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128 posts

Master Geek


# 140830 21-Feb-2014 12:07
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Hope this is the right forum :)

Am helping a small charity to set up their first office (3-4 people). They are expecting to get donations of used equipment (laptops etc.) from some local organizations. As my hands on experience with PCs is mostly domestic I thought I would ask for comments on my intentions.

To minimize costs and remove licensing headaches I am thinking that they should run some flavour of Linux on the laptops. Fingers crossed that I can get one with suitable drivers to work on the laptops they are given. I only have a little Linux (Ubuntu) experience but am hoping that will be enough as its only a basic setup.

For software & files sharing they'll use Google Apps, keeping everything safely up in the cloud. No local storage.

Their telco will no doubt provide a modem/router with 1-2 ethernet ports with their bband package. I can plug a multi-function printer directly into that if they can't get a wireless one.

I'm avoiding wires and desktops because the office is in a remote area and I'm concerned about burglary. With laptops at least they can lock them away out of sight every night.

So potentially the main hurdles will be;

- getting Linux drivers for whatever printer/scanner they get
- getting a solid basic install of Ubuntu or similar on whatever laptops they get

Any other pitfalls to watch out for? Thanks in advance. 

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gjm

754 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 991788 21-Feb-2014 13:11
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I'd suggest you stick with Microsoft OS as that is what most people are familiar with. You can get charity licensing if you meet the requirements, have a look here https://www.techsoup.net.nz/content/microsoft-program-guidelines

G
oogle Apps is fine, Office 365 is also available to charities for free and you might get more functionality out of it depending on what you are trying to achieve.

Hardware wise your setup is pretty simple as you described. Internet router with a LAN enabled printer attached or router -> wifi access point -> wireless printer and other clients attached. Might be worth forking out a little bit of dough for a good quality wireless router if everything is wireless, plenty of good ones at gowifi.co.nz. Only pita might be if you are working on any large files that need transferring around, could be worth just getting a cheap gigabit switch and using cables.

Hope that helps...any more queries just ask.




[Amstrad CPC 6128: 128k Memory: 3 inch floppy drive: Colour Screen]



128 posts

Master Geek


  # 991801 21-Feb-2014 13:25
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Thanks. The organization is already Techsoup registered so I'll check into that. Free is always good, but I would like to avoid the Microsoft licensing hoops if I can. Appreciate the suggestions.

>>Amstrad CPC 6128: 128k Memory: 3 inch floppy drive: Colour Screen

Fancy...464 not good enough for you clearly ;) I used to sell those and the 6128s back in the day...

 
 
 
 


gjm

754 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 991802 21-Feb-2014 13:28
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friend had a 464...would load a game via tape drive before school so it would be ready to play when we got home :)




[Amstrad CPC 6128: 128k Memory: 3 inch floppy drive: Colour Screen]

2091 posts

Uber Geek


  # 991803 21-Feb-2014 13:34
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How much time are you contributing to this?

Almost every laptop/desktop sold will have an OEM Microsoft License for XP/Vista/7/8.

Stick with that. Unless you have unlimited hours and patience and want to deal with pissed off people.

They will inevitably want to run some Windows-Only piece of software.

They will want it to be "the same as home".

They will want to use their laptops at home to play games.

None of these are technically impossible - all of them are a massive timesink and pain in the arse.





128 posts

Master Geek


  # 991807 21-Feb-2014 13:43
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All fair points.

But then again donated equipment may have had the Windows licenses removed/drives wiped if they are from large organizations. I'll just have to wait and see what shows up.

>>They will inevitably want to run some Windows-Only piece of software
>>They will want to use their laptops at home to play games

I'm thinking that Ubuntu basic install with Chrome browser (and IE as backup) might prove an effective way to STOP this kind of stuff happening. Its not a business where users expect to take the laptops home as a perk and do other stuff on them. Its a charity, the laptops are there for one job alone and most likely will remain in the office. I used to work with an security software developer and know the hassles that can occur when users are allowed to fiddle with the machines. Hence the thought of locking them down in a way that does not look overtly locked down.

2091 posts

Uber Geek


  # 991833 21-Feb-2014 14:29
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Sounds like it might be the right environment for it then. Good luck.

456 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 991926 21-Feb-2014 18:12
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As above most laptops/desktops will be sold with a COA sticker on it so you can run a Windows OS. If it's XP/Vista that's a bit tricky as Vista is a pig and XP support ends soon.

My experience of Linux on Laptops is as per above you can spend TONS of hours getting it to work correctly and the ongoing support can be massive.

A cheap Windows OS would be the quickest way to get them up and runnings and Open Office is a very good alternative to MS Office.

Setup a shared Google Drive account or similar for their storage and you are away and running.

Good for you helping them out.

Matt.

 
 
 
 




128 posts

Master Geek


  # 992025 21-Feb-2014 21:30
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Thanks for the advice Matt, appreciated.

1990 posts

Uber Geek

Trusted

  # 992494 22-Feb-2014 18:41
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I have to say that installing Ubuntu on older machines has a better chance of successfully recognising all hardware than brand new machines, and any licenses that come with the laptops will be for random versions of Windows. Linux is also potentially a good way to make local storage less tempting, but you might want to have a local backup NAS or something that can allow them to keep working whenever internet drops.

EDIT: You might want to look at VoIP phone services too, can save a bit of money...




Qualified in business, certified in fibre, stuck in copper, have to keep going  ^_^



128 posts

Master Geek


  # 992581 22-Feb-2014 22:07
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Yes, agreed, I'm thinking too that they could make good use of Skype and the like for saving call costs and video conferencing. As far as ancillary equipment like local storage devices, well, problem will be the more features the users get the more to support. Hence I'm minded to say it's either all on Google drive.

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