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Those Linux Angels rejuvenate outdated PCs

Those Linux Angels rejuvenate outdated PCs

They are called Linux Angels and in the words of Silverio Carugo, rector of Didasca (a company that works in computer training with a view to lifelong learning) “they are just like angels: people who go to give advice, support and assistance. Clearly in the open source software sector! ” . These are young people, students of Roman high schools (almost all coming from industrial or professional technical high schools) committed to spreading an open source culture through demonstrations of how these software are easier to use than traditional proprietary software.

This is the spirit with which the Linux Angels give life to Operation Lilliput, designed to expand the culture of free software and to demonstrate its usability, carried on “with the same resourcefulness and alacrity of the little inhabitants visited by Gulliver on one of his trips. “. Among these activities, one of the most interesting is to take computers considered obsolete because they are too old and transform them into perfectly operational machines, thanks to open source systems and software managed by a central server. At the moment, the destination of these computers of renewed usefulness are schools and the training of the elderly (another activity sponsored by the municipality of Rome). About all this Punto Informatico spoke to Carugo himself.

Punto Informatico: What is Operation Lilliput? What they say is a sort of “viral” training project focused on open source
Silverio Carugo: It is all an activity carried out by our student-teachers to whom we explain how the technology works and then they, upon request, go to make demonstrations to the mayor, to the president of the consortium so and so, to the traders etc. etc. up to the single father of a family and eventually to other students.

PI: Who are your agents-teachers?
SC: These students already teach and are placed in classes where they explain to over 60s how to use the internet. For the moment, Operation Lilliput is active in Rome, where it consists precisely in a specialization course for Linux Angels. We specifically teach them to use LazzaroNX technology. After that they will install it on obsolete PCs which will then go to schools for courses for the elderly but also for the youngest.

PI: Why resort to LazzaroNX?
SC: The LazzaroNX technology consists in the creation of an ecto-server or a large remote server equipped with a Novell system and NX technology that allows the creation in parallel, in the large memory of the ecto-server, of thousands of virtual PCs to which also accesses via the internet with an old pc. So whoever uses this old pc will have the sensation of using a brand new pc, of great power, because in reality the computational operations instead of being done locally are done by the memory and the power of the ecto-server processors.

PI: And what about the initiative “Don’t throw me… there is post @ for me at the senior center”? How does it integrate with Operation Lilliput?
SC: It is an idea of ​​the Digital Youth Consortium, and part of the Lilliput Operation :: in essence, companies and the public administration are invited not to throw away obsolete PCs but to hand them over to the Consortium. After having subjected them to our treatment, the computers come in handy and are distributed to school for the elderly.

PI: If I’m not mistaken, it’s part of the “Grandparents on the Internet” initiative, right?
SC: Yes, it was launched by the municipality of Rome already 3 years ago. Over 3 thousand people have participated in these courses with great success. But while years ago they used very artisanal and archaic software, from now on with the ecto-pc they are in the future of computing, web2computing. A new system of using applications that do not run on the PC but on remote servers, a bit like what Google does with its services such as Gmail or Google Spreadsheets.

PI: Your business translates into a local drive for free software. How do you see the market scenario: will the increase in users of open systems affect the leadership of proprietary software?
SC: On November 2, Microsoft and Novell agreed to make the two operating systems compatible. It is therefore evident that Microsoft recognizes Linux as a terribly dangerous competitor, so it is better to agree with it and take advantage of its strengths. At this point that OpenOffice should replace Office in schools is clear, it’s not raining. Also because it is better than Office and costs nothing.

PI: But isn’t getting students used to OpenOffice when they find Office in the world of work isn’t misleading? There are those who support it
SC: No, it’s the other way around! Because OpenOffice is more intuitive. Anyone who knows how to use OpenOffice can also use Office. And then in the world of work from now on even companies will use OpenOffice, for a simple reason, because Microsoft pushes them towards Office 2007 which requires hardware resources higher than the current ones. Also, explaining to an employee how to use Office 2007 is more expensive than using OpenOffice which gives the same performance.

PI: After Rome, will Operation Lilliput continue in other municipalities?
SC: Definitely. We already have agreements with very important municipalities of which I cannot name, one is in the north and one just above Rome for initiatives similar to those in Rome, that is, an educational center that makes demonstrations.

curated by Gabriele Niola