[Web4lib] blue sky thinking

Houghton, Sarah houghton at plsinfo.org
Tue Jul 25 19:30:50 EDT 2006

"Aside from having a good firewall to sit behind, what is the biggest reason against doing this in-house?"
For many of us, the answer is a lack of in-house staff with the expertise or time required to create, run, and maintain a server.  Many libraries, particularly public and school, if they're lucky enough to have any IT staff at all, have one or maybe two staff people whose experience lies in desktop computer management, not servers.
That's why library servers are usually run by the city, county, university, or consortium's IT staff, who tend to be larger in number and sub-specialize in things like server management.  Not that they all necessarily do a good job of sub-specializing--which leads to this whole discussion of insane limitations and bad service.
Sarah Houghton


From: web4lib-bounces at webjunction.org on behalf of Keith D. Engwall
Sent: Tue 7/25/2006 2:49 PM
To: web4lib
Subject: RE: [Web4lib] blue sky thinking

Aside from having a good firewall to sit behind, what is the biggest reason against doing this in-house?

We just put together an Ubuntu linux server for about $600 with 1 GB of RAM and 400 GB of storage space. 

Ubuntu Dapper Drake Server with LAMP took an afternoon to install.  Not *quite* out of the box solution, but pretty darn close.  The configuration was pretty minimal, and I just copied the web site over and it just worked.

We just had to get a DNS set up for that box (two actually, one for the public, and one for a development version of the web page), and holes poked in the firewall for HTTP and SSH, and we went live with it inside of a week or two.

Now, we have our own environment in which to gradually expand our capabilities.  I don't know how to do all the things we want to do, but gradually, I find something that's interesting, ask questions, read about it, and then if it doesn't seem too hard to take on, I try it out.  We don't have to ask permission to try anything new; we just do all our playing in our development virtual host, and then when it is ready to go live, we copy it over into production.

I wouldn't call this a turnkey solution, but the configuration was a lot less than what I was expecting, and the support out there (and in here) is abundant.

It just seems to me that we're finally at a point where this technology is affordable, the tools are (relatively) easy to use, and the support is readily available.


Keith Engwall
Head of Library Systems and Technology
Catawba College Library
kengwall at catawba.edu

-----Original Message-----
From: web4lib-bounces at webjunction.org [mailto:web4lib-bounces at webjunction.org]
Sent: Tuesday, July 25, 2006 12:08 PM
To: 'Web4Lib (web4lib at webjunction.org)'
Subject: [Web4lib] blue sky thinking


This is just blue sky thinking and not pertaining to any institution in particular.  What if an institution wanted to gain the benefits that accrue to libraries that have excellent server access and support in, say, a LAMP (Linux / MySQL / Apache / Php & PERL) environment but had limited means and possibilities.  Is there any reason why something like this scenario wouldn't work?

1)  buy cheap space on a Linux shared hosting server that provides root access such as
      http://www.spry.com/plesk-vps/ <http://www.spry.com/plesk-vps/>  /
<http://support.jodohost.com/showthread.php?t=1726>  / http://www.linode.com/products/linodes.cfm

2) identify open source tools that significantly expand capabilities (i.e.
Content Management Systems or other database server driven tools)

3)  either install and configure these tools oneself or simply outsource it to someone via a site like http://www.elance.com/ <http://www.elance.com/>

4) point a DNS at this server only for those pages that rely upon the LAMP environment, but leave everything else "in situ".  What would be the best way to do that? Could www2.yoursite.com be made to point to a different server from www.yoursite.com <http://www.yoursite.com>  (the difference being the insertion of the Arabic numberal two just after the www, or is that not workable?)

Apart from the obvious potential downwides (i.e. the guy who bids the job proves not be sufficiently capable) is there a fly in this ointment?  Seems like the upside would be to enable public libraries to participate in some of the innovation that academic libraries are able to access by virtue of being embedded in technically forward looking environments with lots of computer science folks running around pushing the envelope, etc.



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