Project 3L :

(Linux for Luxembourgish Highschools)

Disclaimer: This text was originally written in French before the Netd@ys in 1999, but translated in 2001. Content was left as is, thus any date-dependent information such as prices, specification of computers, etc still refer to 1999

During Netd@ys Europe 1999, Lycée Technique Nic Biever (LTNB) presents the 3L project. This project is intended to provide highschools (and possibly other educational institutions) of Luxembourg (and elsewhere) with a software infrastructure making it possible to manage both the Internet access of the members of the school community and the usage of the local area network in a school.
The presentation is about the installation and operation of the system. It should be noted that the internet access of most of the other participating institutions will be managed through a 3L system during the netdays event.
3L incorporates interesting and innovative characteristics on three levels: functionality, price and history of development.


File and Print Server

The system, just like its more traditional cousins, provides for the storage of files on a central server (which is easy to backup), and for the access to printers from all workstations (classroom computers).
Every user (student, teacher, technical personnel, etc) also has a personal zone on the server, which makes it possible to store configuration files of the user's desktop software there and thus preserve each user's individual preferences independently of the workstation used. The disk space usage is monitored by an allocation system which limits possible abuses (quota management system).
The structure of the centralized data is completely laid out to accomodate the needs of an educational institution (common zones for classes, structured acessibility for teachers...)


Protection against outside intrusion is provided by a firewall which, in addition to the usual safeguards, makes it possible to completely block all access to the system originating from sites which are known to be dangerous. Another function of the firewall is the possibility of prohibiting the access to sites (i.e. to censor them) considered inappropriate for the pupils, while leaving open access to these sites for other users of the system.
It is also possible to temporarily block any access to the Internet from certain classrooms, e.g. during exams.

Email Server

Each user of the system (student, teacher..) automatically has at his disposal, as soon as his account is created, an email address of the following format: Thus, they can communicate with the entirety of the Internet community (which obviously includes the other users). This functionality can also be disabled temporarily for certain classrooms, during exams for example.

Web Server

The system makes it possible to publish the school's web pages on the central server itself, which ensures an excellent maintainability of these pages.

In addition, it is possible for each user to publish his own personal Web page, which will be accessible worldwide under the following web address: In order to publish his page, it is enough for the user to put the data of the page into a dedicated part of his personalized zone on the file server, making it immediately available.

Internet Access

Access to the internet (mainly www) is managed through a program which keeps in-memory copies of the pages that were most recently visited (proxy cache). This allows to speed up the access to pages which are visited from a significant number of workstations, typically during the teaching of a class.
This program also keeps a log of the operations carried out, so that the persons in charge can find out afterwards which user accessed which site, when and from which workstation.

User Accountability

The individual users have their own accounts and personal passwords, and for any action on the system preliminary identification is needed. All the actions are thus tracable a posteriori by the persons in charge. This makes it possible not to have to permanently supervise what the pupils do on the computers, because each pupil knows that he can to be confronted with the evidence after the fact, should he do something objectionable.

Remote Administration

All maintenance actions for the everyday use of the system (management of the user accounts, e-mail, disk space, printers, and internet access; browsing the logfiles, etc) are carried out using a user-friendly graphical point and click interface. This interface functions through a web browser (Netscape Navigator, Internet Explorer, etc) and is usable from any authorized machine on the network. Acces to functionalities can be granted on an individual basis for each administrator. These functionalities are adapted specifically to the needs of an educational institution.


The installation is easy and driven by some simple menus. Tools for replication of the workstations are included.


Standard Hardware

The hardware platform on which the system runs is made up of a standard PC of a certain power (processor >= pentiumII 300MHz, memory >= 128Mb, disk space 2GB + space intended for the file service for example 9Gb) for which the prices are extremly reasonable (less than 50.000 LUF). The standard aspect and the price of the hardware make it possible to keep certain spare parts in stock, which leads to very short down-times in the event of breakdown. It is even conceivable to keep a whole second system as a standby.


The operating system of the workstations is Windows NT or Windows 95/98, which are standard in the national education, and whose licensing conditions are known.
The server software is free (as in speech, and as in beer). Indeed, it is based on the free operating system Linux, for which no licence needs to be paid and for which the entirety of the sources are accessible to the public. All functionalities listed above, as well as others which might be provided in the future to widen the offer, either are available out of the box on linux, or were developed in a context which ensures their availability free of charge.

This brings us to the interesting history of the development of this project:


On an inititive of the Kiwanis Club of Esch-sur-Alzette, the Lycée Technique Nic Biever (LTNB) placed , a few years ago, a test server allowing small groups of pupils to benefit from the possibilities of the Internet into the reading room of its library.
Following up on the positive feedback generated by this action, a Project of Establishment was set up at the LTNB, in which a first computer system which was to have functionalities similar to those described above was developped with the help of a small team of IT volunteers.
A collaboration with LiLux (Linux Luxembourg Club) was also undertaken and the system evolved during several years in order to better adapt to the needs of the institution. The research and development carried out at the LTNB led to a system which satisfied more or less well the needs of the school, but whose complexity, due to its "organic" growth during its early life, did not lend itself to an easy administration, nor to an easy portability to other sites.
With the announcement of the "plan informatique" in the teaching sector, prompted by the conclusions of the tripartite commission, a collaboration was set up between the LGL and the LTNB, whose purpose was to produce a new generation system which was easy to manage and to install in various schools. The prototype of the new system was installed in the LGL. An installation with the LTML is for the 30.10.1999.
The next step will need to be the creation of a "professional" documentation and the development of a training course for the administrators.
The project team (LTNB, LiLux, LGL) is proud to offer to the "Éductation Nationale" an information technology tool designed for the needs of the Luxembourgish schools.