The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that the NSW Education Dept. has released the desired specs for the laptops that are supposed to be rolled out to all school students:
- Less than 1.75 kg, with battery – that’s almost netbook territory, but around $2000 for a business notebook should get you close to that from what I can see. That’s a bit more than the $500 they want to get these for.
- no bigger than A4 in size – that’s about a 14 inch screen. – in fact they specify a 8.9 to 12 inch screen.
- Optional disk drive – what are they thinking? That students will be happy using these as a form of X terminal talking to remote apps and data on DET hosted networks, or maybe that solid-state drives don’t count? How would the machines be locked into the DET secure network, if there was no local storage?
- A battery life of 6 hours. I’m not aware of any system that has that length of battery life; I estimate that my EEEPC will last about 4-5 hours, although I haven’t run it for that length of time yet.
- The Herald states that a linux system is probably the only one that could meet the price point, but I expect that Microsoft would be happy to through away a heap of money on securing the deal. Anyone who can lock in a deal with a government department is probably guaranteed a secure teat to suck on for life, and they’d make their money back somehow 🙂
The laptops are supposed to be locked to the department’s network so that the students would have to log on to it with a student ID and could only browse the internet via the filtered feed, which has attracted a lot of bad commentary.
A set of contradictory sounding requirements (to me, anyway), are that the students will be allowed to install their own software (ie. some sort of local admin rights on the laptop), but that they should be not able to remove the department’s special software, or fiddle with the OS (ie. no local admin rights). I guess there’s a balance there, depending on how well you arrange the system accounts, and what permissions they have. Maybe the dept. is only thinking in terms of basic office apps.
There’s a quote from the department that is singularly stupid, I think.
“The machine will not work unless the user has a DET username
and password,” the DET said, adding this would make students less
of a target for thieves.
Does that mean that the machine would not have any removable media capability? Otherwise, they could be stolen and a new OS installed on them. The machine must of course be able to work with some administrator account, so that the OS can be modified and updated (given that the students apparently won’t be able to do that 🙂 )
I wonder what sort of apps it will come with? Can you use it for programming. Any serious computer literate student should be able to create their own way around the dept.’s restrictions with ease. How about music apps? Will the students be allowed to play MP3s and videos? Does the dept. then leave itself open to issues of facilitating breaking of copyright?