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Forums/mail downtime

Had some rather serious mail server problems which are fixed to an extent now. It still has a problem that qmail doesn’t seem to like the new libc6 from deb-unstable; not much I can do about that at the moment. The mail works, just don’t expect any of the error messages (bounces, etc.) to make sense, they come out as rubbish at the moment.

I will try and sort this asap. (could require a complete rebuild of the box tho :()

Distro Test

I am hoping to test at least one distro a week and post the results here in this topic.

I will be testing them on a variety of platforms and making brief reports. Please join me and try to chart the ever expanding distro space. The trouble with sites like distro watch is they include the descriptions of authors which tend to be very complementary of their distro.

I will be looking for easily installable distros with packages suitable for office work. They should be small and have a fast desktop that can run with minimal RAM. I would prefer Debian, source or Slackware-based distros, but reckon Debian distros will fit the bill best. Fast installation is also a priority.

Digital Storytelling

"Digital Storytelling uses digital media to create media-rich stories to tell, to share, and to preserve. Digital stories derive their power through weaving images, music, narrative and voice together, thereby giving deep dimension and vivid colour to characters, situations, and insights. The digital environment provides a unique opportunity for stories to be manipulated, combined and connected to other stories in an interactive, and transformative process that empowers the author and invests the notion of storytelling with new meaning. Using the internet and other emerging forms of distribution, these stories provide a catalyst for creating communities of common concern on a global scale".
Much More Info:$105?mode=day
etc etc

Network ideas (new node ideas)

Well I think the best plan to extend the network now is to install another node the same as the ECC in say St Pauls or St Werburghs. Linking the 2 together would be best done using a point to point (can to can) link with 2 Buffalos in the PCMCIA slots of the multias.

The point of leaving the node being wds meshing capable is to keep the option of being able to put in small repeaters to cover a blackspot within the local area (not for connecting different areas together)

This way each community has its own master node and a point to point link between the other community nodes, and if needed smaller wds repeaters filling in blackspots within the local area.

Hope this makes sense.

Some pricing figures:
Buffalo PCMCIA card (ebuyer) – £33.15
Buffalo pigtail (Solwise) – £7.20

Netgear ma311 card (ebuyer) – £34.41
Netgear pigtail (Solwise) – £5.83

HDF400 cable (Solwise) per M – £2.37
LMR400 cable (Solwise) per M – £2.99
HDF/LMR Ntype crimp end – £2.69
Crimping tool (Solwise) – £15.50 (maybe Santa will get me one)
Cantenna bits (RS) – £6
8db omni (Solwise) – £33

Linux Install Fest

Some of the money (how much is yet to be decided) was awarded for supporting Bristol Wireless Events (not beer money for the party unfortunately) and at the last Real-Life meeting at the Lab it was decided that the big giveaway day events were probably a bit too much hard work to organise on the entirely voluntary basis that it was before, and the benefits were a bit dubious.

An alternative suggested then was a joint event with the Bristol Linux Users Group, a Linux Install fest/computing festival which we have tenatively pencilled in for end of Feb/ Beginning of March.

This could include

Staged Giveaway event (photo opportunity/publicity) just a few machines
Workshops Node building
Dual booting service
Course sign up
Vendor stalls

Lets set a first planning meeting for Tuesday Jan 6th

Anything anybody would like to do or see happen – post it here.

Xmas party Reminder

Red Rak Birthday party

Just a reminder to keep the evening of Friday 12th December free in your diaries for the social event of the year – the Bristol Wireless Xmas Party.

It’s been a busy year, and next year looks set to be even busier with so many projects now getting off the ground. Chance to chat about everything in an informal friendly atmosphere (i.e I won’t be chairing) at The Chelsea, Bristols Premier Wireless Boozer.

See you all there!


Our initial approach to the Greater Bristol Foundaton who awarded us £1000 from their express fund for further funding for development planning either from the Community Chest and/or the Social Economy Business Development Fund ( have received a knock back, neither fund manager thinks BristolWireless would fulfill their criteria.

All is not lost – Rhys is preparing a bid to MySociety based on the elements of our Mission Staement for which we would require money; an approach is being considered to Awards for All, which is a lottery fund, and we have a meeting planned with Bacen on Friday Dec 12th at 10.00am to discuss how they might be able to help us with "business" planing and securing funding. So far Rich and Sean have expressed an interest in coming, anyone else wants to be present, please get in touch with the Lab

Demo Day

Bristol Wireless Media Focus Group meeting – held on Thursday 20th Nov 03


A constructive discussion took place around the theme of ‘Content for the Wireless Network’. A plan emerged to run a DEMO DAY in the new year where examples of content can be shown on a working delivery system.

The outline plan can be found on the TWIKI site:

We hope that anyone interested will be able to contribute to this development through TWIKI. Information on how to use the facility can be found on links at the site.

Suggestions, sharing of ideas, information exchange and co-ordination between content creators and technical specialists is needed to make this happen. We would like to hear from you. Please get involved.

Winter Celebration at the ECC

Bristol Wireless have been asked to have a stand at this event, any ideas what format this can take. All welcome.

Hello everyone,

Following our last Street Party meeting, it was suggested that we have a get together, photo exhibition, etc….

Well, my suggestion is – to link our get-together with the Winter Celebration and Open Day at the Community Centre (Friday 5th Dec 3-8pm).

The winter celebration is an event to celebrate all the fantastic activities and events the centre manages or supports. There will be music, activities, open ICT and Media centre, tours of the gardening projects, creche, youth activities, organic grub, bar….. etc… and also talks of a music night in the evening as a fundraiser for the centre

I was thinking that the Street Party could have a stall, exhibition and questionnaire to gauge comments/ideas/ enthusiasm for next year. Let me know who can co-ordinate this?

Put this date in your dairy and I will send you more info as it comes available.

Cheers for now

Hope you are happy and well



Transcode is a command line video stream conversion utility for GNU/Linux. It will successfully re-encode a huge variety of sources into a huge variety of outputs. It will be useful to the BW project as it is possible to encode stream from most video sources into MPEG4 formats like divx5 and xvid.

It takes a long time to get into the command line arguments, so for an example to prevent anyone else having to go through what I did…

transcode -b 80,1,5 -i input.mpeg -V -y divx5 -o output.avi -w 400

will take an input file ‘input.mpeg’ (of any supported format – automatically detected) and output it into an ‘.avi’ file encoded with divx with a video bit rate of 400Kbps (defined by -w 400) and a sound bitrate of 80Kbps (defined in -b 80,1,5).

Users should be able to get there files onto the server by simple means, using a web interface to upload files to the server, and then converting them to ‘.avi’ format with transcode should mean people can easily submit videos to an archive. Does anyone fancy coding this ❓

I will soon prepare a CD on demonstration streams with transcode and put them on a CD, this should be useful for future streaming experiments.

Mencoder is another possibility for stream conversion, though its facilities do not seem as appropriate to the BW project.

Bannerman Road School

Rich and I have finally approached the school about our long discussed idea of rolling out the network (and free computers) to parents of children at Bannerman Road School. We’ve pitched the idea as having everyone online for the September 2004 start of school year. Whether that’s feasible or not is still open for debate, but if the school show any interest we hope to organise a meeting. If anybody’s interested in being involved, I’ll post the details in this thread as soon as we have them.

Greater Bristol Foundation funding

Bristol Wireless have just been awarded £1,000 by the Greater Bristol Foundation through their Express Fund.

The money is for running the office, a small amount of kit, and towards the costs of our "events".

They have also invited us to apply for funding from their Social Economy Business Development Fund.

There are a number of other funding opportunities coming up for which we will need some sort of Development plan and to begin to put proper financial and administrative structures in place. I’ll try to write something up about them real soon.

Bristol Wireless Xmas Party

On December 4th the Bristol Wireless Redrak server will have been up continuously for one year with no downtime at all. Instead of a real-world meeting this December then, some of us thought it would be a good idea to have a party to celebrate, it being traditional at this time of the year.

Assuming no-one attempts to bring it down in the next 2 weeks, Redraks first birthday will be held at The Chelsea Inn (where else) from 8pm on Friday 12th December. See you all there I hope, and any friends you want to bring along.

P.S. We’ve edited the home page of the website as there were no objections.

New online Linux Course from Linux Online

Intermediate Course
The new intermediate course is designed for those who have have completed our previous course, "Getting Started with Linux" and want to expand on what they learned. This course focuses on Linux system administration tasks, such as installation and configuration of programs providing network services. It goes into detail on how to set up a mail server, web server, file & printer sharing and other essential services. It also provides lessons on Linux kernel configuration and web development using Open Source tools. The course is filled with practical examples on every subject. This set of lessons is ideal for anybody with basic Linux knowledge or for administrators migrating from other platforms who want to get a good primer on managing a Linux system.

Before the new year, we’ll be adding a system to track your progress, a quiz to each lesson, and a final exam to test your knowledge of the subjects you’ve covered. A certificate of completion that you can frame will be available for a small fee. This fee will be waived for subscribers.

Subscribers will also have a special Q&A section where they can ask the course designer specific questions about the material covered and enhance their knowledge even further!

The new course is located at:

Job at Southmead Development Trust

IT Practioner Tutor/Network Adminstrator

£19,500 per annum
One year initially

With a minimum two years’ current IT teaching experience or relevant teaching qualification, you will deliver hardware maintenance and IT skills training. You will also maintain the computer network and have the ability to set up, configure and administer a LAN and deliver training to C&G and BCS standards. Flexible working including evenings.

For an application form/information pack, please contact Tracey Burnell on 0117 9503335.

Linux News

I’ve been meaning to start a thread where people post good news links for progress in the Open Source movement. I thought this might be a good place for it.

To start then

Microsoft Loses to Linux in Thailand Struggle
By Jan Krikke
November 12, 2003

In the second quarter of 2003, just 40 percent of all desktop PCs shipped in Thailand had a licensed copy of Windows installed, an all-time low that likely will dip even further. Moreover, PC manufacturer Laser Computer has replaced HP as Thailand’s top PC seller. Laser Computer sells only Linux PCs.

To prevent Linux from running away with Thailand’s subsidised "people’s PC project," Microsoft has dropped the price of its Windows and Office packages from nearly US$600 to $37. Other Asian countries are lining up to duplicate the Thai program. As a result of the events in Thailand, analysts have begun to predict the end of Microsoft’s long-standing "one-price-fits-all-markets policy."

Significantly, first-time PC users in Thailand are finding the Linux Thai Language Edition easier to master than Windows.

Read more