GNU/Linux Operating System for I-Cafés
In view of the current crackdown on the use of pirated software, forums frequented by i-café owners are awash with discussions on alternatives for the expensive Microsoft Windows operating system (O/S). Some i-café owners confessed to using pirated or cracked software because of the additional investment needed to buy the licenses. Current costs of software licenses can easily double the investment on a computer unit for use on i-café station.
Linux, being a free and open source software (FOSS) plus its continuous development and support is the natural choice to replace Windows. The alternative operating system is now as user-friendly as Windows and installation and set-up is comparably much easier than before. Office productivity in Linux is the same as that with Windows and the only one (1) issue remaining for it to be adopted as O/S for i-café is compatibility with the popular Windows online and local network games.
Out of the hundreds of Linux distributions, Zencafé, which is now in its Version 2.0, has stand-out to be the Linux O/S of choice as replacement for Windows in cafés. Designed mainly to be used for i-café desktop, Zencafe 2.0 is easy enough even for users with no technical background. Included in the installer are auto-recovery (similar to Deep Freeze) and internet cafe management software (timer).
At Linux Blog – Internet café’s resources, Zencafe 2.0 system requirement and features are quoted as follows:
Pentium III class processor
128 Mb RAM
3 Gb Harddisk
GNU/Linux Operating System, kernel 188.8.131.52
OpenOffice.org 3 (Office Applications)
Firefox (Internet Browser)
Pidgin and Gyachi (Instant Messenger)
Cafe Con Leche (Internet Cafe Management Software)
Autorecovery (Kiosk mode protection, “deepfreeze like tools”)
The blog post also says that Zencafé has more webcam support now. This is important for cafés with customers using Yahoo Messenger (YM). The application which runs only on Windows can now be substituted using Gyachi instant messaging program that has webcam support in Linux.
What to do with customers asking for Windows games? First, you may want to introduce them to Linux games which are as exciting as those of Windows. When all else failed, buy licensed Windows O/S and games but only for a few of your units. Have majority of your stations run on Zencafe 2.0 for use by your Internet access customers and Linux gamers. This way, you save money and have a good night’s sleep without the worry of getting raided by the anti-piracy team the next day.