cmw.osdude 120000QT77 3,986 Views
I know that the news has largely died down about this and that most people have virtually forgotten it, but I wanted to take a moment to revisit the event that the media has dubbed "Climategate." (Alas, the poor Watergate which seems destined to be associated with scandal when all they really wanted to do was rent some nice rooms to people.) In case you've missed it, there has been a lot of debate about what exactly is going on with the weather on our planet. Governments throughout the world have been exploring various points of view on this topic and creating policies and regulations to address it. A key resource climate issues has been data from the Climate Research Unit at the British East Anglia University but their data has not been publicly available because they consider the information to be proprietary. On or about November 20, 2009, someone illegally accessed the information on these servers and downloaded about 61MB of compressed data, containing many emails and other files.
I'm not here to talk about the merits of what the scientists may or may not have done or what the hackers may or may not have done. I want to talk about how the proprietary information has created complications. You see, the researchers decided at some point that they could not make their information available because it was proprietary. Now that these accusations have come out they are in the difficult position of trying to prove a negative.
"You lied about your data! You've been manipulating this the whole time."
"Uhhhh.... No we haven't."
"Yes you did! You've destroyed or hidden everything that doesn't support your claims."
"No! We didn't. Look we'll show you some of it."
"OK. That looks OK. But what about the rest of it?"
"We can't show you that because it's secret."
"But that's where you're hiding everything."
"Uhhhhh... No we're not."
"Look, we talked it over and we've decided to show you all the data."
"Are you sure that's all of it?"
"You didn't hold anything back."
"Uhhhhhh... we're pretty sure."
"We think you're lying."
"No we're not."
"We don't believe you."
You see, the problem is that when someone makes accusations about something that is secret you can't prove that it's incorrect without revealing the secrets. Usually this is done with some sort of trusted third party and there are judges and lawyers involved. However, when the issue is one of conspiracy anyway then the assumption is just that the third parties really couldn't be trusted after all. It's complicated and unfortunate.
When information is open those sorts of things are harder to claim and easier to disprove. Let's say try this scenario:
"Firefox had a secret program that is sending all of my keystrokes to Homeland Security."
"That's not too hard to disprove. The code for Firefox is open. I can get a team of experts to look through all of that code and determine whether or not they can see any possible way that could be true. So far... nothing!"
"Ah! But the source code lies. You didn't compile that yourself. They're too smart. They only do it for the people who download the binaries. It's in the binaries."
"OK. I'm going to compile the source code that I have. I'll get information from the Firefox team about the parameters and tools that they used and I'll follow the same procedure. The end results should be the exact same binaries. Look! They match! There's nothing hidden."
"Drat! You've foiled my theory. Now I will go and pick on food additives."
In business there are sound reasons for keeping some information a secret. There are also advantages to openness... especially in areas of science and technology. Things such as Creative Commons and even traditional copyright (if applied correctly) allow establishment of ownership without obfuscating the data. I know that I'm oversimplifying these issues to a great degree... but it just got me to thinking. If the scientists at East Anglia had decided to be more open with their data in the first place would they be in this weird place right now?
As authors of the future are we better off keeping our work hidden, or being more open? I know what I think.
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cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Tags:  opensource encryption security open_source linux firefox 2 Comments 7,642 Views
If you are a Firefox user, you may have heard about the vulnerability discovered which could allow malicious web sites to steal passwords that you have stored in your password safe. You didn't know that? It could suck. I don't have the details, but you can get a hint in the description of the session "Breaking Browsers: Hacking Auto-Complete" at the upcoming Blackhat conference. (That's were security-conscious people get together and talk about bad-guy stuff.)
The upshot is that after this conference, the precise method for doing
this will be out in the open, and there may be a lot of enterprising
hooligans who immediately make use of it. Get your passwords out of
Firefox now! I found a handy tool that
will look pull the passwords from your local repository and help you
dump it into another format before you clear them out of Firefox. I
know that sounds alarming, but you save it to your local system and run
it from there. (It will warn you if you try to run it from the
Internet.) It will show you a list of your passwords and let you copy
them into another file. I dumped them into a spreadsheet. (ODS format, of course!)
So... what to do with this file. I don't feel much better having a
spreadsheet laying around on my system with passwords to everything.
True, it's much less likely that someone will poke around on my file
system than that people will mess with my browser... but it's still not
a good idea. It's time to crank up the encrypted file space!
I've talked from time to time about working with encrypted file systems, but not much beyond that. But now it's pretty urgent and I want to make sure that I have an easy-to-use space available right now for this and other sensitive information for which I need better habits. I know that encryption sounds hard, but it's really not that bad. There's a lovely open-source, multi-platform tool called TrueCrypt that makes this all pretty easy to handle. Don't think encryption will make that much of a difference? Take a peek at this article on how long it takes to break passwords of varying complexity. Good encryption with a good password will likely surpass the attention span or statute of limitations for most situations.
How easy was this to do? I installed TrueCrypt, which took a few
minutes of downloading and script-running. I fired up the program
which, incidentally, had a nice GUI. I created a 1GB volume which
resides as a file on my file system. It's formatted internally just
like a file system and it mounts that way too. I could easily have put
it on a flash drive if I wanted to. TrueCrypt also supports encrypting
partitions. Now I have a moderately safe repository that I can save my
spreadsheet into. I can mount it when I need to and not have to do
anything too weird with it. I can also keep multiple things in it,
consolidating my secured items. In Linux, and Mac OSX as well, I
think, it's easy to make a relative pointer to a file. That means that
I can take some key configuration and data files and store them in my
encrypted area, but allow the applications to deal with them as though
they were standard. I can explain that in more detail if someone is
interested. There is probably a way to do that in Windows by now, but I just don't know what it is. Maybe someone can fill us in.
So, I'm sorry to bear the news. I rather like the convenience of
the password safe... but it's just not safe right now. And don't feel
that putting Firefox's password file in your encrypted volume will
help. The problem is that Firefox will give up your password if it's
asked in the right way. We need to make sure that Firefox doesn't know
the password. Ultimately I'm sure this will be fixed. Then it may be
safe to go back. There are also other password safe tools that might
be helpful... but for now, I think I'm going to go with the
old-fashioned copy and paste approach with the spread sheet.
I hope that all of you will take this stuff seriously and give TrueCrypt a try.
We really do need to start taking personal responsibility for securing
our communications. Government is too slow and to clumsy to do it for
us (not to mention that they don't want anything to be secured from them).
Manufacturers have too many points of view to accomodate to make it
automatic. It has to be the right solution for you. Start with this
and before you know it I bet you'll be asking me about encrypting your
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 3,850 Views
This post has moved to my personal blog site . Please read it there.
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 4,431 Views
Today I got a tweet from Mark Fernandez pointing me to the article "The Disappearance of Open Source?" It was mildly depressing. Basically it affirmed a concept set forth in everything from "The Little Red Hen" to "Atlas Shrugged" that says those who can do for themselves and those who can't sit around until its done and then whine about it. I hate saying this, because I am a true believer in the value and concept of open-source, even when it's not free as in free beer. If you haven't read it, perhaps now is a good time for you to read Eric Steven Raymond's "The Cathedral and the Bazaar".
My rant is essentially this: If you are reaping the benefits of open-source software, especially if you are getting it for free then you should be grateful. The world has not always been this way. It is not an entitlement, but a gift from people who are willing to solve their own problems and then make the solution available to you because they think such things should be shared. They don't owe you a gorram thing! (a little Firefly lingo, there... See how I am right now?)
If you can create your own solutions purely with open-source software and don't need any outside help then go for it! Be proud. You are in an elite minority. You are someone with knowledge, drive and determination to pioneer. You deserve every benefit you can gain from that. You are one of the haves.
If you cannot do this because you lack the skills or don't want to take the time and you need someone to fill in those blanks for you then you are one of the have nots. You have a few options:
If you choose option 3, you should bear in mind that the person helping you is going to need some motivation. That may require some paying. Don't like it then you really ought to go with option 1 and 2. If you act as though you are entitled, if you criticize and complain while demanding help then you really need an attitude adjustment. At first that will be tolerated, but eventually the "haves" will realize that there is no value in what they are doing and that they should focus on solving their own problems rather than yours. Eventually this will leave you only with option 1 - do without.
Open source culture provides a great deal of benefit by removing barriers to people who are willing to work and learn to use technology. It provides an unblockable path for people who are have nots to become haves by putting in the required work to reap the benefits. (Did you read "The Little Red Hen"?) Those who are willing to take that road will find it remains open. The licenses However, you can create a situation where no one will give you a map, nor directions, nor the time of day.
Companies having to de-emphasize their open-source qualities in order to not confuse customers is troubling. If you are one of the ones who makes them feel that's necessary then you need to walk away from open source and go invest in some very expensive solutions. Open source just isn't for you. If you understand the value of Open Source and you know people who seem engaged in this struggle, then please try to help them to appreciate its value.
Right now I'm going to go make a donation to some open-source projects that I used today because they need the love.
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Tags:  writing opensource wishlist open_source content articles developerworks author 1 Comment 13,674 Views
NOTE: As of February 2013 I am no longer the editor for Linux and Open Source on developerWorks. Don't worry! I didn't get fired or anything. I got rolled into a new team which draws upon all the skills I applied on developerWorks as well as exercising some of my other capabilities. It's an exciting challenge. As a result, this wish list is not necessarily the most current guide of what you should be writing. I'm going to leave it up, though, as a snapshot in time. I'll keep blogging and sharing. It actually may be easier to do now in my new role!
People ask me what kind of articles I'm looking for in the Open Source Zone on developerWorks. This is meant to be a permanent home for my thoughts on what I'm seeking in the way of articles with a little better explanation than I can offer on the basic developerWorks wish list
. Rather than just a bullet list, I'm going to try to get you inside my head so that you're working toward the idea, with your own new information and discoveries, rather than just trying to write to spec. Consider this your guide for what I'm seeking. I'll update here when I have new information. I recommend that you subscribe to the feed for this article so that you keep up to date. When you know you're ready to write, review the guidelines in the developerWorks Author Resources and then submit your content.
Right now in Open Source, I'm looking specifically for articles that cover tools and techniques that work across platforms. In particular, I'm trying to identify things that compliment the IBM product set and leave room for integration. In some cases they will simply be useful tools that people could be using. In other cases there will be specific ways to tie into the project's functionality using APIs and pull its functionality into an application.
Along with tools, I'm interested in development techniques for PHP and other open paradigms (Did I just use that word?). That would include Android development, C-code and anything else that is being used, or could be used to generate open-source software. I'm not really looking for opinion pieces ("Why this software/tool/technique is the best!"). There's plenty of that out there. I'm looking for things that will help a developer/IT professional wrap their head around a technology and begin to use it.
Security is becoming a hot topic. Cracking tools are on the rise and we hear about more and more break-ins each day. (Makes you wonder about the ones we don't hear!) Also, people are begining to work with data across environments in ways that they never did before. They want to work on their laptops, tablets and phones whenever they want and whereever they want. This provides a number of security challenges which have to be addressed. The open-source world has been interested in security for some time and there are some great tools and techniques available, but many people have never heard of them. Relevant topics would include encryption, authentication, malware and virus detection, tampering detection, automated defences, cracking forensics, firewalling and other ways of hardening systems and software across platforms.
Another aspect of the increasingly mobile and interconnected lifestyle is more focus on virtualization. Some of us have used these techniques for a while and are used to the idea of dealing with resources that we can't put our hands on. For many, this is a mind-blowing concept, but one that is imperitive if they are going to be successful in a world that includes mobile and cloud computing. KVM has come a long way. (Remember when KVM was about keyboards and monitors?) There are other tools for emulating hardware and virtualizing storage and other environments that people need to see. Relevant topics would include tools to virtualize environments, best development practices for working with virtualized environments, security and monitoring techniques, automation, resource management and more.
Another side effect of our growing web of data is the need to store it all. People need to store more information and access it quickly. It needs to be secured, backed up and authenticated. People need to be able to access it from any device that they choose in any environment that they choose. This is another area where Open source has been working for a while and there are a number of tools and techniques available. Relevant topics would include storage formats, tools for securing, authenticating and sharing data, backup methods, techniques for compressing and transmitting/receiving data.
Social business is becoming a big deal and there are increasing demands on developers to build social elements into applications. OpenSocial has been working for some time on tools and techniques for all of social media with an eye to compatibility across applications and platforms. The future of social business would be brighter if applications pursued an open path rather than a bunch of competing proprietary methods. Relevant topics would be an introduction to what developers need to know about social applications, the tools and APIs that are available and best practices for developing compatible applications.
When you go to Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Google+ and any number of online stores and communities, there are engines that suggest items/people/information that you might like based on what you read, buy and rate. There are several players in this arena, including easyrec and Apache Mohout. As this sort of personalization is becoming more common, developers are going to be looking for solutions that they can experiment with and implement. Relevant articles would explain the key elements of such engines and help developers code their first examples.
Open source lifestyle
Another aspect that I want to cover is the lifestyle of using open source. There are fundamental ideas that one needs to grasp to be successful in the open source world. From the R & D side, you need to be willing to do your own installations, maybe compile some code and do some digging through forums and such to be successful. Knowledge of resources like Sourceforge (http://sourceforge.net) and basic tools like the GCC compiler (http://gcc.gnu.org/) are probably necessary. You should also have knowledge about the best ways to find what you're looking for. Skill with the query language on the search engine of your choice is probably helpful.
Once you decide to bring a piece of software into "production," you'll need a different classification of information to help the less adventuresome. Quality tutorials, books and even professional training may be necessary. You might want to connect with a professional company who provides support on open-source products. Knowing your way around this world will help you be successful.
Information which helps users make good decisions about open source and integrating projects into a commercial environment are helpful. I would like to tell the story of how particular open-source technologies successfully fit into commercial environments and make a real difference. Stories built on personal experience are a plus.
Many people freeze when moving to Open Source because they just don't know how to get from here to there. They've always done it a certain way, and the change frightens them. Showing clear migration steps between the old commercial way and the new open source way will be very helpful to get people to try it. Again, if you have saved a ton of money and time by moving to an open source tool or technique, this is a way to share that success and lead others.
Developing for OS compatibility
When your application can live in its own world you don't really need to consider standards or popular modalities. However, if you want to integrate with the open source world, those things matter. I've seen many commercial Linux projects falter in the beginning because they chose funky proprietary ways of installing their products and working with the environment rather than doing it the "Linux way." Helping developers understand the best practices for working with an open source environment will help them to save some pain and have more success in the beginning.
The bullet list
If none of that has fired up your imagination, and you are looking for a list of topics, here are some things I'm looking for. Bear in mind that this is not comprehensive and will probably change constantly.:
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 3,546 Views
I've been away from my blog, and many other things, for a while because of some other obligations. (You don't want to know!) Today, I have a chance to take a breath and press fingers to the keys. Yay! How wonderful to start the day with an inspiring little article that will make sense to some of you and possibly confuse others. "What the days of gonzo IT taught us," by Paul Venezia is a beautiful expression of what excites me about computing. I had limited access to computers in the early 80s. Everything I learned at that point was by doing. Throughout my career that do-it-yourself concept never really left. It honest has rarely occurred to me to call someone to solve a technical problem. My general philosophy has been that if I made the mess (which I usually did) then I need to understand things well enough to fix the mess and not do that again.
I remember in the early days of Windows that I had to do things in the
config.sys, autoexec.bat, and various .ini files to get a system onto
the Internet. Knowledge of those files was also pretty key to keeping a
system healthy. Later on, as those configuration files
Consider for a moment what you can do with a free application like Audacity. On my laptop I can engineer things that once required a full studio and years of practice. Likewise, I'm able to do things with Cinelerra that were only available to Hollywood. When I was a kid I used to dream of working with old radio shows, special effects and other things. I could never afford to do these things with film and old-style tape. Yet a digital video camera, a digital audio recorder and a little open-source software and I can indulge my interests and build skills that come in handy sometimes.
Knowing things that are under the hood and demanding access under the hood get you labeled as a troublemaker and a geek. It's true! But the fundamental knowledge about how technology works that comes from those experiences has given my better problem-solving skills than people I deal with on the tech support line! Don't lose your curiosity! If you feel you've been too far away from that for too long, then take a look at all of the stuff that has happened while you were distracted. There are a lot of useful tools that will add to your productivity and get your technical brain back in shape... and you'll be helping to keep that side of technology from dying.
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Tags:  open_source software student projects open beginner student_portal openness 1 Comment 6,170 Views
This question was asked in a developerWorks forum... but it looked like it was going to turn into more than a simple answer... so I moved it here to share with more people.
Congratulations on discovering the importance and opportunity in Open Source software. The first step, in my opinion, is to start using Open Source yourself, wherever possible. You have probably already started on this path. The easy steps are using Firefox for browsing, and programs like OpenOffice.org and Thunderbird for productivity. (If you're nervous about the whole Oracle thing with OpenOffice.org, fear not, there are forks that have occurred which will keep it open.) For development, you should look at the Eclipse project as well as the many other interesting development tools that are out there. There is a vast (and incomplete) list of interesting Open Source applications available in Wikipedia. You can also find a rather complete repository of Open Source projects (including the good, the bad and the really ugly) at the grand-daddy of all Open Source sites, sourceforge.net, a free repository for project owners to organize and share their project.
Like I said, you are probably already using Open Source software to some degree, but the more you use the more you become aware of how the Open Source world works, how the community drives development and support and what you think is missing from the equation that you can contribute.
To get involved on the development end, you have a few options. One is to take a project that you use and identify something within your skill set that needs help. You don't really have to ask permission to offer a solution, but you should follow the protocol for the project. Every project will have information about how to contribute. If they don't, then write to the key players of the project and let them know that you have something to contribute. They will likely be very pleased. If they're not, then go find someone else to help!
Another interesting thing to do is to look at the list of projects at sourceforge.net. They actually have a list of "help wanted" projects that you can dive into. If you dig around, you may even find projects that have lost their maintainer (which happens for a variety of reasons). Picking up that work could be a great project and a valuable service to the community.
Don't forget that there are open projects that need more than just coding. There are needs for testing, documentation, translation and just about anything that you can imagine in the business of software development. Simply writing excellent tutorials with good manuals and video demos could turn a project around... and this is typically the sort of work that the deep developers don't find very interesting. There are even other opportunities, like the proofreading help needed by Project Gutenberg. Unusual projects like the Open Prosthetics Project, which try to accomplish goals for the general good.
It's not hard to get involved in projects. It takes time and a little discipline to stick with it, even though you don't have a manager demanding that you produce. However, I think that you gain the same satisfaction from this work as you do from any sort of good volunteer work that you might do, and you actually get to benefit from the work yourself by having greater functionality and improved skills.
Comments and pointers to opportunities are certainly welcome!
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Tags:  austin support openness open_source community music 2 Comments 6,473 ViewsModified on by cmw.osdude
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cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Tags:  enabling new imaging on brief with non-profits open source. clonezilla some notes 5,283 Views
My next proper entry in this series of posts (am I doing a series now? How utterly corporate!) on what I've been doing with open source in the small non-profit office of a church will continue with some of the other tools and techniques that we've used behind the scenes. However, my last one actually prompted some questions, so I thought that I'd take a few minutes to address those before preparing for the holiday coming up. (Why do holidays always end up giving us more work?)
I was generally pleased with what I could do with Clonezilla. There is some good documentation available on the project web site, but I also found a good tutorial that gives a step-by-step demonstration of what it is like to work with Clonezilla. Within the project web site you'll find all the information that I used to create a bootable USB key that contained the full Clonezilla as well as the base image.
Later on, I'm hoping to use those same ideas to make one that will be automated... boot from that key and it re-images the C-drive, no questions asked... and some PXE booting that I'll combine with the wake-on-lan to automate updates we may do down the road. These are pretty techie projects and not designed for someone who is not an expert, but that's really the point. I'm not really trying to eliminate the expert. I think that environments running without an expert available deteriorate into chaos because no one pays attention to the warnings of disaster. Rather, I'm trying to use these tools to make it easier for an expert to volunteer and help out without having to go "in house." A team of technical people can cooperate to keep things running reasonably smoothly doing a little here and there within their schedules.
Other Open Source Solutions
Someone asked about open source solutions for things such as Point of Sale. This, and other areas such as CRM, are important applications that need to work well for an organization. I am absolutely not saying that open source solutions don't work well. I'm just suggesting that when you select a solution in these areas that it is a much larger commitment than a web browser or word processor. Your business data and practices will be wrapped around this choice. It's not a choice to be entered into lightly.
I'm a huge fan of open source solutions. I generally use all open-source for solving my own problems. However, there are times when I hesitate to recommend that course to others. Why? Well, I'm a techno-geek. I love to play with these things and explore them and make them work. Decades of that attitude have made me so that I'm pretty flexible and adaptable and don't let things like mysterious error messages stand between me and my work. However, I deal with users-- volunteer users who could be at home doing things with their families-- who experience a sort of panic when technical things happen. They may want to have someone to call to answer questions. That person may become me, and that can steamroll into a lot of volunteer time rather than the time I am paid for. That's the sort of scenario that drives volunteer technical expertise away. If the open source option is not stable, or is vastly different from what people might be used to in their commercial background, then I would hesitate.
Another issue which can occur with these situations is there may be some specific business requirements, maybe not within the organization, but in their interaction with other organizations that demand certain protocols or formats. This used to be a big issue with documents going to printers. They needed it in specific file formats, which were generally tool-driven. Much of that has changed over time with things like the openness of PDF, which provides a neutral format which many tools can produce. You will need to what the real business needs are for your organization and make sure that there are not critical business functions which demand specific commercial tools. As much as we might like to keep things "free and easy" these requirements may trump the open ideals. The good news, is that good application of open solutions where appropriate will often free up funds which can be applied to these commercial tools. Continued evolution of open source may mean that "no" really means "not right now." It may be that down the line that interoperability standards put an open source solution back on the table. Keep an open eye and an open mind.
Having commercial software as a part of your environment doesn't necessarily crush the work that you've done with open source there. You should try to select solutions that fit with the environment that you want to create rather than allowing them to dictate the environment that you must have. I like the stability of Linux running on servers in our environment. (More than 3 years without a single server issue and 99% of the support done completely remotely.) I resist solutions could not include a Linux server solution. It's always a battle, because most people who suggest solutions have a pretty narrow view of operating environments. However, in each case we've been able to find an approach which gave everyone what they needed.
I will say that one of the things that I like about IBM commercial solutions (and those of our partners) is that they tend to exist in a multi-platform world. If you can buy (or get donated) an IBM-based commercial solution then it will likely fit into an environment that has a lot of open source and play nicely. (That has been getting better and better over the last ten years and continues to improve.)
Let's say, though, that you've considered your options. You have determined that a commercial answer is not needed, or not available because of resource. You're going to go open-source. There is not a magic way to find the right package. Quite honestly, the way that I begin such a search is go to Google and enter "open source XXXX" where "XXXX" is the function that I'm looking for. The most popular projects for that solution will come up on top of the search. Then I dig through them. I look at the features and functions. I look through the forums for complaints. Lots of discussion entries that say things like "I reported this bug six months ago! When is it going to get fixed?" are dead give-aways. I tend to favor applications that run in Linux, but could run in Windows or Mac. Those seem to me to be the best thought out and working with the most stable technologies. I look for things that use open data formats like XML and standard SQL servers. If it seems to have some proprietary approach to holding the information then I tend to back away. I may need to rescue some of this information at a later time. I want a level of transparency. If you establish your criteria, test for your requirements and are willing to walk away from applications that don't fit then you should be abe to find good fits.
So, why am I not providing a list of recommended applications? Well, I think that this is an area where there is a lot of subjectivity. My perspective of which one is better doesn't really matter because I'm not really using some of them right now. If I deploy one to solve a problem I'll write about it, but until then they are all candidates. I would rather talk about what did work for me rather than what should work for you.
One thing I will say is that at this stage in open source evolution, you take on a level of risk when you invoke an open source solution. It's less from the software itself which, as I said before, tends to be pretty good. The risk is more from the politics and societal view of open source. I think I said before that in my project there are knowledgeable people who seem to withold their Windows expertise on the workstations because we won't run Windows servers. Non-profit environments can get pretty political and you may need to exert a good deal of leadership to make these things work. Some of the answers are not obvious. I highly recommend that you associate yourself, either in person, or virtually in some community areas. There are two good groups right here on My developerWorks:
IBM and Open Source, Open Standards, Open Computing - people who work with IBM environments and open source.
Real world open source - a group started by Yours Truly to help gather people who are trying to make this stuff work.
The level of access for a group can be set to open (anyone can see and join), moderated (anyone can see, but you must ask to join), or private (only visible to members). You can amend the access level of a group at any time using the Edit Group form.
You can choose to associate applications with a group, such as wikis, if they are available for your deployment. When you do this, a link and a feed to the parent wiki page are provided in the group's overview page.
When you create a group, you can associate a specific image with the group. The image you choose should be closely associated with the group's identity. You can change the image at a later stage using the Edit Group form.
I'm on vacation for a bit, but when I return we'll get back to the church office and how we're using wakeonlan, ssh and vnc to remotely support workstations.