PublicWebStations.com is helping to setup Public Web Stations for the people affected by Hurricane Katrina. These stations are run off a modified Damn Small Linux LiveCD and allow web access to various disaster relief information websites. They are also assisting in organizing donations of computer hardware, and with the DSL’s requirements of a 486 with 16 MB of ram, a lot of unused computers can be made useful again.
“A working web station would take no more than 5 minutes to set up, and requires no ongoing maintenance except in the case of hardware failure,” Hargadon continued. “In case of any difficulties, the machine is just rebooted.”
Ars Technica has a related story, but addresses the problem of FEMA’s IE-only disaster registration website.
The issue isn’t only security. XP hardware requirements, while not impressive by today’s standards, rule out using some donated hardware as well. Furthermore, legitimate copies of Windows also cost money, and relief workers are trying to stretch their dollars as far as they can go.