Welcome to NHSbuntu!

(David Howard) #23

Hi does evolution connect automatically if you are running it from home ? ie not on a N3 line, if not what are the configuration details .

(gary.kennington) #24


Yes, once configured Evolution will connect to whichever network you are on, WIFI, N3, 4G, 3G etc.

It is easy enough to set up. Let me know if you need any config help


IT Operations Manager
NHS South Devon and Torbay CCG
Pomona House
Tel: 01803 652583
Mob: 07500127083

(Barry Schofield) #25

I have passed your disc to Jeremy Hunt and he was extremely interested. He is passing it on to his tech people. I note two problems which urgently need to be sorted out.
If you can do the first I will give him the updated version.

  1. Virtualbox doesn’t load with sudo apt-get install virtualbox. It shows an error in the terminal.
    This is necessary for those windows application and drivers not available with Linux and it is a must to be repaired.
  2. The email is extremely dated and no software is in the system to load Thunderbird.

Can you treat these as a priority before the tech guys give it a thumbs down because of this.

(David Howard) #26

Oh yes please , can you send me the settings ?
Thank you

Best wishes


Dr David Howard
Pemberley Surgery
Dr Howard & Partners
32 Pemberley Avenue
MK40 2LA
01234 351051

Bedford Locality Chair
Bedford Clinical Commissioning Group
Tel: 01234 263873
PA :-Email: cerys.peck@bedfordshireccg.nhs.uk
Address: Gilbert Hitchcock House, 21 Kimbolton Road, Bedford, MK40 2AW

(Barry Schofield) #27

I am not sure what settings you want. I am sending you the disc in the post today.

(Barry Schofield) #28

Don’t use evolution it is dated. Use thunderbird. Load it from a terminal with sudo apt-get install thunderbird.
You will then find it in applications/internet thunderbird mail.

(Iain) #29

Hi, can I ask what packages you have added to your distribution? The reason I ask this is because I have been a Debian evangelist for some time, which became Ubuntu but I found most standard users got frustrated with the GUI and on a dual boot for home use would soon ask to make Windows the default Grub boot, until Mint turned up. Mint with the Cinnamon desktop is by far and away the easiest transition onto Debian from Windows and Macs, the desktop layout very much aping Win7 and MacOSX. I’ve stopped being asked to reconfigure Grub.

As Mint is essentially Ubuntu with a nicer GUI, what works in your distribution will work in Mint and packaged that way, enable the majority of NHS support staff who have, majoritively, only ever had training on Windows machines, to transition more smoothly.

If I’m missing something I apologise, I decided to go talk to the GPs practices round about me after the Wanacry virus and finding you has been part of me boning up on what an NHS PC requires. I’m downloading your distribution now to have a look at, but the Mint issue does seem immediately obvious.

Cheers and Thank You for being here.

(Marcus Baw) #30

Hi Iain,

Glad to have another Mint evangelist in the gang! I’m a long-time user of Mint and I think, as you do, that Cinnamon is probably the way to go. Unity is being dropped (and is too weird for many people), and Gnome3 is quite graphically resource heavy, meaning it is less likely to perform well on our target 5-10 year old NHS machine. We’re seriously considering the switch to shipping a customised ‘NHSbuntu’ Mint as opposed to Gnome3. Your comments are very helpful.

In terms of what we have added, much of NHSbuntu is actually removal of unnecessary packages, with a few utility additions like Remmina. Then there’s branding and UI tweaks to make it as acceptable as possible in the NHS. We also have to develop some stuff that doesn’t yet exist in the Ubuntu/Linux world, such as a native Linux NHS smart card client, which is crucial to success. And a huge amount of NHSbuntu is simply evangelism, marketing, and persuasion - to get people to try out something new, that they are unfamiliar with and that (perhaps) threatens their professional standing.


(Jose Bonilla) #31

Hi Marcus.

Here in Ecuador, we are making a transition to Linux by installing some Ubuntu flavors national wide across health centers, hospitals and administrative units.

We use mainly default LTS Ubuntu and Mint, but would like to define a unique desktop SO. At this time, we are installing Linux Mint 18.1 in central goverment units (about 1000+ users), and I would be glad to share our experience with your team. Also, I would like to get some advice about security and interoperability, but also implementation best practices and challenges.

I have read some info about security issues with Mint, so any suggestion about security hardening and large scale implementation would be really helpful. I agree that also resistance to change is one of the main issues besides ICT effort.

Please, write me if you need any futher information, and do not bother to ask about any info you need from us about our implementation experience.

(Marcus Baw) #32

Hi Jose, great to know you working on similar projects in Ecuador. Glad also that your choice of distros aligns well with ours. (it has been suggested by some people in the UK that Ubuntu/Debian derived distros are insecure and that we should use CentOS for example. We don’t agree, hence why I’m encouraged to see others using Ubuntu derivs)

By all means ask questions on our forums here about security and interoperability, we may have some ideas also about large scale implementation, but we can’t claim to have any direct experience there.

Great to hear form you, and stay in touch!



Hi Marcus,
I am new here, but not new to the NHS Linux problem, so to get an inside track on attitude, I sent the following email to NHS England.

Re: Freedom of Information request (Our Ref: FOI-053567)

Thank you for your Freedom of Information (FOI) request dated 26 May 2017.

Your exact request was:

“Many thanks for your assistance so far and may I ask the following questions.

  1. What plans, past, present and future, does the NHS have for the use of Linux as a server and desktop operating system.
  2. What plans, past, present and future, does the NHS have for the use of Open Source Software, for example Open Office, Firefox and Thunderbird.
  3. Are there any plans to evaluate NHSbuntu, www.nhsbuntu.org , as a replacement for Windows XP or Windows 7 on the desktop.
  4. Given the massive part that Linux plays as a server platform on the Internet and as the basis of the Android OS, does the NHS have a sufficiently large number of Linux trained individuals to entertain an increase in the use of this OS?
  5. Are there any Forums or Blogs that allow interested individuals or groups to participate in the making of NHS Digital policy on subjects of this kind?”

NHS England holds some of this information.

  1. What plans, past, present and future, does the NHS have for the use of Linux as a server and desktop operating system.

We can only reply on behalf of NHS England as each NHS organisation is responsible for its own IT strategies.

NHS England has no plans to implement Linux

  1. What plans, past, present and future, does the NHS have for the use of Open Source Software, for example Open Office, Firefox and Thunderbird.

NHS England use Firefox as part of our managed desktop service.

NHS England have no plans to use other Open Source Software.

  1. Are there any plans to evaluate NHSbuntu, www.nhsbuntu.org , as a replacement for Windows XP or Windows 7 on the desktop.

NHS England has no plans in this area.

  1. Given the massive part that Linux plays as a server platform on the Internet and as the basis of the Android OS, does the NHS have a sufficiently

large number of Linux trained individuals to entertain an increase in the use of this OS?

Taking in to account the answers above, NHS England have no plans to employ Linux trained staff.

  1. Are there any Forums or Blogs that allow interested individuals or groups to participate in the making of NHS Digital policy on subjects of this kind?

NHS England does not hold this information

So there is the problem.
“There are none so blind as those that simply don’t want to look”

Who, I wonder, is the guy who has the power to change this?
I doubt it is the Minister.

Am I wrong about this?


(Marcus Baw) #34

I would agree that the journey is going to be very much an uphill one.

The rapidity of the turnaround on that FOI to NHS England suggests that they didn’t spend much time ascertaining the facts. Whenever I’ve made FOI requests they normally take several weeks.

NHS England probably aren’t in a position to know much about the tech, because they commission that service from NHS Digital. So they probably answered truthfully, in that they (NHS England) have no plans to do any of this Linuxy stuff.

I wonder if the same FOI sent to NHS Digital might yield a little more info. I know for a fact that NHS Digital is planning a hack week on NHSbuntu at the end of June, because I am going to it, as are some of the rest of the team.

But given that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand’s doing most of the time, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if NHS Digital responded the same. Equally I wouldn’t be put off by it either. Open source is going to happen to them, whether they like it or not, whether they welcome it or try to put it off. It’s just the scientific method - and open, evidence based computing - coming to Medicine.



Dear Marcus,
Thanks so much for your input.
Yes it started with NHS Digital

Ref: NIC-114490-W8Q9V

Dear Giles,

Thank you for your email.

Unfortunately, we are unable to assist with your below enquiry, as we do not hold the requested information.

NHS Digital is a Public Body, whose main responsibilities are the collection, analysis and publication of health and social care data and statistics. We are also responsible for the delivery and support of a number of key IT infrastructure projects for the NHS. Further information about our organisation can be found on our website: http://www.digital.nhs.uk/about-us

We have passed this to our Technology and Release Manager who has advised to progress your enquiry, please contact NHS England on 0300 311 22 33 or email england.contactus@nhs.net who will be able to assist you.

We hope this helps.

Kind Regards,

Adam Winecor

Contact Centre Team
NHS Digital

0300 303 5678

1 Trevelyan Square | Boar Lane | Leeds | LS1 6AE

I have been here before. It is hard to see one’s target behind “The Impenetrable Edifice of Open Government”, but there is always a way. Often doxxing can get one close.

I am greatly heartened to hear of the linux hack week, and so soon!
May I ask if there is any chance you could keep us up to date here on any progress?

And may I wish you all the very best of progress.

PS There was a time when the Cabinet Office under Francis Maude was planning to embrace Linux. Does anyone know if it ever happened?

(Marcus Baw) #36

Nice work! - you’ve been busy on the FOI front to be sure :slight_smile:

I’ll keep people posted on the hack week.

The Cabinet Office thing made some inroads towards use of open standards for document formats etc, but Maude moved on and everything’s ground to a halt it seems.

(Iain) #37

That is because people don’t understand that Debian/Ubuntu(/Mint) is not only the safest user friendly desktop operating system it is also, if you account for the time and the professional input and coding the most expensively crafted operating system in the world. The Linux family of Operating Systems looks confusing at first but there are really only three strains Redhat, Slackware (Arch is Slackware even if it’s ground up build :slight_smile: and Debian. Most of the secure servers in the world run on Redhat and Debian equally secure has the most apps built for it because of it’s high adoption rate.

I’m not saying this because you don’t know but I like the idea of working on a pitch and I get that the number one issue is that most people just don’t know what Linux is. The other big sell is talking about virus management. Torvalds has a quote like “With a wide community any bug is shallow” ie BECAUSE Linux is not propriety and constrained by restrictive canonical version control, if a weakness or an exploit is exposed then, not a patch but a definitive fix is very quickly, collectively, crafted. I found it very interesting that after the Wikileaks Vault 7 release there was a flurry of updates to my system. Out of interest I turned on a windows machine to see how it behaved and there was very little. - Of course it’s always good to point out just how much of your system resources are chewed up by friends like Norton or Kaspersky.

I think craft is a good word because if I had to define Linux or Debian, I find that Art or better Public Art, - Public Mathematical Art is the best descriptive. Like all great art it has been forged from a heady mix of ego and love and some (if not all) of the greatest Unix coders in the world have contributed including both students and professors.

I have a couple of questions for the development team. I’ve got NHSubuntu on a stick now and booted it up on Thursday and I’m seriously impressed even if I don’t know what half of it does. Couple of things sprung to mind. You have developed this to run in a health trust, a hospital, but I’m guessing a GPs surgery doesn’t need a lot of it. As GPs are a private partnership, it is easier for them to make decisions and that is the easiest pitch. Getting a swathe of GPs signed up, getting them confident, is going to help a Trust’s management team have the confidence to start rolling it out. I noticed That you ask for 10% of a units previous budget to provide professional support, does that mean remote desktopping? and do you have a pitch along the lines of why it will be secure?

(Joseph) #38

… for what it’s worth Mint also runs quite well on prehistoric
hardware… I have been using it on an indestructible IBM T42P vintage
2005 for 3 years (2 Gb ram, solid state disk). I have used Linux as my
desktop for 15 years and Windows when necessary… Mint is by far the
best UI/distro I’ve used.
I second Marcus’s comment that Linux use is inevitable… the open
evidence based innovation model is an obviously natural fit for
medicine/health. With digital “interventions” having achieved “life
critical” status quite some time ago, it’s baffling evidence based peer
review of software is taking so long to catch on… but it will.

(Barry Schofield) #39

Me too Mint18.1

(Barry Schofield) #40

Jeremy Hunt has a copy of NHSbuntu which he has given to his technical team.
Linux is also being used in the Education departement.

(John Barbrook) #41

Awesome. How did I not know about your team. I am positively excited!

I am part of the team running the technology jam at the East of England and Midlands librarians conference, and I am making sure to have a laptop running NHSbuntu available for all the NHS Librarians to try.

I have been advocating for the use of Linux and Mobile Devices in libraries for 7 years now, mainly for cost saving reasons but most importantly that the IT systems require significantly maintenance. We once ran an NHS education centres WiFi over two buildings, 12 access points with DDWRT boxes and and Ubuntu Machines running smoke-ping for network monitoring, all tied into a (then) wildly fast fibre asynchronous broadband connection. It was both highly resilient and never ever went down, and It cost approximately £100 a year to run (outside of the fibre costs).

Are there any key talking points that differentiate NHSbuntu from a base Ubuntu Installation that I should be aware of when we get the Librarians excited? Any key integration that has taken a lot of your time?

Thanks for making my week NHSbuntu team.


(Marcus Baw) #42

@johnbarbrook great to hear from you and glad we’e made your week!

In terms of what differentiates NHSbuntu from stock Ubuntu the main thing that took ages was deciding on exactly the correct shade of blue to use in order to maximally enrage the DoH Brand Police :slight_smile:

More seriously, there are many small differences, but mainly we have optimised NHSbuntu to work out of the box with the kinds of services that we know are in use in the NHS - so we have email clients that work with NHSmail2, we make sure Active Directory foo works well, and we now have a Proof Of Concept Identity Agent (for NHS Smart Cards).

What we aim to do is to provide as much of the configuration out-of-the-box as possible, so that Trust IT teams can spend less time on local configurations, and more time on the important things.