how to educate using Linux?

Hi! all,

I have been assigned a job to educate the staff(teaching and the non-teaching ) of a University in Faridabad (NCR), India to use Linux as an Operating System at work because of its various benefits. I was supposed to start with the project from the first week of May 2014. It is delayed because of the response from the higher authorities. Now I have got a green signal from all. I will soon post the date on which I am going to start the training.  It is more than a year now that I am using Linux and GNOME as its desktop environment. I am really happy about learning and using it.  But to make others to enjoy using it would be a real challenging job.

I need to get ready a lab of about 30 PCs. As it is planned that my first batch would be of 30 people. I have been asked about the configurations of the system and the distribution that I would like to get installed on them. Till now I have worked on Linux(ubuntu & fedora) for my personal use only. I don’t know, which distribution and what configuration would be better on the such a big scale. I am really puzzled from where shall I start? what should I teach first? What technique would be effective?

I truly wish to make an impact on my audience. For that I need to do a lot of home work. Any kind of support form the experts would be highly appreciated. Please give me suggestions which distributions and its version would be suitable and what would be the minimum hardware requirements. Of course! GNOME would be installed on each computer system.  

Non-teaching staff basically uses ms-office. so I am planning to give 2-3 lectures on open-office. What all should I teach to make people feel comfortable using Linux? I am looking forward for the help. 









8 thoughts on “how to educate using Linux?

  1. If the people you are teaching have been using Microsoft products and OSes, then the obvious choice is Linux Mint. Use it with the Cinnamon DE, and there are even Windows themes that look very nice.

    By using Cinnamon, your users will quickly see all the desktop behaviors they know from Windows– a desktop with icons, a bottom bar for switching applications, task bar in the bottom-right, and “start” menu with categories of programs (as well as a way to search across categories). Switching between tasks is exactly the same as MS. In other words, they won’t have to spend any time learning a new way to organize their work on the screen.

    Don’t get me wrong– Gnome Shell is aesthetically pleasing. But no matter how effective you are at teaching, that beauty will not outweigh the difficulty of learning an unfamiliar interface, _especially_ for an audience using it for their jobs. Plus you’ll find that the Cinnamon devs have given an equal amount to aesthetics, in an environment more familiar to Windows users.

    Plus Cinnamon is based on the same graphical library as Gnome Shell (GTK 3). Even if you’re coming from a year of using the Gnome Shell environment I think you will be pleased by its looks.

    • My experience so far in teaching linux is that the gnome desktop is not difficult at all to learn. You just have to emphasize: two modes (normal and overview), ‘windows’-button to switch, immediately start typing the name of the program in overview. That is the biggest ‘lesson’ on desktop. You will be amazed just how fast they will learn this. Do not forget: a lot of students use smartphones and already know this paradigm of workflow.

      My preferred distribution is Debian: stability over aesthitics. You can add the backports-repository to add the latest stable version of Libre-Office.

      What exactly do you want to teach: linux as operating system, open source programs, use of terminal, … and how many hours have you got to achieve this?

  2. Hello,

    I am from Bangalore and into Training Linux newbies. Do mail me the experience of your audience and I can guide you to conduct this Training. I have more than 12 years of experience in Linux and spent more than 500 hours of training sessions on various topics surrounding Linux. I have given my email id while posting this comment.

  3. One approach to do this is to buy 30 really high speed USB sticks, put a Linux distro on it that works good when running from a USB stick, and give the stick to all your users. That will allow them to use Linux also on any other computer than the 30 in your lab.

    If you plan to install them all you might want to invest some time in automatic install and deployment tools (Cobbler? Kickstart? or just a preseed file?). It might be overkill for only 30 desktops, but if you have to do this a few more time your return on investment (as in hours, not money) will be positive.

  4. Being a diehard KDE user for many years, I was very reluctant about switching to Gnome 3 when KDE 4 started to get a little too buggy for me. But I have found Gnome to be a real pleasure to use. But I agree with Jonathan Wilkes above: Cinammon (desktop) and Linux Mint (distro) are probably the best choices for newbies. oli4444’s suggestion of distros on a USB stick is also a good idea so your students can practice by themselves when not in class.

  5. I have helped in MS Office -> OpenOffice migration and my approach was essentially “A is just like B, except…” and then highlight the similarities. Remember to ask, what is it that they actually have to do, otherwise you will waste time explaining things they have no interest in learning.

    If you use GNOME shell and they are migrating from Win8, point out, that Meta key works the same (overview of apss, type to search). The “A is just like B” is important for users to give the the idea where to look for things, even if you haven’t covered some topic.

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