Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Linux subnotebook computers for humanitarian disaster relief

Sahana running on OLPCChamindra de Silva reports that the award winning Sahana open source disaster relief software is now running on a OLPC subnotebook (One Laptop per Child laptop) . This has a lot of potential as the OLPC is designed to be sufficiently rugged for use in places where there is no mains power and limited telecommunications. The OLPC has support for a mesh WiFi network. Also if it is widely distributed in developing nations for education, units will likely be available where needed.

I have been skeptical of the OLPC, but if it is distributed in large numbers f0or education, it would be good for disaster relief. But the ASUS Eee PC, which is in many ways the business equivalent of the OLPC might also be of use. It has the advantage of more likely to be readily available to individuals (it is being offered already in the UK for purchase by school children.

Another device I am about to take delivery of a test unit of is the Zonbu thin client Linux computer. This might be useful in an office environment, in place of desktop PCs. It uses less power than a desktop PC, is more rugged and should be easier to set up. It might be useful to, for example, have a carry case with a server in it and a set of Zonbu, OLPCs and/or Eee pcs.

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