Fw: Ubuntu for libraries

Martin Owens doctormo at gmail.com
Tue Nov 18 20:26:15 GMT 2008

Hey Kathy,

I'd like to talk to you over the phone or in person. This is a big idea
and needs to be discussed over something a little more direct than

At your option, call my mobile 857 277 2117 or come down Tonight or any
Tuesday to the South End Technology Centre, Columbus Ave in Boston. If
you'd like to arrange some other meeting I'd be open to that too.

Best Regards, Martin Owens

On Tue, 2008-11-18 at 15:16 -0500, Kathy Lussier wrote:
> Hi Martin,
> Thank you for looking into this. Here are some answers to your
> questions.
> There are a couple of products available with the same aim, but they are
> commercial products with a maintenance fee. The two services I know of
> are Userful http://library.userful.com/ and Groovix http://groovix.com/.
> We are investigating the possibility of either working with one of these
> companies to get their products at a reduced price for our libraries or
> of creating our own distribution that libraries can download and install
> on their own. I like the idea of creating our own distribution because
> it can then be available to the wider library community and benefit more
> people. But we may find it's just better to go with one of these
> services rather than reinvent the wheel.
> What we would like to do is add features that would make the
> distribution workable in a public-access computing environment. We
> obviously would flesh this out a little more before applying for the
> grant, but the things that have been identified by some librarians I've
> spoken with are:
> Security - Most libraries use software that wipes out any changes made
> to the hard drive upon reboot. So, if a user installs new programs,
> changes the desktop, downloads a virus, hacks into the registry, etc.,
> etc., those changes disappear. We would like that functionality built
> in. 
> I noticed also that Groovix has functionality where the computer
> automatically clears all user data after 15 minutes of nonuse. This
> would be a nice feature in a public-access computer environment.
> In addition, it would be nice if it automatically downloaded with a
> public profile with extra security settings bundled in. I know the
> ability to finely adjust permissions is already available in Ubuntu, but
> most librarians would rather have that profile set up for them in
> advance.
> Time and print management - It would need a time management feature that
> tracks how much time users are spending on the computer and shuts down
> the session after a pre-set time determined by the library. We would
> also like to investigate the possibility of incorporating print
> management, where the system would track the number of pages printed and
> charge for those copies. 
> One unknown for time and print management is whether we also want to
> include the ability for these applications to communicate with the
> library's systems so that, for example, the time management software
> queries the database to make sure the user's library account is in good
> standing or that the print management software automatically adds the
> printing charges to the user's library account. I just don't know yet
> how important this functionality is to our libraries. 
> As far as the hosting, we may be able to host on our server. I would
> need to know the minimum requirements to know if it could handle it.
> If we find that all of this is doable and decide that the best route is
> to create an Ubuntu for libraries, we would be applying for the grant to
> cover the programming and design costs as well as other costs like
> production of the CD ISO. However, another question I have is what will
> be required for ongoing maintenance. There is the cost of maintaining
> the server, but we also know continuous attention will be required to
> keep the distribution up to date. 
> Does this sound doable? Did I provide enough information to give you an
> idea of the time and money that may be required.
> Thanks so much in advance for your help!
> Kathy Lussier

More information about the Ubuntu-us-ma mailing list