technical info / technology grants

Morningside Methodist Computer Lab

We are finished with the Morningside Methodist Computer Lab project!  Just in time, we received requests for two more local computer lab projects.  There is definitely a large demand for just the few services we provide already (technology grants and computer lab installations), let alone the services we will provide when we are fully operational:

  • soft skills and technical skills training
  • job preparation and placement
  • safe, effective and ethical technology education from “cradle to cradle” or “cradle to grave,” meaning building, operating, repairing, disassembling and parting out, rebuilding and recycling
  • environmental/recycling advocacy and education
  • distribution of technology resources through technology grants

Table of contents

  1. Project Story
  2. Setup process
    1. client computers
    2. print server / lab monitor

Project Story

Our job was to give Morningside Methodist’s Community Connections Program a functional public computer lab.  The lab will offer computer resources to the surrounding community (much of which is low-income) at little or no cost.

First, our job was to look at what we were working with.  The room was quite a mess.

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After a bit of cleanup thanks to the volunteers at the church, we were able to get to the hardware and assess:

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It was all over the place!  Fortunately, we just got a donation of several slim form-factor desktop systems that provided great, uniform-looking replacements.  We took the old/non-functional computers off their hands, or they recycled them through NextStep Recycling and swapped them out for the donated systems.

One of the church volunteers, Fred, converted it into a standing desk with a high stool to allow standing or sitting.  Cool!  This computer acts as the print server, and gives every computer in the lab access to the laser printer:

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The network was running at a crawl.  Something wasn’t right — it would have taken months to complete the project at such slow speeds, and the lab would be unusable as an internet gateway.  We looked into router, and a simple firmware upgrade did the trick!  I’ve encountered this issue so many times…!

The bigger task was getting all seven computers up and running.  For that, we created setup procedures based on our standard process (see below) and went about installing the hardware and software.  Lubuntu lets us turn old computers into modern, functional ones:

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The finished computers…

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A happy Community Connections Coordinator at her standing desk (she says, “Thanks Fred!”)


A two-month project and a great learning experience!

Lab setup procedures

client setup process:

  1. Do NOT “update installer” — for some reason it has failed to proceed after trying this option

  2. Install 12.10 from scratch (no updates, we want a consistent computer lab user profile)

  3. do NOT “download updates while installing” (slow internet connection)

  4. do NOT “install 3rd party software” (slow internet connection)

  5. name:  “morningside”

  6. username:  morningside-X where “X” is the computer number (1-7)

  7. password:  notforpubliceyes

  8. Require password to login!  We do NOT want to give normal people access to anything other than the Guest account!

  9. After install, update the computers

  10. After update, install extra software:

    1. Secular productivity software:  lubuntu-restricted-extras (extra non-GPL codecs, fonts, etc) gtk-redshift (protects users’ eyesight) firefox (second web browser) audacity and lame (advanced audio editor, mp3 encoder) tuxtype (learn to touch-type!) libreoffice [4.0] (advanced office productivity suite, like Microsoft Office) scribus and scribus-doc (desktop publisher, like Adobe InDesign) gimp and gimp-help-en (raster graphics editor, like Adobe Photoshop) inkscape (vector graphics editor, like Adobe Illustrator) stellarium (3D real-time planetarium) brasero (CD burning software) glabels (label maker and printer) gramps (genealogy research organizer)

    2. Bible study software:  Xiphos, Bibletime, Bibledit, Diatheke (all in repositories)

      1. see and


  11. Customize morningside user desktop

    1. add icons to launcher:  libreoffice, firefox

    2. add all launcher icons to desktop

    3. Setup print server first!  THEN install printers

    4. add gtk-redshift to startup programs

    5. add RMN/BOL logo backgrounds to the Pictures folder; choose a background (Caiti will make up these backgrounds!)

    6. Add “Believe Out Loud” weblink to the desktop

    7. install adblock plus and https-everywhere on firefox and chrome

    8. add browser bookmarks:  wikipedia, TED talks, Believe Out Loud, RMN

    9. Make Morningside Methodist website the home page for firefox and chromium

  12. copy the Morningside user settings to the /etc/skel folder:

    1. sudo cp -rf /home/[morningside username]/.* /etc/skel/

  13. verify Guest account is identical to morningside account!

  14. setup computers to autologin to Guest account as per:

    1. sudo leafpad /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf

    2. disable any user-specific autologins, and make sure that autologin-guest = True

Print server/Lab Monitor setup process

  1. Install Brother HL-1440 on print server,

  2. Rename as Scratch-Laser-Printer

  3. Add printer window autostart:  @system-config-printer –show-jobs Scratch-Laser-Printer in /etc/xdg/lxsession/Lubuntu/autostart

  4. Configure router for static IP ranges — acquire or reset router password!

  5. Configure Lab Mon computer for static IP: (this address is required for printer install on the above computers)

  6. Follow steps 10-14 above, substitute a standard account named “Lab Monitor” for the guest account setup (no pwd required to login)


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