The Penguin Driven Church Office
Every church faces challenges. Ours is growth. Thanks to a donation of 19 computers, we now have more computers than church members. Like church members who simply keep the pews warm, some of these machines need refurbishing. Several do work rather nicely, however. So when I tell you that one of our most active church members is a friendly little penguin who manages our church's data, I'm being quite honest. We call him Saint Tux.
Why should churches let penguins into the Pastor's study? That's a fair question. We considered our options rather carefully. Cost, choice, freedom, ease of use and ability to customize the software were our main issues. We had the connections to obtain software from a large proprietary corporation. Unfortunately, because we're not a 501(c)(3) organization, we didn't get any consideration. We have paperwork from the government that confirms our non-profit status--meaning everyone still gets their tax deductions--but some companies won't touch us because we lack that status.
That situation led us to consider other options, because we cannot afford to pay full price for proprietary software. On top of that basic purchase price, we'd have to pay additional money to obtain church management software. The good news is that our $80 Linux distribution will be able to handle our church data for years to come. If 1,500 people show up one Sunday morning and join our ministry, I can manage all of that data, whether they arrive next Sunday or a year from now.
Aside from cost, choice was another major factor. Choice is important, and not only the choice of which desktop to use. I'm thankful to be able to choose which printing system, text editor, office suite and Web browser we use.
Freedom was another factor in our decision. None of us are programmers, but we know that free software can be redistributed in order to help others. Richard Stallman, the founder of the GNU project, may be an atheist, but his view of software has close theological parallels to Christian theology. Proprietary software limits my ability to help my neighbor, one of the cornerstone of the Christian faith.
An encounter I had with a pastor and one of his deacons left me with the distinct impression, although I did not know for sure, that they might be using proprietary software without the proper licenses. The deacon stated that he had a copy of the software he could bring in for me. It could have been a perfectly legitimate copy, or it could have been a personal copy that he would be giving to the church in violation of those famous End User License Agreements. This possibility raised a few questions: Are churches and other religious groups using proprietary software without the proper licenses? Is this being done with or without the knowledge and consent of the leadership? I'm a preacher, not an attorney. This issue raises a moral question that churches need to consider. Church leaders would consider a person who walks out of a bookstore with a book they haven't paid for to be a thief. Using proprietary software without a license is the same thing--stealing.
The penalties for violating copyright are far more costly than the price of the software in question. Even settling out of court is costly. Church leaders should do everything within their power to ensure that all software is in compliance with the law. If a church cannot afford proprietary software, it really needs to consider open-source software. The reply that "everyone uses that other software" is no excuse, especially because current open-source products are highly compatible with proprietary products.
Given the conversations I've had with others about Linux, a lot of people seem to think you have be a rocket scientist or a masochist to use Linux. That is simply untrue. In addition to recent studies demonstrating that Linux is no more difficult to use than are other operating systems, my personal experience is that anyone who can read and follow instructions can use Linux.
Because most of the graphical interface is so similar to Windows, I'm puzzled that people would think Linux is more difficult. On the contrary, Linux actually tends to be more intuitive in many respects. Multiple desktops allow me to organize my work. I can roll up a window instead of minimizing it, which often is more efficient. Heck, even the command line offers ease of use. If you discover a typo, you simply backspace to the error and edit it instead of the whole line.
Everything about Linux is customizable. I may not be the most experienced system administrator, but at least I know I can reconfigure my kernel if I need to do so. I don't have to understand every part of the system right now--I can pick it up as I go.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
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- Interview with Patrick Volkerding
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- Doing for User Space What We Did for Kernel Space
With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide