After I wrote about Windows 7 and SteadyState last week, Sarah Washburn asked me a question that led me to look up some of the alternatives to Windows SteadyState that might help libraries secure and manage their public access computers if they’re really anxious to leave behind XP and/or Vista for Windows 7.
I was driving to work one day, down the miles of dirt road, listening to an audio book version of the This I Believe. This I Believe is a radio program of the personal philosophies of folks the what they believe to be true. (Hmm.., you say, I thought this was a tech blog. I'll get there..never fear, but I warn you this will be a looooong train.)
A few years ago I worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s U.S. Library
Program help desk, where I fielded thousands of calls about the
peculiar difficulties of making a computer available for public
use. Later when Microsoft released Windows SteadyState 2.0 (formerly
known as the Shared Computer Toolkit), a free program that protects
public computers and makes them easier to manage, I wrote some articles
Many of the libraries that contributed to the Cookbook extol virtues on software that "locks down" or "wipes clean" their public computers. As any librarian will tell you, much of the maintainance of computers is derived from reversing what patrons left behind. Faye Hover from Smith-Welch Memorial Library may have said it best, "because I'm sick to death of coming in in the morning and having everything changed--the background, they would change the wallpaper. I needed something that can prevent them from doing all of this."