Novell South Africa Deploys 2,205 SUSE Linux Desktops in 105 Schools with Linux Desktop Multiplier



South Africa has 27,781 schools to serve over 12 million students across the country. A challenge faced by all African governments is how to bridge the digital divide and increase accessibility to affordable desktop computers in K-12 schools and universities.

Improved computer access for students and teachers leads to a more skilled workforce, a more diversified economy, and wider participation among all citizens in the knowledge-based economy.

South Africa’s North West Province is taking a leadership role in helping their students cross the digital divide. They were looking for the best way to deploy 2,205 desktop computers in 105 of their schools’ computer labs. The Government contacted Pinnacle Micro, one of Novell South Africa’s major OEM hardware partners, for a Linux desktop solution that would meet their objectives.

Pinnacle and Novell South Africa proposed a very low-cost, high-performance “Multiplied” SUSE Linux desktop solution that allows 21 independent workstations, consisting of only a monitor, USB keyboard and mouse, to run on three shared SUSE Linux desktop computers. The SLED 10
and openSUSE software add-on that makes this possible is the Linux Desktop Multiplier, available through Omni Technology Solutions. The Linux Desktop Multiplier is ideal for Linux computer labs, Linux Internet cafes and large Linux deployments in government departments.

The Challenge:

The North West Province, like other provincial governments in South Africa, faces the challenge of determining how to best:

  • Deploy and manage computer desktops in a large number of schools across a wide geographic area
  • Maximise their IT budget (computers, software, maintenance, technical support)
  • Reduce software licensing costs
  • Reduce the expense and downtime of computer viruses and malicious spyware
  • Create Linux computer labs that require very little electricity in rural areas
  • Reduce computer waste and pollution
  • Provide training for teachers who are new to using computers
  • Deliver an easy-to-use Linux desktop solution
  • Ensure computers are secure from viruses and spyware

The Solution:

Omni supported Pinnacle and Novell South Africa in proposing and piloting “Multiplied” SUSE Linux Desktops. SUSE Linux is a secure, full-featured desktop operating system that costs a fraction of
Microsoft Windows XP. SUSE Linux comes bundled with OpenOffice (compatible with Microsoft Office) and a number of educational applications.

Novell South Africa used Omni’s Linux Desktop Multiplier, powered by Userful, to significantly reduce total cost of ownership by leveraging three SUSE Linux computers per school instead of deploying 21 individual computers.

The “7-for-1” Linux Desktop Multiplier solution presented immediate hardware and software cost savings. The long-term cost savings of decreased electrical, maintenance and management costs will ensure the long-term viability of this project.

Novell South Africa has prepared a strategy to train teachers how to use SUSE Linux, OpenOffice and other educational applications. This training component is very important to the success of the project.

The Results:

A two-month pilot project with three schools enabled the North West Province to determine the feasibility of a “Multiplied” Linux Desktop solution. Based on the successful results of the pilot project, SUSE Linux and the Linux Desktop Multiplier were selected for 105 schools.

With the solid team effort of Novell South Africa, Pinnacle, Omni and a number of other partners, 2,205 SUSE Linux desktops were deployed in 105 schools within 60 days. Novell South Africa is working with the schools in the North West Province to provide training for teachers, demonstrating their commitment to the project’s success.

Based on the success of this project, Novell South Africa, Pinnacle and other strategic partners are proposing this Linux desktop software to other South African governments and African countries that would benefit from a “10-to-1” advantage on deploying Linux desktops in their schools’
computer labs.

Go to the Novell South Africa web site.

Go to Omni’s Linux Desktop Multiplier page.

Go to Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop page.

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