Use of open source software (OSS) is common in the server rooms of many libraries. Many have even taken the step of switching their public workstations to the open source web browser Firefox. However, making the jump to an open source operating system for public computers has not caught on quite as well. In this presentation, we will detail how several libraries in Coos County, Oregon, have switched their public internet terminals predominantly to open source software, specifically Ubuntu Linux, Firefox, and OpenOffice. We show how Coos County libraries are able to provide the excellent range of services - and indeed improved over the services - available on Windows- or Mac-based public computers. We detail the software we use, the costs and benefits of the change, and how the switch has been received by the public and library staff. The presentation includes screenshots of what patrons experience when they sit down at a computer. It also provides tips for supporting the wide variety of media, file types, and devices that patrons may bring to the library.
This presentation was delivered on February 5, 2010, at the Online Northwest conference (http://www.ous.edu/onlinenw/).