TSP MOOC Platform

A docker based platform dedicated to improve the learning experience of TSP MOOC

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Why choosing docker ?

This article is a work in progress. Please open an issue if you have a remark or suggestion.

The Origin

Before explaining why we have choose docker as base for our platform, we need to explain the origin of this project. The need to have a platform dedicated to the student have two origins: the first one is from the TSP school and more specificaly the need to have an environment for practical work (student are not here to learn how to install a specific software but to learn to use it) ready to use without the need to install many software; the second reason, which is more or less linked to the previous one, come from the importance given to online courses. Teachers wants to continue to make student practicing what they learn, but while for in-school student they can rely on the school IT department to prepare machine with the required software it something that is not possible for online student.

A first solution was designed based on Vagrant to let online student experiment (this solution is available at http://insert-the-good-address-here). There were some problems with this solution:

  1. It requires one virtual machine per course.
  2. Vagrant is a great tool when you can use the command line, but for a beginner student working on Windows it can be a no-go factor.
  3. A complete virtual machine consume a lot of resources and, while it is not a problem on high-end computer, it can limit some old/cheap computer in emerging countries.

So we needed a tool with a graphical user interface that doesn't consume much resources and with which we can run many courses on a basic computer.

Enter docker

How to conserve the power of virtual machine without their weight ? The solution is well known: container. TODO describe what a container is. Lucky we are, we have a hype product that promese to let you easily use container: docker. From a technical aspect, docker is based on the Linux Container (LXC) and thus, only work on Linux. Fortunately the docker folk have created boot2docker, a small virtual machine that run Linux in VirtualBox (available on all major OS). With that, we have the power of virtualization without the cost of having too many VMs running on the student computer (in fact only one will be running, or none if the student use a Linux kernel).

Comparison docker and vagrant

Okay, we have choose docker over vagrant but can we have some real info as why docker is better (or as default not worse) ?

Sure, there you are:

  • TODO Start time
  • TODO Memory