Friday, 14 February 2014

Huayra ...

There’s been a lot of chatter about the adoption of open source in Latin
America, including the adoption of linux based distributions in education.
So I decided to try one.

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I chose Huayra, a distribution sponsored by the Argentine Government.

Huayra arose out of an Argentine government initiative to distribute netbooks to all secondary school  students in Argentina. Huayra was designed to provide a common standard operating system across all computers to standardise the provision of training and support.

On a more personal note, I chose a Spanish language distribution over a Portuguese language based distribution from Brazil for the simple reason that my sketchy scratchy
peninsular Spanish is way better than my near non existent Portuguese.

The Spanish version of Wikipedia describes Huayra as:
Huayra GNU/Linux es un sistema operativo desarrollado por el Programa
Conectar Igualdad de Argentina. Huayra está basado en GNU/Linux, es una
metadistribución de Debian. Liberado con la Licencia GNU/GPL, Huayra es
software libre.
Su desarrollo está a cargo del Centro Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo
de Tecnologías Libres (CENITAL) de Argentina, dependiente de la ANSES y toma
en consideración las necesidades tanto de estudiantes como de docentes y
otros actores involucrados en el programa Conectar Igualdad.
Huayra toma su nombre del vocablo Quechua que significa Viento.
Which Google translate renders as
Huayra GNU / Linux is an operating system developed by the Equal Connect
Program Argentina. Huayra is based on GNU / Linux, is a meta-distribution of
Debian. Released with the GNU / GPL license, Huayra is free software. Its
development is undertaken by the National Centre for Research and
Development of Free Technologies (ZENITH) of Argentina, under the anses and
takes into consideration the needs of both students and teachers and others
involved in the Equal Connect program. Huayra is named after the Quechua
word that means wind
It’s available as a 2.2GB live CD download. The download was not particularly
fast but that’s only to be expected given the network topology between Australia
and Argentina.

The live CD booted reasonably fast under Virtualbox and had all the usual
educational tools - nothing more and nothing less. As you’d expect everything
worked - it did exactly what it said. The colour scheme might not have been what
I would have chosen, but that was my only criticism.

However it was a little slow - so I decided to install it to Virtual Box to
make a proper virtual machine to give it a fairer trial. Installation was fairly
unambiguously labelled Instalar en tu disco which was fairly obvious.

Installation followed the fairly standard GNU/Linux pattern - select the
keyboard, work out which software modules required and download any not present.

And that’s where the wheels came off. I was intending this to be a full review
with screenshots but during the installation process Huayra decided it needed to
download some wireless drivers, which given it was doing it from a topologically
remote repository stopped the installation dead - not Huayra’s fault of course -
there was no reason for the designers to expect that anyone from outside of
Argentina would try installing it.

However it did stymie my giving it a fair trial - however even the live cd
version showed its potential as a way of providing a comprehensive software
environment with little or no licencing overhead - something ideal for giving
students access to the internet, especially where they do not necessarily have
access to the latest hardware, or the budget to pay for a comprehensive
migration to a more recent version of Windows.

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