So, I’ve spent most of this week setting up 16 computers for the Computer Lab that will become part of the MOHI school in Grand Goave. The computers were donated by a university and shipped to Haiti on a grant from a rotary club in California. It was a long time coming, but they finally arrived a couple months ago.
The majority of the computers were Dell GX280 and some 270 and 150s as well. They had been wiped of Windows XP Pro and had Ubuntu 13.04 installed. Why you ask? Ubuntu is open source, Windows is bukoo bucks for that many machines. So, while my Linux skills are all but robust, I set upon the task of setting these computers up so that Haitian kids can learn basic word processing, spreadsheet, drawing and general computing skills.
This is the process I went through to set up each computer. Mind you, this will bore most readers, but I am going to detail it for posterities sake, and for my recollection later on.
First, I learned that the install on each machine was set up with an admin password. No one, knew this password, of course… even the donor, so:
boot to recovery mode
mount -rw -o remount /
Password is now reset and users are set up on each machine. Lab-1, Lab-2, and so on.
I had to update from the now obsolete Ubuntu 13.04 (Saucy Salamander) to the current 14.0 (Utopic Unicorn). Of course this requires an internet connection which is expensive and slow in Haiti, but after upgrading from 13.04 to 13.10 to 14.1o, the 2nd step is complete. Fortunately, LibreOffice comes installed with this version so now the kids can use Writer (word processor), Calc (spreadsheet), Impress (presentation), Draw (drawing), Base (database), Math (math functions), and more. They’re not MS Office but close enough… and FREE.
Then, the kids need to share files, so it’s time to install Samba. Once this is done I create a shared folder on each machine, chmod -R ugo+rw each of them so everyone can see each other, and then set up smb://192.168.0.xxx/ bookmarks for each computer. I also installed DropBox so network wide distribution of files when internet access is available.
On that not, MOHI is bringing in full time internet service via fiber-optic service from Natcom. Yes, I said fiber-optic… Haiti is moving forward with technology. Of course the max throughput it 4Mbps, but that is a major jump forward.
Lastly, installing a couple netgear switches, wiring each computer and setting up staic IPs for each, ties them all together.
Well, that’s it in a nutshell. It was a lot of work but it was a very productive week for me. thanks to Makenson, the son of Pastor Edon for his help. He’s a quick learner and made things move along at a good pace. Once the electrical is finished being installed, and the ISP runs their line in, we’ll be good to go with a state-of-the-art computer lab… sorta for Haiti anyway!
Students at the school now have the opportunity to expand their education and experience into areas previously unreachable. This is the hope for change and the opportunity to make a real difference. Thank you for making this possible.