Welcome to NHSbuntu!

Following a good reception at our inaugural outing, the South West CIO Forum today, we’ve launched NHSbuntu to the wider world.

Here’s our initial presentation on NHSbuntu in a variety of formats:

NHSbuntu meets South West CIOs & CCIOs.pdf (869.1 KB)

NHSbuntu meets South West CIOs & CCIOs.odp (1.8 MB)

NHSbuntu meets South West CIOs & CCIOs.pptx (2.7 MB)

If you’ve been trying out NHSbuntu, please do feed back your experiences with it in this forum.

We also have a Slack team, for instant messaging, at https://nhsbuntu.slack.com, please email marcusbaw@gmail.com if you’d like to be invited to that Slack.

If you’d like the NHSbuntu team to come to your NHS organisation and do a ‘Show & Tell’ of what NHSbuntu is, what problems it solves, and how you can use it in your organisation, then please do contact us (use the above email address, or a post in this forum to contact us)

Marcus, Rob, Kenny, Tony and the rest of the NHSbuntu team


Further information on NHSbuntu is available at our website http://nhsbuntu.openhealthhub.org, including the download link for our latest .iso.

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Marcus, really interesting proposition. We run all of our services on linux. I’m presuming there are no licensing restrictions for use? We will download and install on our local N3 network and provide feedback. Thanks, Paul.

There shouldn’t be any restrictions in the license as to your use, other than then normal license that we inherit from Ubuntu itself, which is detailed here.

We’re not adding anything to NHSbuntu that would affect the redistributability or sharealike features of Ubuntu base.

Thanks for trying out NHSbuntu, and we’d be really grateful for your feedback.

Have you done much to it besides setting up Evolution?

(which I regard as an odd choice, given that Thunderbird is now the default distribution email client - I’ve had it working reasonably well with Exchange servers. I confess I gave up on Evolution as being horribly clunky ages ago).

As a user of Ubuntu for my daily workload for over 10 years I’ll be interested to see what tweaks you’ve made.

Thoroughly concur with your assessment of the economics of the EWA, as you know - the NHS was spending about 9 figures on it (or so I heard). A mere 5% of that distributed to open-source projects would net you a LOT more control over what you got for your money - even a customer as large as the NHS is not terribly influential to a behemoth like Microsoft.

I suspect the reason Microsoft decided it was no longer a good idea was because such a large budget line-item looks ripe for reduction and NHSbuntu is a very logical way to do that.

Caveats : the sheer number of horrible VBA applications around the place cannot be underestimated. An ecosystem of consultancy services devoted to converting these to LibreOffice macros (or better application platforms, where applicable) is probably required for this kind of sea change to take place. Likewise training on OSS applications, etc.

Horrors based on Sharepoint are probably also a speedbump here. This, of course, is the reason Microsoft promotes the creation of horrors based on Sharepoint so enthusiastically.

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And… because other less friendly folks will do it less pleasantly, a rebuttal for your document :-

Windows has had full disk encryption included (BitLocker) since Windows Vista (certainly in the “enterprisey” versions that the NHS should be using).

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So why are so many trusts buying another product on top of BitLocker? I guess some of them have a significant XP estate, so that would be one use-case.

NHSbuntu is built from Ubuntu GNOME.

We created a ‘defaults’ package - nhsbuntu-default-settings - which sets configurations for:

  • Desktop theme, wallpaper, icons etc
  • GNOME3 extensions for panels and menus
  • Browser defaults for the homepage & adding bookmarks
  • Installer slideshow

The defaults package is also used to add / remove components from the installation.

We created our own graphical bootloader with a spinning logo! See nhsbuntu-plymouth-gnome

We’ve used Evolution for a couple of reasons:

  1. Evolution is the default mail client in GNOME.
  2. GNOME Online Accounts ‘just worked’ with NHSMail2.
  3. Evolution Exchange Web Services ‘just worked’ with NHSMail2.

We’ve signed and published these packages in our PPA on Launchpad.

We use ubuntu-defaults-image to build the ISO from the settings package.


We said “few (none?) products cover legacy operating systems”.

If you’ve got some examples of enterprisey encryption products with support for Windows versions from XP to 10 please share them!

Thanks @paultargett

4 posts were merged into an existing topic: Email, Calendaring, NHSMail2 and Exchange Integration

Guys, I think its best not to get pulled into the good vs evil debate on Microsoft desktop - will suck light and day. Need to focus on a use case that makes it an easy decision. Also need to think about how staff and IT managers are won over. There’s a communication thing here too. Something for Code4Health I think…

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have to agree with you Adrian. We have Windows 10 deployed with Bitlocker, Office 365 etc. just about to deploy to 800 GP’s and support staff too as part of a primary care update programme. Also need to consider ongoing support costs for NHSbunto. Will some form of managed service be developed? I know it is great being all agile and innovative, but stablity and reliability of a client service will have to be assured somehow. Don’t get me wrong, it is ultimately one of the ways forward, but with eyes open…

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@stephen.slough Absolutely with eyes open, and we think the future will of course be a mix of all kinds of different operating systems including Windows. Really good to have your honest feedback and involvement.

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Hi @stephen.slough

You ask questions that I do not have answers for. I hope you will help us get to some answers though!

On support. What do you do now in your organisation? In your example of deploying 800 GPs to W10 & Office 365, I guess you are migrating from something and not deploying into a greenfield site. So let’s say, for arguments sake, that you’ve got a deployment of 800ish Windows 7 and Office 2007 desktops. You’ll have a people on your service desk and in your infrastructure team, some trainers, a library of support materials and howto guides. You will have invested in MOS certification for power users as well as MCPs for your service desk staffers and MCSEs for those in your infrastructure team. These people will be crucial to the success of your deployment. You would ensure that you equip these people with the skills needed for to support the new technologies as you migrate. And let’s not forget the 800 GP’s! No doubt you will have tested, tested and tested again all the applications that they use every day to ensure that everything works in the new environment. You will have provided training sessions for them, and as you knew they would not have time to attend you will at least have made sure that you got one person from every practice along so that at least someone would be your onsite expert.

Okay, perhaps I exaggerate a little. However, what would be difference if you were migrating to Apple OS X and not Windows 10. Or migrating to NHSbuntu for that matter? Supporting the technology in your organisation has a cost today, it will have a cost tomorrow as you migrate and it will continue to have a cost the day after.

On managed services. Canonical and Red Hat, the two major open source OS companies, both offer Professional Services and Support Services with a range of Service Level Agreements. Could you tell me about the support services you currently get from Microsoft? I am sure that you could get the same from open source vendors. Collabora, for example, offer Libre Office services. Canonical and Red Hat are also on gCloud.

Some info I’m sure many of you are aware of, but may help those who aren’t…

The city of munich some ten years ago made a large scale switch to a tailored linux version - LiMux. This has provided some real insight into the viability of Linux desktop at scale. Well worth having a google, as there are many articles on the learnings to date.

Unfortunately (imho) the city is now looking at switching to windows 10, backed up by a report authored by accenture (microsoft partner) and by pro-microsoft execs.

some links:

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This looks really interesting, unfortunately I’m unable to access what I understand to be the download location at http://nhsbuntu.openhealthhub.org/ and just get a 404 error instead. Am I looking in the right place?

Hi Andrew, we recently switched our web stuff to http://www.nhsbuntu.org and are having some DNS issues with nhsbuntu.openhealthhub.org.

So please use https://www.nhsbuntu.org from now on


Whilst Bitlocker has been included in Windows since Vista, you need the Enterprise Edition to run it, which wasn’t included in the EWA licenses for Windows 7. The costs vary for Enterprise, depending on your Windows OEM Version and where you are in your cycle of either Microsoft Select Plus, since replaced with Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA), or via an Enterprise Agreement, which means you own the software, or an ESA, which is basically rental. The last batch of 150 PCs we bought, which Dell still ship with Windows 7 OEM, costs £190ish per device for an Enterprise license. So even though Bitlocker is included it costs! To manage it across your estate you either need MBAM (Microsoft Bitlocker Administration and Monitoring tool), which requires an Enterprise agreement covering your whole estate, or another option, such as Sophos Endpoint, which is a lot cheaper, but we also run Microsoft Direct Access, which again requires an Enterprise license, so whichever way you do it, you end up paying the MSOFT Tax! Since the demise of the NHS EWA, I dread to think what the NHS has spent on MSOFT licensing, and upskilling its staff to ensure it knows what it is doing! MSOFT licensing is a black art…

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Having used Evolution EWS on both Ubuntu and CentOS, must say it’s more stable on Ubuntu as the repos deliver a much newer version but even so, it can be quite flaky. I abandoned it in favour of the latest version of Davmail which works like a charm with Thunderbird. Worth having the option of both ?

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