SLX Debian labs
co/Knut Yrivn <knuty(at)skolelinux no>
Project manager (cel: +47 908 95 765)
Skolelinux Norway - SLX Debian Labs
Forskningsparken, Gaustadalle 21,
Oslo - July 14th 2004
MUFICATA Multifinancial Capital s.l.
Coordinator Ferran Cabrer.
fax: +34 93 423 34 30
APPLICATION TO JOIN THE EU2FOSS-EFFORT CORDINATED BY MUFICATA
SLX Debian Labs was established in the fall 2003. The goal was to give the work of free and open source software (FOSS) a credible organizational environment in Norway, working together with free and open source developers internationally. This in answer to a question from The Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. They want to contribute so that the large voluntary work done by Skolelinux and others, can continue to the advantage of the schools, providing a proper framework for following up these efforts. The Skolelinux project started as a voluntary effort June 2nd 2001. Now it is a formal part of the Debian distribution known as Debian Edu.
SLX Debian Labs is privately funded by the NUUG Foundation. It's the only privately funded open source software competence center in Europe. The Ministry expects us to make the organization self-sustainable by helping schools, county councils and municipalities to develop and deploy free and open source software. It is expected that reports and experiences with these efforts are widely shared and distributed.
With this in mind, we have helped non-profit organizations and companies to develop and use FOSS solutions. We have helped hardware vendors to make Skolelinux packages for a complete school network with 30-90 thin clients out-of-the box. In/Out-data is an example of one such vendor. They have a national agreement with the Directorate for Primary and Secondary Education in Norway to distribute used ICT equipment donated from public offices for reuse by the schools.
We are also managers for the OpenOffice.org translation project which involves translating OpenOffice.org into two Norwegian written languages for 9 county councils. In addition, The translation of KDE programs into the Northern Sami language is also done by a project organized by us. Some of this effort has been funded by the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development.
During the last 2 1/2 years we have facilitated 14 developer gatherings with 20 to 190 participants. Participants have mainly been from the Nordic countries. One of these was Debconf 3, which took place at the University of Oslo with developers from 25 nations. We have also done a lot of promotional information work at schools, universities, and university colleges in Norway. Related to these efforts, we have mentored 9 student projects with free software development. This work will become even more organized and systematic with the introduction of the European Master on Libre (Free) Software. Agder University College is a participant of this program.
Also, the Center for technology, innovation and culture (TIK) at the University of Oslo is doing a research  on the "flexibility of the code" where one of the researchers will study Skolelinux over 3 years.
Currently we are helping a national service provider to deploy a centralized day-to-day operation centre with Skolelinux. We do this in accordance with the plan of action for 2004 that accompanies The Program for Digital Competence 2004-2008 from The Ministry of Education and Research. Skolelinux can be easily managed in a centralized way. The Ministry wants it documented and publicly tested with easy access to documentation and real-life experiences, known as best practices.
There are over 250 persons that have contributed to the different projects the last 2 1/2 years. Today four persons are employed. Joey Hess is working with debian-installer and security patches of sarge (the next version for Debian). Andreas Schuldei maintains and improve the easy to use user-administration tool. Knut Yrvin is project manager/coordinator. And Vidar Bakke is the leader. We are currently facilitating or helping out in more than 17 projects both in Norway and Internationally.
SLX Debian labs is a foundation
that helps organizing a lot of free software projects in Norway. Our
expertise with free software is used by many county councils,
municipalities and The Ministry of Education and Research. The goal
is to give the population universal access to Information and
As we see it, The Skolelinux-project is the main contributor to Debian Edu today. We hope that this is not the case in the future. The joint statement together with gnu/LinEx at Extremadura in Spain and PSL-Brazil are examples of what we want to achieve. We also want other organizations and countries to join in. It's therefore nice to know that Skolelinux has had some progress in Uganda in Africa after a presentation in africasource. The work in Africa has mainly been facilitated with help from people at Agder University College.
Our main interest is that each generation must possess the right to form, change and adapt the technology to their own needs. Then they need universal access to technology. To accomplish that we have to deliver these ideas in the form of a practical and usable solution which has to be easy to start and maintain with the resources people have available locally. It is our belief that system development is best done together with the user, a process known as Participatory Design, which has its roots in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The methods are a part of Norwegian legislation.
Our contribution possibilities are:
Facilitate developer and user gatherings. Help to make arenas where people get guidance and can share their work and experiences
Share best practice documentation on how to introduce, operate and develop free software in the public sector - especially in schools
Share experiences on how to financing competence centres and create business with free software
Done Tuesday 14th of July 2004
In short SLX Debian Labs are a competence centre which organizes development communities. That can be grouped in D1-Topical. We develop systems, and focus on research, development, and use of FOSS in education. This is both D3-Technological and D4-Evolutive. Our resources are concentrated to help and facilitate use of free software in education that can be classified to be D2-Sectoral. All this would not be possible with 4 employees alone. So it's crucial that SLX Debian Labs work closely with, and help all the voluntary contributors in the Skolelinux-project and Debian Edu.
In our experience the Debian-community gives a good environment for this effort. In our view we are facilitators (R1) for the work done with Debian Edu, developer gatherings in the northern part of Europe, and the social process to make good FOSS-solutions for educations. Independent research has evaluated some of the results done by the project participants.
 Report 2003:24 Experiences
from Use of Skolelinux. Use of Open-Source Software at Four Norwegian
The report is made by
Statskonsult. Statskonsult is a state-owned limited company that
deals with public management development in Norway.
Project manager (cel: +47 908 95 765) Skolelinux Norway and OpenOffice translation to Norwegian.
Office 1: SLX Debian Labs Forskningsparken, Gaustadalle 21, 0349 OSLO, NORWAY.
Office 2: IT-Staff Akershus County Council, Schweigaards gate 4, 0185 OSLO, NORWAY