Forum OpenACS Q&A: Anyone thinking of offering OpenACS starter boxes as a business?
being the platform of choice for all kinds of knowledge initiatives,
communities of practice, intranets, etc. Is anyone thinking about
offering starter boxes that have the whole thing installed and
configured (Linux, AOLserver, PostgreSQL, ACS) for the newbies and
non-technical knowledge community activists? (Or is there a way to
create a disk image with the whole thing configured that a newbie
could install?) Since all the software is free, open source stuff,
there should be no license issues to speak of. This ease-of-getting-
started approach I think would greatly accelerate the adoption of
OpenACS. I want to use OpenACS for a plant floor knowledge initiative
and would be very interested in buying such a box and then setting it
up via the admin pages rather than trying to install all the
different pieces and get them to work together. Would any custom PC
integrators be interested in such a thing?
This doesn't quite answer your question as it still leaves one the chore of installing OpenACS, rather than buying a box all ready to go. But it will greatly simplify the process, particularly compared to the hair-pulling needed simply to install Oracle for ACS Classic...
<P>Redhat doesn't sell the boxes. And those that do have a limited role in helping you debug things. Mostly initial hardware driver setup, burning the box in, they don't deal with the Oracle or PostgreSQL, nor helping you make a website. Companies like DELL that dares to sell you websites along with a box are the kind of people who can benefit from OpenACS though. But that's a lot of resources. You are taking care of an entire process. For example, Arsdigita have been running for a long while and only a few month ago added a hardware selling division of sorts with a box call Rocket something.
<P>But go nuts, just make sure you make money :)
Well ten years ago a software package with the power of ACS was $50,000 for a 40 user license plus $100K for a HP-950 to run it on!
I am a parent of a handicapped child and I look at ACS part of a solution to many of the agonizing, time consuming parts of dealing with school, therapists, doctors, appointments, government, insurance and so on.
I look at OpenACS not as a "box" but as an information movement machine that that I hope to bring to bear on real world big problems.
Part of the psychology of creating a climate for adoption of ACS needs to be a way to find a listing with a lot of people offering to set up and support ACS systems.
For instance, I want the health insurance people to implement inquiries into health insurance coverage... and the way to do it ought to be with inquiry messages encrypted pretty much along the lines Phil Greenspun outlined for how middle parties should encrypt and forward credit card sales inquiries.
So I would say: Offer boxes YES! and use ACS itself as a tool to create and format and publicize just what you have in mind and how much you charge.
And as you do it (and I might too) fearlessly speak back to the community about your developing experience. The more developers the better!
Lee: I am a parent of a handicapped child and I look at ACS part of a solution to many of the agonizing, time consuming parts of dealing with school, therapists, doctors, appointments, government, insurance and so on.
That's one of the amazing thing about the ACS toolkit, it is fit for use in many learning community. And it can only get better. I totally agree, I hope ACS comes with every little Indrema (or whatever setup box all Americans end up using) that they ship out.
Ofcourse it doesn't have to be setup boxes.. marketing geniuses will have to be hired to figure out how to get ACS into every home.
Hence the revolution in broadband communications in the home, with a home based server you have total control over what get's backed-up and when. You in effect are your own ISP to a point. With the creation of a few different modules, (ie..home inventory, auto/power tool maintenance, food preparation and inventory) OpenACS makes an excellent resource for a home based network were each member of the family has their own workstation (diskless terminal?) with access to the their own Intranet Page.