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Developing a pool of skills
24 Dec 1999  

AS LINUX begins to shift the sand in the local technology landscape, top on any IS manager’s agenda is whether he or she has sufficient expertise to troubleshoot and resolve issues related to open source computing. Some users worry, while others go with the flow, hoping that a solution will present itself in time. The enterprising ones have decided to grow a base of Linux practitioners themselves, but we’re not talking about your typical thirty something white collared worker. Think dark olive green and white. Think of the ages 13 to 17. Yep, schoolkids , like those being trained in Linux in their classrooms at SMJK Dindings in Lumut. According to school principal Tiong Ting Ming, learning Linux became a necessity when the school switched from its Windows NT environment. “Our NT server became unstable when 600 students’ e-mail accounts were created. It was unable to back up the user access control list,” says Tiong. Moving to Linux proved to be a boon. The school downloaded the OS off the huge amount of online resources available. “We do not need to pay as much in licensing fees as we would have had to if we had stuck to Windows,” he says, adding that given the large number of users. The school could not afford Microsoft Corp’s licensing fees anyway. With the help of friends (see main story), the student learnt the ropes. Today, many of them can install a Linux system and teach other student open source computing. Tiong believes that when his students complete their Form Five, their skills set would have been greatly enhanced with this knowledge. He also sees more applications, possibly some by the students themselves, entering the market, allowing Linux to gain ground here. “What is certain is that my students will enter colleges or the workforce with some degree of IT skills,” he adds. ANITA MATTHEWS

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