The awareNet software now has DVD distribution for Microsoft(R) Windows(TM) – allowing anyone to set up their own social networking site and run it from an ordinary windows computer (XP, Vista or 7).
Once installed, awareNet can be run as a standalone site, or join with other awareNet installations in a peer-to-peer network. The peer-to-peer aspect allows users in to collaborate and share content while logged in to their local servers, merging smaller social networking sites into one larger one through voluntary trust relationships, and enabling remote or centralized administration. The current version of the P2P protocol works behind firewalls, over slow or intermittent connections and includes security features such as RSA signing of all transfers, without requiring any special configuration.
This is an important step for awareNet as many of the underprivileged and rural schools we hope could benefit from this software do not have access to the technical skills needed to set up a conventional web server, configure Windows or Linux networking and manage hardware, software and users. Nor do they have much time for staff to devote to the overhead this would usually require. Many, however, do have some working Windows computers, often older, donated machines, hooked up to a wired ethernet, perhaps with some limited internet connectivity.
Where schools do not have any internet connectivity awareNet can include and manage local copies of many online resources – entire wikis, video libraries, collections of books and so on, bringing learners at least part way across the digital divide.
Using this DVD, we hope that educators with only basic computer literacy can set up and manage the kinds of services that schools in the developed world take for granted – wikis, blogs, forums, instant messaging, video sharing, etc. Ideally, these networks can be owned by the schools and administered solely around their needs, not dependant support from NGOs or government programs and not compromised in their mission by the requirements of advertisers or commercial interests.
Like the Linux version, the Windows distribution runs on top of industry standard Free/Libre Open Source Software: Apache2, MySQL and PHP5, all controlled from XAMPP. Both versions offer the same set of features, and now have much better support for Internet Explorer (from version 7 on).
The windows distribution is not yet generally available as a complete, packaged product, but please do contact us if you’d like to bring awareNet to your school, help with testing, or just play with it.