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Education The Media

Open Source CD Lending For Public Libraries? 292

Posted by simoniker
from the libraries-plus-plus dept.
phatlipmojo writes "Bob Kerr has taken what might well be an important step in getting open source software to the masses: donating CDs to public libraries for lending. It's a simple idea, but fraught with complications; indeed, at first, he couldn't give the CDs away to the wary libraries. Mr. Kerr dealt with the complications admirably, and has had a great deal of success getting open source CDs into lending libraries around his home country, as Mr. Kerr's howto PDF and this NewsForge article detail. What kinds of suggestions would Slashdotters make in addition to Mr. Kerr's to help make open source software on public library shelves a widespread reality?"
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Open Source CD Lending For Public Libraries?

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  • A good plan. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Oculus Habent (562837) * <oculus DOT habent AT gmail DOT com> on Monday December 15, 2003 @04:21PM (#7727690) Journal
    Hmm...

    This could do well in association with a local User Group of some sort, methinks.

    Getting a bunch of people together to organize the CD labeling, DVD-cases instead of jewel cases, etc could help spread the cost and work around, as well as creating a perfect "next step" for the people checking out the software - a user group basically waiting for them.

    I especially like the quote: Forcing anyone to do something they don't want to do just breeds resentment.
    • Re:A good plan. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Why stop at libraries? It doesn't cost much to put up little postcards in newsagents/corner shops etc, and it's probably free at libraries. Just a little note with an email address stating that you'll send out the CDs in the post if interested parties email you with their postal address.
      • by GoofyBoy (44399) on Monday December 15, 2003 @04:33PM (#7727826) Journal
        OSS, the next AOL. :\
        • Re:A good plan. (Score:2, Insightful)

          by DickBreath (207180)
          OSS doesn't have AOL's goal of using their "pave the earth" campaign to make the continental US sink into the oceans of the weight of the AOL disks. So I would say it is not likely to happen with OSS.

          OSS isn't trying to sell something. No profit is being made from these disks. In fact, it costs someone to make these disks. Just as it costs AOL, but to AOL, it is a minor expense against profits made from subscriptions generated by the disks.
          • Who cares about selling. In Geneva we have public CD libraries. For a small yearly fee you can take out up to 5 CDs at a time for any length of time (so long as you keep renewing them every month or two). That beats the paranoiac situation described in the submission...

            Daniel
        • Well, the AOL way works.

          Cheers,
      • by stevey (64018)

        Stalker-tastic!

  • BYOCD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dolo666 (195584) * on Monday December 15, 2003 @04:21PM (#7727693) Journal
    I suggest to Mr. Kerr, that he consider BYOCD (bring your own CD). Users could burn their own cdroms from a plethora of projects that meet a particular library criteria, for quality and safety.

    It might be smart for libraries to offer two methods for achieving this:

    1) Library burns cds on demand for a small fee.
    2) Users burn cds themselves.

    Having actual cdroms on a shelf for people to "check out", as it were, is likely a bad idea for a number of reasons. The large volume of cds occupying shelves would be a copy of the old library system, so it would likely be their default method, but it's incorrect, imho; it's a waste of space; it goes against the mighty electronic way. Burning on demand is the way to go because the open source community could ensure that the most recent versions of software are available, and that fresh new content would flow into libraries everywhere, rather than fill up shelves until the place has no more room.

    Stop gaps could be issued at the base system, to prevent abuse, and this would be much easier if the product was electronic.
    • Re:BYOCD (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Short Circuit (52384) <mikemol@gmail.com> on Monday December 15, 2003 @04:26PM (#7727752) Homepage Journal
      Good idea. Provide a Linux-based machine with CD copying disabled, but with the ability to burn any of a number of on-disk ISO images. Stuff like KNOPPIX and Debian and the Gutenburg project. And anything else organizations feel like providing.

      You'd have to disable copying because the music and video industry wouldn't stand for it. They'll still send C&D letters even without copying enabled, but it would be easy to prove their worries groundless.
      • Images to provide (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Short Circuit (52384)
        OpenOffice.org
        KNOPPIX
        Mandrake LiveCD
        Debian installation CD
        Fedora
        The for-Windows [myip.org]

        Can anyone think of any more? Mandrake and RedHat aren't likely to want people selling copies of their software, they'd probably want you to buy it from them, instead.
        • whoops...that last should be

          The for-Windows Open Source Software CD [myip.org]
          • From that link:

            Because there is space left over, some non-OSS but free and useful software has been placed on the CD.

            I reclaimed about 160 MB of space by erasing the source code to all programs (except GnuPG) from the CD.

            ....

        • Re:Images to provide (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ahillen (45680)
          Can anyone think of any more?

          Well, why not SUSE?
          • Well, why not SUSE?

            Come to think of it, with SUSE you would only be allowed to provide copying free of charge, so that would probably rule out libraries where you would have to pay a monthly/annual usage fee...
      • Re:BYOCD (Score:4, Informative)

        by 4of12 (97621) on Monday December 15, 2003 @04:43PM (#7727955) Homepage Journal

        You'd have to disable copying

        Photocopiers are available in most libraries, yet this doesn't seem to have created a huge problem with "piracy" of books.

        Sure, there are warning posters above them telling people not to violate copyright; if this suffices for printed books and magazines, then why not for CD and DVD materials as well?

        My support of Linux has left me with old distributions that I would love to donate to my local library. Probably I ought to do newbies a favor and only donate the newest releases instead of that old RedHat 4.2.

        • Re:BYOCD (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Osty (16825)

          Sure, there are warning posters above them telling people not to violate copyright; if this suffices for printed books and magazines, then why not for CD and DVD materials as well?

          You can't really be that dense, can you? To photocopy a book, at an average of 250 pages by $0.10 per page and 5 seconds to copy a page, you're looking at $25 and 20 minutes. You could go out and buy your own copy of most books for that price, and even if you choose to still copy the book you'll have a loose pile of paper w

          • Re:BYOCD (Score:5, Interesting)

            by eaolson (153849) on Monday December 15, 2003 @05:23PM (#7728308)
            You can't really be that dense, can you? To photocopy a book, at an average of 250 pages by $0.10 per page and 5 seconds to copy a page, you're looking at $25 and 20 minutes. You could go out and buy your own copy of most books for that price, and even if you choose to still copy the book you'll have a loose pile of paper with a good possibility of some unreadable portions due to the copier, not a bound and printed copy of the book.
            You're assuming that the book is available somewhere for a reasonable price. Sure, no one is going to copy a paperback of the latest Danielle Steele novel, but I've copied several scientific texts that were hard to get or out-of-print. It's basically how I got through graduate thermodynamics. For one old, fairly obscure book that my graduate advisor needed, he asked me to check it out of the library for him, "lose" it, and pay the fine so we could have a copy for the lab. This went against my sense of fair play, so I popped down to Kinko's, dupped it, bound it, and now everyone wins.

            The problem with the whole digital revolution is that it allows us to do things on a scale simply never possible before. Sure, it was technically illegal to dub tapes and give them to your friends, or to photocopy a recipe and send it to your mother, but it would never be worth prosecuting simply because of the difficulty in finding people, and the cost of prosecution for such a small return.

        • Copiers with libraries work because it's easy to tell when somebody is copying a whole book because it takes so long and their copy is very far from perfect. A CD-distribution project would be seen as much less of a possible legal hazard if it was write-only by design.
        • I can't speak for the rest of the world, but in Canada the libraries have to register their copiers with CanCopy. This means copyright holders actually do get some money for the items being copied. This is one of the reasons copies cost so much.
          Of course, there are many stipulations as to how much of a work can be copied e.g. max 20% per work
      • Re:BYOCD (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LostCluster (625375)
        It'd also be extremely easy to create a 40 GB hard disk ISO image partitioned exactly so it's one CD ISO per partition, and a simple Linux shell with some sort of point and click interface so that from library to library the offering would be standardized.

        Libraries could sell single blank CD-Rs for $2-3, a suitable markup for having them right where you need them and because a library should be able to do a little fundraising, but patrons should be invited to bring in their own CD-Rs.

        There should be some
      • Re:BYOCD (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Java Ape (528857)
        <USING=CLOAK OF ANONYMITY>
        Now, as anonymous coward, I can ask what I would otherwise be embarrased to. How do you disable copying, but allow ISO's to be burned?

        I use Linux regularly, but I'm a configuration lightweight. I've used several of the OSS CD-buring programs, but they all appear to be general purpose. I don't know enough to even begin to guess at how to set this up, can someone enlighten me?

        Please keep the flames to a minimum, this is an honest question from an ignorant devotee, not a t

        • Re:BYOCD (Score:2, Informative)

          by ajs318 (655362)
          Assuming nobody makes a write-only CD burner, you would have to do something like this:
          1. Install only enough software - and hack and recompile the sources, if necessary - for the machine to be able to record from an existing datafile/TOCfile pair on the HDD.
          2. Don't have a "proper" shell, just a simple menu which gives you a choice of CDs.
          3. Password-protect the BIOS, so the machine can't simply be rebooted from a CD.
          4. Assume that a librarian will be able to spot anyone up to no good and deal with them before the
        • Re:BYOCD (Score:4, Funny)

          by andy@petdance.com (114827) <andy@petdance.com> on Monday December 15, 2003 @07:10PM (#7729415) Homepage
          <USING=CLOAK OF ANONYMITY> Now, as anonymous coward... </USING>

          I think your cloak came from the guy who makes clothes for the emperor.

    • Re:BYOCD (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ron_ivi (607351) <sdotno@nOsPaM.cheapcomplexdevices.com> on Monday December 15, 2003 @04:34PM (#7727835)
      I'd like to see burn-on-demand CDs for free books [gutenberg.net], and sheet music [gutenberg.net] such as those from Project Gutenberg as well.

      This could be a great distribution channel for indie bands distributing legal free music as well.

    • Re:BYOCD (Score:3, Informative)

      by happyfrogcow (708359)
      Having actual cdroms on a shelf for people to "check out", as it were, is likely a bad idea for a number of reasons. The large volume of cds occupying shelves would be a copy of the old library system, so it would likely be their default method, but it's incorrect, imho; it's a waste of space; it goes against the mighty electronic way. Burning on demand is the way to go because the open source community could ensure that the most recent versions of software are available, and that fresh new content would fl
  • by tcopeland (32225) * <(tom) (at) (thomasleecopeland.com)> on Monday December 15, 2003 @04:23PM (#7727704) Homepage
    ...he even provides a sample CD cover insert (on the next-to-last page of the PDF file).

    Major props to him for taking the time to write up his experiences - both the successful moves and not-so-successful ones as well.
  • by gatkinso (15975) on Monday December 15, 2003 @04:23PM (#7727707)
    ...just to make sure what went out is what came back in. :-)

    (Admittedly I have not yet read the article he may well have covered this.)
  • Love it. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cosmosis (221542) on Monday December 15, 2003 @04:24PM (#7727723) Homepage
    I just love this idea. I can just imagine the thrill I would have had a teenager back in the late 70's to be able to go down to the library and "check out" an operating system, install it, and return it the following day. Perhaps I'm simply nostalgically emoting, but this seems like a nice idea to increase the grass roots of open source generally.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I guess it's time to add some trojans to CD's and give them to the library.
  • by ptelligence (685287) on Monday December 15, 2003 @04:29PM (#7727784)
    A project for your local Linux group: Take an old machine with a burner and donate a Linux kiosk to the library. Install enough hard drive space to hold ISOs of recent versions of the most popular distros. Make an intuitive menu for selecting a distribution to burn and then just have the user insert CDs after that. The library could sell blank CDs or users could bring their own..

    • Good plan (Score:4, Informative)

      by Otto (17870) on Monday December 15, 2003 @04:50PM (#7728021) Homepage Journal
      This is a good idea. Especially if the library has broadband internet access (as many do nowadays). The local LUG could then administer the box by providing updated images to it remotely.

      I figure that with just a bit of effort, you could make a small tabletop version of this for under $1000 or so. I mean, all it needs is a cheap system, a burner (preferably without a tray, as they tend to get broken in public places), and a monitor. Form factor could be exceedingly thin with a custom casing for it, esp. if you used an LCD panel for the screen.

      Thin and small is good here, because that means it's not taking up space in the library, which would make getting the librarians to agree much easier.

      Write some custom software to basically provide a menu of images that the user can pick from (and optionally allow the local LUG to remotely administer the thing), assure the librarian that it's all open source software (which entails explaining OSS to them), get their agreement and assure them that it's no maintainance at all for them (plus let them sell blank CD's/DVD's on a markup, and it'd be done.
    • Good luck (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SuperBanana (662181) on Monday December 15, 2003 @05:05PM (#7728147)
      A project for your local Linux group: Take an old machine with a burner and donate a Linux kiosk to the library.

      I tried to get one system into our local town library. The director of the library flatly refused to even consider the proposal to have a linux workstation in the library.

      Essentially, even if volunteer-maintained and/or no maintenance required(think Knoppix), she said that they were Windows, and Windows only, and that was because that's what the Minuteman Network supports(the Minuteman Network is a nice little corporation that's making money off the local town libraries.)

      Despite being exceptionally polite, she wouldn't even examine the proposal, and complained about issues I had addressed already- in the proposal, if she had bothered to read it.

  • by heironymouscoward (683461) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (drawocsuomynorieh)> on Monday December 15, 2003 @04:29PM (#7727786) Journal
    Create an Event out of it.

    Encourage people to bring their PCs and have them installed/configured with various FOSS stuff like OOorg.

    Combine this with a programme to train young people in IT and you have your enthusiastic staff.

    Use the library as the place where these two meet.

    Turn it into a para-religious experience: "Born Again Penguins", as people dip the parasite-ridden carcinogenic carcasses of their old WinXP boxes into the holy water of Linux and come back home with a brand new box.

    Mix it with booze and music.

    Move it from the library to a spacious converted warehouse.

    Add a coffee bar and wireless hotspot. ... now you're talking!
  • Not just lending (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AndroidCat (229562) on Monday December 15, 2003 @04:33PM (#7727823) Homepage
    But updating too.

    I was checking around the stacks at my local library and saw that they had a Learn Linux book (Yah!) but the installation CD was for RedHat 6.2 (Uhoh..) I was very tempted to slip a recent install into the book along with a card explaining it.

  • Bad idea... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by shakamojo (518620) *
    Am I the only one that thinks this is a bad idea? All it takes is one script kiddie or spammer getting the idea to check out a CD, take it home, replace it with their own kernel/binaries/whatever, and voila! Ownage. I think an alternative would be to get behind hosting community Open Source events... after all, anyone who is interested in Open Source Software, probably already has the means to access the large, free, online library known as the Internet from the comfort of their own home.
    • Security labels and a CD checksum when returning.
    • All it takes is one script kiddie or spammer getting the idea to check out a CD, take it home, replace it with their own kernel/binaries/whatever, and voila!

      Just a technicality but...script kiddies do not have their "own binaries and libraries" if they do, they are not script kiddies.
    • by jridley (9305)
      Author states that it's important to use only pressed CDs for just this reason.

      Also, the author is in Scotland and states that broadband penetration is 5 to 10% there, which means 90 to 95% of the population is NOT going to be able to download these in a reasonable manner.

      Even in the US, there are large chunks of the population where broadband is not available, even just a few miles out of large cities, sometimes.
    • per your comment, next up, RFID tags for CDs
  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Monday December 15, 2003 @04:36PM (#7727857)
    I've checked out books before that had versions of FreeBSD and other OSS apps. The problem is that many of these books were either missing their interactive content, aka someone forgot to return/lost the CD-ROM. The other problem was often times this software was a year if not more out of date.

    Someone recommended a burning on demand. Not a bad idea if someone is willing to keep the people there upto date with new images couple months and train people how to burn the CD's. Its sad to see that many don't know the difference between, say, buring a music CD and an ISO.

  • by G4from128k (686170) on Monday December 15, 2003 @04:37PM (#7727875)
    I'm surprised that more libraries don't have a library of CDs of various Linux distros and larger open source packages. I also wonder if some chariable OSS-minded soul could donate a pre-configured tighty locked low-end PC and CD-burner to a local library. With used PCs being so cheap, a basic setup (with a 100 GB IDE HD) would be under $200. Either the donor or librarians could make a set of for-checkout CDs or library patrons could make their own CD bundles (paying a nominal fee for media or bringing in their own media).

    Do we need an open source project to create a simple locked linux library distro and easy-to-use CD maker?
  • I live in a small town with ~21.000 peoples in it. We have one public library, and I work there in my spare time (4 hours a weak).
    Anyway, I'll see what I can do. What software would you suggest?
    I thought about Open Office, but it sucks to set up for danish support (my native language). What else would be appealing?
    A full Linux distrubtion like Mandrake?
    A live CD?
    Some games? :P
  • by Anonymous Coward
    While this may make sense in Scotland, does it really make sense in places where broadband is more readily available?

    I mean, first off, Linux simply isn't ready for the desktop or the unclued user. I hate to say it guys, but it's true. My dad could install and use Windows, but he could not install use Linux (that would be any distribution you care to name). And I consider him to be an average computer user.

    Secondly, it seems that there's a large disparity among audiences here. People who are capable of in
    • by the morgawr (670303) on Monday December 15, 2003 @05:07PM (#7728164) Homepage Journal
      Few points:

      Broadband is still hard to get in rural parts of the US.

      Walking/bikeing/driving for 5-10 minutes to pick up a few 700MB isos is still going to be faster for 90% of the people out there for some time to come.

    • here comes the troll food

      My dad could install and use Windows, but he could not install use Linux (that would be any distribution you care to name).

      Bullshit, troll. My dad can't install Windows, Linux, OS X, or any other system you care to throw out. He can, however, click links and type. Since that's all you need to be able to do browse the web and send email (which is all he needs a computer for) he can use ANY properly configured systems.

      What sort of advanced work does your father, the average co

    • While this may make sense in Scotland, does it really make sense in places where broadband is more readily available?

      Maybe not, but that still leaves out the U.S.

      There are HUGE areas of the US where broadband is not available. Heck, the town where I grew up still doesn't have an ISP within 30 miles of it; it's long distance for dial-up.

      When I was going to college in the '80s, it was the golden age of BBSs; and there was not ONE in the entire AREA CODE where I grew up.

      Certainly these days broadband is
    • I mean, first off, Linux simply isn't ready for the desktop or the unclued user. I hate to say it guys, but it's true. My dad could install and use Windows, but he could not install use Linux (that would be any distribution you care to name). And I consider him to be an average computer user.

      I hate to be doing wee-wee on your parade, but sorry pal, you're just plain wrong.
      While there might be the one or other thing that OSS/Linux still suxxors at (multimedia design software, for instance) it's absolutely
  • by elbowdonkey (516197) on Monday December 15, 2003 @04:41PM (#7727938) Homepage

    I'd predict that even if all the hurdles of convincing a library to maintain an OSS CD library were jumped, the library itself would suffer the same fate as technical books at most local libraries.

    The technical books themselves take so long to procure because of the multiple(albiet not vast) layers of red tape that by the time they end up on the shelves, they're flirting with being out of date (just as new tech books flirt with being out of date before even hitting the store shelves).

    I can't think of any open source project that isn't regularly patched, and because of this constant progression, I can't see a CD library being up to date, ever. It would require an individual or group of individuals who would simply cost too much to justify having them in the first place to maintain it.

    • Couldn't you have some sort of FTP client running in the background on startup or every 24 hours to a remote site? It could check for an updated file, automaticaly overwriting or skiiping as the case may be?

  • Excellent! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by turgid (580780) on Monday December 15, 2003 @04:45PM (#7727978) Journal
    What a great deed and astounding achievement. My hat is off to this man. I hope he has success with his next project, gettiong Open Source software into the hands of every school child in Scotland. He has an uphill battle (they are so conservative about these things it's unbelievable) but I think he has what it takes to achieve his goal.

    This man may just have radically altered the course of Scottish society. He is bringing enlightenment to thousands. This could be the best thing to happen to Scotland this century.

    Well done!

  • No thanks. (Score:5, Informative)

    by fuzzeli (676881) on Monday December 15, 2003 @04:46PM (#7727989)
    I'm the IT manager at a large public library, and I wouldn't touch this with a ten-foot stack of catalog cards.

    We have almost completely stopped circulating CD-ROMs of any sort because the patrons have an expectation that the library will help them make it work, and if you mix initially lousy or just plain old software ("this storybook requires you to install quicktime 2.1") with who-knows-what the patron's got at home, it spells customer service disaster. No matter what kind of a disclaimer you put on it, circulating this kind of stuff would incur far more ill will from clueless patrons than it would benefit any unlikely geek who knows what they're doing but doesn't have access to sufficient bandwidth.

    However, I would happily offer burners for public use and make blank media (and our bandwidth) available. That way, they get to keep the disc. Or hand them out at intro to OSS classes. Or mirror some trees. But put them on the shelves? No way. On top of everything else, they'd be outdated before they even made it through cataloging.

    Nice idea though.
    • Re:No thanks. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gatkinso (15975)
      Valid points (to my un-library-trained self atleast).

      Why would IT be involved at all? Yes it is software, but it is simply content that people are borrowing. Does IT also help out when someone rents a tape that their VCR eats?

      As far as tech support, simply stick to your guns and don't provide any.

      Cataloging. My local library manages to have current best sellers on the shelves in a timely manner.
      • Re:No thanks. (Score:5, Informative)

        by fuzzeli (676881) on Monday December 15, 2003 @05:04PM (#7728133)
        IT gets involved when the circulation staff has a CD-ROM that the patron says is broken, and circ can't figure out what (nothing) is wrong with it, or irate patrons demand help and the call gets passed to us.

        While sticking to one's guns is of course possible, it's not good customer service to offer a product with a disclaimer or to turn away a patron in need of assistance. Sure, its par for the course in the commercial world, but we prefer to uphold a higher standard of service.

        And bestsellers aren't revised several times per week.

        What would be a far, far cooler idea (although not as cheap) would be to develop a kiosk that maintained its own local copies of many high-profile projects and allowed users to select from a menu what they wanted to burn to a blank they supplied. On-demand content, they get to keep it, and the kiosk could keep itself updated. All of the benefit, but none of the risk, unless of course someone manages to burn a disk on a day when a bug was in the tree. If the content is freely reproducible, why should they have to bring it back, or even worse... incur FINES! then it would no longer be free (as in beer).
        • Something like this was proposed in my town not too long ago. The idea was to buy a kiskos capible of burning CD's and that could accept cash (to pay for the blank CD's), and then use it to distribute Project Gutenberg texts, city information and the like. OOo and a few other OSS used in the schools was even going to be avalible on these kiskos. The kiskos were all to have been centrally managed (updates pushed out to the Kiskos via a central server), and would even send off an email to say when the syst
      • As far as tech support, simply stick to your guns and don't provide any.

        You've missed the point. The poster considers that adhering to this policy will cause more ill will among patrons than good will, and the overall effect of the program will be negative.

        In addition to the question of goodwill, the overall material effect might be negative, if you're just giving patrons a tool to wipe out their computers. Support needs to accompany this sort of thing, which is why it's better handled by the local LUG.

    • We have almost completely stopped circulating CD-ROMs of any sort because the patrons have an expectation that the library will help them make it work, and if you mix initially lousy or just plain old software ("this storybook requires you to install quicktime 2.1") with who-knows-what the patron's got at home, it spells customer service disaster.
      This would be an equally good reason to stop lending books about home repair, chemistry, and (especially!) self-improvement.
    • I could not disagree more.

      Your argument is, to prevent the unsatisfied patrons who could not make it work because of their own problems, you simply stop circulating the CD-ROMs. This is an excuse for laziness.

      Using your argument, libraries should just close their doors, to prevent less literated patrons complaining they cannot read the books available, because they have expectation they can read all books on the shelves. That's an excuse for not doing anything. What's worse, this is exactly doing a dis
      • I could not disagree more.

        You raise good points, but unless you also work in a library IT department, I suspect the parent poster probably knows the requirements and limitations of his world better than we do.


        try in their own vcr/DVD player in front of the customer. If it works, it's the customer's problem.

        How do you propose testing something like a RedHat install CD? For the latest movie, you just pop it in and verify it plays a few seconds. For a Linux distro, you'd need to go through a full in
      • Your parallel seems lacking to me in that people generally realize they have limitations when it comes to literacy. When it comes to computers and general tech literacy, people generally don't realize they have limits, and when they do hit these limits, they decide that whomever provided them the software should fix it. As the parent poster stated, that often means that library patrons expect tech support.

        Do you honestly believe having one demo machine that shows the software working is going to placate
      • Your argument is, to prevent the unsatisfied patrons who could not make it work because of their own problems, you simply stop circulating the CD-ROMs. This is an excuse for laziness.

        Bah. Spoken like someone who has never been responsible for budgeting their time, let alone the time of an entire staff.

        Keep in mind, the people solving these problems are getting paid by the hour, and there is a real cost associated with spending time on these things. With budget cutbacks affecting libraries around the count

      • >Your argument is, to prevent the unsatisfied patrons who could not make it work because of their own problems, you simply stop circulating the CD-ROMs. This is an excuse for laziness.

        Its called knowing your customer.

        >The clerks would try in their own vcr/DVD player in front of the customer. If it works, it's the customer's problem. You can do the same thing in the library.complaining they cannot read the books available, because they have expectation they can read all books on the shelves.

        You goin
  • by steveha (103154)
    0) He says libraries like DVD cases and hate CD jewel cases. Makes sense to me.

    1) He says: Going into the future, I see the huge amount of power that magazines with CDs on their covers now have. There is at least one Linux magazine in the United Kingdom that has a DVD case with a CD inside glued to each issue, so I think that's what he's talking about.

    2) I'm a raving Debian fan, but I hope he's also providing easy-to-install distros like Mandrake.

    3) Once Progeny gets the Red Hat "Anaconda" installer wo
  • by Apreche (239272) on Monday December 15, 2003 @04:50PM (#7728020) Homepage Journal
    Most public libraries I know have windows machines which can be used by anyone to hop on the net. Schedule meetings with librarians and convince them to put linux on these boxes instead. They don't get a lot of money in these places, so if you volunteer to set it up for them for free they'll probably accept. The cash they save by not paying for windows licenses is more than enough. Sure, patrons might not know what to do at first, but the library is a place of learning. They'll soon learn to click on the red dinosaur instead of on the blue e.
    • by phatlipmojo (106574) on Monday December 15, 2003 @05:01PM (#7728108)
      The trouble with the idea of putting Linux on the public PCs is that most libraries that have them got them from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with the stipulation that they will not put (much) 3rd party software on them. On the one hand, it really sucks, but on the other hand, nobody else was lining up to give libraries free, new computers.
      • Not to get on your case, but I'm starting to get a little tired of this myth.

        There are no such strings attached to the Gates Foundation computers. The only requirement is that you provide internet access with them.

        We even got an optional "internet server". I told them straight up I would wipe it clean & make it a Debian/Apache/PHP/Squid box to replace the current one. That was cool with them... they just wouldn't support that software. They didn't even blink. Didn't care. As long as it was put t
  • by index72 (591909) on Monday December 15, 2003 @05:03PM (#7728128)
    http://fossile-project.sourceforge.net/ If I had the money, I'd just buy the latest "Linux (insert version number here) Bible" book and CD set and donate it to my favorite local branch every year.
  • Hello all, Firstly I think this is a magnificent idea with some possible drawbacks. It would be simple to distribute with a donation of a CD Writer or 2 per library with a OSS catalogs on DVD distributed out to each library through the existing library resource network already in place, for instance here in Michigan a larger library organization is the lakeland Org., gathering a representative from each org (which already exists) they in turn contact the OSS distribution org for access to the
  • by steveha (103154) on Monday December 15, 2003 @05:07PM (#7728161) Homepage
    From the article:

    On the CD I donated, I also included the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It states, in Article 26, "Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free at least in the elementary and fundamental stages ..."

    I'm a libertarian, so I don't agree with this, at least as worded.

    A "right" is something that you must always be granted, no matter what. If you look at the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution, you will find they are rights to be left alone: the right to free speech (no one can silence you), the right to not have to testify against yourself, etc. These are "negative" rights, your right to be left alone. (You will notice a right to own and carry weapons, but no mention of where you will get them; no one has any obligation to provide them to you.)

    If you have a "right" to education, where does it come from? Do you have a right to grab a teacher and make that teacher teach you? How does your "right" to education compare with a teacher's right to decide what he or she wants to do? What happens if not enough people choose to be teachers -- do we need to force some people to be teachers to guarantee that there are enough teachers for everyone?

    I would agree with wording that says "Education is important, and society should make education a priority." I'd even agree with a right to own educational materials. But I don't see how you can make a "right" to education really work, unless the word "right" doesn't mean what I think it does.

    Here's a good essay about this:

    http://libertarian.typepad.com/independent/2003/11 /rights_and_enti.html [typepad.com]

    steveha
    • As a libertarian, are you also opposed to the mere existance of public libraries since they're mostly funded by taxpayer dollars?
    • "If you have a "right" to education, where does it come from? "

      well, according to you:
      "...Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It states, in Article 26,..."

      Where do ALLL rights come from? a piece of paper that a body of people i.e. government, backs.

      Where does it come from? Taxes... ewwww.. I'll say it again TAXES. Now a third time to really piss of libertarians; taxes.

      That right, thing that benefit most people should be paid for by most people.

      Everybody benefits from education.

      "Do you have a right
      • Where do ALLL rights come from? a piece of paper that a body of people i.e. government, backs.

        Wow! I'm pretty sure you don't mean that! If I don't get it on paper, from my government, it's not a right? So in a dictatorship, there really isn't a right to free speech?

        I reject that. Certain rights are inherent.

        Everybody benefits from education.

        That's nice. I even agree. But it doesn't really work to make education a "right".

        Here's another good essay on the subject:

        http://www.libertyhaven.com/pe [libertyhaven.com]
  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Monday December 15, 2003 @05:16PM (#7728258)
    While some libraries have figured out that more things are published than just books, and I hear that there are indeed libraries someplace where I'm not that lend out CD's and even VHS tapes and DVDs, my local library can't even manage it's books which include a CD well. Often I'll check out a book and find an empty CD jacket pasted in the back, no CD. The library does try to keep the CD's with the books, but more than half of the CD's have been stolen at some point and are simply listed as "lost" by the library.

    Quite frankly, with open source material and high speed connections at many libraries, I doubt that trying to convince them to find a way to catalog and loan out open source software is the way to go. Some better steps would be to get rid of, or at least repair, the annoying software they install on their systems so that you could at least download files to a pen drive or hard drive attached to the USB port. Another nice addition would be a CD writer or two in the library (these things are so cheap now they are often "free after rebate" items, certainly a public library could afford a couple). They might even make a modest profit if they also offered blank media at a small cost. This could encourage people to get the open source sofware right for them, not old copies of dated stuff on the shelfs or worse stuck away in a drawer somewhere or "lost".

    Of course, I'm not sure that very many people who would use the public library as a source of open source software would not have the high speed access already, but if the original claim is that open source software should be available through the library I think there are better ways to go than to convince them to put a few CD's in their collection.

  • by gbnewby (74175) * on Monday December 15, 2003 @05:35PM (#7728420) Homepage
    Similar concept: Project Gutenberg [gutenberg.net] has several CD images and a DVD image for free download. We encourage people to make copies and give them away.

    We just dropped off about 300 free CDs at the Berkeley Public Library last week (stop by the Info Desk for a copy), during some recent events [pglaf.org]. As others have pointed out, libraries don't really want to catalog and manage stuff, nor do they want to worry about broken and scratched CDs. So, give 'em a spindle of 100 burned CDs or DVDs and let these discs walk out the door!

    There are a lot of challenges to making this work truly smoothly (like the cost of putting a nice label on the CD, and troubles with competing DVD formats that don't always read correctly, and who's willing to burn them), but if the goal is to get content "out there," why bother with lending when it only costs a few cents to just give away a CD?

    At Gutenberg, we're trying to start a volunteer-based effort that will let anyone request one of our CDs or DVDs via a Web form, then we'll send it to them by postal mail -- free! For a few hours of volunteers' time per month, and minimal costs (donated or reimbursed), why not!

    • Greg
  • I think there are a lot of misconceptions about how libraries work and the capabilities of the average public library here. Most libraries are underfunded, staffed by persons without extensive technical skills, initimidated by "community opinion" and beholden to the Gates Foundation (this is not a bad thing . . . the Gates Foundation is A Good Thing that has done wonders for public libraries in our digitially divided society.)
    You want to make a positive contribution -- volunteer your tech skills at your lo
    • I am forced to agree as I worked in a Public Library for over a year as their network administrator. While the idea expressed in the article is good, there are a few problems. First (and the one you mentioned), the budgets of most library's would not be able to handle an open-source software checkout. Second, most users of library computers are low to middle-class. Finally, most of the users who would use the software already have high-speed Internet connections. The results are a worthless system and a
  • I have seen MANY comments in this thread discussing the concept of donating Linux CDs to libraries.

    In the cited articles, the products listed included Freeduc, OpenOffice, Gimp, and others. It was also stated that the software packages were installed and tested on a variety of systems, including Mac OSX, Win9x, Win2k, and WinXP.

    OpenOffice, for one, is available for Windows as well as Linux.

    This entire article is about OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE. There are OSS products available for non-Linux platforms.

    That's
  • by OldHawk777 (19923) * <adelovant@nOspam.verizon.net> on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:07PM (#7728750) Journal
    Public libraries are frequently the most parochial in the USA.

    OS/GPL software has an initial general target audience "The Desktop".

    I suggest, in the USA, obtain a LOC ISSN [http://www.loc.gov/issn] listing as an annual "Open Source" software reference on CD/DVD media with an abstract description of a desktop OS Linux distribution with appropriate supporting GPL desktop software for YYYY. Then again a different path may be more appropriate (like a periodical) check under the LOC Cataloging Programs and services [http://lcweb.loc.gov/catdir].

    Donations of OS/GPL software references (listed in the LOC catalog) to university and community college libraries, in the USA, may be accepted as a gift to the library and checked out by students, professors, ... for the purpose of study, use, install, .... Students/community may one day habitually and freely install and upgrade the most current OS/GPL software for personal use.

    University students are more likely (I think) to discover value in OS/GPL software, and maybe even request the university library obtain the most up to date releases of the Linux kernel and other OS/GPL applications. Well, where would educational institution libraries obtain free (or media cost) OS products for their shelves and loaning to students?

    OldHawk777

    Reality is a self-induced hallucination.

    Authentic People prefer dominion over the moment, a place, and self.
    Authentic People plant seeds of human evolution, destiny, and envy.
    Primitives will always enviously try to raze the dream and ideal.
    _ Plutocrat Tyrants prefer judicial jeopardy to honorable death.
    _ Plutocrat Megalomaniacs prefer death before public recognition.
    _ Plutocrat Capitalist prefer a debased public to civilization.
    _ Trivial Denizens prefer a sullied public to honorable endeavor.
  • What kinds of suggestions would Slashdotters make in addition to Mr. Kerr's to help make open source software on public library shelves a widespread reality?

    Here is my idea, and I hearby place it the public domain for all to steal... er... implement.

    Put OSS on breakfast food boxes. Seriously. I've seen breakfast cereal boxes with CDs bound to them... games and so forth, so why not OSS? Think about the Wheaties(tm) box, with pictures of athletes on it. Only we put famous OSS programmers on it. Linus,
  • http://theopencd.sunsite.dk/ Seems like an appropriate 'distribution' for libraries
  • Who wants it? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iantri (687643) <iantri@NosPam.gmx.net> on Monday December 15, 2003 @07:11PM (#7729417) Homepage
    I hate to break it to you, and will probably get modded down for saying so, but normal (i.e. non-geek) people do not want this.

    Most people don't even know what an operating system -- hell, don't even know what "Windows" is.

    A service like this would be of very little appeal and I would imagine the machine hosting this service would start gathering dust and would be used only once every few months.

    Basically, it's a waste of time -- the effort would be better spent getting Linux into schools and such.

  • GnuWin [gnuwin.org] springs to mind.
  • ...what about the Baen books' CDROMs, which have a similar license to copy and share noncommercially?

  • In South Australia, we once got
    a local library to buy one of the
    low-priced, multi-CD-ROM BERKS sets.

    ('can't find a URL for the UK-based
    guy who published those CD-ROM's)

    First, there was the question of
    whether the disk-set could even
    be housed in a library, where
    others might use, borrow them.

    They apparently have a central
    purchasing department to decide
    that, based on the license of the
    items under consideration.

    It took quite a while to decide
    to buy a set or two (for several
    lib
  • I dunno for you, but my local library, which I visit from time to time, has a set of non-current SuSE Books, CDs and DVDs from me. The revisor took them gladly as a donation. I consider this an obvious way to empty my bloated bookshelves and do a good deed at the same time. Is this idea so special? What's the big deal?
    If you have old distros that are still in good shape and complete, go to your local library and ask if they'd like it for their collection. If they say 'no', sell them at the next garage sale.

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