I have been thinking a lot about the pros and cons of free and open source software lately. I found this chart very useful in spelling out some of the arguments, in this case the pros and cons of open source in a K-12 environment. The total cost of Open Source software may be lower than proprietary software, but in many cases, that depends on the in house expertise. In our case, we are a small library with a very limited IT Staff. Basically the in-house expertise is whatever we can teach ourselves easily by trial and error.
Here is a list of free and open source software currently being used by the Cass District Library:
- Edubuntu — In a server and thin client network currently with seven stations and more coming soon.
- Xubuntu — Our web page is hosted on a virtual LAMP server running xubuntu.
- Dansguardian and Squid — for content filtering and proxy server.
- Ubuntu — On the Assistant Director’s laptop 😉
- PublicIP — for wireless connectivity
- Open Office — Many of our staff and patron computers use OO rather than Microsoft Office.
- hMailServer — We still use a windows machine for e-mail. hMailServer is a great Open Source e-mail solution for the Windows platform.
- Squirrelmail — Webmail Solution. We run Squirrelmail on the LAMP server to give web access to our staff e-mail.
- Internet Station Manager — Public access time management solution (currently testing)
- VMWare Server — This is free, but not Open Source. We use VMWare to run several virtual servers including : Web server, E-mail Server, Content filter/Proxy Server. I also use VMWare to test different platforms.