thanks for your intriguing post.
a few of observations; 1) this is one instance of the use
of a GNU/Linux system which may seem to be at odds with the
very premise of free (in the GNU sense) software, and that
is, to NOT limit the ability of users to do things. so your
use cases may seem odd at first, but you have a valid and
2) many open source programmers may not be familiar with
commercial software products (and may not want to be), so
you might have a better chance of getting an answer if you
do the groundwork of listing the features you are in search
of yourself, rather than asking the list to go learn them.
3) it seems that a good desktop linux distro would allow
an administrator or programmer to create a system (based on
the existing pieces you mention) that might consist of a
some shell scripts, perhaps a "lite" database, a web server,
and client- and server-side scripts to accomplish the
features that you list, and then provide hooks for that
system to be made into a distributable package (e.g. Ubuntu).
i wouldn't be surprised if your listing the desired features
explicitly might seed some capable programmers mind to suggest
(or even spend some time coding something up) which may help
you right away. or, it may just prompt someone to remember
that something _does_ already exist that answers your needs.
(i think Francis' LibPrint suggestion seems very helpful)
just keep in mind that the very nature of the linux system
is organic, and the workforce is distributed and lasseiz-faire.
it doesn't seem to be very agile in responding to monolithic
deficiencies (just look at how we ended up with the linux
kernel vs. hurd :).
[log in to unmask]
On 12/30/08 12:37 PM, Darrell Eifert wrote:
> Hi Folks --
> Nicolaie Constantinescu recommended that I contact this list with my
> questions after posting a query to the "Linux in Libraries" group. I
> will be presenting an introduction to Desktop Linux at the New Hampshire
> Library Association next year, and would like some help on answering a
> question that is sure to arise from my prospective audience. Many
> librarians are intrigued by the possibility of lowering IT costs and
> maintenance time, especially for their public-use computers. Right now
> however, there doesn't seem to be any open source versions of a
> reservation / ticket system (such as the excellent WinXP "Time Limit
> Manager" from Fortres) and a desktop security application such as Deep
> Freeze. There are commercial options from Groovix or Userful, but that
> pretty much defeats the practical goal of lowering IT costs, or the
> ideological goal of moving to free and open-source applications.
> All the 'bits and pieces' for a good reservation and security system
> seem to be out there. Edubuntu gives us a LTSP solution with a central
> server and the ability to see 'screenshots' of individual PCs if
> necessary. CUPS gives a very fine-grained control over printing, and
> perhaps can be modified to function as a print-upon-payment release
> station. A MySQL / PhP module could handle generating and storing
> random passwords / logins, while a small program to set folder
> permissions may be able to lock down a Gnome or KDE desktop to prevent
> users from changing icons, menus, or wallpaper. Web content filtering
> is available from several sources if necessary. A browser-based central
> server module might help to make the project "distro agnostic".
> I think many small and medium-sized libraries would be much more likely
> to consider the advantages of choosing Linux for their public-use
> computers if a polished open-source reservation and printing control
> system was available. In the world of commercial software, an
> entrepreneur or company sees an opportunity, programs a solution, and
> sells the product. On that model we have the afore mentioned "Time
> Limit Manager" for XP (which we use here at the Lane Library and highly
> recommend) at a one-time cost of only $20 per PC.
> In the world of Linux and open-source software, how does one go about
> getting a programmer or group of programmers to provide a free solution
> (with regular maintenance and updates) to a pressing need? Would
> Canonical (for example) be interested in creating the program as a way
> to popularize Ubuntu with the thousands who use library computers every
> day? Would anyone on this list be interested in spearheading such a
> project? Is there a place to float such a project before a group of
> up-and-coming programmers (Google Summer of Code??) that would give them
> bragging rights on a resume?
> Any ideas (including ideas on a basic programming framework or project
> "how to") would be more than welcome ...