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Root-locked Linux for the masses

The future: managed desktops?

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Eddie Bleasdale, open source evangelist and the man behind NetProject, has a new plan. Secure, managed desktop computing: Linux for the non-techies.

At the heart of the Trusted Computing Project is a £200 black box, about the size of those funny little Mac boxes, running a root-locked Ubuntu distribution. The user pays an annual fee of £50 for secure support from a proper Linux geek.

"The TCP is for those who recognise there has to be a radical change in the way computing is provided to the public," Bleasdale says in a press notice. "A growing number of people are not using the internet for electronic services because of concerns about viruses and trojans infecting their computers."

All of the software on the box has to meet open source standards, which means Skype (for instance) won't be on the approved list. Bleasdale admits there was some heated debate about the delisting of Skype, but is adamant that since he cannot vouch for Skype's security, it had to go. If he allowed it to be installed on the boxes, he couldn't call the project Trusted Computing any longer. For those who must VoIP, he recommends OS-friendly Ekiga.

The box itself is based on the technology that underpins the one laptop per child project, which makes it very low power: the box runs off roughly 5W. "You plug it in, leave it on overnight, and when you come back it is barely warm," he told us.

He says the set-up will suit those concerned about internet security, but also small businesses and schools who would like to run Linux, yet don't have the expertise to do it themselves.

"Users require no security or administration skills, and the actions of the users cannot compromise the integrity of the computer, and software is updated remotely." ®

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