More than 500 schools all over Greece are using Epoptes, an open source solution to manage and monitor school PCs in computer labs. The application is now also being used by schools in Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands and in many other countries. "Epoptes is already available in more than 33 languages, including non-European."
The project was started in late 2008 by Alkis Georgopoulos, a computer science teacher from Ioannina, Greece. Georgopoulos wrote a set of command line shell scripts to help him and his colleagues configure and manage the Linux terminals and servers. A year later he was contacted by Fotis Tsamis, an Athens-based computer science student, who offered to help.
Since then, Tsamis has started working as a developer at CTI Diophantus, the country's Computer Technology Institute and Press. This institute in 2011 decided to fund further development of the scripts. This project evolved into the building of a new solution, focussing on the management and administration of school PC labs, complete with a graphical user interface (GUI).
This development of Epoptes is funded by the Greek National Strategic Reference Framework, which is in turn funded by the European Union.
Teachers and school IT administrators continue to contribute to the two tools, says CTI's Tsamis. One teacher added support for multiple computer terminals. Others helped packaging Epoptes, including it in well-known Linux distributions such as Red Hat, Centos, Ubuntu, Debian and Mandriva.
The original shell scripts (appropriately named 'Sch-scripts') are being used and are even improved upon, for example by adding ways to manage users and class rooms. They have evolved themselves into a GUI-application. However Sch-scripts is currently available only in Greek. "A lot of schools in other countries are interested in an internationalised and localised version of these scripts. It would be good if we could find funds to allow us to do this. "
Schools in Greece are free to choose software solutions, explains Tsamis. The institute can provide technical support and can suggest certain software and hardware options. The Linux Terminal Server Project and Epoptes are part of these. "It is a complete, fully documented and supported solution."
All these tools together, Sch-scripts for setting-up PC labs, Epoptes for managing them, and LTSP are used in more than 500 schools, all over Greece. The free and open source solutions help save teachers valuable time. One grateful teacher posted a testimonial on the support forum for Sch-script in 2010: "Within one hour, a PC lab set-up which had been giving me all kind of headaches (8 computers with Windows 2000 and dozens of problems) became operable... from my laptop! Tomorrow, I am doing the first real test-drive with students, but it was amazing how fast and easy everything was. I'm speechless. Now I can share my desktop with all the lab PC users, and monitor them, it is incredible."