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United States Software Linux

A Public Library's Linux Success Story 392

Joe Barr writes "What with the spate of professionally PR-generated FUD coming out of Redmond about Linux not being open source, or Windows having a lower TCO, and - believe it or not - even a claim that Windows is more reliable, it's good to read about some real world, grass-root results of successful migrations from Windows to Linux. This story at NewsForge takes a look at the Howard County (Maryland) Public Library's roll-out of over 200 public-use PCs, which used to run on Windows and now run on a custom Linux distribution called Lumix."
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A Public Library's Linux Success Story

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  • not open source? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CoffeeJedi ( 90936 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:04AM (#9063738)
    what was the FUD about Linux NOT being open source!? i missed that somewhere.... that sounds like MS desperately grasping at straws
    link please?
    • by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:09AM (#9063795) Homepage
      what was the FUD about Linux NOT being open source!?

      This all relates to the SCO issue which is two-fold: SCO claims that Linux contains proprietary code, and second, that the GPL is invalid (they say unconstitutional!!!).

    • Re:not open source? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      See here See Here [techworld.com]
    • Re:not open source? (Score:5, Informative)

      by arvindn ( 542080 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:22AM (#9063977) Homepage Journal
      Linux is not open source, says Microsoft [techworld.com]

      You missed it because it broke just today.

      • by goldspider ( 445116 ) <[ardrake79] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:25AM (#9064013) Homepage
        Of course the article title doesn't reflect what the Microsoft rep actually said.

        Headline: Linux is not Open Source
        Microsoft Rep: Open Source is not Linux

        I am suspicious of why TechWorld could so blatantly take Microsoft's quote so out of context.


        • Some people just don't understand the directional arrows of logical implication. That think that "A implies B" automatically means that "B implies A". (Don't even THINK about trying to explain contrapositives!)

          That or it's a typo, in which case the editors (if t here is one) and proofreader should be shot.
        • I am suspicious of why TechWorld could so blatantly take Microsoft's quote so out of context.

          Maybe because there are about a zillion similar journals / websites / magazines with nearly identical bland names that few ever read except when they pull a stunt like this?

      • I think this line of attack, as its called by the author of the article, can backfire. Their former argument was, and I paraphrase, that linux was created by a bunch of international hippie anarchists. Now they're saying Linux is a commercially developed operating system. Which sounds like a more legitimate product?

      • And it's pretty clear that Microsoft's Steve Vamos misunderstands (or more likely wants to obfuscate) what Open Source is. He wants you to think that because companies like Red Hat and SuSE market value added services and products that compliment their Linux distributions, that Linux is not free. Hmm... I downloaded RH9 and it didn't cost me a cent...
        • Re:not open source? (Score:3, Informative)

          by kiwimate ( 458274 )
          But this is addressed by the last three paragraphs of the article.

          Of course, all of this could be laughed off if it wasn't for the fact that he actually has a good point. Last week, Red Hat announced that it would no longer support Red Hat Linux 9. Instead, it is directing all users to its Red Hat Enterprise Linux Platform.

          And what's the difference between the two? Why, one is free and the other isn't. Guess which is which. Red Hat also announced yesterday that it is producing a desktop version that it w
          • Last week, Red Hat announced that it would no longer support Red Hat Linux 9. Instead, it is directing all users to its Red Hat Enterprise Linux Platform.

            Ahhh yes, but there is still Fedora... Speaking of RH Enterprise, can the source be downloaded for free? I don't know *anything* about the GPL really, but doesn't RHEL have GPL'd software in it (like the kernel)?

            • Re:not open source? (Score:3, Informative)

              by cthulhubob ( 161144 )
              > Ahhh yes, but there is still Fedora... Speaking of RH Enterprise, can the source be downloaded for free?

              You get the source code for everything in the box with the CDs. The GPL ensures that binaries cannot be distributed without also giving away the source code - if you're not giving somebody a binary copy, they don't need the source code either.

              However, Fedora is basically RH Enterprise unstable. Redhat is essentially following the Debian development model now, with Fedora stable releases being the e
      • by asoap ( 740625 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:49AM (#9064269)
        I just read the article, and I think there is some clearing up that needs to be done. The MS rep said. "Open source is not Linux,"

        In the sense that Linux is the result of an open source project, and linux != open source.

        Because if that was true, then mozilla = linux.

        So it's the same thing as a Ford rep saying "Cars are not Corvettes". Because then, A Ford Focus would be a Corvette.

        And no matter how much you pray at night, your Ford Focus won't turn into a corvette.

        -asoap

  • Well, yes.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ObviousGuy ( 578567 ) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:04AM (#9063741) Homepage Journal
    Using LFS as a starting point, Luis and Mike were able to build a minimal Linux kernel that included only the functionality required by the "kiosk style" machines. They added the Gnome desktop environment, the Mozilla browser, and OpenOffice.org to complete the picture.

    If you don't need much more than websurfing and wordprocessing functionality, it doesn't make much sense to keep up with the Joneses running Windows.

    Windows is a very capable OS with many features for many tasks. Most of those features, however, are wholly unsuited for a kiosk and totally extraneous.

    Linux, OTOH, is able to step in at these places and fill just enough of the hole left by the Windows uninstallation with Windows software clones that the average kiosk user can hardly tell the difference.
    • Re:Well, yes.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:28AM (#9064040)
      If you don't need much more than websurfing and wordprocessing functionality, it doesn't make much sense to keep up with the Joneses running Windows.

      That's about all 80% of PC users actually do need, if you add in a spreadsheet and email and a few other bits.

      What I really want someone to come up with is a really simplified version of desktop linux - a kind of minimal installation with all the basics and locked-down so that it's difficult to break. In fact, what these guys have come up with. This is the type of set-up they should be selling in Walmart.
      • Re:Well, yes.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Short Circuit ( 52384 ) <mikemol@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:38AM (#9064151) Homepage Journal
        I disagree, to a point. It would be too easy for a newbie to come to the conclusion that Linux is insanely limited, and they have to use Windows to do anything more advanced.

        Now, if you include directions on how to "unlock" your computer, you'll be OK. Include a system restore CD. (You know someone's going to buy and install Windows; make it easy for them to switch back.)

        When the restore CD is run, ask them if they want to install the normal version (as it came on their computer) or the "advanced" version, which is pretty much the same as the normal except it allows you to select packages to install off the CD or the Internet.
    • My linux VS my XP (Score:4, Informative)

      by phorm ( 591458 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:50AM (#9064270) Journal
      I have dual-boot, so I can compare a bit:

      Games:
      XP: Lots, some older 98 games broken
      Linux: Less, some windows games work via Wine, increasing support (Doom3, HL2) expected

      Internet:
      XP: Firefox/IE
      Linux: Firefox

      Email:
      XP: Thunderbird
      Linux: Thunderbird

      Media:
      XP: Winamp, WMP
      Linux: XMMS/MPlayer (DVD's sometimes an issue)

      P2P:
      XP: KazaaLite, Emule
      Linux: Emule

      IM:
      XP: MSN 6.1, GAIM
      Linux: GAIM

      Office:
      XP: MS/OpenOffice
      Linux: OpenOffice

      CD Burning:
      XP: Nero, lots of others
      Linux: MKCD, lots of others

      DVD Burning:
      XP: Many suck, currently testing ULead DVD Workshop 2 (awesome)
      Linux: Experimenting [gentoo.org] (suggestions welcome)


      Those are my regular activities. Some of the other stuff may or may not work in linux
    • Re:Well, yes.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rpillala ( 583965 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:03AM (#9064452)

      Even more so in kiosks where the company that put it there (or the library in this case) has branded their interface. When I go to Best Buy and look something up on one of their computers, it is irrelevant that it's a Windows machine because their frontend is plastered with their logo and lots of graphics to make it look cool.

      When people use publically available computers, I don't think we expect them to look and feel like what we have at home.

      Ravi
  • Oh really now? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by imidazole2 ( 776413 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:05AM (#9063742) Homepage Journal
    Library management is happy because of the money it is saving. Those savings come from reduced administration costs and from hardware savings.

    Bout time someone actually tested the fact that the admin costs are cheaper. I agree. But many others dont:
    http://www.linuxworld.com.au/index.php/id;38386989 7;fp;2;fpid;1
    http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/41485
    And much more...
  • by Nick of NSTime ( 597712 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:05AM (#9063744)
    The article states that some of the PCs upgraded to Linux were running Windows 98. The decision to move to Linux sounds like a major no-brainer to me, even if you remove the Microsoft vs F/OSS debate.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:16AM (#9063906) Homepage
      the thing to make it easier would have been using LTSP and turn all machines out in the common area into X terminals and simply buy/use one decent server for the backroom and you are finished.

      upgrade OO.o and instantly all other machines are upgraded.

      Hell a old P-233 machine is 200 times faster than the best NCD X terminal you can buy and insanely cheaper.

      • the thing to make it easier would have been using LTSP and turn all machines out in the common area into X terminals and simply buy/use one decent server for the backroom and you are finished.

        Conversely, if the main machine crashes for one reason or another, they're all out of luck.

        Plus, there's that little comprehension gap between the installers and the librarians. It's not that they're incapable of understanding, but they've got a thousand little things bugging them and setting up individual PCs with
      • Hell a old P-233 machine is 200 times faster than the best NCD X terminal you can buy and insanely cheaper.

        Really, I think this is the only medium-long-term solution for businesses. You will buy a box about the size of a mini ethernet switch that you plug a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and ethernet into and away you go. It will run Linux-box X server which is booted off the server machine. The box will be solid state, will run for about 10 years without becoming obsolete, and if it ever breaks down, you j
  • In all the zest and zeal to give away free software through libraries (see previous /. stories), maybe the next step is to now entice libraries themselves with an initiative to install this on all of their machines. For free...
    • Yes. This sounds like a great opportunity for a collaboration effort for libraries. There is a corporate open source / collaboration project run here in Minneapolis, similar to the one proposed for government entities in Massachusetts. (sorry, no links handy) Spread the load across library admins nationwide / internationally, and you could have an incredible market-specific Linux implementation.
  • Lumix.org (Score:3, Interesting)

    by strictnein ( 318940 ) * <strictfoo-slashdot&yahoo,com> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:06AM (#9063751) Homepage Journal
    Lumix.org is great [lumix.org]

    Am I the only one unable to find anything about a Lumix named linux distribution? The only thing I could figure out is that Panasonic makes a camera called "Lumix" that is Linux compatible.
  • by ArmenTanzarian ( 210418 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:07AM (#9063760) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft has just announced software to compete directly with the Howard County Public Library. It's called PowerBrary and seeks to offer more functionality and better security than your common book.
    Due out FY07.
    • I'm going to have to dust off that library card. I live in Howard County, MD but haven't touched one of the terminals yet. Maybe it's time to get off /. for a little break and check it out.

      BTW, aren't you under court order to only go by Skinner now?
  • Good for them (Score:5, Informative)

    by geoffeg ( 15786 ) <geoffeg@@@sloth...org> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:07AM (#9063769) Homepage
    Most libraries are stuck with Windows simply because they don't have enough money to move away (it does COST money to get everything working with linux) or because they're required to stay with Microsoft because their systems were donated by Microsoft or one of the related foundations. Lots of libraries are very, very tight on budget and simply can't afford the initial cost of the switchover.

    Geoffeg
    • How to help (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kozar_The_Malignant ( 738483 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:33AM (#9064086)

      >Most libraries are stuck with Windows simply because they don't have enough money to move away (it does COST money to get everything working with linux)

      As geoffeg also notes, libraries are extremely crunched for money. They love volunteers for that reason. If a local linux users group worked out a long-term volunteer agreement with their local public library to help with their catalogue and IS systems, I'm sure it could result in switching their systems over to linux. It would take a bit of time and energy to earn trust and to help the librarians see the value, but I'm sure it could be a great way to help your local library and expose more people to linux at the same time.
      • Re:How to help (Score:3, Informative)

        by gstoddart ( 321705 )

        If a local linux users group worked out a long-term volunteer agreement

        Well, you'd have to be awful certain you'll be able to fulfill that promise, or in a few years when the LUGs can no longer provide that, you're gonna start reading stories about libraries having to shell out $$$ en-masse as they become unsupported and need Microsoft consultants to migrate them away.

        In this case, the actual staff the library who would have had to manage the machines anyway decided to simplify their lives. They built i

    • by jamonterrell ( 517500 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:35AM (#9064125)
      Many LUGs even meet at libraries. I'm sure an arrangement could be made. It would serve as an excellent opportunity for a LUG to train its less clued members and to accomplish something to help their community library at the same time.
      • I work in the IT dept for a county in Ontario. I'm not sure how other counties are set up in Canada, let alone in the States, but here, libraries are the responsibility of the IT dept. If a LUG were to make such a proposition to a library here it would likely (unfortunately) be turned down.

        Sadly, this place, like many others are so hooked on MS that I doubt I'll see the day where anything else is used. I couldn't even get them to use Linux on a TESTING web server. No, they went out and bought a brand n
  • by jnetsurfer ( 637137 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:08AM (#9063774) Homepage Journal
    I've been trying to get Libraries and School Systems to integrate linux for years, and nobody ever listens to me. In my limited experience, the upper-level staff at Schools and Libraries can be so afraid of change, or afraid of "impending doom", that they can't let go of the Windows security blanket. They don't care that Linux can make their systems more reliable and save money -- They are just worried about not having a number to call. It's refreshing to see that this isn't always the case.
    • My experience tells me the same. People won't change to Linux because of the nerd-factor involved. They know Windows, and they think that a computer is a computer with Windows and if they saw Linux boot what would happen? But on the other hand, what is the use of Linux if all that is needed is what Windows is capable of doing? Such as writing documents, browsing, writing and reading email, printing, chatting and whatever regular tasks one could think of.

      I would love to see more institutions switching to L

      • People won't change to Linux because of the nerd-factor involved.

        This is kind of ironic if you think about it, but average non-tech people will not take Linux seriously until game companies start releasing top titles for Linux. Which of course means video card companies have to start doing a better job of card drivers and smooth driver install. The fact that so much of getting a Linux install to work requires being computer literate does not work in Linuxs' favor as far as wide-spread acceptance with non-t

    • by mslinux ( 570958 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:19AM (#9063930)
      They are just worried about not having a number to call.

      Please tell me who they would call for service/support on Windows 98 or NT in the year 2004? Certainly not Microsoft... so the library being concerned about "Offical Vendor" support doesn't seem to be a factor here as they were running old, unsupported software to begin with.

      Not to metion the fact that there's virtually no support from MS even when the software in question is still "Officially" supported by them. The whole idea of them actually standing behind their product and answering consumer phone calls is a myth.
      • I believe Microsoft's official policy on desktop support is "Please contact your vendor." One of the reasons Dell, Compaq, HP, etc. get discounts on Windows licenses is that the PC vendor has to deal with support issues.
    • The biggest irony is that many of these people have never actually tried calling the number.

      If they did, Linux would be taken a lot more seriously at a high level within a few months.
  • Uh-oh... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Rick.C ( 626083 )
    Does this mean that all the books are now GPL?

    I mean, Balmer wouldn't lie to us about the GPL virus, would he?

  • Slightly OT... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:08AM (#9063780) Homepage Journal
    But as long as we're talking about libraries and computers:

    The local public library (somewhere in Mass.) here has an iMac sitting in the front lobby, with the iTunes application running - for people to browse through their library of songs.

    I went and asked the librarian(s) about the machine and they said Apple had donated it. Interesting concept - free advertising and people think the company's being Good (TM) by donating to the public library. Not very useful for downloading songs though, given the DRM restrictions on downloads. All the other machines running the Catalog app are Windows though.

    Just thought it was interesting enough to post here on /. ... pardon the OTness.

  • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:08AM (#9063781) Homepage
    The local libraries could really do something like this. All they have on their computers anyway is some sort of telnet-type terminal to their (legacy :) text-based card catalog system. Oh, and a few web browsers and MS Office. Nothing that can't be replaced...

    My university library [wfu.edu] is a bit sillier. They have brand-spanking-new IBM machines worth several grand, I'm sure, and all they're doing is running kiosk-mode Internet Explorer to their card catalog site [wfu.edu] (one that is easily bypassed by Win+R, by the way).

    • Speaking of legacy systems, the University of Minnesota's Library had an electronic lookup system called LUMINA. It has since evolved into it's web page at http://www.lib.umn.edu/. At first, I thought LUMIX was based off that old system instead of a combination of Luis and Mike...
  • Perfect Fit... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by clichekiller ( 665320 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:09AM (#9063799)
    This sounds like a perfect fit to me. Given that budgets for libraries the country over are systematically being cut, not having to add the cost of software licensing to a collection of public access PC's is a great boon. Considering that the majority of computer use in the library is limitied to the internet and word processing the availability of suitable open source alternatives for these two activities also fits well. All in all I'd be surprised if we don't hear of more institutions moving to this as money becomes tight.

    I know many years ago I donated a collection of 486 and early pentiums to a shop in brooklynn that refurbished them and distributed them to inner city workshops that taught kids how to work on computers. I can only imagine how much of a boon to this program it would have been had linux then been up to the level that it is today.
  • I live in Howard County, but hadn't heard anything about this before now. It's kindof exciting though -- I'll be taking a trip to the library later today to test drive this setup.

    Way to go HCPL!
  • Well, yes.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ObviousGuy ( 578567 )
    Using LFS as a starting point, Luis and Mike were able to build a minimal Linux kernel that included only the functionality required by the "kiosk style" machines. They added the Gnome desktop environment, the Mozilla browser, and OpenOffice.org to complete the picture.

    Windows is a very capable OS. It has features that are designed to ease the many disparate tasks that different users will expect to handle. It is precisely because of this that Windows is unsuitable for a kiosk-like system. It is simpl
    • Windows is a very capable OS. It has features that are designed to ease the many disparate tasks that different users will expect to handle. It is precisely because of this that Windows is unsuitable for a kiosk-like system. It is simply too powerful.

      Too powerful?

      The available apps FOR Windows are more numerous and very powerful, but Windows itself is hardly anything special. Winlots like you get excited about some basic OS-functionality like "starting applications" but that's hardly anything that makes

    • Re:Well, yes.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AstroDrabb ( 534369 ) *
      What dummies modded this crap "Insightful"?

      It is precisely because of this that Windows is unsuitable for a kiosk-like system. It is simply too powerful.

      I think your are confusing simplified with powerful. A bunch of task simplifying "wizards" does not equal power. I recently deployed 1,600 Windows 2000 based kiosks and all those wizards did nothing to help. I had to replaced explorer.exe the desktop shell with my own since it crashed too much and locked every stinkin file it touches. I wrapped IE wit

  • Good ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by zangdesign ( 462534 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:10AM (#9063819) Journal
    it's about time for some good news.

    I wonder how this is going to be affected by the government-mandated filters for sex information, science, art, and other governmentally-defined "objectionable material"?
  • by Toadpipe ( 606624 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:11AM (#9063826) Homepage

    The turning point came when Dynix, a major vendor of library software, began to offer a new version of PAC, which enables public access to library catalogues. PAC can be used on any platform with a Web browser. Auger saw it as an opportunity to escape the Windows cash crunch.

    What's that? Universally readable data? But, but, what about DRM?

    Universally readable AND free. What will those criminal open source people think of next?

    Power to the people, and may the Source be with us!

  • by dokebi ( 624663 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:11AM (#9063831)
    screaming in panic. If enough public libraries realize it's cheaper to run OSS software MS is lost. How long do you think it's going to take before these librarians receive a visit from the local MS sales force and "Free" WindowsXP and Office2003 CD's arriving in their mail for "promotional perposes"?
    • by RoLi ( 141856 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:29AM (#9064050)
      That's the sound of microsoft screaming in panic.

      Exactly.

      Actually, despite the average poster's contrary views, Microsoft lost the so-called "browser war".

      Netscape is destroyed, but Microsoft failed to destroy the Internet (and they did try to do exactly that with their at the time proprietary, incompatible MSN in the early 90's, which even got an icon in the default Windows 95 installation) and now they are scared because computers are connected with TCP/IP, HTTP, HTML, FTP, etc. all invented (or "innovated") in the OSS community, all open, all free and most importantly, all available on non-MS platforms.

      Even the most rabid winlots won't be able to claim with a straight face that a browser-only setup is cheaper with Windows. With more and more specialized and in-house software being developed web-based (mostly because of easier maintanance), Microsoft's lock on many desktops has weakened or even disappeared.

  • On a related note... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ErichTheWebGuy ( 745925 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:11AM (#9063833) Homepage
    I finally got my friend John (a HARDCORE XP nerd btw) to try Linux for his corporate desktop machine. I chose FC1 and KDE 3.2.2. As I sat there with him, he is saying things like WOW! THAT'S SWEET! After I told him the cost of implementation (and let's face it guys, it's never zero) he was aghast. "So we can outfit an entire office for the cost of one Windows server license?"

    As for the "higher cost of training" fud, thats utter bullshit. Within two hours he was just as productive as he was in XP. He's using Kontact (he actually liked it better than evolution), Mozilla, Open Office, etc.

    Towards the end of the day, he said, " ... if I ever go back to Windows ... "

    On a side-note, he asked me why everything starts with K. I told him about KDE's naming scheme. He called me up a while later and said, "How do I find my ip address? Is it kipconfig?" :-)
  • MS bashing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by simong_oz ( 321118 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:13AM (#9063856) Journal
    What with the spate of professionally PR-generated FUD coming out of Redmond about Linux not being open source, or Windows having a lower TCO, and - believe it or not - even a claim that Windows is more reliable,...

    Is there any reason at all to include this statement in the headline of this submission? Does it seriously achieve anything other than reflect negatively on (particularly) the poster and, unfortunately (once again), the entire linux/os community? This submission is interesting in it's own right, it doesn't need to be put up in the fight against the Great Big Evil (TM).

    In fact, for all you moderators, it perfectly illustrates the difference between (+1, interesting) and (-1, troll).
    • Re:MS bashing (Score:3, Insightful)

      While the editors may be anti-MS, most Slashdotters are definitely not. Heck, I'd even say most Slashdotters are anti-Linux, or at least criticise Linux for absolutely everything, even when it's not appropriate or false. The fact that your post got modded up to +5 is the absolute proof of that.
      • Or perhaps some slashdotters are pro-end user. They really don't like the way M$ has been treating non-technical folks, but they've seen the linux community treating them just as badly. Being against the way that linux is currently doing things does not make one pro-Microsoft.

        I've seen a lot of Slashdotters (and Free Software developers in general) yell "Desktop world domination" or "Our software is just as easy to use as Windows" or "Lobby your government to replace Windows with Linux" one second and then
  • Ooookaaay (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:13AM (#9063860) Journal
    The previous Joe Barr "Look what I wrote on Newsforge!" submission (that I noticed, anyway) was about a Linux system customized by a professional that met the demanding needs of a three year old. Now we have a Linux adoption on predictable, locked-down, minimal hardware for dedicated web browsing. (They seem to have Open Office but haven't gotten around to putting users on it yet.)

    Both stories backed up with loud exclamations of "TAKE THAT, M$ PR PEOPLE!!!" that suggest he spends far more time thinking about them than they do about Linux.

    This library adoption is great. There is absolutely no reason to use Windows in this context and it's good to see Linux being used. (I'm curious to hear how the proposed switch to Open Office goes, but it will probably be fine, also.) But after five years of LINUX IS READY FOR THE DESKTOP!!!, the level of spraying seems a bit excessive for these two stories.

  • KDE Kiosk (Score:5, Informative)

    by IceFox ( 18179 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:13AM (#9063862) Homepage
    They mentioned that they had trouble locking down the system. I am surprised that they didn't use KDE and its kiosk mode [kde.org]. It allows you to specify any setting in any kde application and lock it down so users can't change it. There is even a GUI tool in beta right now that lets set and lock the settings.

    -Benjamin Meyer

    • KDE has a kiosk mode? What's it called, ki-Oh, wait.

      How convenient.
  • Perfect example (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Big Nothing ( 229456 ) <big.nothing@bigger.com> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:13AM (#9063864)
    This is a perfect example of an application where Linux is ideal (as opposed to "main stream desktop OS"). The puters are used for surfing the net and searching though library catalogs. Both these tasks are performed gracefully by Linux and Linux offers a lot better control for the sys admin to lock down the OS (relative WinXP for example). The only person who need any REAL computer knowledge is the sys admin, the users never touch anything other than the two or three applications they're supposed to use.

    Better control for the sys admin, ease of use for the n00bs, increased stability and security, and lower TCO for the library. Could it be any better?
  • Grassroots (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Schezar ( 249629 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:14AM (#9063880) Homepage Journal
    My roommate and I noticed something the other day at CompUSA. Most people don't have anything against Linux and open source per se, they're just uninformed.

    There was a gentleman about to purchase some software. I forget exactly what, but it was something that most certainly existed for Linux free as in both speech and beer. Scott stopped him and explained very simply about Linux and how he doesn't actually need to pay one red cent for most software. By the end of the conversation, he was all ready to run home and boot a Knoppix CD to try it out. Even his wife was interested.

    It wasn't that they were afraid to try something new, it was just that they didn't realize there are alternatives to Windows.

    Now, corporations have another problem: the Sunken Cost Fallacy [skepdic.com]. Managers don't seem to understand that, for most business uses of a computer, there is no real reason to use Windows. They furthermore believe that, since they've already paid for a Windows environment, they'd lose that investment if they switched, and thus continue to pay.

    I've found in my professional life that most office workers need very little to do their job. Office Suite, Web Browser, Calendar/Collaboration Software, Email, File Sharing, and maybe a simple Database: that's it.

    Granted, there are some applications professionals use that don't currently exist in usable form on Linux, but those users can remain on Windows for the time being. (Or WINE, if they're adventurous). The first step is switching over all the office drones and secretaries who, quite frankly, don't need much software to do their job.

    Heh... We're seriously considering standing outside of CompUSA one day and handing out Knoppix CDs and pamphlets. Spread the word. Vive la revolution! Blah blah blah....

    You get my point ;^)
    • Re:Grassroots (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ChicagoDave ( 644806 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:36AM (#9064139) Homepage
      I would invite you and anyone else that thinks Linux would be a simple switch from Windows to take a tour through a major corporation and review the number of third party applications that are Windows based and are mission critical, if not legally required. Financial institutions are good example. Although they have a great deal of *nix systems, they also have a ton of Windows-based departmental systems that *nix doesn't offer and yet are required for SEC reporting and basically running their business.

      I agree that if you have an environment that requires a limited scope of software which is vertical in nature, Linux is a very viable alternative, but to say this is possible everywhere isn't very forthcoming.

      This is why Sun failed and yes, I am saying this in hindsight. If Sun had promoted client-side, windows, _compiled_ development back in the late '90's, they would have pulled in tons of Visual Basic developers and a lot of these third party applications would now be running in Java and therefore portable to *nix platforms.

      But the unrealistic passion for cross-platform-ness over basic good business sense overwhelmed Sun and we now see the results of those poor decisions. Some may say there was no way to get in bed with Microsoft with windows and survive, but I disagree....the way to beat Microsoft is to build better _clients_, not better OS's, better compilers, or better office products. You need to have tens of thousands of easily built departmental applications that run efficiently.

      Take note of Mono now and start writing Mono WinForms apps. When the Mono people get smart-client technology working, you will see a surge in linux based departmental applications.

      My two cents.
  • what's to come (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dijjnn ( 227302 )
    I know that every year there's about a two or three month period when everyone starts to think that 'linux' (gnu/linux) is finally staking a claim on the computing world at large, and then all the fanboys (linux, MS, & Apple) start duking it out in the forums.

    And i'm a natural skeptic, i am... but something about this time around feels good. We're hearing about adoption in the public and private sector. Companies are including OSS in their IT road maps. Microsoft is FUD-foaming at the mouth every da
  • Why Can't they? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pr0vidence ( 562808 ) * on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:16AM (#9063902)
    "The only sites they can't reach are those that require Internet Explorer. And while they can't play Shockwave games..."

    Why not? there is a shockwave plugin avilable that works with Mozilla and Konqueror (that I know of). Granted the plugin sucks royal ass and runs about half the speed it would on a comparable Windows box, that is shockwave's fault, however. But it still works.

    Also a little useragent tweaking should get most of those "IE required" sites working too.

    I am glad to see this. It seems libraries are having enough trouble these days with budget cuts without having to worry about how they are going to pay expensive software licenses.
    • Re:Why Can't they? (Score:3, Informative)

      by AstroDrabb ( 534369 ) *
      Do you have a link for the Shockwave plugin? Or are you thinking of the Flash plugin? I know that Macromedia has a _Flash_ plugin, but I never found a _Shockwave_ plugin. You can use cross over plugin which will use the MS Windows version of Shockwave, though that is not the same as having a native Linux version.

      Some of the problems with IE "only" sites are they they are created by dummies that cannot handle making a simple HTML page with a little standards comliant JavaScrit and use JavaScript like do

  • by frankie ( 91710 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:20AM (#9063944) Journal
    I've used HoCo library systems for 20some years. The new setup has a kiosk-ish fullscreen window which at first glance looks identical to the previous MS Windows environment, except that it's running Mozilla instead of Explorer. It's possible to get to the desktop and poke around a little bit, but the local security is locked down enough to prevent casual damage.

    Most other patrons don't notice the OS change at all, except that they don't crash or get hit with popups/malware/etc, which is an excellent endorsement for Linux in public terminals.

    I hope the library has a good remote method for updates though. As much as I dislike Windows, SUS is A Good Thing. Also, they really ought to jump to Firefox when it hits 1.0.2 or so.
  • by borkus ( 179118 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:21AM (#9063963) Homepage
    One patron asked Dave as he was walking by one day if he had anything to do with the computers. Dave said yes, and the user thanked him for stopping the pop-up ads.

    So many people become inured to the nuisances of MS Software that they don't realize that there's an alternative. Also, they don't realize that those alternatives are as good as Microsoft's or better and ...free!
    Now, if they could only get that patron to download Firefox at home...
  • Deja Vu ? (Score:2, Funny)

    by TTL0 ( 546351 )
    I wonder if there is an audio file on thier site (maybe in .au format) that goes like this:

    "Hello, my name is Luis Salazar and i pronounce "Lumix." loo-mix".

  • This story really brightened my day especially since we are still in the middle of patching our fscking Windows servers. It's great to see a success story like this. I think I'll forward a link to the major news outlets. You never know who might pick it up.
  • And Free Wi-Fi Too (Score:2, Interesting)

    by acidos ( 39557 )
    I just moved to Howard County about a month ago. I can practically spit on the HCPL Center from my house. I've been meaning to check it out, and free wi-Fi is sealing the deal for me.

    And it really is refreshing to see library IT people being able to use Linux to breathe new life into perfectly good old PCs. I stopped off at the Prince George's County Library (also in MD) last night, and their web-based card catalog system is access through IE3 on Win95 Gateway machines, and they're still so slow to be p
  • by The Fun Guy ( 21791 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:37AM (#9064148) Homepage Journal
    Lumix is open source, and if you're interested in getting a CD containing Lumix, just send them a request for it by e-mail [mailto] What they can't do, he said, is visit your site and install or debug it for you.

    Luis and Mike, however, are offering additional assistance for those who require it. They can be reached at the LumixTech [lumixtech.com] Web site.

    Ouch. You gotta feel sorry for their mailserver and webserver now that this has been brought to the attention of /.

    "The Howard County Public Library burned to the ground today when several computers burst into flames, touching off the conflagration."....

  • One of the biggest issues I've had with M$ is with each successive version, the hardware requirements just increasing above and beyond.

    I mean really, with the cost to upgrade to XP, plus the cost of hardware upgrades, where the Linux route cost virtually nothing.

    If you look closely at a lot of the TCO advertisements and such, they are compared between a mainframe, and a dual-processer Xeon Intel box. Hmmmmm, I wonder where the majority of the TCO is comming from? Hmmmmm. Could it be the HARDWARE? Tell
  • by ForemastJack ( 58751 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:46AM (#9064221)

    I didn't see any indication that they were making it clear to the Library patrons that they were using Linux and not Windows. I think that's a massive lost opportunity.

    Seriously. It's great that Linux can seamlessly replace Windows in such a high-traffic environment. It would be even greater if there were signs near the kiosks reading something like:

    Our kiosks run Linux, the free alternative to Microsoft Windows. We have made this switch to keep costs down as well as reduce virus problems and computer crashes.

    Slowly, but surely, the patrons -- or other librarians, or visiting school teachers -- will notice -- it may not matter then, but later...

    For example, six months later, a secretary who has been using the library is switched to Linux at work. Now, instead of freaking out when I.T. Guy he's removing Windows from her/his machine, (s)he thinks, "Oh! They run that at the library. I can do that."

    Or better yet, perhaps (s)he, having gotten hit with yet another virus, starts telling her supervisor, "Why don't we switch to Linux? It's free and has fewer viruses, and I know how to use it."

    Will it happen fast? No. But floods start with a trickle. HoCo is to be commended for making the switch -- now they should toss in a little marketing, too.

  • ...my Ex-University's [www.ntnu.no] library has been using Linux/Mozilla since 2001 (yes, pre-1.0). They are dumb terminals only designed to search the library database and download/print articles though, no other OSS apps.

    Oh and if any of you admins there read this: You didn't lock it down well enough, I still managed to read slashdot even though you disabled editing the address bar & most of the copy-paste functionality :)

    Kjella
  • by spooon ( 447071 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:13AM (#9064579)
    I live in Howard County. After a semester in college, I spent my winter break living at home. When I went to the library, I noticed that the library was running linux on their terminals. They've done a very good job setting up their computers to suit everyone's needs. The free wifi is a great service, too.
  • linux in the library (Score:3, Informative)

    by brainsturm ( 777186 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:29AM (#9064768)
    I'm a programmer for a library automation software provider. The switch to Linux for many libraries just isn't practical. Of course the desktop licenses for Microsoft aren't cheap, but even more expensive are the licenses from the ILS (integrated library system) providers. Of course, most of the viable solutions are Microsoft only and the cost of switching to a Linux or cross platform solution, like the one developed here, is just not feasible. The initial costs of one of these systems can be very expensive; remember that many libraries interact in 'consortia', trading books and data in many ways to reduce cost. To change software vendors is a very expensive project indeed, one that can cost many hundreds of thousands of dollars, plus, of course, the yearly service contracts for support, bugfixes, upgrades.. The company that I work for uses client side Java and C on the server side. Most of our libraries use Windows on the client side, but some use Mac and the use of Linux is on the rise. The server also runs on Linux, but HP and Sun currently see almost all of the action here, but I suspect this will change especially as some of the libraries that have switched to Linux on the server report of their success (cross your fingers) and cost savings. The biggest use of our cross-platform capability to this point has definitely been by our marketing department. I do suspect however that this ability is attractive to those wiley librarians, who are skeptical of most things and especially so of Microsoft. I suspect that as the cost of library software increases the attraction of Linux will also increase. And yes, there are Open Source efforts in the library automation domain (see http://www.ala.org/ala/lita/litapublications/ital/ volume21no1.htm#anchor338989 for an overview) but from what I've seen and read, they've got a long way to go before they are a viable solution for anything other than the simplest library. This is one programmer that won't be spending their time contributing to an open source library system.. 40hrs a week is plenty for me. :)
  • Neat.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 ) <gorkon@g m a i l.com> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:48AM (#9065005)
    My library still uses dumb terminals...no really! For the web comptuers though, this makes alot of sense. I just hope that CLUELESS web designers start to design pages that DO NOT exclude ANY browsers that are not IE. Just because I am using Safari or Mozilla doesn't mean that your crappy website won't work on it!

  • Start using F/OSS programs on Windows:


    Install


    OpenOffice.Org [openoffice.org]


    Mozilla [mozilla.org]


    VideoLAN [videolan.org]


    7-Zip [7-zip.org]


    WinGimp [wingimp.org]


    Open AntiVirus [openantivirus.org]


    Then see if the users can use them and get used to them. Then maybe when you do switch to Linux, they will be using the same apps, but under Linux. With maybe the exception of 7-Zip, no Linux port yet?

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman

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