Tech Report

Date: February 16th, 2009

To: Michael Green
From: Steve Rippl
Subject: Tech Dept. Executive Summary

The transition to OpenOffice in the High School and Middle School has not been completely without it's teething problems. The library staff have been kept busy helping students with the new software and pointing out various issues to us in Tech, and I certainly have appreciated their efforts. Between the students becoming more familiar with the new application and us in Tech adjusting things so that it better fits into our environment (as we generally need to with most new applications) I'm confident things will settle down soon.

Meanwhile a number of users are testing our new email and calendar servers which will replace Outlook/Exchange, and I can report we can fully support the iPhone!! It's no small thing to build a replacement for Exchange, but we seem to have pretty much managed again using just free software. Our final challenge will be supporting our older PDAs which unfortunately don't speak the standards based protocols that the iPhone (and our new desktop email clients) do, but there are a number of possible workarounds we're exploring. A few more staff members will be invited to move to the new system in the next couple of weeks to help with testing. The timing for moving all staff over will be a question of balancing staffs availability and waiting until things have really settled with OpenOffice, I really don't want to push too many things at once onto our end users!

We received another donation of five good quality PCs from Cowlitz PUD, as we seem to roughly once a year. This combined with a number of spare machines from previous lots we've bought and a bunch of servers we're running on regular PC hardware means we have quite a few good quality computers in our office, which we'll be using to replace the slowest machines out there that staff and students are using. I need to move most of these "PC" based servers in our office onto proper server hardware both for reliability reasons and because we're no longer able to keep our Tech office cool enough with the number of machines running in there. One "real" dedicated server in the MDF in the library can do the work of several small PC servers more reliably, using less electricity and generating less heat.

Finally, in the background we're doing some work to upgrade/replace our DNS and DHCP services (network stuff that tells each computer who it is and who and where every other computer is). Of course we're looking at open source applications for this, and we'll be able to tie it into what we do with our Network Access Control that we established last summer, and what we're beginning to implement for our automated Linux server configuration. We're gradually developing an integrated system tailored for our environment.