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3 wins for Linux in a university setting


I had a good day yesterday, involving three different Linux-related events at the university, that I thought worth sharing. All demonstrate the utility of Linux and demonstrate the increasing number of things I used to do on a Mac that can now be done in Linux.

1. My daughter is applying for a research permit, and she needed to have six different PDF files concatenated into one. I normally use a piece of proprietary software to do this on the Mac OS called pdfPen, but decided instead to search for a Linux app that would do the same thing.  I came up with an app called pdf-shuffler, which was very easy to use and great for adding, removing or shuffling pdf pages. Took me about a minute to create what my daughter needed.

2. I volunteer for an organization called Virtual Experts on Call (VROC), which makes my expertise available to teachers across Canada. Participating teachers have access to a list of experts in various fields, and can request them to do a video conference with their students. The special software for the video conferences used to be ClearSea, which worked only on Windows and Mac OS, but the folks running VROC switched over to a different program called Zoom. Zoom can be installed on Linux as well as Windows, MacOS and even iOS and Android. I tried it yesterday for the first time from Ubuntu, and it works well.

3. I gave an in-class midterm yesterday, and was faced with a problem I hadn't encountered before. A student taking the test had an accident over the weekend and had to go to the emergency ward, where a cast was put on her hand. How to give her the test? I rigged up my 11" PC laptop running Ubuntu so that the wifi internet connection was invisible. This was important because you don't want students to have access to the internet during an exam where they could access their own notes, Google answers, etc. I set up a file for her on LibreOffice Write, and she was able to one-finger type her answers in that file. I didn't have to worry about what else she did with the computer while she was taking the exam.

The more I use it, the easier I find to get my work done in Linux. I rarely turn to the Mac OS, or even to a Windows virtual machine, to do my work anymore. Now if I could only get rid of the occasional freezes I still get on Ubuntu (now 16.10) on my iMac.

Nice going, Mike!  Thanks for sharing your success with Linux, experiences!



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