GNU/Linux for Newbies

A Dutch site about the free operating system GNU/Linux (only this page is in English)

This page in Dutch

GNU/Linux in Rotterdam West Reading Room

The computers in Rotterdam West Reading Room run GNU/Linux. On this page you can read why.

Nice initiative

In the neighborhood where I live, I am involved in the residents' initiative Rotterdam West Reading Room. This initiative is a response to the closure of many local libraries in Rotterdam. The reading room is a public place, run by volunteers, where you can read a book or a newspaper, borrow books (you can even keep them!), have a cup of coffee or tea and meet other people.

Read more about Rotterdam West Reading Room:

My task is to install and maintain the computers in the reading room. These computers are all freebies, just like the books that you can borrow. In the reading room the computers are mostly used for web browsing but also for writing documents.

Rotterdam West Reading Room

Jumble of software without licenses

On the very first computers in the reading room, different versions of Windows, different virus scanners and different web browsers were installed. Not very convenient if you need to maintain those computers. And as so often happens with computers you just get for free: the CDs/DVDs with software and the associated license keys were not included. Annoying if you need to perform a recovery, or if you need to reinstall the operating system.

Computers in Rotterdam West Reading Room

Advantages of GNU/Linux in the reading room

So to me it was obvious to install GNU/Linux on the computers in the reading room. Obvious, because it has nothing but advantages:

  • No costs for software (we try to keep spendings within the reading room as low as possible).
  • Installation on all 5 computers in the reading room (and if necessary more) without the hassle with license keys.
  • Web browser, complete office suite and a lot of other applications included (again without the hassle with license keys).
  • No virus scanner needed and therefore no maintenance on this software.
  • By choosing a "lightweight" graphical user interface it is possible to run new, up-to-date software on older computers.
  • Damaging or changing the system by the users is almost impossible (thanks to the GNU/Linux file system with its strict permissions and ownerships).

GNU/Linux in Rotterdam West Reading Room

Nice philosophy

GNU/Linux also fits nicely with the philosophy of the reading room in which sharing plays an important role. GNU/Linux is a good example of how to share digital information (in this case software) with others.

Reading, learning, meeting, sharing