and do not know how to relate to it. Some of them feel that open source software is an additional burden for them for the same money and they express some negative, but not because of the programs themselves. As one of the school directors told us, “We are also ready to work on Linux, but give us plans and guidance on it.” If methodical materials were developed systematically for all years of study, then everyone would just love Linux.
Not often, but we met really interested teachers. It was a pleasure. They usually say “Linux has already appeared, and schoolchildren will soon know it. I can’t know less than a student! ” We hope to improve this situation with our courses.A. Sh.:
Please tell us in more detail what these courses are and how they pass.Yu. A.:
In early September, together with the research and development department, we conducted refresher courses for 8 schools from the PSPO Pilot Implementation Board. It was a 36 hour course that included all the highlights of using Linux at school. During the week we walked through the office suite OpenOffice.org, mastered the basic techniques of processing digital photos in GIMP, worked with vector graphics in InkScape, gained skills in processing and editing video in KDENlive and audio in Audacity. And of course, they conducted a review of software for teaching astronomy (Celestia, Stellarium), physics (Step), chemistry (Kalzium), algebra, and geometry (KAlgebra, Kig). In this course, we did not deal with programming languages.
As part of this course, on September 7, a conference was held for most schools in Nizhny Novgorod. At this conference, we had the opportunity to share with teachers the experience gained in using Linux in the educational process, and visited the “Internship Site” with them at the Nizhny Novgorod Radio Engineering College, where they were able to see live at an educational institution that has been working on Linux for the third year.
Also one of the interesting topics at this conference was the presentation by Sergey Bessonov “Software licensing in the Russian Federation”, where he gave an overview of the legislation relating to software licensing, and reviewed the terms of free licenses and various licenses from Microsoft. Videos of Sergey's performance can be found on the NIRO website. We are currently conducting a 72 hour course for teachers in Dzerzhinsk schools. The course is more advanced than it was in NIRO and is designed for 9 weeks one day per week. According to the experience of conducting courses for teachers, I can say that many problems with the teaching of computer science in schools, which are talked about in the forums, are more connected with the lack of information. The teachers actually want to learn how to work in various systems, and edit photos, and video processing, but they have no one to tell and teach about it.A. Sh.:
What are the future plans for implementation and support? Will there be paid services?Yu. A.:
As long as the participants of NNLUG have the desire and time, we will continue to make introductions. By the new year, most schools in Nizhny Novgorod will find themselves in a situation like in the Russian proverb “until the rooster bites ...”, so I would like not to bring this up. Paid support? Yes please. NNLUG is a non-profit organization, therefore we offer technical support on behalf of ELSIS LLC. NNLUG members receive funding for their activities. Suggestions for those.support for schools can be found at el-sys.org. They are very democratic and we have tried to ensure that schools receive maximum service for a reasonable amount of money.A. Sh.: Yuri, thank you very much for the interesting conversation. I wish your project good luck and further development.Yu. A.: Thank you, Alexey.You can download the October issue of the Web Analytic.INFO journal on the website of the publication .References:www.lug.nnov.ru - NNLUG.blog.freeschool.nnov.ru - blog project on the installation of open source software in schools.freeschool.nnov.ru - site project for the installation of open source software in schools.