[kwlug-disc] interesting piece on the power of open source

Bob Jonkman bjonkman at sobac.com
Thu Dec 3 19:27:24 EST 2009


Charles explains:

> So what I did was set up an internal search-able
> Drupal site with some CCK fields and created a custom content type for
> "Printer Support." Volunteers can search the site to find out things
> like whether the printer is supported under Ubuntu, how many ink
> cartridges the printer takes, etc. Of course there are existing
> databases like this on the Internet, but sometimes they don't talk
> about what was done to actually get the device working... which is
> where having an internal portal helps volunteers, because it's work
> done in the shop.

Have you thought of opening the portal to the public, or mirroring the 
info on a public site?  Sounds like this is exactly the sort of 
information the rest of the world could make use of, at no additional 
effort for you.  Zero marginal cost of duplicating digital data, and all 
that.

--Bob.

Bob Jonkman <bjonkman at sobac.com>         http://sobac.com/sobac/
SOBAC Microcomputer Services              Voice: +1-519-669-0388
6 James Street, Elmira ON  Canada  N3B 1L5  Cel: +1-519-635-9413
Software   ---   Office & Business Automation   ---   Consulting




Charles M wrote:
>>> On the desktop, the 70% working is not FLOSS's fault but HW vendor support. As FLOSS is more
>>>       
>
> As both a Community MAR (http://www.techsoup.org/mar/default.aspx) and
> a point of Linux support we've seen an increased demand for Linux the
> past couple of years on the desktop. We're pretty much all
> volunteer-based and many volunteers come in with pre-conceived notions
> about Linux because of FUD or a bad experience with some piece of
> hardware. They often get surprised by how much easier they end up
> finding Linux is to support.
>
> For example: one of the initiatives we recently started was
> refurbishing inkjet printers. I asked one of the volunteers to plug a
> Canon i850 into one of our Karmic Koala machines. Karmic found the
> printer without the volunteer doing any clicking and became available
> almost right away -- no driver to install. To support that printer
> under Windows XP we'd have to download the drivers, burn them to CD,
> and either set up autorun to automatically run the installer when the
> CD is inserted (taking more of our time) or print something explaining
> how to install the drivers. Yes, we run into problem
> printers/equipment. So what I did was set up an internal search-able
> Drupal site with some CCK fields and created a custom content type for
> "Printer Support." Volunteers can search the site to find out things
> like whether the printer is supported under Ubuntu, how many ink
> cartridges the printer takes, etc. Of course there are existing
> databases like this on the Internet, but sometimes they don't talk
> about what was done to actually get the device working... which is
> where having an internal portal helps volunteers, because it's work
> done in the shop.
>
> Another example: We had someone buy an Ubuntu system a few weeks back
> and they called me asking if they could change it for a Windows
> machine. I asked about the problems the person was having with the
> machine and it turned out that they couldn't figure out how to chat on
> MSN. Once I talked them into setting up Pidgin and explained that it
> could also be used to chat on Yahoo within the same program the person
> was happy. I also mentioned that if they had other questions to feel
> free to do exactly what they did, call us or drop in.
>
> Of course not everyone can offer free phone support, but we try to
> make sure we take care of questions people have with Linux boxes
> within a certain period.
>
>   
>> enough force to overcome that inertia.  We have to be better.
>>     
>
> The biggest problem we face is FUD/Marketing. Linux isn't a perfect
> solution in all cases for everyone, but we're using and trying to
> support it more. Volunteer skill isn't actually as much of an issue as
> having some checklists and procedures down. And it definitely helps
> that all our machines in Computer Recycling except one run Linux.
> We're not just talking about how great Linux is, but using it on
> almost all our machines. Where we do tend to fall down is my actually
> time to do some of the checklists and testing, but even that's
> improved quite a bit the past few months with more and more volunteers
> coming in with Linux knowledge. Just today I walked past a new
> volunteer who was helping another set up something under WINE.
>
> I agree that upgrades are sometimes a royal pain, having run into it
> myself with Myth-boxes, and some of my own home boxes where software
> broke after an upgrade, but it's not nearly as frustrating as working
> with machines filled with malware day after day. I joked once before
> with some of the volunteers that we needed a sliding scale for the
> cost of fixing malware machines, bring it in once and we won't charge
> a whole lot, but each subsequent time we're going to double the
> price... some days I really want to implement it. Installing
> antivirus/antimalware doesn't help when bad habits lead people to
> reinstall the malware. Education helps, but we still get clients who
> reinfect their systems (and blame it on the kids *wink*). Of course
> these kind of problems keep us busy, so we certainly can't complain,
> but if I had my choice of problems to solve I'd rather try to get some
> obscure piece of hardware working with Linux than fixing malware
> problems...
>
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