One of the goals of some staff at The Lighthouse was to set up a computer lab for residents to be able to use, get online, play some solitaire, and do some work on. The first computer we set up was a Pentium 4 with 1 gig of RAM running Windows XP. We used Ninite to download all freeware applications which meant that our software was both legal and free. We installed Windows Family Safety to be able to both filter and give access to needed sites.
The results were mixed. While many residents loved it, the USB wifi dongle was stolen, the speakers were taken and someone went out of their way to disable the internet and damage to OS. It ended up being frustrating to our residents and to the staff.
The idea of reinstalling Windows XP was not something that any of us were looking forward to. The process of putting a Windows XP disk into the machine isn’t that bad but downloading hundreds of Windows downloads takes days to download, install, restart and repeat many, many times.
As another option we looked at Linux. The first Linux install we tried was Joli OS, which is a small lightweight OS designed for netbooks and older hardware (of which our P4 qualified). Chris Powell installed the OS on a laptop and it worked great. It is actually quite similar to iOS which means that it is different enough from Windows that users won’t get confused. It is quite quick and has a large app store where you can download software.
It has different user accounts and while still buggy, it does allow Lighthouse residents to access stuff online, view YouTube videos, use Open Office, VLC, Skype, and a lot of other apps. We will be rolling out more computers and laptops on it in the next couple of months and will posting about how they work out. Now I need to go and find some speakers.