Behind Debian Edu and
Skolelinux there are a lot of people doing the hard work of
setting together all the pieces. This time I present to you Andreas
Mundt, who have been part of the technical development team several
years. We was also a key contributor in getting GOsa and Kerberos set
up in the recently released
Edu Squeeze version.
Who are you, and how do you spend your days?
My name is Andreas Mundt, I grew up in south Germany. After
studying Physics I spent several years at university doing research in
Quantum Optics. After that I worked some years in an optics company.
Finally I decided to turn over a new leaf in my life and started
teaching 10 to 19 years old kids at school. I teach math, physics,
information technology and science/technology.
How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux/Debian Edu
Already before I switched to teaching, I followed the Debian Edu
project because of my interest in education and Debian. Within the
qualification/training period for the teaching, I started
What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux/Debian
The advantages of Debian Edu are the well known name, the
out-of-the-box philosophy and of course the great free software of the
What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux/Debian
As every coin has two sides, the out-of-the-box philosophy has its
downside, too. In my opinion, it is hard to modify and tweak the
setup, if you need or want that. Further more, it is not easily
possible to upgrade the system to a new release. It takes much too
long after a Debian release to prepare the -Edu release, perhaps
because the number of developers working on the core of the code is
rather small and often busy elsewhere.
The Debian LAN
project might fill the use case of a more flexible system.
Which free software do you use daily?
I am only using non-free software if I am forced to and run Debian
on all my machines. For documents I prefer LaTeX and PGF/TikZ, then
mutt and iceweasel for email respectively web browsing. At school I
have Arduino and Fritzing in use for a micro controller project.
Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to
get schools to use free software?
One of the major problems is the vendor lock-in from top to bottom:
Especially in combination with ignorant government employees and
politicians, this works out great for the “market-leader”. The school
administration here in Baden-Wuerttemberg is occupied by that vendor.
Documents have to be prepared in non-free, proprietary formats. Even
free browsers do not work for the school administration. Publishers
of school books provide software only for proprietary platforms.
To change this, political work is very important. Parts of the
political spectrum have become aware of the problem in the last years.
However it takes quite some time and courageous politicians to ‘free’
the system. There is currently some discussion about “Open Data” and
“Free/Open Standards”. I am not sure if all the involved parties have
a clue about the potential of these ideas, and probably only a
fraction takes them seriously. However it might slowly make free
software and the philosophy behind it more known and popular.