So, some have been asking me, “Why do I suggest Ubuntu as the operating system of choice for installing NOSH ChartingSystem?” Although the system can be installed on any system as long as they have an operating system that has the MySQL database (where the information is stored), Apache web server (to display the information on a webpage), and PHP (the brains of retrieving and saving information) as a part of the system, I focused on developing the installation packages solely for the Ubuntu Linux distribution first and foremost.
First a background. I love the name Ubuntu, which is an African ethic or humanistphilosophy focusing on people’s allegiances and relations with each other (taken from Wikipedia). This fits my world view, both as a human being and a physician. It’s also something that I see that we as a society and we as a group of doctors need to improve upon every day.
From a technical point of view, Ubuntu Linux is a particular distribution (you can also call it a “flavor”) of Linux which is an open-source operating system. Ubuntu, in particular, has a focus on delivering Linux to the masses by focusing on user friendliness and an intuitive interface (sounds familiar?), while at the same time, not sacrificing functionality and security, which are all hallmarks of Linux. For those who don’t know about Linux, it’s everywhere but you don’t really recognize it like they way iPhones and Windows are known in the mainstream. The Android smartphones, for example, are based off of Linux. Many consumer-grade and professional-grade devices that require a basic operating system embedded (DVD players to robots) use Linux because of the cost and ability to customize it to their needs. That’s what makes Linux so great. But’s also not flashy. There’s no marketing campaign for the Linux operating system per se. That’s why people don’t hear about it so much. But it’s out there, and it impacts our world in a big way.
Ubuntu Linux thrives on it’s developer community as well as its users. Major funding comes from other software or hardware companies that utilize Ubuntu for their systems and countless hours of volunteer time from software programmers who wanted to contribute to improving the project. So, Ubuntu is not “owned” by a small group of individuals. It’s not a corporation and it’s not a monopoly. It’s a collaborative effort and I was very impressed with their mission and the goals they have set out to achieve.
As a testament, I use Ubuntu Linux every day for work and for home since 2004. I’ve used it for my medical practice since 2009 after I stopped using my old EMR which was Windows-based. I love the fact that it just works, boots very fast when I turn on the computer (I had 2 laptops, one with Windows 7 from my other work and my own for my clinic that has Ubuntu. Windows 7 booted up after 2 minutes, Ubuntu booted up in 30 seconds!!!), and I don’t get these “blue screens of death” or unexplained crashes and freezes. I run my servers with Ubuntu and they keep running months on end without even rebooting. Being a loyal user over the past 9 years, I have the utmost confidence in the operating system, even though it’s free and doesn’t seem “proper” or “mainstream”. If something doesn’t work quite right, you can mostly find fixes or know that it’s going to get fixed after Google searching. There is really a vibrant community of problem solvers who use Ubuntu. It’s not like you’re out all alone in the great unknown.
So how do you get Ubuntu? Head over to their website, download the “.iso” file and burn it on a USB stick or burn a CD; reboot your computer and install away. It’s really easy. You can even try it first without erasing your existing computer system. You can even install it alongside your existing Windows system if you want (but not the other way around: when you install Windows on an Ubuntu system, it is known to wipe out the Ubuntu system…not a very cooperative piece of software, in my opinion).
Once you install Ubuntu, you can add the repository (my Personal Package Archive, or PPA) that contains the NOSH ChartingSystem following the instructions on this page. The next posts will talk about more in detail about the installation process once the project blasts off…T-minus 10 hours and counting.