“Green” Open Source Technologies for Earth Day

By Mark Hinkle

Yesterday was Earth Day (visit the open source Drupal-powered website for details from the Earth Day Network). In September 1969, at a conference in Seattle, Washington, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson announced that in the spring of 1970 there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on the environment. Senator Nelson first proposed the nationwide environmental protest to thrust the environment onto the national agenda. This would be the first Earth Day. Now the event is celebrated twice a year at different times depending on what hemisphere you are on.

In recognition of Earth Day, here are a few open source ideas that might help save the planet or at least extend its shelf life.

  • Recycle Desktop Computers into Thin Clients – Rather than buy a bunch of new computers that use environmental resources and add carbon to the atmosphere during the manufacturing process you could recycle aging desktop computers by creating a thin client setup. You could use the popular Linux Terminal Server Project to re-purpose those old computers into thin clients driven by a single server.
  • Consolidate servers–Rather than bring up a separate for every new application use the Xen hypervisor to consolidate under-utilized servers on one machine.
  • Contribute to an Open Source Automobile Project–The Open Source Green Vehicle Project is the backed by the Society for Sustainable Mobility. While the OSGV is really about open design it does adhere to the spirit of open source. See my previous post on the OScar for other OSS inspired auto designs.
  • Use OSS Monitoring Software to Shutdown Idle Equipment–You would be surprised how many under or un-utilized pieces of equipment are left on for extended periods of time. You could use OSS software like Zenoss Core to discover devices on your network and use the auto-remediation feature to turn off servers, desktops and other equipment after being idle for a number of hours or days.
  • Upgrade your HVAC System–Use the open source DIY Zoning Project to figure out how to upgrade your HVAC to be more efficient.
  • One Laptop Per Child–There’s always the hand-crankable One Laptop Per Child for the ultimate in self-sustaining powered computing.
  • Ethernet Powered Server–You can always use low power consumption servers like the Ethernet Powered OpenMicroServer for uses that don’t require a big honking multi-core server.

What other open source technologies could be considered environmentally friendly?

For more Mark Hinkle, visit his Socialized Software blog.