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Webconverger: Linux for Libraries?

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Webconverger 7.2 is a live CD whose claim to fame isn’t that it boots into a desktop environment with a surfeit of applications, but rather that upon boot it offers Firefox and nothing but: no menus, no icons, not even configuration tools. Just Firefox. In fact, it doesn’t offer Firefox so much as it forces it upon you, launching it immediately upon boot and relaunching it whenever it’s closed. And that’s the appeal of Webconverger. Using Webconverger, institutions or individuals who need to offer internet access can, without worrying about configuration, security, or cost.

There’s nothing to configure, since Webconverger automatically detects the hardware it is running on, automatically configures the appropriate network settings, and finds any network printers that it might have access to. There’s no need to worry about security, either, since it’s a live CD. (A live CD is a CD that contains an operating system that runs from the CD without being installed to a hard drive. Since data can’t be written back to a CD, each reboot is like wiping a slate clean.) What’s more, in the case of Webconverger a user’s browsing history and the like are wiped clean each time the browser is closed. Finally, there’s no cost for the base CD other than the cost of recordable discs since Webconverger can be downloaded from the project’s website. (Webconverger is also free, open source software.)

That’s all well and good, but how does Webconverger actually perform?

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