Seneca College takes open source into the classroom

Seneca College in Toronto will work with a local software developer to move a network management tool for Linux to the open source model.

Two-year-old Tenth Power Technologies Inc. announced the arrangement with Seneca

that will see students at Canada’s largest college work on ongoing development of its LANUX software.

Dennis Bernhard, chief executive of Tenth Power, said his company primarily provides services and custom development to Linux users, and developed LANUX for its own use in managing clusters of Linux systems for two of its customers. He said the company — whose core development team has been working together for about six years — sees turning it into an open source product as a way of creating a community around the software. Tenth Power will make its money by offering custom development, support and other services related to LANUX.

Bernhard said LANUX is essentially an interface management platform for all types of Linux services, supporting communication between clients and servers. Various capabilities can be created as modules and plugged into the basic framework, he said.

Bernhard said Tenth Power is still in the process of developing its Web site, which will help to promote the software to the open source community.

Seneca has been involved in the open source movement for several years, said Terrence Verity, the college’s chief information officer. Hassan Assiri, manager of academic computing systems, said Seneca built its first Linux cluster seven or eight years ago, and faculty members lead several open-source development projects with contributions from students. “”We try to contribute back to the open source community,”” he said.

The college has set up a Centre for Development of Open Technology within its School of Computer Studies and hosts an open source symposium every year.

The LANUX project will have a broader impact on Seneca students than the college’s existing open-source projects, though. Starting next September, Assiri said, Seneca’s LANUX work will be incorporated into many areas of its computer science curriculum. “”One way or another during their stay with Seneca College, (computer science students) will be involved with the LANUX project,”” he said.

About 200 Seneca students are already using LANUX in a course on Linux network management, Assiri said.

Seneca’s Centre for Development of Open Technology will also be heavily involved and will spearhead further development of LANUX.

Verity said discussions between Seneca and Tenth Power started about a year ago, beginning with the possibility of Seneca using LANUX and then proceeding to the college becoming involved in a transition to open source. Bernhard said Tenth Power wanted to work with an educational institution because of the chance to build a larger community of LANUX users — “”they put people out into the marketplace,”” he said — and considered Seneca an ideal candidate. “”From our perspective they were somewhat hand-picked.””

“”For us of course,”” Verity said, “”that’s just a wonderful opportunity for involving faculty and students in the development of open source infrastructure software.””

He added that Seneca is definitely interested in other such relationships, saying strategic relationships with industry are vital. “”There will be more of it,”” Verity said.

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Grant Buckler
Grant Buckler
Freelance journalist specializing in information technology, telecommunications, energy & clean tech. Theatre-lover & trainee hobby farmer.

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