Fw: Ubuntu for libraries

Kathy Lussier klussier at semls.org
Tue Nov 18 20:16:31 GMT 2008

Hi Martin,

Thank you for looking into this. Here are some answers to your

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

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

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
Kathy Lussier
Assistant Administrator for Technology
SouthEastern Massachusetts Library System
(508) 923-3531
klussier at semls.org
AOL & Yahoo IM: semlskathy
MSN IM: klussier at semls.org
Skype: semlskathy
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Kathy_Lussier/654445418

-----Original Message-----
From: Martin Owens [mailto:doctormo at gmail.com] 
Sent: Friday, November 14, 2008 4:03 PM
To: enchantedvisionsband at yahoo.com
Cc: ubuntu-us-ma at lists.ubuntu.com
Subject: Re: Fw: Ubuntu for libraries

I could give you figures if you tell me what kind of development you'd
like to do.

If your creating a new distro:

 1) Check to see if there is already one with the same aims.
 2) Identify the major differences between standard Ubuntu and what you
 3) Identify other interested groups from around the world, mostly
already involved in the ubuntu community.
 4) Production of location, a website (designer, programmer and hosting
 5) Production of graphics and design (designer required)
 6) Production of any extra tools or packages not available (programmer
 7) Production of CD ISO with all the required packages and media


Best Regards, Martin Owens

On Fri, 2008-11-14 at 12:31 -0800, Enchanted Visions wrote:
> So Kathy and I have been working on this Ubuntu for libraries idea for
> a bit. We are going to need some developers, time frame, and overall
> cost. I have suggested that the group might be interested in taking
> this project on and she would like to make it to one of our monthly
> meetings. I am not a skilled developer or anything so I wouldn't know
> how to answer her question. could one of the team leaders possible
> contact her and give her the 411 on when our next meeting is and if we
> think that we could possible help her out. 
> Thanks everyone. 

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