Recently I gave two talks on campus about how to choose a Linux distribution for a university college or department. My notes for the talks are up at: http://www.oss-watch.ac.uk/talks/2007-02-01-itss-distros/index.pdf A number of issues arose out of the talks which bear further promotion:
This is a mirror server for a range of freely redistributable software, including (in alphabetic order):
The software is available from:
The server is maintained by the sysdev team within OUCS, originally for their own internal use with other software being added as demand appeared. The mirror is available by http/ftp/rsync/afs. Instructions at http://mirror.ox.ac.uk/. Issues and breakages should be reported to email@example.com
http://freedesktop.org is the leading the effort to keep all Linux desktops as similar as possible. They are an umbrella project aiming to make the desktop easy to use and consistent for end-users; easy to integrate for developers; easy to maintain, secure and upgrade for admins; and easy to customise and brand for distributions.
Since the desktop is the most visible part of a Linux install, there is a natural tendency for distributions to add new features, new branding and to change the look and feel so a new release feels "new" to end-users. With dozens of different distributions making changes over many releases it can often be hard to know what a Linux desktop looks like, to an end-user, to a running application or to an application installer. freedesktop.org aims to reduce these divergences, not by preventing distributors making changes, but by encouraging interoperability between different systems; between KDE and Gnome; between Debian and RedHat and so forth.
OULD (Oxford University Linux Distribution)
This is a OUCS internal pilot project rolling out Ubuntu to end-user desktops https://wiki.oucs.ox.ac.uk/oucs/OULD (URL not accessible outside OUCS). It uses a default install from the official Ubuntu installer CD, then a package installed by double clicking on a web page. This package adds local servers to sources.list (http://ubuntu.oucs.ox.ac.uk, http://tei.oucs.ox.ac.uk/teideb/ and ftp://ftp.hfs.ox.ac.uk/tsm/clients/latest/linux/debian (not accessible off campus)), which in turn allow point and click installation of various profiles including local printer configuration and packages of local interest (TEI, etc). These aspects are designed and documented for use by completely non-technical end users.
Some individual users have gone beyond the OULD to use kerberos authentication (i.e. using herald usernames and passwords to log into the desktop) and openafs mounting of home directories. This still has some significant wrinkles.
OUCS has no plans to roll out OULD to the wider university at present, but developments with the OULD are being fed to the ECE (Enhanced Computing Environment) http://www.ict.ox.ac.uk/team/ece/ . There is an expectation / hope / desire that OULD may be taken up by the ECE.
firstname.lastname@example.org is the contact point for OULD.