[ubuntu-uk] Ubuntu based Community centre in Exeter - the latest

Rob Beard rob at esdelle.co.uk
Thu Feb 28 22:49:37 GMT 2008

Hi folks,

I'm not sure if you remember (or I might have been dreaming) that I 
mentioned about a project I was involved with in getting an LTSP 
installation installed in a localish Community Centre?

Well, the project seems to be really taking shape now.  We've worked out 
what we think we need (couple of network switches, cables, monitors, 
server etc) and applied for the funding from the local radio station 
charity and been provisionally accepted.

It's turned out to be a fair bit more expensive than I originally 
anticipated.  I figured it would be around £1000 for the monitors, 
keyboards, mice, network cards, switches and a server.  The problem with 
this was specific requirements of being able to put the machines away 
(Trevor who is the Chair of the Community Centre has come up with a 
novel idea for hiding the machines using kitchen units!), and the server 
spec has increased somewhat from a basic Athlon X2 up to a Dell 
PowerEdge server (that cost £1000 alone).

We're hoping that the new computer suite will attract visitors of all 
ages from the community.  The local Age Concern group hold regular 
events at the centre and other groups such as mother and baby groups are 
held there too so hopefully in the future these visitors of all ages 
will be able to sit down with a cup of tea/coffee and actually have a go 
at using t'internet and possibly even learn how to use office 
applications (using OpenOffice.org), graphics editing (using The Gimp) 
and other computer related things.

Although the OS the server will run hasn't been finally decided, we're 
probably going to use Ubuntu or Edubuntu.  I wasn't sure if it was 
possible to have Ubuntu/Kubuntu on the same machine without having menu 
entries from each desktop system appear (for instance, when I last 
installed KDE on my Ubuntu machine I got a whole load of KDE apps and 
applets appear in the Other menu on my Gnome Applications menu).  If 
anyone knows how to get around this it would be handy.  We could then 
offer the choice of desktops.

The internet connection will be provided by an existing BT Broadband 
connection which was provided as a grant by BT.  I'm planning on putting 
in a firewall box (probably IPCop or something) running DansGuardian and 
Squid to filter out any potentially non-friendly sites.

The client machines themselves will all be recycled old machines made 
around 1998 with AMD K6/2 450MHz processors with about 64/128MB each, 
they will boot from Compact Flash to IDE adaptors using Etherboot 
(unfortunately the smallest CF card I could find was 1GB, very overkill!)

The firewall will probably be something a little speedier - a K6/2 500 
with 256MB memory and twin 10GB hard drives in a software raid array :-)

I'll post up some pictures when we've made some more progress.  Cabling 
is starting on Saturday (I'm recording a video of this, kind of like a 
promo for LTSP and Ubuntu), we're hoping (depending on getting the 
funding officially confirmed) to have it all installed and up and 
running by the end of March, and if it works out we'll use the centre 
for the Ubuntu 8.04 Launch Day Party in Exeter (the server will 
eventually be upgraded to 8.04, after the launch, last thing we want is 
a broken server at the launch party!).

Anyway, thought you all might be interested.

It's been a great project so far.  There's been talk of possibly 
installing other LTSP setups in Torquay (yes, home of Basil Faulty) and 
also in a cafe in Exeter.  There was also even talk of a big computer 
centre using LTSP in Devon although that's probably a way off yet (I 
want to start small, my other half isn't that understanding about me 
taking up my spare time playing with Linux boxes!).

I'd say if you have chance to do something similar in your area, maybe 
for a local youth club, scout group etc and can get some sort of 
funding, or a donation of old machines then it's a great way of getting 
the word out about Ubuntu.  Sure I can talk about it to people all day
but it's even better if they can see it running :-)

Phew, right, got to get on with the washing up now.


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