Posted by: acoss | January 11, 2010

Halifax Regional C@P Association – Going Open & Green

Halifax Regional C@P Association are moving to energy efficent, Open Source software based computers

The Halifax Regional C@P Association is moving to energy efficient, open source software based computers

The Halifax Regional CAP (C@P) Association manages 40 public Internet access sites across the Halifax Regional Municipality in Nova Scotia. C@P sites are a public service jointly funded by the Canadian Federal and Provincial governments. The public can visit a C@P site to access the Internet to check email, access Government information such as job banks, or just play an online game with friends.

Back in 2008, the Halifax Regional C@P Association (HRCAP) needed to find a replacement solution for an aging fleet of PCs. They decided they wanted to find a solution that was energy efficient and would use open source software to cut costs and reduce the environmental impact of the organisation. With those goals, they began a study of various thin clients and software, consulting with experts such as ex-CKDU broadcast technician Stephen Kelly and tintedGreen Technologies consultant Mike Lovell. The HRCAP team setup tests sites, such as at the Echo Lake C@P site and studied how the various energy efficent computers and open source software solutions functioned. They also kept an eye on the opinion of the public using the systems to see how they were received. The Lake Echo C@P site has the distinction of being the first virtualized, open sourced C@P site in Canada.

Over a year later, the project is still in progress but has already produced some interesting conclusions. Currently they are planning to reuse old hardware but instead of a local OS upgrade, they will be using a Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP) virtualization server with USB flash drives to boot up virtual Ubuntu OS sessions on the systems. Where new hardware is required, they plan to use FitPC 2 systems which would load virtualized desktops from the same server. The FitPC 2 systems are extremely energy efficient, only using about 1 watt of power during normal use. Another great impact of using the virtulization server to create on the fly desktop environments is it reduces the need for HRCAP technicians to visit the various sites as often to do software updates and maintenance, saving gas and time.

As well, to further their goal of championing open source software, as of March 31, 2010, all HRCAP sites will be required to use grant money to acquire open source software solutions over a proprietary one, if available,  for all future installations.

This project is a great example of thoughtful study on how open source software can be used with energy efficient hardware to produce a cost effective infrastructure. The energy savings alone from this project has been projected at $21,000 CAD a year.  Since 2008 the HRCAP has been posting detailed descriptions of the project on their website. Visit the link below to see more information about the innovative project.

UPDATE (February 2, 2010) tintedGreen, the green computing consulting company working on the project, has more information on the project at the link below.

*image from the Halifax Regional C@P Association website.



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  2. […] CAP association when they developed a virtual desktop deployment system together, covered on this blog previously . He is attempting to build a product that is “an all-in-one solution that is cheap, easy to […]

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