Linux goes to school with NethServer

Continuing the discussion from Introducing new members on community - 12 Oct 15:

I was totally impressed by @syntaxerrormmm’s job, reported also here:
Introducing new members on community - 12 Oct 15 - #4 by syntaxerrormmm

Also @rothere has shared his story and goals with us:
Introducing new members on community - 12 Oct 15 - #7 by rothere

@apradoc is another guy really interested in such topic:
About the "Scholar Intranet" - Intranet Escolar, in Venezuela - #5 by apradoc

Could we join our forces? I’m very interested in going further on this, creating an howto and a module as soon as possible.
Adding new features and modules like moodle would be a good thing
What do you think?


We are the school tribe Nethserver.

First excuse my GoogleTranslate dependency. :flushed:

Our preliminary list includes some applications, also some services that are yet to be defined. For instance:

  • Our informative axis is a CMS and in this case we chose to Jokte! 1.3.6. Jokte! It is a Latin
    American branch of Joomla! 2.5 Changing development of point releases by the continuous release. We are keen that currently support for indigenous languages ​​is built, to reach all our indigenous peoples.
  • Chamilo, instead of Moodle. No dependencies with Microsoft
  • Calibre as digital library
  • Geogebra to geometry, logic and algebra
  • OpenStreetMap for geo location and so much more!
  • We like Piwigo for managing multimedia, photos, audio and video.
  • And in this journey we meet with SOGO, some government agencies of Venezuela are using.

What touches me is to overcome GUI Zential. Sometimes the server ISO renewed from workstations where it is very comfortable having everything in one. I understand that desktop and server are two words that do not share a prayer … but hey that’s one of the biggest questions for our distro NS assume the school Intranet Project. Perhaps as a derivation of the distro as already discussed.

I am sure that by joining our views will be greater collective strength to our individual work :+1:


NethServer School Tribe - Love it
We could plan a small list of packages to test and put in the target.


I gladly join the School tribe since my main interest is having a solution for primary and secondary schools in Belgium and the Netherlands.
I see Chamilo is already mentioned. I know Chamilo is used a lot in South America and I have implemented this on a Zentyal server in Belgium too. However, LDAP integration is not very userfriendly implemented. On the other hand Moodle is an option. The userbase of Moodle is much larger than Chamilo and to be honest, the documentation of Moodle is more complete than for Chamilo.
To add as a feature: Xerte online Toolkits. You can create interactive learningobjects and distribute them through any LMS like Chamilo or Moodle. Xerte is very easy to implement and LDAP integration is a breeze.


Hello Rob. Welcome to the Nethserver tribe and also to their school tribe. :books:
I am very pleased to know you’ve evaluated both LMS and is also very timely your appreciation about access via LDAP which is very important element in any intranet.

[quote=“robb, post:4, topic:2132”]
To add as a feature: Xerte online Toolkits
[/quote]Very interesting resource. I will introduce my team this Toolkit Xerte to study and thus opened a new force for translation

I appreciate the discussion on new assets to be added to NethServer, although I would like to emphasize that anything you are suggesting starts with a proper server configuration based on the requirements of your environment. For example, at the moment on our project the integration at OpenLDAP level is not required (yet).

Also, another important thing to note is that (unfortunately) in Italy schools don’t have a lot of money to invest in hardware infrastructure or professional support, YMMV.

For me, a first goal would be to agree on a list of base configuration that may be sharable on any new schools to be implemented. For example, we based roaming profile-like personal directory on SAMBA because of integrability and interoperability with previous installations including MS Windows. This is not always wanted and we ourselves are discussing to implement NFS in place of SAMBA.

If we can share base goals and setups, probably we can have a unique “NethSchool” project that may be deployed worldwide, and this could be a big plus for NethServer (and Nethesis too :slight_smile: ).

Also, integrating Moodle or Chamilo is a challenge, since NethServer probably needs some modifications on technical details, more or less feasible and to be assessed, always based on requirements of your local environment.


Hi Emilliano,
You are absolutely right when pointing to requirements and adding new modules. Where I live, in the French part of Belgium, the schools are in the same boat as in Italy. There is VERY little funds available for ICT related projects. Ofcourse that is a pity for the schools but also a fantastic opportunity for opensource projects to jump in.

5 Years ago I was a parent that had 3 children on a primary school in Belgium. That school had about six 10-year-old standalone pc’s and 1 copier. That was their ‘ict environment’.
I talked with the teachers and the schoolboard what they wanted to do with ict in the school. It came out that they very much wanted to use ICT in their lessons, but they didn’t have the funds to buy ICT equipment, nor have the knowledge to maintain an ICT environment. Sounds familiar?

Together with one of the teachers I made a plan to setup a decent but cheap solution for the school. I went to several companies and just asked if they had any unused ICT equipment. It is amazing what you can get just by asking!
A few months later we had a server (HP DL360 with 15K SCSI disks) and a 48port managed 3COM switch. A fullsize servercabinet and 20 used dersktops with TFT monitors.

I installed Zentyal 3.2 on the server. Together with that I installed several webpased applpications like Chamilo, Owncloud and Xerte online Toolkits. Finally, when all was working we invited the major to see what we established and asked if they could provide networkconnections throughout the school. We could convince the major to invest in the project and now each classroom has at least 3 network connections and 2 pc’s.

We also asked the regional governor for extra funds. There was an ICT project and they honored the application. So there was money to buy a movable cubboard with 24 laptops and wireless AP’s. Each class can reserve the laptops on any given time and the laptops are now used almost every single hour every week.

The old server has now been replaced with a brand new server. I installed pfSense and Karoshi server on it in VM’s and we are in a process of getting everything available from the schoolnetwork and outside.

With this story I want to show you that opensource is so powerful that even in small environments with very little resources, it can do great things.


Hi @robb, thanks for sharing the story.

Sounds really A LOT familiar (at least, in the first phases, since we have installed the first environment just some weeks ago) and we plan to do everything you mentioned. This is a long and slow process (also, in Italy we are the country of bureucracy, so this doesn’t help) but we plan to do exactly what you explained.

Maybe I’m too negative and integrating Moodle/Chamilo is really a breeze, but at the moment I don’t see any space/need for it in our local implementation. Our priority right now is to provide a stable and “managed” environment also to non-technical people, and the next step would be to integrate Multimedia Interactive Boards inside our setup; these things are really asked for inside schools we have visited presenting the project.

I also second and agree on the potential of FOSS within Educational environments, that’s exactly why we started the project in the first place :wink:


It is very important to make a difference between infrastructure and applications. I think you are in the first stage, setting up an infrastructure.
Nethserver seems (hey I’m a newb here :wink: ) to be capable of infrastructure quite well. On the applications side there is now owncloud to store data and make it available through webdav and SOGo groupware.
There are so many useful applications around as already mentioned in the startpost. Most of them only need a LAMP stack to run.

I don’t know how hard it is to install a custom installation of an application as a VHost in Apache on a NethServer? I come from Zentyal and there (I can only speak for Zentyal until version 3.2) I could install anything as long it ran in Apache and didn’t touch Zentyal config files. An application doesn’t have to be a native module.


Probably not much, it should be down to create a new ibay with Apache and setting the correct routes inside NethServer.

What I would love to achieve is not to demandate the installation of these tools manually to the administrator, but to provide it packaged in RPMs and provide its configuration via NethServer web gui if needed. This would be a complete integration and ease of installation, and an effective addition to NethServer assets. Unfortunately packaging with RPM is not really straightforward as I expected, web gui interfaces have to be developed and all the process is going to take some time. Still, it would be a giant leap for anyone that will want to start with a school project.

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I’m totally with you on that one, you have taken the point!
We should get off to a good start as you suggested: small steps and setups.
Thanks guys, I’m not an expert about that but the discussion is very interesting.


Agreed. Especially when the community grows (preferably with some devs :smiley: ) the extra community modules can be added. I am also busy with Linuxschools project. All those candy are already available with Linuxschools including Samba4 and AD support, but the distro lacks packages and a structured development path. In a way it is a solid project but only has very few developers and the community is … small and not well led.
In a perfect world NethServer would have the features of the LinuxSchools project and Linuxschools would have the community of NethServer… :wink:

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[quote=“robb, post:12, topic:2132”]
NethServer would have the features of the LinuxSchools project
[/quote]My team uses Zentyal and being a government entity is a bit difficult to change certain decisions.

They tell me :

To change bring us something better than what we have with Zentyal

Without flattery , I know Nethserver itself and with the community support is already better. :beers:

The dependence on the desktop on a server seems novel but is contradictory.
As a graphic designer I should defend the opposite but I’ve learned that with this tribe.

Our proposal LinuxSchools/School Intranet, in the case of Venezuela, should provide easy guides for children to learn to use the server from the shell :key: . This does not exempt a proposed module for desktop as we discussed in other threads.

And the problem is not just the children , is the desktop dependence even suffer some tutors , including me :neutral_face:

I hope I understand correctly but you need a desktop for a server environment? Even with Zentyal I never ever used the desktop environment and I was very pleased they finally came with an option to install without a desktop. Using the webinterface combined with SSH was more than enough to maintain any Zentyal server. I think the same counts for NethServer.

IMO a server should just serve. It should be almost invisible, transparent for end users. At the same time all services provided by the server must be stable, reliable and always available. In such a case, enduser don’t get to work on the server, only with the services provided by the server. And as a sysadmin, you don’t need a desktop environment on the server. So why bother having one?

The ONLY server that really needs a desktop is an LTSP server (for obvious reasons).

I mailed you privately about LinuxSchools project. I feel very reluctant to talk about another project with more or less the same goals and target audience in these forums since I don’t want to deliberately move members to another project. However, since LinuxSchools project is already 12+years old, very actively developed and especially aims at educational environments, it is a lot further when it comes to educational features. I am happy to tell more about this privately, but I am not going to advertise this over here.

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I fully understand that it is not necessary. But notice when I introduced recently NS warned me immediately:
And the desk?
and then the conversation turned into a loop (not necessary but NS has no desk in Zential if available)
… uh :neutral_face: … but for what? :confused:

I’m totally agree with your vision.

I am very grateful to have your support since Linux School, a project with remarkable history and experience.

Then we build from our email correspondence certain details. We sounds good, then shared general affairs of progress by this route :v:

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Interesting project suggested by @gecco:


Anything pi is good… especcially with raspberries on it… (jummeh… :wink: )

Nice project. I have done some testing with rpi. Mainly as mediaplayer. It is a great small computer, but IMO could do with a bit more memory. Even the rpi2 has too little to perform adequately as a pc replacement or even as thin client.

Can we 'NethServer-fy this (clearly written!) howto install of Chamilo?

It even provides a howto to compile php5-xapian libraries.
Chamilo is one of the best Electronic Learning Environments. The last version of Chamilo LMS is 1.10.2 and can be downloaded here:
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I’d like to move forward on this, how can we start and go ahead?
Installing Chamilo? Who want to tackle this challenge? I’m very interested in this topic, @syntaxerrormmm @apradoc @robb @rothere I’m not an expert but I can lend a hand.

There are several specific educational tools that can be integrated with NS. To be more specific, there are several branches of applications that are needed to cover a complete set of educational applications.

  • Electroning Learning Environment
  • Student Management System
  • Creating (interactive) Learning Objects

Nice to haves:

  • digital signage solution to stream info to monitors/TV’s throughout the school building
  • Computer management and monitoring tool

For each category we should make a small list of possible options. Then finally have a set of features that have to be met for each option.
Features that must be met:

  • Opensource
  • Central accounting system. Preferably using Samba accounts and possibly kerberos ticket for SSO
  • Multiplatform so the client used is not depending on an OS. Webbased is probably the easiest way.

My personal preference would be NOT to use a java based solution. It would give a huge extra overhead on the server. In educational situations, there is often just 1 server. That server will have a hard time serving all te options already, so cutting on resource hungry services might be the best starting point.

Options for each Branch:
(ELO) Chamilo, Moodle
(SMS) Schooltool, Openadmin for Schools,
(Authoring tool) Xerte online Toolkits
Client monitoring tool: Epoptes (linux only) iTalc (multiplatform)
Besides these specific educational tools, I think the ‘standard’ tools are already available in NS:
LDAP management

Please add what I missed… (probably a lot)

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