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Wikimedia comes to Bristol

Wikimedia Foundation logoFrom Friday 14th to Sunday 16th May 2010, Wikimedia UK will host Wikimedia delegates from around the world who will be meeting in Bristol.

This meeting is a three-day summit to discuss technical and strategic issues that cover the work the global Wikimedia Foundation and its national chapters do in relation to the worldwide fundraising effort for the Wikimedia Foundation’s projects, including Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia. The summit will be attended by delegates from the Wikimedia Foundation’s office in San Francisco and various chapters from around the world, including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and Australia.

It is the first time that Wikimedia UK, the chapter responsible for supporting the work and goals of the Wikimedia projects in the UK, has hosted an event of this importance to the global movement. It recognises the growing importance of the UK Chapter, now entering its second full year since its creation.

Wikimedia UK would like to recognise that the event has been made possible by the generosity of both HP, which is covering room hire, entertainment and lunches, and the Watershed, where some of the meetings will be held.

Although delegates are here mainly on business, there will be an opportunity on both Friday and Saturday evenings for Wikimedia people to mix with and learn more about Bristol and its plans to build on its growing reputation as a thriving regional hub for media and digital expertise.

Tech and a fish supper – tasty!

Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) is a busy place these days. This morning your scribe’s inbox received a cunning invitation to an event they’re organising from 4 pm to 6 pm on Friday 21 May, otherwise known as Silver Surfers’ Day 2010, a national series of events to promote the use of digital technologies by older people.

Promotional leaflet for KWMC SSD event

Micro-chips & Mega-bites will be an afternoon of family computer training with a free fish and chip supper. The event has an inter-generational focus and KWMC hope that young people will bring their older relatives and neighbours and spend some time helping them learn to use computers and the internet (and hopefully vice versa? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Ed.).

We’re advised that booking is essential, so register here.

For further information contact either Makala on makala(at)kwmc.org.uk / 0117 353 2895) or Rachel on rachel.clarke(at)kwmc.org.uk / 0117 903 0444.

So grab your parents, grandparents, or kids and grandkids and show each other a thing or two!

Update: according to the South Bristol Digital Neighbourhoods blog, there’s a minimum of 2 tickets per order.

Granola energy-saving software for Linux

Some people may think Twitter trivial (after all, can you say anything meaningful in 140 characters? Ed.), but I find it a great source of news, particularly news I would not otherwise get to hear of, let alone see.

One of these is the recent release of Granola, formerly known as Miserware.

Granola for Linux

According to its developers, Granola makes computers more energy-efficient without slowing them down. It’s safe, easy to use and allows your computer to operate as efficiently as possible without sacrificing performance when most needed.

Whilst it’s principally targeted at Linux users, there is a version for Windows for those still in the clutches of the evil empire. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hat tip: Alan Lord, the Open Sourcerer

Arise Sir Georg, a free software ‘knight’

Georg Greve, founding president of the Free Software Foundation Europe, has received the Cross of Merit on ribbon of the Federal Republic of Germany (Verdienstkreuz am Bande). Georg received this high award from the German President for his work on Free Software and Open Standards.

FSFE logo“FSFE is very proud to have a ‘knight’ among its team,” says FSFE President Karsten Gerloff. “Georg’s tremendous dedication to freedom in technology has been a driving force for Free Software in Europe and around the world. He has put Free Software on the political agenda and has created the structures to harness the community’s energy towards our common goals. His hard work over more than a decade has brought enormous progress for Free Software.”

With FSFE, Georg worked hard to create the understanding of Free Software as a cultural technique. He gave Free Software a voice at the United Nations, including the “World Intellectual Property Organization” (WIPO) and the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). With FSFE’s Freedom Task Force, he was the architect for a centre of expertise on legal aspects of Free Software and drove the concept of legal maintainability for Free Software projects. He initiated community resistance against Microsoft’s OOXML format and worked on some of the first EU-funded projects for Free Software. Under Georg’s leadership, FSFE was also a key player in averting the threat of software patents in Europe.

“I’m deeply grateful for the official recognition that Free Software and Open Standards receive with this award”, says Georg Greve. “Around 2000, I decided to dedicate myself fully to this cause out of a sense of necessity: I felt that I had glimpsed how software shapes our society. But I also saw that society had not yet understood how much it is shaped by software. It is my hope that this award will help to make people aware of these questions, and bring support for the work of FSFE, which is more important than ever.”

Dorkbot on Tuesday

Yesterday John Honniball emailed a reminder for the Bristol Dorkbot (tagline: “People doing strange things with electricity”. Ed.) event, taking place this coming Tuesday, 20th April.

John writes:

A reminder about the next Dorkbot Bristol meeting at the Pervasive Media Studio (map). It’ll be on the 20th April at 7pm until about 10pm. It’s a Show and Tell, so do bring along any interesting projects that you’ve been working on!

10 years of Linux desktop

Tux - the mascot of the Linux kernelA brief email dropped into my inbox earlier this week pointing me in the direction of the blog of Joss Winn of Lincoln University.

Joss relates his experiences over 10 years of running a Linux desktop on a Mac (several actually. Ed.).

At the start of his experiences Joss relates:

The first time I installed Linux in July 2000, I sent off for a CD of PPC Linux (no longer in business). USB support was experimental, which was a bit of a problem for Mac users, as Apple had switched to USB as their main type of connector. I spent many hours compiling experimental USB drivers from source.

However, after installing Ubuntu 10.4 recently, Joss can now write:

Let it be known, Linux on the Desktop has arrived. I think itโ€™s time that all Educational Technologists in every corner of the world, took a Linux CD to their corporate machine and showed it what a real OS looks like.

Read Joss’ post in its entirety.

Hat tip: Ed Mitchell

Live in South Bristol? Want to learn WordPress?

Wordpress logoNews arrives in your correspondent’s inbox and via the South Bristol Digital Neighbourhoods (SBDN) blog that a series of WordPress workshops has just got underway. Both SBDN and ourselves run WordPress (“both free and priceless at the same time“) to publish our news and a free WordPress blog from WordPress.com is an easy route for many into establishing a presence on the web.

Anyway, southbristol writes:

An Introduction to WordPress โ€“ Workshops
On Thursday mornings our trainers are holding Talk About Local workshops, practical sessions covering a range of web topics, including how to build websites using WordPress software.

10am-12pm. April 1st, 8th, 15th & 22nd. To book a free place please visit Eventbrite.

Unfortunately, your scribe got to hear about these sessions after the April 1st event had taken place (any coincidence there? Ed. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

Today is Document Freedom Day 2010

Not to be confused with tomorrow, April Fools’ Day, today, 31st March 2010 is Document Freedom Day – that time of year when those of us in the open source movement highlight the use of open standards for documents, that lifeblood of any organisation.

Document Freedom Day 2010 banner

One thought that strikes me when thinking about open formats is the sheet insanity of using closed proprietary records for keeping public records; what will future historians think of us, the generation that was bamboozled into using closed proprietary formats for society’s most important records, particularly when those historians are unable to access such records? (Most likely that we were dumb. Ed.).

So, given that today is Document Freedom Day, do the following for the future of your organisation and society in general:

  • Install and start using an office suite (e.g. the cross-platform OpenOffice.org) that supports the Open Document Format;
  • Start using Open Document Format (an ISO standard no less! Ed.) for your internal and external document exchanges and – if someone outside your organisation doesn’t know what to do with your ODF document – you’ve now got a perfect opportunity to point out how it differs from closed, proprietary formats that can be changed or be made redundant at whim).

Looking around locally, your correspondent was particularly pleased to learn last week at Green, Open and Social (news passim) from Paul Arrigoni, Senior Director of ICT at Bristol City Council, that BCC uses ODF as the standard for its internal exchange of documents, just like Bristol Wireless. Are there any other local organisations using ODF as standard. You can let the world/dog know by commenting below.

More information on Document Freedom Day can be found on the Document Freedom Day website, whilst development can be followed on Twitter with the #DFD2010 hashtag.

7 days to stop the Digital Economy Bill

My inbox today contained the an appeal from 38degrees, who have been helping fight the Government’s Digital Economy Bill. The Bill would present a major threat to the survival of open public wifi services (such as provided by Bristol Wireless and many other small outfits and operators). In addition, it introduces draconian copyright protection/infringement measures in the interests of big media companies, whilst denying assertion of copyright protection to smaller fry, such as freelance photographers.

Moreover, there has also been a lot of debate locally on the Bill, including a session at January’s Brrism meeting, plus online discussion.

The text of the email is reproduced below.

Dear Steve,

Next Tuesday the Digital Economy Bill could be rushed through Parliament unless we take action now. Party leaders are planning to give in to the music industry and force the bill into law without allowing a proper debate, without allowing opposition to be heard.

We need to turn the pressure up on MPs to rebel by placing adverts in key newspapers and on key websites so everywhere MPs go they’ll see how many people oppose the bill. On the day of the vote they’ll see our opposition over their cornflakes, on their way in to work and over tea in Parliament.

Because of printing deadlines we’ve only got 4 days to raise the ยฃ10,000 we need to pay for these adverts. Will you chip in now?

Click here to donate now: http://secure.38degrees.org.uk/stop-the-bill

We have one last chance to stop the bill. Party leaders can’t rubber stamp it into law without the support of their MPs. Thanks to over 18,000 emails we’ve sent over the last week MPs support for the bill is starting to crumble as they realise how many people oppose fast-tracking the bill through parliament

With the election just weeks away, politicians want our votes and may think twice about ignoring us. There’s still time to stop this bill being forced through – but we have to act quickly. Let’s show Parliament how many people are against the bill.

There’s plenty to oppose in the Digital Economy Bill. It gives the government the ability to disconnect millions. Schools, libraries and businesses could see their connection cut if their pupils, readers or customers infringe any copyright. But the biggest problem is that party leaders plan to rush it into law without allowing a proper democratic debate.

Please donate now to show Parliament how many of us oppose the bill. Just click here to get started:
http://secure.38degrees.org.uk/stop-the-bill

Thanks for getting involved,

Johnny, David, Hannah, Nina and the 38 Degrees team

PS: Here’s what one MP said in response to the campaign so far:

“The subject is complex and the bill is proving to be hugely contentious; because of this it is crucial, more than ever, that Parliament fulfils its democratic duty and gives the bill proper debate and scrutiny. Although it is imperative that jobs in the creative industries are protected, and it is right that artists be paid fairly for work they produce, the bill, as it stands, seems to be heavily weighted in favour of rich and powerful copyright holding companies. Despite the front bench consensus there is significant back bench concern on all sides, and I and my colleagues will do all we can to ensure the bill is not rushed through the House without proper debate and scrutiny.”

As mentioned, above I took the time last week to write to Leader of the House, Harriet Harman, who has yet to respond. However, I also copied my email to my local MP, Kerry McCarthy, whose response is below:

Dear Mr Woods,

Thank you for contacting me about the Digital Economy Bill and its progress through Parliament before the election. You will not be surprised to learn that I have received several emails on this topic in recent days and I appreciate why you are unhappy at reports that the Bill could be passed into law without being properly debated in the Commons.

As you will be aware, the Bill was introduced in the House of Lords, and has gone through all stages there, being significantly amended in the process. There is obviously not time for it to be properly scrutinised by the House of Commons – i.e. a Second Reading debate, detailed scrutiny in Committee, Report Stage and Third Reading – before an election has to be called. (See here for details of the progress made through Parliament so far http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2009-10/digitaleconomy.html)

Indeed, we are fast running out of time for it to even have a Second Reading in the Commons, though this is something which is a matter for the Leader of the House, Harriet Harman, and she may have more news at the weekly Business Statement on Thursday.

My understanding of what will happen to the Bill is as follows. If the Bill does not get listed for a Second Reading in the Commons, then it falls, i.e. it does not become law and would have to be reintroduced after the General Election.

If it does make the floor of the House of Commons, e.g. if there is a Second Reading debate in the Commons chamber, then the non-controversial elements of the Bill may be dealt with during what is known as the ‘wash up’ period. (This is the period after the Prime Minister goes to the Palace to signal a General Election but before Parliament is dissolved). This would have to be agreed by the three main political parties. If there is not a consensus, there will be no attempt made to push any measures through the Commons by a parliamentary vote.

I appreciate that there is real concern about some of the clauses in the Bill, and in particular the proposal to disconnect internet connections as a last resort in cases of illegal file-sharing. There is, however, much in the Bill which is uncontroversial, which needs to be enacted as soon as possible, and for which there is broad support. These measures, and only these measures, may become law before the General Election.

Of course is the General Election does not take place until June, there may be time for full scrutiny of the Bill by the Commons, but I suspect that will not happen!

I hope this provides you with some reassurance,

Regards,

Kerry McCarthy MP.

If you have a Twitter account, you can follow what’s being said about the bill using the hasthtag #debill.

1 roll-up keyboard, 2 ukeleles and 3 speakers – it’s Connecting Bristol’s Green, Open and Social event

Earlier this week on Monday, Bristol’s Watershed (“home of the laptoperati” – event quote. Ed.) played host on Monday evening to Connecting Bristol‘s Green Open & Social event. The event was so well attended there was a waiting list for tickets due to over-subscription.

Green Open & Social event logo

As with many Connecting Bristol events, it was also streamed live over the internet and participants not in the building could submit questions and comments via Twitter too using the hashtag #gosbr. Folks in the event were also tweeting away as well.

The audience brought together Bristol’s IT and green communities, as well as representatives from industry, the public and voluntary sectors.

Connecting Bristol’s Stephen Hilton gave a brief introduction to the formal part of the evening, after which we moved swiftly on to the green element, featuring Chris Tuppen, Chief Sustainability Officer, BT Group. Chris outlined the change that would be required to hit CO2 emission reduction targets and what this would imply: greatly increased use of renewables, smarter use of energy all round (enabled in part by ICT) and what this would mean at work and at home.

Second on the agenda was the open element and the lectern was occupied Mark Taylor, CEO of open source and Linux specialists Sirius Corporation. Mark spoke without notes (and no death by PowerPoint either – Ed.๐Ÿ™‚ ), outlining why open source software, open standards and open data are vital and interconnected, as well as why proprietary software is an anomaly compared with other fields of activity: after all, one wouldn’t expect an engineer not to disclose to the client the reasons why a bridge stays up and doesn’t fall down…

The social strand came courtesy of the third and final speaker, Steve Virgin of Wikimedia UK, is the local UK Wikimedia chapter. Steve outlined the aims of Wikimedia, quoting Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales: “Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we’re doing.” He then continued with a brief outline of Wikimedia’s products and tools – all free and open source and freely accessible to all to use and contribute.

Finally, we come to the musical instruments mentioned in the headline. The formal proceedings concluded with a performance piece, featuring the characters Green, Open and Social (should that be anthropomorphic personifications? Ed.) taking to the stage: lots of gags (“Bristol – gateway to Ikea”), 4 songs and a fine way to round off proceedings.

As a Bristol Wireless bod, it was most heartening that our little co-operative got mentioned 3 times from the stage: by Steve Virgin for our use of MediaWiki; the performers in their script; and finally that old digital inclusion story from Princess Royal Gardens about the elderly resident and online betting (as that’s now being quoted by the world/dog and even government ministers, shouldn’t we get a royalty? Ed.).

The event itself concluded a while after its formal part, following a drinks reception kindly hosted by Sirius (cheers Mark! ๐Ÿ˜€ ).

Installing Linux couldn’t be easier

A few years ago I stumbled across a cracking little application which helped me no end as an introduction to Linux. Wubi is an Ubuntu Linux installer designed for Windows. The great thing about this application is that the benefits of the open source world are literally just a simple mouse click away. The installation is made so easy that even my dad managed to do it. Wubi gives you the option of running both Linux and Windows on your PC and – best of all – it doesn’t require any prior knowledge of partitioning and so on. Once installed it will give you the option when booting up, of running Linux or what ever version of Microsoft is currently on the system.

The installer will give you for free, a fully functioning Linux operating system with all the software you can ever need. From experience, Wubi is perfect if your unsure about Linux and are just wanting to explore what’s on offer in the open source world. If for some reason you did find you no longer wanted to use it, you can simply un-install it via ad-remove programs option in Windows.

The system requirements for Wubi are:

  • Windows 98, 2000, XP, Vista
  • 5 GB harddisk space
  • 384 MB memory

The installation will give you a choice of 4 operating systems to choose from:

  • Ubuntu with the highly popular Gnome desktop environment
  • Kubuntu with the KDE desk top environment
  • Xubuntu with the lightweight Xfce desktop environment
  • Edubuntu, designed for use in classrooms and schools.

Although Wubi is free, it will provide you with a state of the art, operating system that does not require any activation and does not impose any restriction on its use (free as in freedom).

Installing Linux couldn’t be easier ๐Ÿ™‚

Green, Open and Social at the Watershed

Our friends at Connecting Bristol have asked for our assistance in publicising their Green, Open and Social event being held at 6 pm on Monday, 22nd March 2010.

Connecting Bristol’s Kevin O’Malley writes:

Connecting Bristol are hosting a free event on 22nd March exploring the way that the principles of Green, Open and Social Computing can help to shape the way that Bristol develops its digital future.

As well as inspirational presentations there will be live theatre and video case studies, and plenty of opportunities to interact through twitter or live blogging.

Although the event is free (as in beer? Ed.), places are limited and if you’re coming, you’ll need to register via Eventbrite.

There’s also an event flyer available (PDF).

Knowle West hosts Community and Technology event

Yet more happenings over Knowle West way.

On Tuesday 23rd February, a Community & Technology event is being held from 10.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. at the Knowle West Media Centre on Leinster Avenue in Knowle West (map).

The event is being billed as an opportunity for those with interest or experience in working with Bristol communities to explore how digital technologies can aid community development, representation and engagement.

It will provide opportunities to discuss and explore the role of digital technologies (internet, websites, forums, digital media and social networking, such as Facebook groups, blogging and Twitter) in supporting, engaging, developing and representing Bristol communities. The event is free and it will showcase successful strategies.

You can book for the event at Eventbrite, whilst details are available via South Bristol Digital Neighbourhoods.

Green ICT surgeries at Voscur

Voscur logoVoscur, Bristol’s umbrella organisation for the voluntary and community sectors, recently announced it will be organising green ICT surgeries. They’re to be held between 2.00 p.m. and 4.00 p.m. on both Thursday 25 February 2010 and Monday 1 March 2010 on at The CREATE Centre, Smeaton Road, Bristol, BS1 6XN (map).

Voscur’s website states:

Voscur would like to help members tackle their negative impact on the environment, which seems to be an inevitable part of running a modern office or organisation.

We are running surgeries for up to 5 organisations at a time to introduce members to the Bristol Green ICT community developing around the the Green Bristol ICT website.

The surgery will cover:

  • What’s available on the website and how to use it;
  • How to utilise the database tool of Green ICT activities to inform and develop a Green ICT strategy for your organisation.

By the end of the surgery you will have drawn up a list of actions to improve your organisation’s carbon footprint. Voscur will then help you monitor.

This event is for representatives of organisations who want to reduce expenditure on running an office and contribute to Bristol’s Green Capital project, and improve the environment for all in the city.

Full details, including booking, are on the Voscur website.

It’s Valentine’s Day, show your love for free software!

I love Free SoftwareIt’s Valentine’s Day and the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is calling on free software users everywhere to show their love for free Software. Behind every free software initiative and organisation there are real, hard-working people from the developers to those who help with documentation and users who assist in squashing bugs and improving the software.

Free software is everywhere. Its presence on desktop computers, servers, routers, mobile phones, television sets and in other electronics means that most of us use free software every day. Indeed, if it weren’t for free software, you wouldn’t be seeing this page – and I wouldn’t be writing it! ๐Ÿ™‚

The FSFE’s Valentine’s Day campaign page has ideas you may like to try out.

Anyway, rms, Linus, GNU and countless others, love and hugs to you all from Bristol Wireless. We wouldn’t be here without you all.

Weekly computer classes at Trinity

Trinity Community Arts logoEarlier this week a newsletter popped into your correspondent’s inbox from our good friends and fellow free software advocates at Trinity Community Arts giving details of the centre’s weekly classes for 2010. These include computer classes every Thursday between 4 pm and 6 pm. The classes are free and are being organised by Bristol Refugee Rights.

The newsletter continues:

Tutor Robel will be teaching basic IT skills such as setting up email accounts, word processing, using the web and office skills. For more information on how to access the course click here or email info (at) bristolrefugeerights.org

If you know someone who’d benefit from learning IT skills, this is a perfect opportunity. In addition, just like Bristol Wireless, Trinity is fully committed to using free and open source software (Quite right too! Ed.). Trinity’s reasons for using free and open source software can be read here.

Bristol Hackspace secured!

Yesterday news was received from Bristol Wireless Chair Pete Ferne on the future of the Hackspace room in Hamilton House. Pete wrote:

For those of you who came along to the meeting in the Hackspace last Tuesday, just a quick note to clarify what is happening with the room at Hamilton House. As you may know we have, until now, been subletting it from Bristol Wireless. As of this month we are now renting the room directly from Coexist.

Thanks to the generous support of Futurelab, Connecting Bristol and the Arnolfini (and not forgetting the support of Bristol Wireless over the last six months), we can guarantee that the rent will be paid at the very least until the end of March.

We are also now set up to accept personal subscriptions and I hope you will consider signing up to pledge a tenner a month to help us grow and prosper. The money will be put towards rent and any other incidental outgoings (a lock for the door, insurance, etc.) nobody is being paid yet. And if you were thinking of playing with any of the XMOS development kits your membership buys you a healthy discount.

More details are available on the Bristol Hackspace Journal and supporters can sign up here.

Free software finds favour in Munich

Limux iconHot on the heels of the New Year comes encouraging news from Munich, where the city council is progressing with its LiMux free software project.

Writing on his blog, deputy project leader Florian Schießl notes a number of major milestones.

Firstly, the open source and ISO standard Open Document Format (ODF) is now the main document exchange standard within the council for files that need editing, with PDF being used for non-editable files. Moreover, the city council’s standard desktops now consist of the free OpenOffice.org office suite, Mozilla’s Firefox web browser and Thunderbird email client, plus other open source applications, such as the GIMP image editor (sounds eminently usable. Ed. ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

Other major achievements during 2009 include:

  • 12,000 work stations using OpenOffice;
  • 2,000 work stations in four departments migrated to LiMux, Munich’s ‘roll-your-own’ version of Debian with the KDE window manager and desktop environment (similar to what your scribe is using now and at home. Ed.);
  • all other council departments starting migration to GNU/Linux in the course of the year.

The migration to Linux is expected to be completed by 2012. Although Bristol City Council was regarded as a pioneer for ditching Microsoft for Star Office, this achievement seems to pale somewhat in the light of Munich’s efforts. When will we see British local authorities emulate their colleagues in Bavaria?

Digital Mentors Assembly

News arrives from Knowle West Media Centre that a South Bristol Digital Mentors Assembly is to be hold on Thursday 21st January 2010 from 5:30-7:30pm at the Tobacco Factory, Raleigh Road, Southville, BS3 1TF (map).

It’s being organised to share digital aspirations for South Bristol and to challenge Bristolโ€™s Digital Leaders to deliver them. Participants are asked to come prepared to suggest three ideas in answer to the question: โ€˜what needs doing to create a world-class digital South Bristol?โ€™ The ideas will be discussed, shortlisted and presented by supporters before the final vote. You can sign up at Eventbrite.

Lab report – close look at refurbishing

It’s 3pm on Friday afternoon (aka POETS Day. Ed ๐Ÿ™‚ ) and the lab is in the capable hands of Jim, Stefan & your ‘umble scribe.

Computer systemJim & Stefan, both freshly supplied with a hot drink are busy working away on machines for our refurbishment project, whilst yours truly is catching up on paperwork, but that’s boring as hell to discuss: what are the other 2 lads doing instead?

The PCs on which they’re currently working have been kindly donated by our friends at Easton Community Centre (thanks Liz! ๐Ÿ˜€ ). All donated machines are given a thorough hardware health check of drives, cables, power supplies, etc.: any broken parts are replaced and if they’re a tad short of memory, we like to give the latter a boost so they run lightly and speedily. Occasionally, a donor asks that the hard drives of their old kit be wiped and it’s at this stage that it’s done with DBAN, a self-contained boot disk that securely wipes the hard disks, automatically and completely deleting the contents of any hard disk that it can detect to standards approved by the US military – and it’s open source too! Wiping can take quite a while, e.g. a 200 GB SATA hard drive takes about 9 hours to wipe (sounds like a job to run overnight. Ed.). Only after that can an operating system be installed. At present we’re using Ubuntu 9.10. After the basic install is done, we then have to update the installation, add all the bits that make it useful to your typical user – stuff like audio and video codecs, a Flash player, additional fonts and the final touch: Bristol Wireless desktop wallpaper (far better than Ubuntu brown. Ed.). They’re then ready for sale, apart from the final update before they leave clutched in the arms of their new owners.

At Bristol Wireless weโ€™ve found that most redundant computer hardware being junked by organisations is quite capable of running up-to date Linux systems and its life can be extended, giving it a new lease of being useful to someone. Indeed, your correspondent’s own laptop is now getting close to 7 years old and is still running the most modern version of its distribution, despite being more than twice the age of most commercial hardware replacement cycles and quite incapable in terms of system requirements for closed source proprietary operating systems.