Pacific Islands - Linux System Administration Training of Trainers
A major barrier against adoption and deployment of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in developing of countries in the Asia Pacific is the lack of human resources with FOSS skills. This pilot programme aims to address the problem by training trainers in countries, so that these trainers in turn will be able to train other trainers and therefore kick start self sustaining development of FOSS human resources in the Pacific Islands.
To hold a training of trainers session in Fiji for participants from South Pacific island nations over 10 days (October 31st - November 11th) , after which they will sit for examination to be certified as LPIC Level 1 Linux professionals. In conjunction with this training, on the day of examination local proctors will be trained and certified. These independent proctors will then be able to administer low cost paper based LPI examinations for local organizations in their respective countries.
Trainees for system administration will be able to maintain workstations and basic LAN and Internet server services. Detailed objectives for LPIC Level 1 certification are available from the links provided below:
LPI 101: http://www.lpi.org/en/obj_101.html
LPI 102: http://www.lpi.org/en/obj_102.html
Countries that want to want to adopt FOSS need to build capacity for ICT and FOSS by developing and increasing the pool of human resources skilled in FOSS. Training of trainers program starts off this process by providing a self sustaining program through the use of FOSS, open content training materials and low-cost paper based certification examinations by an independent proctor. Using an internationally recognized skills standard will also aid the local ICT industry as it
opens the doors to foreign investment and the international market.
Open market and lower costs of training
Most ICT skills training and certification programmes are vendor driven with the certification process designed as a revenue earner for the vendor. The process of training, materials and examination is usually done at training centers. In addition to indirect costs of vendor lock-in, this combination also results in prohibitively high costs of training and certification for developing countries with training programmes fees costing as much as USD1,000 or more per trainee.
Using GNU/Linux open standards and a standard community driven skills certification opens up the market for multiple providers of FOSS GNU/Linux solutions. Independent proctors also opens up the market for providers of training and training materials. Proctors can provide low cost paper examinations to commercial and non-commercial organizations
as well as the local FOSS community, independent of how individuals seeking to get certified acquired their training. These examinations coupled with open content training materials can lower the costs of training and certification per person to as low as USD100 or less.
The scope of this training programme is regional. It will be held for South-Pacific Island nations, with trainees and proctors from Fiji, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Tonga. The training materials and training program are already open content licensed, and any new material created for the training will also be licensed under open content for other countries to adopt and use as needed.
Trainer will train at a training lab, participants to sit and pass LPI Level 1 exam after a 10 day training course based on GNU/Linux LPI training materials. In conjunction with the examination of trainees an LPI proctor trainer, will do a practical training for local proctors in conducting an LPI examination.
- LPI Level 1 Certified trainers who will then be able to conduct similar training workshops.
- Certified LPI proctors who can administer affordable LPI certification examinations in their native countries.
- Training materials including course outline, presentations and notes to be available under an open content license.
The training lab was provided by University of South Pacific (USP). It was the Computer Science Postgraduate lab which was very well equipped for conducting classes. The computers were modern and up to date, with fast Internet access and already pre-installed with Red Hat Linux 9. Whiteboards and projector made IT teaching easy. Additionally USP staff
assisted with providing refreshments as well as a technical lab assistant to help troubleshoot hardware problems.
The lab was available for 24 hours and on weekends. This allowed participants to take advantage of putting in additional lab work.
Andrew Eager was the volunteer LPI course trainer. He teaches basic introductory Linux, as well as LPI courses at Granville TAFE, New South Wales, Australia. With professional teaching qualifications and over 20
years of Unix experience, he brought to the class a wealth of IT and teaching experience including teaching materials and notes. The intensive training and varying experiences of the participants made it an extremely challenging teaching task for the trainer. Mr. Eager was introduced to IOSN by Pia Waugh of Linux Australia.
Andrew Eager <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A total of 17 government, private sector and civil society participants attended the course. There were also 4 female participants. There were vast differences between levels of knowledge and IT skills of the participants.
Most participants noted, that this was the first time they have received proper and in depth training not just on Linux but ICT systems administration in general. Due to this background, a lot of participants had basic or little knowledge on a variety of the LPI objectives for junior system administrators. This included networking knowledge, PC hardware and the Linux command line interface. The learning curve of an intensive 2 week course such as this was not well suited for this group of participants.
The participants that lacked background knowledge however, put in intensive efforts with additional study and lab work in evenings and weekends during the course.
List of participants
- Vilisi Tokalauvere <email@example.com>
Mineral Resources Department is the National Geological Survey and Mining Organisation of the Republic of Fiji Islands
- Oliana Nayago <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Fijian Holdings Limited, IT Officer
Kingdom of Tonga
- Edwin Lia'va email@example.com
Tonga Institute of Higher Education (TIHE)
- Taniela Kula <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Ministry of Lands, Survey & Natural Resource
- Karatu Tanang <email@example.com>
Kangare Software Engineering Ltd.
- Wayne Reiher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Ministry of Fisheries & Marine Resources Development
- Raymond Hughes <Raymond@csl.ws>
Computer Services Ltd (CSL)
- Siosinamele Lui <SLui@meteorology.gov.ws>
Samoa Meteorology Division
- Mariselo Asupeumane <email@example.com>
Solomon Islands People First Network
- Christina Kuper Wini <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Forum Fisheries Agency
- Carlos Tatapu <email@example.com>
Ministry of Mines and Energy
- Don Fakarii <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Solomon Islands National Fund
- Pese Maatia <email@example.com> (Tuvalu)
ICT Department of ICT, Government of Tuvalu.
- Loia Tausi <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Lands and Survey Departments, Ministry of Natural Resources & Lands
- Craine Bambu <email@example.com>
Foundation for the People of the South Pacific
- Martin Mahe <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie
- Matthew Temar <email@example.com>
GIS Officer, Lands Department, Vanuatu.
South Pacific Geo Science Commission (SOPAC)SOPAC is the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission. It is an inter-governmental, regional organisation dedicated to providing services to promote sustainable development in the countries it serves. SOPAC’s work is carried out through its Secretariat, based in Suva, Fiji.
Franck Martin <firstname.lastname@example.org
University of South Pacific (USP), Fiji
The University of the South Pacific (USP) is the premier provider of tertiary education in the Pacific region and an international centre of excellence for teaching, research consulting and training on all aspects of Pacific culture, environment and human resource development needs. The Department of Mathematics and Computing Science supports the use of FOSS in computing courses.Contact:
Dr. Marko Schütz <email@example.com>
Lecturer, Computing Science Department, USP
Linux Professional Institute
LPI was formally incorporated as a Canadian non-profit in October 25, 1999, and is headquartered near Toronto. They attempt to bring together an active and committed community with the companies and professionals who can fund and carry out LPI's initiatives. LPI is recognized worldwide as the premier organization advocating and assisting in the professional use of Linux, open source, and free software. LPI Linux certifications are vendor neutral.
The programme outcomes were beyond the narrow scope of the initial outcomes expected. As this is the first time that FOSS specific training has been carried out by IOSN-APDIP in this region a lot of information regarding ICT and FOSS specific developments were gained from inputs by participants during the course of the training. These additional
findings are reported below.
Two participants passed both LPI 101 and 102 examinations and achieve
LPIC Level 1 Junior Administrator certification.
- Raymond Hughes from Samoa.
- Wayne Reiher from Kiribati
Most of the other participants given their lack of pre-requisite background knowledge, simply did not have enough time to catch up and cover the certification skills objectives in enough time to pass the exams.
Participants also noted that they were unaware of Linux professional certification being available. The introduction of LPI certification now means that attainment of Linux skills can now be backed with a recognised professional skills certification. Participants now have clear professional objectives towards improving their Linux and FOSS skills.
Franck Martin the ICT Specialist from SOPAC, will be the certified LPI Proctor who will be able to conduct low cost paper based examinations in the South Pacific. Additionally it is hope that in the near future that Dr. Marko Shutz from University if South Pacific will also be certified at the next community examination to be held in the Pacific.
South Pacific geographic situation differs from that of Asia in that low cost paper examinations via proctors may not always be the cheapest solution for this region at this stage. For countries with small populations, local electronic certification centres such as Prometric/Vue may be more viable before a network of proctors is setup in the Pacific. These testing centres are also able to provide other ICT certification also, and are much more cost effective than to organise a paper exam held in a central location such as Suva, Fiji due to high transportation costs.
For countries with larger populations such as Fiji, low cost paper exams would still be the most cost effective way in building a base of certified professionals.
Andrew Eager and colleagues and Granville TAFE have made available extensive teaching slides under an Open Content license. In addition to the open content LPI Manuals provided by LinuxIT, the FOSS community now has complete teaching materials to conduct LPI Level 1 courses.
Training materials and links to resources available at:
As noted earlier, the lack of in-depth trainings in this region for Linux and IT in general meant that participants were mostly trained as end-users of applications, but not to setup and administer their own servers. The training provided them with deeper knowledge of how Linux operating system and applications work, and on the further possible uses of Linux and FOSS server applications. It does not and could not however cover some pre-requisite knowledge of basic networking, PC hardware or basic programming skills.
As part of the course, participants were also taught how to use existing documentation as well as online resources to learn on their own. Most participants felt that given enough time, they can study and acquire the objective skills on their own after the training.
Since this is an introductory course, while participants were introduced to basic administration of server services, the course did not go in depth into the set up of Internet services such as mail, web and domain name servers. Participants noted that as they were introduced to these services, that these practical skills that they wanted to acquire. Not included in this training, but in follow up training on Map Servers by SOPAC, SOPAC participants were introduced to installing these Internet server services.
FOSS in the Region
The training also provided a great opportunity to bring IT practitioners together and share their experiences in their native countries. FOSS is used extensively in this region, which explains the strong response from participants around the region to learn more about it.
Map Servers installed by SOPAC Country Interns are all running Linux and FOSS software. In addition to being used as geographic information system servers, most of these servers are also being used as the email servers of government departments in their respective countries. These map servers are currently installed in:
- Papua New Guinea
- Kingdom of Tonga
- Solomon Islands.
FOSS by Country
Tonga Ministry of Educationhttp://www.tihe.org/
Tonga Ministry of Education server is currently running on a FOSS LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) platform on Red Hat 9. It currently provides data on examinations for all high school students as well as email and web server services. Edwin Lia'va <firstname.lastname@example.org> manages this server and maintains the applications.
Ministry of Lands, Survey & Natural Resourcehttp://www.lands.gov.to/
The ministry utilises FOSS platform for web and email services running on Linux Mandriva 2006. It also serves as TikiWiki MapServer system and is supported by SOPAC. It is administered by Taniela Kula <email@example.com>.
Vanuatu Community ICT CentersIn Vanuatu NGO's such as AUF and Foundation for the People of the South Pacific are providing ICT centers for the community to teach and provide access to ICT skills and the Internet. The Ubuntu Linux distribution is being used in these centres. AUF furthermore is planning introduction of Linux servers and computers based for more than 200 schools.
The private sector was represented by service providers Kangare Software Engineering, Kiribatis, Samoa's ISP Computer Services Limited and Fijian Holdings. Computer Services Limited is already using FOSS extensively in providing Internet services using Linux and FreeBSD. In Fiji, Oliana Nayago reports that while they are using Linux servers, these servers are maintained remotely by foreign service providers. The training provided them with knowledge on how to manage and setup these servers for their own use in future.
Non-localised software was highlighted as a problem in teaching ICT to secondary school students in Tonga. Since only Latin characters are used in the South-Pacific, information on localisation was introduced to interested participants during the trainings. All participants received copies of the IOSN Live-CD which contains the Localisation Primer and Localisation Guide. Participants from Tonga and Tuvalu were interested in starting localisation projects in their respective countries.
University of South Pacific
Law Faculty - http://law.vanuatu.usp.ac.fj/
Dr Esther Williams has announced that USP is adopting a master plan to migrate USP to the use of FOSS by 2008. Positive moves in this direction are due to increasing use of FOSS by departments and successful use of FOSS by the Law Faculty in providing online distance learning courses. Furthermore USP has also received funding the development of a new ICT
incubation centre for which additional support grants for FOSS projects will be made available.
Future Outputs and Recommendations
There is extensive use of FOSS in the Pacific in government and education sectors. As such there is strong interest in continued support of FOSS training and capacity building programmes in the region.
FOSS Training Programmes
Intensive regional trainings are not cost effective in this region. Lack of background knowledge in basic IT skills means that longer courses for less skill objectives are required. Instead of an LPI 101 and 102 intensive course for 2 weeks, a 3 to 6 month introductory Linux and computing course per country is desirable, with a longer LPI certification course only after acquiring basic IT skills such as basic hardware, networking and programming skills.
Most of the participants of this training are confident that they are able to pass LPI Level 1 (101/102) objectives by studying on their own from the experience gained from the training in 3-6 months time. They were not so confident however to teach given their lack of experience with Linux themselves.
Discussions with participants revealed that some Linux installations and FOSS based websites were done by visiting volunteers. Collaboration between governments and institutions with FOSS organisations such as Linux Australia may be able to provide skilled trainers to work with local trainers to make these trainings feasible. With increasing usage
of FOSS in the South Pacific, there is a strong need to run these programmes to build local capacities and support the participants in their respective countries.
Additionally given the large number of students at USP, a local proctor and the excellent ICT teaching facilities there. A short 3-6 month LPI Linux training course with certification is another programme that could be started at the university. This would be well suited for students that have acquired IT skills as part of their computing and ICT courses
at the university.
Commercial Certification Centres
For countries with small populations and an existing USP campus, it is recommended that setting up a commercial certification centre may be a more cost effective way to not only make FOSS certification available, but other ICT certification examinations available locally also.
With the introduction of FOSS in education and community centres in several of the countries, localisation will play an important role in providing increased access to ICT. Support should be given to FOSS localisation initiatives in the Pacific.
International FOSS Community Support
The FOSS community network is able to provide extensive support, and continued networking with participants is important. With this in mind a new mailing list specifically for the pacific was requested by the participants: http://lists.apdip.net/mailman/listinfo/iosn-pacific and also use of IRC discussion channels at #picisoc on freenode servers.
Additionally advice has been given, to join international mailing lists of FOSS projects and also the iosn-general mailing list.
This networking helps bring the South-Pacific FOSS community to become part of the world and Asia-Pacific community. This will allow participants to share knowledge with other FOSS experts and to receive additional support.
The first of these initiatives has resulted in the start of possible donations of computers pre-installed with FOSS from ComputerBank Victoria to AUF and Foundation for the People South Pacific, through Linux Australia.
Plans are also under way by Karotu Tannang from Kangare Software Engineering Ltd. to set up a FOSS training and Internet cafe for government system administrators in the Kiribatis with support from regional FOSS network.