KLUG Weekly Meeting Notes

Tuesday, May 31, 2005


ISM, Open Source, and the GRPL

Presented by William Ott

Bill Ott is the Information Systems Manager for the
Grand Rapids Public Libraries. He has been using
Linux and free Unix variants since 1994. He used
his Dell laptop running Red Hat Fedora Core 3 with
OpenOffice.org Impress & KLUG’s SVGA projector
to make his presentation. Part of the presentation
was done with the actual ISM v4.0 software. He told
us what the GRPL needed, what tools were used, how
they did it, how it evolved, and what is ahead.

GRPL uses The Internet Station Manager v4.0 to
control 99 personal computers in 8 buildings on
their network that are used by the public for
internet access. Not only does it provide user
authentication and access control, it manages the
user session time rules too. The software handles

16,000 to 20,000 user sessions per month. The
ISM server runs on the FreeBSD operating system.

The tools used in The Internet Station Manager v4.0
are the Apache web server & mod_perl, MySQL database,
and the operating system’s firewall control ability.

How does it work? ISM forwards HTTP traffic to
the local server via the forwarding firewall rules.
Authorizes client and authenticates user. Opens the
firewall to gateway traffic. Re-inserts the forwarding
firewall rule upon session conclusion. There was an
even more detailed technical explanation given in
addition. ISM includes wireless access too.

Bill showed us the program including both the user
and the administration interface with functions. His
hopes for ISM in the future include full desktop
control, more contributed code, CVS, and even CPAN.

The Development Page - The Internet Station Manager
There are other uses for this software in addition to
managing public internet PC's at a library. Check
ISM out and see if you can think of a few possible
network control applications. Open Source software
for public libraries is a super idea. Released under
the general public license (GPL), of course. Public
demonstrations of this Open Source software are added
proof that the non-proprietary tool set will deliver
solid secure solutions.

(14 Linux Enthusiasts Attending)

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