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Celebration of Eric P. Scott’s life

As previously mentioned on this Partimus blog, Eric P. Scott, a frequent Partimus volunteer, recently departed this life.  Here is another photo of Eric that has been circulating recently on Linux email lists:


Eric P. Scott, a frequent Partimus volunteer. Thanks for all you did for Partimus, Eric!

A celebration of Eric’s life will be held on March 18 at 7:30 pm at one of his favorite pizza restaurants, Pascquales Pizzaria at 700 Irving Street, 415-661-2140, near the corner of 8th Avenue in San Francisco.  Please RSVP to Ron Hipschman at ronh at exo dot net if you are planning on attending.

One of Eric’s favorite pizza places, 700 Irving Street, 415-661-2140, near the corner of 8th Avenue in San Francisco


Celebrating Eric P. Scott

I have just learned that, on January 16, 2015, the San Francisco Bay Area free open source software community suffered the loss of a dear friend, Eric P. Scott.  Eric’s passing was a setback for Partimus, as he contributed thousands of dollars worth of his time to helping Partimus on its mission of placing and supporting GNU-Linux computers in schools for students from low and modest income households.  Here is shot of Eric at a triagefest in a public charter school, the KIPP San Francisco Bay Academy:

Eric P. Scott, middle back row.  Click on the picture to see it larger.

Eric P. Scott, middle back row. Click on the picture to see it larger.

Partimus Board member Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph has written a thorough and moving homage to Eric here on her personal blog.  I cannot personally improve on that blog, and so will only speak briefly to summarize the wonderful things that Eric did from my perspective as a relatively simple end user of free open source software.

Whenever I organized an event of any kind around free open source software, I could always count on Eric to bring his deep knowledge about free open source software to the event.  From my perspective as a relatively simple end user, I always needed someone with Eric’s skill base to attend these events, because I didn’t have that kind of technical knowledge.  I would have an overview as to what the teachers wanted to accomplish with a computer network, but I was not capable of doing anything other than reaching out to others to give specific shape and form to the teachers’ needs.

Eric’s deep technical knowledge and his frequent appearance at my events meant that I always had at least one person in the room who could handle just about any technical problem that could come up.  Eric’s advanced skill level meant that he could easily charge hundreds of dollars per hour for his skills, but he was always very giving of his time to schools, teachers and ultimately children who would never be able to afford his talent.

Eric’s deep skills also meant that the job would get done quickly, and done correctly the first time, which meant that there was a lot of time to put polish and professionalism on the jobs we did.  We were not fumbling around for solutions, thanks in part to Eric’s guidance and his ability to zero in on just the right solution at the right time.  Oh, and he often also brought just the right physical tool that others might not have thought to bring, which speaks to his incredible foresight and presence of mind.

Eric was also a renaissance man, widely knowledgeable about any topic that would come up.  He always was ready with a funny comment, or an interesting bit of information on any topic.  Bringing together a group of volunteers to give generously of their time is so much easier when there is a good esprit de corps, and Eric’s bright wit, technical chops, and presence of mind helped buoy the group’s spirit to keep them going despite occasional frustrations with the challenging economic and logistical circumstances facing the schools, teachers and students we serve.

The above photograph of our group of volunteers is a fitting one to remember Eric by, as directly over our heads stands an inspirational motto taught to the children of the KIPP system.  The children are taught to do the right thing not to avoid punishment or to seek a reward, but because, as the “Level 6” sign says almost directly over Eric’s head:  “It’s my code.  This is who I am.”  That statement fits Eric to the letter.  He gave of himself because that is the kind of person he was:  generous, thoughtful, industrious, insightful, and caring.

Eric, on behalf of, I want to thank you for masterful technical guidance, your considerable donation of your valuable time, and your unswerving generosity of spirit and leadership.  My life is greatly enriched for having known you, as are the lives of the students and educators you have served.

Additional discussions of Eric’s departure and remarkable giving life can be found here.

How to donate to Partimus while shopping on your computer

Hello and Happy Holidays!  If you like the Partimus mission of giving free open source software computers to educational institutions for children, and have been meaning to donate, but didn’t get around to it, we are pleased to say that giving this year can be as easy as shopping for your favorite gifts on  Amazon Smile is Amazon’s way of giving back to the community.  When you shop through, 0.5% of your purchases will be donated to the charity of your choice.  If you would like to choose Partimus, here’s how easy it is to do that on

1.  Click on the link for  That will take you to a page that looks like this:

Screenshot from 2014-11-27

Click on image to enlarge.

2.  You will then have an opportunity to designate Partimus as your charity by typing the word “Partimus” in the search box as show by the big red arrow:

Screenshot from 2014-11-27

Click on image to enlarge.

3.  Once you have chosen Partimus as your charity, you will see Partimus designated as your charity in the upper right hand corner of your screen, as shown by this big red arrow:

Screenshot from 2014-11-27

Click on image to enlarge.

And that’s all there is too it!  Now you can go about shopping as you normally would, and Partimus will automagically receive 0.5% of your shopping expenditures as a donation.  We thank you for your donations, and our kids and their teachers thank you!


The continuing dedication of Boutique Academia

Partimus is thrilled and humbled to thank Partimus co-founder Maile Urbancic for another generous donation of $182.00 on behalf of her business, Boutique Academia.  As we blogged about here, Boutique Academia, a small company run by Partimus co-founder Maile Urbancic, has created some beautiful gold-colored and silver-colored earrings and necklaces created in the shape of the Ubuntu human family logo.

Maile has graciously decided to donate $10.00 from the sale of each pair of earrings to Partimus. She will send Partimus checks reflecting those earnings every time she receives enough sales to send us at least $100.00 in earnings from the earrings and from the necklaces.

The Ubuntu necklace, in gold color

The Ubuntu necklace, in gold color.

We are so proud of these earrings and necklaces, because they are beautiful, and they promote the Ubuntu theme of one human family. Partimus’ work in schools is about delivering high-quality pre-owned computers to students, but the bigger picture is teaching students and teachers about the power of sharing. The Ubuntu human family logo fits right in with this theme.

Of course, Partimus was founded by two women, Maile Urbancic and Cathy Malmrose, and women have always played a big role in the governance of Partimus and in the projects that Partimus runs.  So there has always been an important theme within the Partimus DNA about advancing and supporting girls and women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  We are happy to support Boutique Academia in providing women and girls with small motifs about the blending of jewelry with STEM themes, which is what Boutique Academia is all about.

Thanks again to Maile for her continuing inspiration in helping Partimus to go forward!

Transported computers now in use at Prescott

A couple weeks ago we wrote about the work of Partimus staff members to load up several machines for Robert Litt and schools in Oakland details here.

We’re now happy to report that those computers have been installed with Lubuntu and put to use!




Robert writes:

With these computers we were able to move into the classrooms more. The teachers are using them for Khan Academy and Xtramath

Thanks again to our volunteers who helped get these systems in the hands of students. Happy Holidays from Partimus!

More machines for Robert Litt’s genius

Robert Litt is an elementary teacher who has done some amazing things with computers running free open source software in education.  Today, he came to San Francisco with two of his own children to get some more equipment for his students and the students of other teachers also using free open source software in classrooms.  Robert and Partimus Board members Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph and Christian Einfeldt packed about 10 flat panel monitors into his van.

A monitor waiting to jump from a school bench into Robert's van

A monitor waiting to jump from a school bench into Robert’s van

We also got about 10 computers and 10 keyboards into his van.


Machine packed into the back of Robert's van

Machine packed into the back of Robert’s van

While we were loading and his children were running around in circles in the warm sunshine, Robert told us that he likes the green aspect of installing free software on older computers.  He lighted up when he told us that he loves to see new life breathed into old machines.  That is just one aspect of his fascination with free software.  You can go to this link a detailed discussion of why he likes free software on old computers.  And you can go here to see Robert’s presentation on how easy it is to put free software on older computers. I find Robert’s enthusiasm to be infectious and inspiring.  Working with dedicated givers like Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph and Robert Litt renews my spirits.  Thanks to both of you for all you do!

Partimus board member Christian Einfeldt caught in the computer storage cave

Partimus board member Christian Einfeldt caught in the computer storage cave

Partimus Advocates at Oakland Unified for Free Software

Past board member and current operations officer (a.k.a. “server architect” ) James Howard presented before Oakland Unified School District board in support of esteemed public school teacher Robert Litt. A long time Free Software in education advocate, Robert has built and administered two successful GNU/Linux teaching labs in Oakland schools. Robert spoke of his labs before the school board:

At ASCEND I built a lab from computers, donated to us, by running them on a Linux operating system that is free and open source… I was able to repair or replace computers, through the use of a free open source operating system… I turned Prescott around, using the model I used at ASCEND. … Prescott now has 65 fast working computers.

Supporting Robert in his efforts to sustain his lab, a school parent advocated for Robert’s lab, and James Howard of Partimus — which has long supported Robert in his Linux labs with hardware donations, hardware troubleshooting, and deployment of a custom build automated imaging process — also addressed the board on the topic of the robustness of Linux and the spirit of the Free Software movement:

I come to you today from the open source software community. Open
source software, also known as free software, is a gift from a global community of
technologists to the world.

Linux is a powerful, stable, and secure computer operating system. Though Linux has been
designed to be conversant with all other major operating systems, it was recently chosen
to replace those technologies for use on the International Space Station. The reason:
because it was more stable.

More significantly, Linux represents a collaboration between business and the community.
Contributions to Linux and open source projects come from people of all ages and
backgrounds, from people working in the public and private sector, from students and
volunteers, the world over. Before being shared, these contributions must adhere to both
strict government standards but are also carefully reviewed by community
based watchdogs and the most inquisitive techno-citizens. It is from its
transparency and openness that Linux draws its true value.

At the heart of Linux and open source software is the free exchange of ideas. This
value is one in which our country was founded — a value we instill in our children –
and is why Linux belongs in our public schools.

Robert was granted the autonomy to continue to operate his Partimus’ supported lab. Partimus engineers have now been tasked with developing and building a standalone custom lubuntu install CD for “Alternative Operating Systems” at Oakland Unified. Stay tuned for its release later this quarter. For James, it was a real thrill to enjoy the success of community collaboration.

Director Grant Bowman featured in Foundation Center Video

Partimus Board of Directors member Grant Bowman was featured in a video this month by the Foundation Center.


Link here: The Foundation Center-San Francisco: How can we help you?

“Get to know the Foundation Center-San Francisco community and how we can help you do good too.”

Grant has taken time out of his busy schedule to attend several classes at the Foundation Center to help further the growth of Partimis. Thanks to him for all of his work and taking time to discuss Partimus in this video, and to the Foundation Center for making these resources available to non-profits like ours!

CACS laptop install day wrap-up

On April 28th, the Partimus crew of James Howard, Morgan Wilson and Christian Einfeldt worked to take laptops that James had prepped for installation and finished imaging the systems with the provisioning server. All the laptops were then put together with their power supplies on cart. By the end of the day between already installed laptops and newly installed ones approximately 38 laptops were ready for the classroom!


James has provided the following “big picture” overview of the work completed:

The project we’re wrapping up today is perfectly representative of most of the school deployment projects we’ve done. A project begins with request from an educator for computing capabilities. Once it’s determined that suitable hardware is available or can be procured, we work with the teacher to determine software requirements. This process yields a list of software packages we’ll include in addition to the distribution base install. We also try to develop an approach to how the system will be administered, which users should be created and with which authorization. Lastly, we try to incorporate desktop tweaks to suit the preferences of the particular client. All of this information is translated into a post installation shell script. This script, along with other installer-specific declarations are hosted on a local installation server which also contains a full, up-to-date mirror of a particular Linux distribution’s software repository (usually Ubuntu). Our automated installs are currently exclusively network based, but much of the hardware we work with will only bootstrap by CDROM, so we usually master custom media for boot strapping the installer. Once we’ve worked out the install design and all the hardware kinks, we do some test deployments and conduct a little QA with our educator. Once design is finalized, we go to production. It’s really cool seeing dozens of machines churn through an unattended install in unison.

For this project we decided to go with Lubuntu 12.04 LTS to squeeze maximum performance out of these notebooks. Many of these notebooks will be used by the students to give multimedia presentations, and what’s really exciting is that some of these higher spec machines will be used for video production as they are loaded with about a dozen of the best video production tools available from around the globe.

Speaking of the specific tasks completed that day, Morgan writes:

When I arrived, I got to work assisting James with staging and loading about a dozen laptops with Linux. James already had a couple of CDs with the applicable configuration, so it was simply an assembly-line task of connecting power and network cables to two laptops at a time, and then launching the installation. Once they were running, two more laptops could be connected and launched.

There was one laptop that would not read a CD. In order to further pinpoint the cause, I swapped the CD drives between the bad boy and a known working lap. The CD drive worked in the other lap, and the bad boy continued to fail. This proved that the problem was elsewhere within the laptop. We marked the laptop bad, and saved the CD drive and memory cards for spare parts.


Then I moved on to bundling and labeling laptops and power supplies. By the end of my two and a half hours, I think we had labeled and bundled almost thirty laptops.

The highlight of the day was the two slices of broccoli-pineapple pizza that I inhaled with gusto. This was a flavor combination that I had never heard of before. Weirdly excellent.

Thank you again for the opportunity to pedal my wares.

CACS 04/28/2013 - 1

Special thanks to CACS parent Robbie Socks for procuring the donated notebooks from Lycée Français de San Francisco and thanks again to the crew for joining us in this event!

Installfest / pizza party at Creative Arts Charter School 2013.4.28 is going to be hosting a pizza party and triagefest / installfest tomorrow (April 28, 2013) at the Creative Arts Charter School at 1601 Turk Street at Pierce St in San Francisco from 1 pm to about 3:30 pm.   The Creative Arts Charter School is a public charter school.  Any child in the State of California can attend the school for free without paying tuition.

We have about a dozen machines to install with GNU-Linux. Mostly detail work (packing notebooks up, numbering them). If there’s human resources and interest, post installation work could be done (log in, connect to the wifi, validate that a browser works — that sort of thing. Q/A basically.

Bring USB sticks with Lubuntu 12.04 on them.  If you don’t have that, Ubuntu 12.04 will do.  No need to worry about UEFI.  Please also bring everything that you would need to triage hardware.  Screw drivers, needle nose pliers, etc.

When you arrive, please text or call Christian at 415-351-1300 so that I can let you in, as the school is quite large, and you could get lost.  Thanks!