Low cost and trouble free computing

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Most of All We Want Technology to:

  1. Work FOR us not against us
  2. Help us communicate better and achieve more in new ways
  3. No be a constant pain to set up and maintain
  4. Cost us little

So, how can we go about achieving those goals?

Some Suggestions:

  • Ensure the YWAM centre has a good hardware firewall - even a low cost router/switch is better than connecting a PC direct to the Internet. That said ensure all Windows PC's have their own firewall on and functioning.
  • If you run a Wireless network make sure it is encrypted [1] especially if you live in a city: you may have a legal requirement due to data protection to keep out people other than YWAMers to connect.
  • Do not allow any Windows PC to be connected to your network without having:
    1. A firewall up and running
    2. An modern and active anti-virus program installed and running. (Take care with New PC's that come with 6 months of subscription - lots of users do not re-subscribe!)
    3. Ensure that the Window's OS is fully updated and the automatic updating system is working.
    4. That no-one is running Internet Explorer 6 or below!
  • Train your staff well! Help them to help themselves!
    • Write common setup details down step by step and insist they work it through before asking!
    • Write down common problems and the solutions you have found as your solve the problems. So staff can look up there for a problem first
    • Make a problem report sheet - staff fill it in and think through the problem and how to reproduce it so they don't express problems in vague terms (e.g. "My email is broken")
  • Train staff in dangers of viruses, etc.
  • Encourage staff not to run Windows computers as with Administrator privilages, but as Computer Users. Have a separate login for Admin tasks.
  • Use VNC for remote administration and save time running all over a YWAM centre.
  • Examine open source programs for economy and ease! Openoffice is Very Very good and available in lots and lots of languages!
  • Consider running Linux Desktops
    • Must run Internet Explorer on Linux? try IEs4Linux it works really well! (MS Office runs reasonably well with Wine)

Consider Running a Linux Terminal Server

You can use old Desktops as the graphical front end to one powerful server.

Imagine 20 PC's linked to one server:

  • No viruses
  • Only one machine to upgrade when software needs updating AND it wont need to be rebooted either when updating!
  • Only one machine needs the money spending on it (The server: 1Gb Ram per 10 users, standard size HD)
  • Only one point for backup...
  • Not that easy to set up but VERY hard to break once running
  • If a terminal breaks down, swap in a new one
  • Can make use of old hardware which is easy to request from donors. A P200 and up with 32Mb ram makes for a good client
  • Ideal for student use and non-power users and administrative staff
  • High cost savings (e.g. Use and old terminal, put in a 2nd hand 100Mhz ethernet card (1 euro), turn off the hard drive, format a special boot floppy (for another euro) and you have a new terminal.
  • Server software and client software cost can be 0! See LTSP or Edubuntu for examples. Recommended base for server Ubuntu Linux. For expertise give me a call: Kev-The-Hasty


Some Additional Notes

  1. WEP doesn't really count as encryption, it is better than nothing, though. Prefer WPA/WPA2 whenever possible.