Students using PCLinuxOS in Vietnam


PCLinuxOS in Vietnam

It is hard to believe that my 10th and 11th Grade Vietnamese and foreign students at the American International School in Saigon have been using Linux for about one month now. I am very impressed at how fast they were able to use Linux in a short period of time.

Choosing a Linux distribution for the course was not easy. Last quarter, my students tried the LiveCD versions of openSUSE, Fedora Core and Sabayon Linux. openSUSE and Sabayon both were running too slow in the Acer laptops my students were using. Fedora Core, quite frankly, was just too boring for them. Several students installed Ubuntu Linux at home but ended up removing Ubuntu from their laptops later. I never even considered Ubuntu an option for my class. My favorite, Zenwalk Linux, did not make the cut either.

Finally, I decided to test PCLinuxOS with my students. Wow, amazing. Finally a Linux distro that the majority of my students actually liked using. It ran faster than any of the other Linux distros they tried and easily connected to the internet from inside the school (they like to read Yahoo 360 blogs in class). They figured out how to use Konquerer to browse around the different directories in their laptops without me even telling them. As with Macbooks, the Desktop GUI was easy to learn. Thus, I decided to use PCLinuxOS.

Since all of the laptops in the computer lab only used Window’s XP, the IT Staff and I decided to install PCLinuxOS inside of the VMWare Player. The first day PCLinuxOS was installed was a big nightmare but the IT staff smoothed things out this week. Students can now log into their own individual VMWare Player accounts now. My students are learning fast. I keep them all inside terminal window with Konsole. Yes, they all know how to use the command line now. Today, they all SSH to the Teacher’s Desktop and created two web pages. Several of my IT geeks also learned how to move people’s files around as well which was very amusing.

There are now 48 new Linux users in Vietnam! 🙂

PCLinuxOS in Vietnam

(My Vietnamese student logging into PCLinuxOS with VMWare Player)

PCLinuxOS in Vietnam

(Reading up on the latest Linux Tutorial with Mozilla Firefox)

PCLinuxOS in Vietnam

(My student uses the command line in konsole to SSH to my computer)

PCLinuxOS in Vietnam

(Ken uses nano to create a webpage entirely in XHTML)

PCLinuxOS in Vietnam

(Another student using konsole and nano)

PCLinuxOS in Vietnam

(More of my Vietnamese students using PCLinuxOS)

AIS Computer Science Course Website:
American International School in Saigon:
Saigon Linux Group:

Big thanks to Tony from GHP Far East Company, Ltd., on showing me how to use VMWare.



  1. @Viet: Definitely. OpenOffice is compatible to MS Office. You can open and save files in MS Office formats. OpenOffice is available in Windows as well if you want to test it out. You will be amazed at how many open source programs are available in Linux FOR free 🙂

    @itdoesntmatter: Yeah, I am. My students are getting the same computer background, per se, that I had when I was younger. Some of my students will have experience using Windows, Linux and Macs before going to the university 🙂

  2. @Texstar: No problem. Just thought I give a plug to the PCLinuxOS community. You can thank my Danish friend for introducing me to PCLinuxOS 🙂 I will keep posting PCLinuxOS experiences of my students in the new year.

    @zapjb: Will do but just to let you know, I got openSUSE 10.3 running on my Thinkpad T60 and DesktopBSD on our my other laptop. I am a Gentoo guy at heart as well which pushed me to BSD. PCLinuxOS is that bridge to the Linux that Ubuntu failed to accomplish. Keep up the good work.

  3. How did the students do Vietnamese input?
    Were there any problems?
    Did they use scim , uim or a combo?

    I think Vietnamese uses a quasi-roman alphabet so maybe it is easier
    than typing Thai or Korean

  4. American International School provides an American educational environment. Since it is an international school, the student body is made up of Vietnamese and foreigner students. Thus, the language of communication on campus is English.

    In the computer lab, we do not allow our students to speak Vietnamese though I tend to let it slip by. The aim of my computer class is to prepare students for studies in US universities which is where many of my students are headed. Since the US universities tend to use Linux, Unix or OSX systems, I think they all should know how to use Linux 🙂

  5. That’s great but i’m sure those students will want to input vietnamese
    when in America and writing emails to family back home, so to keep them from switching to “the bad guy” an
    easy method should be found..

  6. @moof:

    Oh, they can. Half the folks in my group are Vietnamese, and furthermore, both KDE and GNOME have had language packs for Vietnamese (and many other languages–Russian, Chinese, Hindi/Urdu, Arabic, etc.) for years now. So, thankfully, that’s not a problem. And furthermore, at least with KDE, you can switch languages on the fly, without having to reboot or even log out. Last I checked, the “bad guy” doesn’t let you switch like that. At least not in Spanish.


  7. I am HAPPY to hear someone new is using PCLOS , and a school at that . I think PCLOS is THE crossover distro. I am still using PCLOS 93A “Big Daddy” and will never change, it is the best desktop OS I have ever used.. PCLOS is the best distro to start out or change from windows. I can’t say enough good about it !!!

  8. I have been using PCLinuxOS on and off for over a year now and really love it. It was great to see a story on Linux Today with “PCLinuxOS” in the title instead of “Ubuntu” ! Currently I only am using Linux on my home computer, and can run ALL my applications with no problems. Including World of Warcraft.

  9. Hi,

    Maybe I missed something in the article, or in a related one somewhere else, but what was the goal for getting the students using Linux? And why run it inside VMWare? Isn’t it a live CD that can be run on its own? (the last question is rhetorical)

    Anyways, it is great to see your students learning something useful.


    Kevin Wright

  10. @moof: My goal is not to force my students to switch to Linux. I just want them to use it as another alternative. Nobody forced me to use Linux, Windows, or any other OS. I chose them myself but my teachers gave me that option. Anyway, my students know how to type both in English and Vietnamese regardless of the OS. One of my students installed the Vietnamese font on my iPhone 🙂

    @Terrell: Great comment 🙂

    @dutchman77: I would agree with you here. I think PCLInuxOS is a great introduction to Linux. Now some guys would say Ubuntu is but I always disagree here. Students want something that really entices them like, I hate to say, Windows does. Some of my students do love Vista. A couple like the Macbooks. Ubuntu just does not have that kick. Sabayon does but it is not ready for the schools yet. For me, I will always say that if you really want to learn Linux, download Gentoo but that is just my bias (I use openSUSE on my Thinkpad and DesktopBSD on my other laptop if you want to know).

    @Tom G: I am getting that a lot. I keep telling some people, Ubuntu DOES NOT Linux. The Ubuntu community in Vietnam is really hurting the Linux movement in this country.

    @Kevin Wright: In short, I just wanted them to use Linux as a web development tool. It was just a big headache to do it in Windows. At least in PCLinuxOS my students can have a local server running without doing anything. It just simplifies things for them and me.

    And for VMWare, quite simple. My school is a Window’s school so I had no choice but to use VMWare. I may switch to VirtualBox later.

    I hope that answers your question 🙂

  11. I regularly use PCLinuxOS and Ubuntu 7.1, also several other distros are up and running plus some PC-BSD and…they are all just great and getting better all the time…I have xp as well but its really just a handy tool.

  12. “@Tom G: I am getting that a lot. I keep telling some people, Ubuntu DOES NOT Linux. The Ubuntu community in Vietnam is really hurting the Linux movement in this country.”

    Do you mean what i think? That some people thinks Ubuntu builds GNU/Linux as Microsoft does windows. I have seen many new GNU/Linux users to believe that Ubuntu is different Operating System than any other distribution and Ubuntu is easy to use because it has great desktop. They just dont understand that Ubuntu is using same parts of GNU/Linux as any other distribution like by using Gnome as desktop, but it configures and choose them in different way.
    Like only selects those parts what they think normal user needs and leaves everything else off. And configure Gnome to use own theme and few other applets by default as other distros does samething.

    I feel that Ubuntu is doint more harm to GNU/Linux FOSS community than any other distribution. Just becase it is marketing itself (and by users) as easy to use Linux based OS and there isn’t any other samekind what would be easy to use.

    I’m Mandriva user myself and i have long time wanted to try PCLinuxOS (it is based to Mandriva) because it has few nice things by default, and if it really rocks, i can suggest it for new users. Now i suggest Mandriva over any Ubuntu based distro 😉

    It’s great to see that computer users knows that there is always a alternative to select what OS they like to run. It doesn’t need to be Windows XP or Windows Vista, It can be GNU/Linux or even *BSD. And there is great applications for free (as time (speech) and as money (beer) ;-)).

  13. @Fri13: I don’t get what you mean, marketing is marketing. I also haven’t heard the “there isn’t any other samekind [t]hat would be easy to use” from anybody.

    And Ubuntu also has all packages it inherits from Debian, not just non-“normal user needs”. Which, btw, is much more than what a person on #pclinuxos-support told me available in PCLOS “7260 or 7270 packages”.

    Ubuntu also separates non-free sw into multiverse and restricted, Does PCLOS do so? There’re Gobuntu, a free-sw-only Ubuntu flavour, and Gnewsense, based on Ubuntu 6.06 that only serves free sw.

    And shouldn’t each distro have a distinct default look? That’s just a theme.

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