Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Cheboygan, land o' penguins.

So I spent most of my Christmas vacation in the depths of Michigan, in a shack that only relatively recently got their own (e.g, non party line) phone service. So yeah, forget about Internet, forget about any sort of informational fun that isn't either locally produced (spent a lot of time watching the Johnny Carson DVDs my pop got for Christmas) or over-the-air TV (Mitt Romney was hitting the airwaves hard, let me tell you). But my pop had a Windows laptop he had to whip into shape, which means a lot of licensing tomfoolery and Windows Updates and all that delight. Which means network access.

So we head to Cheboygan, their public library and their free wifi. It's a new building, a little small, but pretty well laid out. Has fishing poles for checkout behind the circ desk. We get there, and they've got a room with about 15 machines for public internet use and eventually something hits me:

these machines are all running Kubuntu.

It's a library, so I resisted what would be my natural instinct to jump up and run around yelling like a goon. Instead, I get up and pester the library director. Here's what I found out:

1) The machines have been there for around a year.
2) There's been mostly positive response, but some negative.
3) They used to have a guy who spent one entire day a week cleaning off viruses and other assorted muck back when they were running Windows.
4) Support and install was contracted to a local guy -- they don't seem to have their own IT department.
5) Patrons use their card data for login, so they've got their data either exposed from their Voyager ILS or are extracting it from some other source.

Of course, with all the Evergreen stuff going on in Michigan I had to ask the guy if they were considering it -- not at the moment, they wanted to wait and see how Grand Rapids worked out.

This isn't the first time I've personally witnessed public access Linux machines -- in 1996, I had two machines running Linux in the map library back in Ohio, but they didn't stay too long. But boy howdy was I excited to see this in Cheboygan. Hopefully it will spread elsewhere.


amanda said...


Thomas said...

It was actually 28 systems in total back then. A few have died off and not been replaced since.

Almost at the 9 year mark now, and never had a single software related service call. Only the occasional HD replacement and re-install.

Back then they all ran as a thick client with an aufs overlay on top of / from the server downstairs.

Since then they have all been installed to their local HD's and I have developed a quick hack of a deployment system in which they boot from the network, partition their HD's, format the HD's, rsync the workstation image from the server, install grub and reboot.

Actually planning on doing an update to 14.10 within the next few days.

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