Hardware Solutions for Community Networks

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Teresa Hackler and Michael Gillespie

May 16, 1996
Reported by Marcel Albritton

President of The Gray Research Group
President of Telecommunities Canada
Project Manager Blue Sky Community, Networks of Manitoba

Michael read about a meeting at a public library starting a free-net and saw immediately the possibility of community networking. Michael discussed hardware options for establishing an on-line community network

Michael discussed the option that the Manitoba Telecommunity used to connect an entire Canadian Province.

Following are some unique characteristic of the telecommunity user community in Canada:

They take it as a birthright in Canada that they should have access to communication systems. It is a Socialist type country. Manitoba has 286 communities and 53 separate telephone calling areas. The Manitoba telecommunity operates in a minimum of two languages and sometimes more. The Manitoba telecommunity took a chance on implementing WWW technology before it was proven.

Chebucto- Integrated Free Software - text based WWW based suite created by Chebucto Community Net in Halifax Nova Scotia that is free for downloading. Chebucto supports the "trailing edge" technology in order to ensure a high level of connectivity on the telecommunity. The software suite allows anyone with a 50 dollar terminal and 10 dollar modem to access the net.

Michael recommends that the Sun Solaris operating system be used as the base system in community networking.


Teresa Hackler of Smart Valley Inc. Explained hardware use in the implementation of a Public Access Network (PAN), a public kiosk system in the Bay-Area of California. The public kiosks are all connected via 56Kb lines and feature full graphical interfaces.

Smart Valley is a high tech, non-profit, trade association that strives to advance use of the NII by bringing technology to the everyday person. Smart Valley seeks to help close the knowledge and access gap to NII resources.

Smart Valley operates solely through donations from private industry. Projects focus in the areas of business, community, education, and government. Smart Valley began providing public access in June 1996, and currently operates 12 public kiosks, half of which have printing facilities, in seven different cities in the Bay-Area. Smart Valley operates in partnership with the sites where they install their machines. A technical system administrator oversees each sight.

The Following software packages were suggested:

Citrix software
Citrix NT & Novell server.

Following are some hardware selection suggestions for setting up a telecommunity:

When you are setting up a web server- you could house your web server on a sponsoring company.

Co-locating your host is the way to go. Operate it where you have the resources. Cooperative ISP. Co-locate but do it in a different room so you have hands on access. Has a lot to do with the perspective of the ISP.