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Paul Mobbs &
Mobbs' Environmental Investigations –

Work Archive –
Themes Index:

Free Libre &
Open Source Soft/Hardware

I've worked primarily with community groups for many years – mostly in the UK, but also in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. The materials produced from that work have relevance not just to the people who commissioned them, but many other communities too. For that reason I maintain an on-line archive of my work.

For details of the licensing restrictions on using these resources, see the Copyright and Sharing page.

Work Archive:
'Themes' Index

Articles

Handouts

Infographics

Media Coverage

Podcasts

Presentations

Ramblinactivist

Reports/Research

Themes

Activism

Climate

Cyberwarfare

Ecological Limits

Energy

FLOSSH

'Fracking'

Hacktivism

Nuclear

'Outdoors'

Peace

Permaneering

Planning

Pollution/Waste

Simplicity/Less

Quakerism

Video and Audio

The 'FLOSS' theme covers the use of Free, Libre and Open Source Software and Hardware. For example, many people think that the world of computing revolves around Micro$oft Windoze and other proprietary products. They're wrong – and in fact it would be in everyone's interests if we could collapse that property model.

This issue goes far beyond computers. The depletion of resources and creation of mountains of polluting electronic waste is directly related to a world where fashion, enforced by intellectual property rights, rather than engineering, dictate the obsolescence of equipment.

We needn't run out technological needs around that model, and change would have an immense impact on the consumption of energy and resources and the production of waste.

The works in this section outline this issue in more detail.


The 'Free, Libre and Open Source Software and Hardware' Theme

inc image The Gnu/Linux Operating System

August 2016

There is a "free" alternative to Microsoft Windows available. It is 'free' because you can: download it for free; you can make copies and give to friends; and, if you develop the skills, you can modify how it works to suit your requirements and share those changes – without getting sued for copyright infringement. It's called Linux – and if you haven't heard about it you should ask yourself why, and why you're not using it.

file icon download poster presentation
1.2 megabytes



inc image On-line activism and digital technology

August 2014

Every year I like to do workshops at The Green Gathering, Britain's premiere eco-festival. In 2014 I did three different workshops over the week – one of which later turned up on the Internet.

file icon goto video information page

file icon handout for workshop
76 kilobytes



inc image A Practical Guide to Sustainable ICT

August 2012

I spent much of the late Spring and Summer 2012 writing a book on sustainable computing for the Association for Progressive Communications (APC). Funded with support from the International Development Research Centre, it forms part of APCs work on ICTs environmental sustainability, and represents many years of my own experimentation and research in to the low-tech/low-cost/sustainable use of information technology.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
1.8 megabytes



inc image Ecolonomics no.9: When You're Windows are Broken don't be Surprised if you Feel the Cold Draught of Distress

23/12/2010

The phone rings; against the background noise of a call centre a young man says, "I am phoning about your Windows computer". I reply casually, "I don't have a Windoze computer" (I always make an effort to nasally sound the 'z' consonant). He apologises and rings off. Later his simple statement begins to bother me; why would anyone assume an automatic connection between the concepts "Windows" and "computer" when clearly Windoze is one of the worst operating systems that you can load onto a computer in order to use it creatively?

file icon HTML version
144.5 kilobytes

file icon PDF version
302.8 kilobytes



inc image Global Information Society Watch 2010

November 2010

A significant commission in 2010 was writing the thematic introduction for the Association for Progressive Communications and Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation's annual report, 'Global Information Society Watch'. The theme of the report was, "Focus on ICTs and environmental sustainability" – and as part of my general research touch upon the ecological impacts of electronics and technology the editors welcomed my input. As a result I wrote the introduction to the report, as well as the UK country report.

file icon The complete 'GISW 2010' report
5.3 megabytes

file icon GISW 2010: 'Introduction'
47.6 kilobytes

file icon GISW 2010: 'UK Country Report'
275.7 kilobytes



inc image Free Range Sheet Q1: Intellectual Privateers – Intellectual property rights in the "digital age"

April 2009

The scope of intellectual property rights – both the powers used to prosecute infringement and the level of harassment that many people receive to pay to use "intellectual property" – has grown in tandem with the mass adoption of the Internet. In the digital domain the rights given to the holders of intellectual property rights represent a modern equivalent of the rights given to privateers during the early phases of Western colonialism five hundred years ago, and as a result our own rights to produce, copy and distribute information are diminished. In this paper we look at this process, and at the effect this has on the "information commons".

file icon HTML web page version
66.9 kilobytes

file icon Colour PDF version
342 kilobytes

file icon Greyscale 'print/photocopy' PDF version
332.1 kilobytes



inc image Free Range Sheet J4: Upgrading Old Computers – Recycling old technology with Gnu/Linux

March 2009

The computer world is obsessed with the utterly non-ecological trends of "bigger", "faster", and "newer"; much of the world's computer equipment is discarded not because it is broken, but because of the development of larger, more bloated software that requires faster computers to run it. This unit looks at the alternative option – recycling and upgrading old computer equipment to give it new uses.

file icon HTML web page version
165.7 kilobytes

file icon Colour PDF version
619.6 kilobytes

file icon Greyscale 'print/photocopy' PDF version
599.9 kilobytes



inc image Free Range Sheet J3: The CLTC System – The making of a free, recycled training platform

March 2009

The origin of the CLTC project was the development of a mobile computer training platform for community groups – The Community-Linux Training Centre. Although that system has now worn out and has ceased to function, the ideas created through its design, development and use continue to influence the recent research work of the Free Range CLTC Project.

file icon HTML web page version
362.5 kilobytes

file icon Colour PDF version
1.9 megabytes

file icon Greyscale 'print/photocopy' PDF version
1.8 megabytes



inc image Free Range Sheet J2: The Gnu/Linux System – The alternative to proprietary computer systems

March 2009

From the point of view of Windows users, where you don't necessarily have to understand what you're doing to make the machine work, Gnu/Linux can seem a complicated and difficult thing to get your head around. In reality, whilst you might have to become a little more "involved" in using your computer, the benefits – especially better security, lower costs and far less vulnerability to viruses – will outweigh the costs of learning to use a different system.

file icon HTML web page version
90.5 kilobytes

file icon Colour PDF version
402.3 kilobytes

file icon Greyscale 'print/photocopy' PDF version
338.5 kilobytes



inc image Free Range Sheet J1: Thinking Outside the Cage – An introduction to Free/Open Source Philosophy

March 2009

"Microsoft Windows is what makes your computer work". People who learn to use computers at school or in the workplace may believe that most computers require Microsoft's Windows system to work, but this is not true. Windows, and it's latest incarnation Vista, might be what the mainstream computer media talk about but there are other options – and best of all, some of these options are completely free!

file icon HTML web page version
100 kilobytes

file icon Colour PDF version
482.5 kilobytes

file icon Greyscale 'print/photocopy' PDF version
416.9 kilobytes



inc image The Community-Linux Training Centre

2008

A slide presentation on the 'Community Linux Training Centre', a recycled open-source ICT edication and training platform.

file icon presentation slides
451.2 kilobytes



inc image Salvage Server Project 'Case Study' No.1: A Gnu/Linux Laptop for a Community Recycling Organisation

March 2005

This first case study from the SSP project dives straight in the deep end – installing a Gnu/Linux system on a recycled laptop. This report outlines some of the problems inherent to installing a Linux­based laptop, and ideas for installing a system specifically for use in a small community group.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
1 megabytes



inc image Salvage Server Project 'Junk Ideas' No.5: ELV Dummy Load for Power Supply Testing

January 2005

You build a mains or renewable energy power supply for a laptop or other sensitive device, plug it in, turn it on and BANG – smoke comes from the power supply, laptop, or both! Here's a junk idea to avoid making such an expensive mistake.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
1.1 megabytes



inc image Technological Standards, Digital Rights Management and Free Software

December 2004

An essay I wrote for a course at Göteborg University that a friend asked me to take part in and give feedback. The essay looks at whether it is possible to encompass digital rights management systems within free software – a contentious if archaic issue within the FOSS movement – whilst retaining the fundamental 'openness' principles of free software.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
221.2 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Practice Briefing 2: Using Linux with Kids from 3 to 7 – an introduction

December 2004

Using computers with kids can be problematic. On Windows machines problems arise when they start fooling around with system files or don't respond appropriately to warning messages. By contrast, the greater security provided by Linux means kids can play, largely unsupervised, with little risk to the system. This briefing looks at various aspects of using Linux with kids – both in terms of software and playing with hardware.

file icon download resource PDF
1.1 megabytes



inc image Salvage Server Project 'Junk Ideas' No.4: Uses for Useless Computer Hardware #1 – PC Cases

February 2004

When old computers get too old what can you do with all that old junk? One of the big problems are the cases of computers and other equipment. They're bulky, and although the steel ones can be sent for recycling, the plastic ones tend to get landfilled, or worse, incinerated. So here's an idea for re­use.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
246.6 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Building Blocks Briefing 2: Getting to Grips With Grip

January 2004

Music CDs have been been around for a long time – but mechanical recording media like CDs are on their way out. Today most new recording devices record digitally, producing computer files as their output. But how do you convert all your old, expensive CDs? – with Grip.

file icon download resource PDF
311.9 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Building Blocks Briefing 1: USB Mass Storage Devices

January 2004

Today many of the devices used with computers – such as digital cameras – store information. Most use the USB port to transfer this information to your computer. This briefing looks at how to read data from USB storage devices.

file icon download resource PDF
357.2 kilobytes



inc image Creating Linux Networks with Trash Technology

2004

A presentation priduced for ComputerAid International on recycling trash computer technology to create a community ICT training facility – based on the work previously undertaken developing the 'Community-Linux Training Centre', and then building that concept "in the field" through events such as 'The Container Project'.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
537.1 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Practice Briefing 1: The Gnu/Linux Operating System

December 2003

This, rather wordy introduction to the Linux system is intended to provide background information on Linux, and what it is. It does not provide any practical guidance. Instead it conveys the theoretical concepts that will help you understand how the Linux operating system works.

file icon download resource PDF
130.7 kilobytes



inc image Salvage Server Project 'Junk Ideas' 3: The Tech2 L200 Variable Voltage Regulator

November 2003

Power is a problem. You always need it, but you don't always have a mains supply. So this regulator, originally designed as part of the Tech2 festival in 2002, was developed to solve the problem. It is able to regulate the variable voltage from a battery down to a constant voltage – for powering equipment like laptops.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
839.6 kilobytes



inc image Salvage Server Project 'Junk Ideas' 2: Ethernet Cable Tester

November 2003

Making Ethernet cables is easy, when you have the tool to crimp the connectors. But even then, you can't always be sure that the connector has been properly connected to the cable. Commercial network cable testers can cost £60 or more. Here's an idea for a simple cable tester that cost under £20 if you, or someone handy with a soldering iron, makes it from scratch.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
1 megabytes



inc image Salvage Server Project Report 3: Setting Up Mail Forwarding Lists With KMail

October 2003

KMail is a moderately lightweight email client that works well under both the KDE and Gnome desktops. But it also has very good mail filtering functions. These can be manipulated to forward mail automatically each time your mail is checked. So making KMail function as a small email list server.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
194.7 kilobytes



inc image Community-Linux Training Centre Project Documentation: First Year Project Update

October 2003

The Community–Linux Training Centre Project has been developed as a means of promoting the use of Gnu/Linux for education and training amongst community organisations and grassroots activists. This briefing outline the concepts behind the project, and the progress to date.

file icon download resource PDF
93.1 kilobytes



inc image Salvage Server Project Report 2: Networking Computer Systems Using Ethernet

September 2003

A computer on its own is a useful typewriter, or a games console. But the true value of a computer system doesn't present itself until you connect it to other computers to enable communication and resource sharing. This report looks at the issue of connecting systems together using a 'local area network', or 'LAN'. It explains the concepts behind a LAN, and outlines how to set one up using trash. tech and the Gnu/Linux operating system.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
216.5 kilobytes



inc image Salvage Server Project Report 1: Selecting Operating Systems for and Upgrading Older Computers

September 2003

Computer systems are designed, produced and marketed to have a limited operational life. Although the hardware may last four or five years before total failure, the software used on it may only be supported for two to three years. When regenerating any computer equipment, it is important to select the right operating system to avoid problems with usability of the system. This report looks at the issues in installing software on older equipment.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
212.9 kilobytes



inc image Free Range Bulletin 03/1: Broken Windows with Stronger Fences

August 2003

Many people do not like the practices of large multinational corporations. Some work actively to campaign against such organisations, and change the system for something better. Why then do the majority of these people hand over control of their computers to a monopoly corporation, Microsoft, and pay large sums of money for the privilege of using insecure software?

file icon download resource PDF
101.1 kilobytes



inc image Computers in Cross

May 2003

This music video, produced with music created for the launch party, documents the setting up of 'The Container', a community ICT and technology recycling project – Palmer's Cross, Jamaica, April/May 2003.

file icon goto video information page
5.1 kilobytes

file icon download MP4 video file
6.5 megabytes

file icon download Ogg video file
6.2 megabytes

file icon music track
2.6 megabytes



inc image Salvage Server Project 'Junk Ideas' No.1: Swappable Hard Drives for Backing-up

February 2003

Old hard disks are easy to come by. In the mid-1990s people thought 300 or 600 megabyte hard disks provided massive storage capacity. Today they are relatively useless on most operating systems (Slackware Linux excepted). This sheet looks at putting all these old disks to a practical use as bulk storage devices. For older hard disk the storage capacity is relatively similar to CD-Rs, but perhaps more expensive if you buy the drives. But when using recent, large capacity, hard disks you can achieve storage capacities that are cheaper per gigabyte than DVD-R discs.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
247.3 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Documentation Sheet 7: Configuring the CLTC's Network Services

January 2003

This sheet looks at configuring the CLTC's network services. This involves setting up a networked printer to allow all the machines to share a single printer connected to the server. We then have the onerous task of setting up a 'Samba server' to allow Micro$oft Windows machines to connect to the Linux network (hell, we love Linux, but we have to lend a hand to those poor sods still beholding to the Micro$oft hegemony).

file icon download resource PDF
84.5 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Documentation Sheet 6: Configuring the CLTC Web Server

January 2003

This sheet looks at the configuring the CLTC's web server; both the primary web server, and the configuration of virtual servers. It also considers the enabling of the various processing and scripting hooks, such as server includes, CGI, Perl and PHP, that will be used later to extend the functionality of the web applications used on the system.

file icon download resource PDF
120.6 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Documentation Sheet 5: Configuring Remote Server Access

January 2003

This sheet looks at configuring the main report access protocols: remote access (using the rlogin, rsh and rcp commands), telnet and secure shell (SSH) for accessing the functions of the server, and file transfer protocol (FTP) for moving files on an off the server. These protocols can be very useful for maintaining a local network, but they are often used for the remote maintenance of rented servers. We therefore use these on the CLTC as a means of teaching server management.

file icon download resource PDF
112.2 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Documentation Sheet 4: Configuring the Sendmail Email Server and POP3 Access

January 2003

Email was the 'killer application' that made the Internet a viable technology. It is still the critical communications medium of the Internet today (as opposed to web sites, which are a one-way medium). Setting up email is therefore a priority for any networked training platform. This documentation sheet works through the process of setting up email on the CLTC. For this we use sendmail as the transport agent, and pop-3 as the delivery agent.

file icon download resource PDF
70.7 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Documentation Sheet 3: Installing the Internet Chat and News Servers

January 2003

This sheet looks at the configuration of the InterNet News (INN) and Internet Relay Chat (IRC) servers. These are probably the most complex of the servers on the CLTC system to set up for those with little experience of working with Linux. However, they both provide valuable services on the CLTC server to support training in the use of networks and communications systems.

file icon download resource PDF
88.5 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Documentation Sheet 2: Setting up DHCP, DNS and NFS on the CLTC Server

January 2003

This section deals with setting up some of the basic networking services: Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) to assign IP addresses to client machines; a Domain Name Server (DNS) to run the name-space on the local network; and a Networked File System (NFS) to allow the clients to access a share of the server's disk space in common.

file icon download resource PDF
155.1 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Documentation Sheet 1/C: Installing the CLTC's Client Systems

January 2003

This sheet looks at the configuring the CLTC's client systems. There is no one way of doing this because different Linux distributions have slightly different methods of installation. They also organise the graphical desktop and some of the Linux configuration files slightly differently too. Therefore this sheet concentrates on the issues related to client installation, and the configuration of the various programs and network clients after installation.

file icon download resource PDF
162.1 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Documentation Sheet 1/B: Basic Installation of the CLTC's Server System

January 2003

This sheet looks at the basic installation and configuration of the CLTC's server. The configuration of services and the management of the server will be dealt with later in individual sheets. This sheet only considers the installation of the Linux distribution onto a laptop, and post-installation tasks to facilitate the installation of network services.

file icon download resource PDF
144.7 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Documentation Sheet 1/A: Linux Installation and Hardware Issues

January 2003

This sheet looks at the hardware issues relating to Linux installation – which are numerous and sometimes inconsistent. It looks at some of the issues that plague Linux installation, especially when using laptops, and how they were resolved within the setting-up of the Community-Linux Training Centre

file icon download resource PDF
82.7 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Documentation Sheet 0/B: Designing the Community-Linux Training Centre System

January 2003

This section outlines the technical criteria behind the development of the CLTC system. In particular, it looks at the importance of specifying the design of the local area network in advance of setting-up/installing the hardware.

file icon download resource PDF
177.5 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Documentation Sheet 0/A: Developing the Community–Linux Training Centre

January 2003

This first section provides an introduction to four differing views of the project - the history of the design, the objective of a 'community' Linux project, the financial aspects, and the potential uses of the CLTC system.

file icon download resource PDF
128.5 kilobytes



inc image ICT Policy: A Beginner's Handbook

2003

Produced the the Association for Progressive Communications, this is a guide to global information and communications technology (ICT) policy, and the benefits and threats to the development of civil society groups as ICT developed globally. I was one of the contributing writers of the report on the sections related to surveillance, data retention, cybercrime, terrorism, freedom of expression and cybercrime.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
6.2 megabytes



inc image Wilf's First PC Build Day

2003

Wilf has been using Linux since he was nearly three. From nearly four he has been able to boot-up a Linux system and log into his user account. Now, at five and a half, he's going to build his first PC (with a little help from his Dad)

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
308.5 kilobytes



inc image Implementing Directive 2001/29/EC: Comments on the proposed amendments to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988

October 2002

A response to the consultation on amendment to UK copyright law for GreenNet, focussing especially on the impacts the proposed changes would have on the use of information in the community.

file icon Consultation response report
124.3 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Project Information Sheet 5: Using File Transfer Protocol (FTP) to Move Data

August 2002

Moving information from a server to your computer is routine − for example reading a web page, or downloading your email. But sometimes you just want to move large chunks of data efficiently − without worrying about timing−out. You may also want to send data in the other direction − from your computer to the server. In both these cases File Transfer Protocol offers a simple means of moving data from A to B.

file icon download resource PDF
98 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Project Information Sheet 4: IRC − Internet Relay Chat

August 2002

Most Internet services are one−to−one − but are disjointed in time between when messages are sent and received. Internet Relay Chat − IRC − is a 'real time' communications system between Internet users. For this reason it has special significance in the potential use of the Internet by society.

file icon download resource PDF
133.7 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Project Information Sheet 3: Using Email

August 2002

This briefing looks at how email works, and how email can be practised on the Community Linux Training Centre. It also looks at some of the applications of email, such as lists.

file icon download resource PDF
204.9 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Project Information Sheet 2: Remote Login to Another Linux System

August 2002

This briefing looks at remotely logging into another server − either on you local network, or somewhere else on the Internet. For most Internet users this is not an important issues. But for those who hire space on commercial servers it is often necessary.

file icon download resource PDF
54.8 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Project Information Sheet 1: Using The 'K' Desktop Environment − KDE

August 2002

This briefing deals with using graphical user interfaces (GUIs) − in particular the 'K' Desktop Environment (KDE) that is used within the Community−Linux Training Centre. The purpose of the briefing is to briefly outline the basics of using KDE as a gateway to the other functions of the CLTC system.

file icon download resource PDF
252.7 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Project Information Sheet 0: The GNU/Linux Operating System Explained

August 2002

This, rather wordy introduction to the Linux system is intended to provide background information on Linux, and what it is. It does not provide any practical guidance. Instead it conveys the theoretical concepts that will help you understand how the Linux operating system works.

file icon download resource PDF
48.7 kilobytes



inc image GREENBASE Public Display Computer System

01/04/1991

Recently there has been a large growth in the number of interactive public computer systems, ranging from those in libraries run by local councils, to an expanding number in shop windows run by the English Tourist Board or the AA. These systems show the potential of how computer based systems can help in communicating to the public. It would be great if the environment movement could take hold of information technology and use it to promote 'green' ideas, but such systems are very expensive – but there are alternatives!

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
1.8 megabytes