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Open Your Mind to Open Source


... sufficiently met by Open Office--and new and more powerful versions of the ... Open source Software that appeals to some librarians simply because they'd ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Open Your Mind to Open Source

Open Your Mind to Open Source
  • CLiC Spring Workshop
  • Grand Junction
  • February 26, 2008

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What exactly is Open Source?
  • Open source is a development method for software
    that implements the power of peer review and the
    transparency of process.
  • The promise of open source is better quality,
    higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost,
    and the end to predatory vendor lock-in.
  • The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a non-profit
    corporation formed to educate about and advocate
    for the benefits of open source.

Open Source predates proprietary software!
  • The common view is that open source is some sort
    of radical new idea, but in fact, early computer
    software's source code was open to viewing and
  • This model was the norm until 1976 when Bill
    Gates posted his famous letter on the Homebrew
    Computing Club demanding that people stop sharing
    his Altair BASIC that the idea of proprietary
    software began to emerge.
  • The Free Software Foundation was started in 1985
    in response to what was seen as the new idea of
    keeping software code secret.

The most important freedom
  • Anyone can create their own version of an
    existing piece of open source software.
  • This is important in preventing vendor lock-in.

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Howard County Library
  • Howard County Library in Washington, D.C., has
    six full-service branches, including a Central
    Library.  Given a population with a median income
    of 88,000 a year, the Library is well supported
    by its community.
  • A library in such a situation could just sit back
    and enjoy its good fortune.   But the Library
    works hard to use its resources to explore
    technologies not just to bring benefit to itself,
    but also to pave the way for other libraries with
    fewer resources.  So, why not create a customized
    version of Linux for library use?  And why not
    install it on staff computers?  And--what the
    heck--why not install it on public access

  • All pretty outrageous, you might say.   But if
    you ask Head of IT Amy Begg De Groff whether the
    Library thinks about going back to the Windows
    world, she says, "NO--we want to keep going and
    get all staff on Linux." 
  • What led the Library to choose Linux?  For one
    thing, there's ideology.  The Linux community has
    the intent that information is free and access
    should also be free.  (Hmm, where have we heard
    that before?)  Its a vision very compatible with
    the intent of libraries.
  • But of course, there are practical
    considerations.   Amy says, "We feel an
    obligation to spend taxpayer money responsibly. 
    We realized that we can provide more machines for
    the public with the money saved--and lead the

  • One consideration that made Linux an attractive
    choice was the operating system's stability and
    flexibility, and its resistance to viruses and
    other security.
  • Another factor was the idea that the Windows
    operating system includes many, many bells and
    whistles that the Library didn't need--and didn't
    want to have to pay for.  With Linux, they would
    be able to create and manage an environment that
    specifically met their needs.
  • It didn't hurt at all that Library had a couple
    of Linux aces up its sleeve IT employees Luis
    Salazar and Mike Ricksecker.  It's not every
    public library that can create a customized
    flavor of Linux named after two staffers, but
    "LuMix" is exactly that. 

  • LuMix includes an operating system (which handles
    the same basic management tasks as Windows) and a
    desktop environment that looks and feels very
    much like Windows.
  • Most Library customers walk into a Howard County
    Library, look up a resource in the Library's OPAC
    or surf the net, find what they need, and leave
    without ever knowing they're using a (gasp!)
    Linux system.
  • Similarly, machines designated for word
    processing still use Windows and Microsoft
    Office.   The Library plans to replace these with
    Linux computers running Open Office (MS Office's
    open source equivalent, which is already part of
    LuMix).  The Library believes that since it is as
    feature-rich as its Microsoft equivalent,
    customer needs can be sufficiently met by Open
    Office--and new and more powerful versions of the
    product are emerging with regularity. 

  • As the Library moves more definitively toward an
    open source environment,  it will be essential to
    provide customers with clear information about
    what they can and cannot do at the Library, and
  • The IT department admits that it could have done
    a better job of preparing staff.  Staff didn't
    care about open source, so they didn't see the
    advantages."  She hopes that other libraries who
    make this move can learn from their
    experience--and they'd be happy to offer
    suggestions based on what they've learned. 
  • Perhaps the biggest issue has been educating
    staff about how to help customers accomplish
    their computing goals at the Library given the
    open source environment's security advantages,
    without "blaming" Linux for what customers
    sometimes see as its limitations. 

  • One book that has been helpful is the Linux
    Client Migration Cookbook, a transition planning
    guide that starts with excellent information to
    orient new users.
  • What's next for the ambitious folks at Howard
    County Library?  They're testing a product
    called "Crossover Office" that tricks a Linux
    desktop into thinking it's on a Windows machine.
  • Howard County Library is unlikely to sit still. 
    So if you want to have an idea of what the future
    of open source library computing might look like,
    or should look like, or could look like, keep an
    eye on Library.  But you'd better not
    blink--you're likely to miss the next innovation.

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  • http//
  • The library OPAC meets Web 2.0
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  • Makes it easier to find information in your
  • http//
  • Open source Software that appeals to some
    librarians simply because theyd rather buy books
    than licenses
  • http//
  • Top 50 Proprietary Programs that Drive You Crazy
    and Their Open Source Alternatives

  • http//
  • Open Source software for Windows
  • http//
  • Open Source software for Mac OS X
  • http//
  • Rivals programs like FrontPage and Dreamweaver