I have been recently invited by high level officials of one institution to help them to publish several journals on line. Indeed, I recommended them to use Open Journal Systems which they gladly accepted.
They showed me their server, but one of high officials said: “You know, we do not have anyone who knows Linux. We heard that you know it. we have on our server several installations for different web platforms, but we do not have idea how to fix several small issues and how to make everything work smoothly.” I looked at each of those GNU/Linux installations and realized that many of them are installed as desktop machines with some additional applications such as web server, PHP, MySQL etc. But, many of those installations were lacking several dependencies resulting that some modules in web applications did not work. People who installed them were elsewhere and they did not have any documentation on settings, active services, software package versions and other important information related to virtual machines with operating systems and web applications installed on them.
I suggested to them that is necessary somehow to standardize those installations and choose GNU/Linux distribution that is efficient and easy to administer and migrate web applications to newly installed virtual machines and create documentation with precise information on operating system version, versions of important applications and infrastructure requirements. Those specifications will help administrator to manage backups, upgrades, maintenance, testing instead of guessing where is which application and with what other application is or is not compatible. They were scared since they were not sure how to do that and how many work hours is needed for that. Well, that will save a number of work hours of saving damaged or corrupted data, misbehaving applications or consequences of compromised virtual machines due to software packages that were not upgraded when needed.
Thanking to experience and knowledge of free software developers and users of GNU/Linux and many other free software applications it is possible to plan, project and implement whole infrastructure and web applications in a way that can assure users and administrators that everything will work smooth.
It is needed to take care on:
- easy of use
- ease of quality administration
We can add more criteria and discuss all of them which is beyond scope of this post. But, I want to stress importance that free software, open access are not just sandbox for benevolence and good will. It is rather, very serious activity and require a lot of work in order to make sure that users of information and knowledge we publish on web applications designed for open access publishing will have positive experience that will help them to learn.