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Disaster Lab CD
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rob

Joined: 18 May 2005
Posts: 50

PostPosted: Wed 30 Nov 2005, 21:31    Post_subject:  Disaster Lab CD  

During the spate of recent disasters our world seems to have encountered recently, a priority in each case has been to set up IT infrastructure in order to enable communications between victims and families along with normal tasks such as school work, job hunting, internet access, VOIP etc.
Normally, pcs are quickly donated to the scene of a disaster but the mismatch of operating systems make it hard to set up a network of easy to use machines for the general public. Having read an article written by someone setting up such machines, I have decided to help to create a standard live cd, based on puppy, which can be used in this type of situation.

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rob

Joined: 18 May 2005
Posts: 50

PostPosted: Wed 30 Nov 2005, 21:31    Post_subject: Disaster Lab CD  

The advantage of puppy's boot from ram feature will be that the same cd can be used to run several workstations. I plan to include a server on the same cd as the client and, if no server is found, the server processes will be started. This will hopefully create a standard network infrastructure amongst the client machines and the server machine enabling the least technical of users to maintain a network. The server will run a proxy, dhcp, and jabber server, voip gateway and make an inventory of the connected machines and their peripherals (hopefully). This machine will then need to be connected manually to the outside world, through which all other machines will automatically be set up to access the outside world. In the long run, I plan to include remote config update, allowing all pcs to be updated from multiple sources in a tree structure, sending of inventory to a permanent server, google map integration (to enable networks to be located geographically) and user tracking.
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aahhaaa


Joined: 06 Oct 2005
Posts: 341
Location: Lower Michigan, North America

PostPosted: Wed 30 Nov 2005, 22:19    Post_subject:  

Interesting idea; basically you are talking about a communications machine. VoIP might be something you'd want to include. You'll need to overcome some limitations in the connect arena; maybe a base machine with wireless ad hoc sharing chains? Or even tie into the ham radio folks, who always seem to be the first up when the wires go down.
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Lobster
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Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 15117
Location: Paradox Realm

PostPosted: Thu 01 Dec 2005, 00:13    Post_subject: Re: Disaster Lab CD  

rob wrote:
During the spate of recent disasters our world seems to have encountered recently, a priority in each case has been to set up IT infrastructure in order to enable communications between victims and families along with normal tasks such as school work, job hunting, internet access, VOIP etc.
Normally, pcs are quickly donated to the scene of a disaster but the mismatch of operating systems make it hard to set up a network of easy to use machines for the general public. Having read an article written by someone setting up such machines, I have decided to help to create a standard live cd, based on puppy, which can be used in this type of situation.


Such a project (suggested name: St Bernard Puppy - after the legendary Swiss rescue puppies) is best available sooner rather than later.

CD ISO images can be hosted at puptrix.org and a page created on the wiki immediately. Look at Howto section on creating a wiki page - or ask me and I'll do it.

I recently came across an old Puppy hard disk with Puppy and the Monkey server on it. That is easy to set up but more powerful options may be appropriate. We have other servers.

I will also recommend The Puppy Foundation offer full support to this project.

New versions of Gaim (which supports jabber in all versions are available)

A very important component IMO is on line services. Once you get a satellite or other internet link, you have more resources.
http://puppylinux.org/wikka/OnlineResources

For example this sort of messaging ability . . .
http://www.murga.org/%7Epuppy/viewtopic.php?p=26115#26115

Smile

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rob

Joined: 18 May 2005
Posts: 50

PostPosted: Thu 01 Dec 2005, 08:16    Post_subject:  

http://arstechnica.com/guides/tweaks/disaster-livecd.ars
This page provides a first-hand account of the kind of experiences encountered by people who find themselves in situations like these whilst also commenting on the good and bad points of existing solutions.

As an additional point, DHCP which was how I was going to figure out if a new server was needed, should only be accepted if an IP address is given in the range expected. This way the clients can expect the standard settings offered by the server on the cd rather than just a random dhcp server without full server processes running.

I envisaged the cd being used in a shelter which people who become homeless are moved to (i.e. for setting up a computer lab using donated hardware) although I think there may be scope for individual remote nodes to be added which is what I think you are getting at with the wireless ad-hoc and ham radio ideas.

The problem generally isn't getting the connectivity into the area, as companies such as microsoft and intel are generally very charitable at providing bandwidth. The problem is making the hardware work together, including a mismatch of random hardware such as new and old printers, digital cameras, scanners, video cards, network cards and sound cards.

The public nature of these machines means some lock-down of settings will be essential. Although puppy will mean you can reset the machine and return to identical settings, this is not very desirable. You don't want the person on the machine running the server processes to sudddenly lock out the rest of the network by downing an interface for example.

A dynamic server switch tool which locates the most powerful or well connected machine and makes it the server might be a good idea. That way the machine is able to provide connectivity to additional nodes in the local area.

Preconfiguration for the services of those companies who have historically provided a lot of aid may provide a good start, i.e. specific VOIP providers, rarer hardware drivers, internet proxys (maybe)
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Lobster
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Joined: 04 May 2005
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PostPosted: Thu 01 Dec 2005, 15:10    Post_subject:  


Smile
I have modified my menu program to provide quick access to the important features that might be required. I have used the name "Puppy To The Rescue" PTTR - you can run and modify at will - it is an easy to understand program as it is XML like script.

Skype and Cups are not implemented yet

First of all I feel a dual booting (the knoppix hardware recognition in DSL is very good) hybrid Puppy/DSL is possible - someone already seems to be running one . . .

There is also experimentation with another VOIP and pressure should be put on Google to extend its VOIP service to Linux.

We should make every effort to offer technical support as a priority to ALL users so we are ready for disaster response.

Anyway I feel this is very worthwhile and pledge my and the Foundations (All those in favour say aye - aye - carried) full support

Hope my suggestions are of some small use.

How about this:
http://www.erikveen.dds.nl/qemupuppy/index.html

It also should be possible to have GAIM autoconfigured to an emergency channel

I also feel we should instigate a Puppy Training scheme for on site and remote rescue workers. Volunteers can do google searches, create printable documents and do other services that can be outsourced . . .

"Puppy To The Rescue"

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aahhaaa


Joined: 06 Oct 2005
Posts: 341
Location: Lower Michigan, North America

PostPosted: Thu 01 Dec 2005, 15:23    Post_subject:  

The problem generally isn't getting the connectivity into the area, as companies such as microsoft and intel are generally very charitable at providing bandwidth.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your concept. In say, a major earthquake or hurricane, donated bandwidth won't help much until the linemen get back in to restore power, cable, fiber optic, cell towers, and phone lines. In New Orleans, this took weeks; some places still have their lines out.

If I were doing the hardware part, I'd also consider equipping laptops with automotive 'lighter' adapters, so any available 12V source could be used...

Hre's a way to chain wireless so it cover large areas:
Adhoc.gif
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rob

Joined: 18 May 2005
Posts: 50

PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec 2005, 11:02    Post_subject:  

The first location to get power and broadband is usually the place where all the people whose homes have become unihabitable have been moved to (or rather the place where all the people without homes get moved to is the place with power). It is for those shelters I was originally planning the cd, as this is where connectivity can be supplied, normally a school, red cross shelter, church etc. I think your idea is a good one as you can then channel the access from the first place that gets access across the disaster zone, so I hope to add that functionality. Unfortunately, you will only get basic connectivity after a couple of hops due to lag. Anything beyond simple web surfing and email is out of the question as packet loss will be too high and special configuration will be required for the wireless network, allowing for this delay.
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rob

Joined: 18 May 2005
Posts: 50

PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec 2005, 11:07    Post_subject:  

Lobster, that is ace! So easy to use. I think a number of ideas to come forward from this project may be useful in other areas, like the training and some newly compiled progs and the cd should be easily adaptable for other applications such as public web kiosks and information desks. I'll go look to see if there is already a standard IRC channel for disasters. What have you got under training?
I think maybe windows to puppy screenshots would be helpful, to allow people to find all the features they normally use, as many users will be used to windows and IE. Is a dotpup of firefox, java and flash available?
Whats the problem with skype?
I think another voip client is also required, as from what I hear, some voip providers provide free lines and calls to disaster victims. http://www.hb.se/bhs/ith/2-97/gi.htm#2
This page describes several disasters and the ways the internet was used to help.
http://www.voip-info.org/wiki-Open+Source+VOIP+Software provides sip, H323 and IAX compatible voip software. If someone can get YATE or phonegaim compiling under puppy, it would be a great help Smile
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RMW

Joined: 12 Sep 2005
Posts: 85

PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec 2005, 11:52    Post_subject:  

I hate to inject politics, but connectivity really isn't the problem.

Background: I'm a retired military intelligence analyst. When moving to a new location, it was a matter of hours for our intelligence systems to be connected to each other, to the secure intelligence internet (yes, there is one, INTELNET), and to the public internet. It didn't matter where in the world we were, if we needed to be connected we were.

The problem is NOT connectivity. If military assets were deployed to support disaster relief then any location could be provided with internet connectivity in a matter of hours. The problem is the government's unwillingness to deploy those assets, or to commit military assets to relief efforts for even a limited duration (until civilian assets could be put into operation.)

Or, more likely, the fact that the people running the government don't truly understand the technology available or how it can be used. They simply don't see the net as a tool of disaster relief, because the majority of the people running things didn't grow up with it and don't understand how much of a benefit such connectivity can be. They still think modularly: telephones and email, not the broad spectrum of interlinked communications available.

As a grass roots movement this Puppy is a fantastic idea. It would allow older technology to be stockpiled for emergency relief. It provides an inexpensive alternative to trying to get modern machinery loaded with expensive commercial operating systems into place. It allows a general call by relief agencies for donations of old, obsolete computer equipment that they know they will be able to get running and connected almost immediately.

But what is also needed is for FEMA and other agencies to understand the usefullness of broad spectrum connectivity, and for them to acquire the equipment necessary to create a large area ad-hoc network. Either that, or an additional grass-roots movement to get the networking hardware into place. Something like the old ham radio operators, who would volunteer to pass messages during disasters, long before (relatively) cheap land line and cell phone services. Convince FEMA, the Red Cross, or someone else to invest in a few "mobile router towers". Convince them that it is not only the relief workers that need communications, but the displaced populations, and that the internet is a viable alternative to waiting for the cell phone companies to repair their towers.
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rob

Joined: 18 May 2005
Posts: 50

PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec 2005, 11:58    Post_subject:  

Created http://puppylinux.org/wikka/StBernard st bernard puppy wiki page.
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aahhaaa


Joined: 06 Oct 2005
Posts: 341
Location: Lower Michigan, North America

PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec 2005, 12:17    Post_subject:  

what is also needed is for FEMA and other agencies to understand the usefullness of broad spectrum connectivity

RMW - very good points. Our local disaster plan (& we are near a power plant much like the one in the Simpsons) has no option to send pre-prepared evac info emails, trigger area cell phones (wake people during tornado), or even use the cable system as part of the Emergency Alert System.

Don Quixote's helmet all over again...
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Lobster
Official Crustacean


Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 15117
Location: Paradox Realm

PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec 2005, 13:01    Post_subject:  

rob wrote:
Lobster, that is ace! So easy to use. I think a number of ideas to come forward from this project may be useful in other areas, like the training and some newly compiled progs and the cd should be easily adaptable for other applications such as public web kiosks and information desks.
I'll go look to see if there is already a standard IRC channel for disasters. What have you got under training?


Smile
Ease of use means the basic Puppy can be used and specialised and specific links provided for with the menu provided. An example of training would be the training videos that rhino is providing. These could be included on the CD.

Training documents can be provided and run from Abiword - where they would be available for printing.
Quote:

I think maybe windows to puppy screenshots would be helpful, to allow people to find all the features they normally use, as many users will be used to windows and IE. Is a dotpup of firefox, java and flash available?


Firefox 1.5 - yes G2 has created one
java is available as a tiny pupget (not sure how reliable that is)
and a dotpup from G2 is also available and kept updated
Flash is built into Puppy Mozilla (comes as default)

Quote:
Whats the problem with skype?
I think another voip client is also required, as from what I hear, some voip providers provide free lines and calls to disaster victims. http://www.hb.se/bhs/ith/2-97/gi.htm#2


Thanks for the link Smile
Skype is OK - we have it as a pupget
I have used it succesfully from Puppy
People are working on other VOIP programs - not sure how that is going?
It would also be worth having some disaster wikis and mirrors set up to be linked to and populated - if someone has spare capacity.

There is also the dogbone communication package which could be used
http://www.murga.org/~puppy/viewtopic.php?p=23516#23516

Smile

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rob

Joined: 18 May 2005
Posts: 50

PostPosted: Sat 03 Dec 2005, 00:48    Post_subject:  

One of the links above is a report of the experiences of Katrina volunteers working at red cross shelters. It explains that, as is usually the case, the flexibility of corporate bodies has allowed them to provide facilities where needed much faster than government in many cases. Intel and Microsoft for example provided network connectivity, and vonage offered free voip lines. In the japanese quakes, Sony posted information on their website. Agencies are insular in nature. This means it requires time and energy to mobilise resources where they are needed. It is the competition companies face which drives them to seek technology to push them ahead of their competitors. The response of walmart to the incident was extremely rapid, routing water supplies within hours to where it was needed, due to all the people organising it being together in the disaster room (not the official name) and having one person deal with each aspect. Store communications in affected areas were re-routed via satellite. So few people were involved in the process, responses could be obtained within seconds,rather than the government which tends to consider all options three times before making the only move truly available to it.

Although military comms are reliable, they achieve this by limiting the traffic going through. This is the strength of the internet. It can send huge volumes of data over multiple routes in real time. Depending on the method used to send information, many people can be contacted simultaniously even after the original source becomes inaccessable. There are few (I cant think of any) other mediums through which this is the case. The government has a lot to learn from lean agile corporate bodies. Whereas governments are designed as large stable bodies, companies need the flexability to adapt technology to a changing market and thus they can also adapt the latest technology to emergency situations requiring rapid response.

So basicly, if the government wont or cant do it, we'll do it ourselves with the help of corporate bodies, as the help is already available, its just packaging that is needed.

The aim of this cd will be to pull together the resources needed by people involved in this kind of situation in a quickly accessible way.

The government I refer to is not the US government but all governments. I myself live in the UK and see similar problems with the use of technology in the preperation for disasters such as flooding.

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Flash
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PostPosted: Sat 03 Dec 2005, 01:08    Post_subject:  

You're overthinking it. Government is expected to respond to emergencies; private industry is not. No one would belittle WalMart for trying but failing to provide assistance. It's that lack of accountability, the knowledge that they are risking nothing, that makes it easier for private industry to respond quickly.
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