New Release of the Bluefish HTML Editor for Linux

For those that support the use of open source software for medical web site development, check out the new release of the Bluefish HTML editor.
I have been using Bluefish for over a month and find it to be the best free HTML editors thus far. An RPM package is available for easy installation on Red Hat Linux systems. Many other distributions are supported, or you can “roll your own” and go with a source tarball install instead.

Mission Critical Status In Your Palm has announced the ability to monitor Linux systems using a PalmPilot(tm). It ‘…lets Mission Critical Linux and customers remotely monitor Linux systems…without compromising the integrity of those systems’ security…quickly and expertly apply fixes to these systems if a problem arises. Nifty, I’m sure it wouldn’t be too difficult to adapt this to the Personal Bedside Server(ntm)for healthcare use.

PalmPilot is a trademark of Palm, Inc. Personal Bedside Server(ntm) is not a trademark of anything I know of, I made it up.

Linux and Windows Under Pressure

Is Linux for real in medicine? How does it fare against (reality: with) Windows in a real computing environment? Having recently set up a hospital network with RedHat Linux under demanding circumstances. A technical analysis is in order. Read on.

The central question: How did it fare against Windows? Two thumbs up, it worked very well. But the reality is that it has to work with Windows for now. Even in Guatemala they had two Windows machines already in place and running, although not networked. With regard to interoperability, the usual Linux issues surface: it isn’t easy to set up Samba for the beginner, but once in place it works very well. However, Windows is in trouble on this issue. Setting up a modem to connect to an ISP with RedHat Linux 6.2’s Usernet took less than five minutes. Less than five minutes. The Windows side was a confusing mess of ‘Can’t find !@#$%.inf, file’ messages which were in a word obnoxious since I had not only the manufacturers driver disk, but also the Windows 98 CD in the drive and still couldn’t find things. It was was very shabby in comparison to Linux. Kudzu found the modem on the first try, and the Usernet setup utility was simple and fast.

A network card swap done side by side on a Linux and Windows server also found Linux to be superior. Linux noted that the old card was missing, asked to remove the old card configuration, and then asked to install the new card configuration which it accurately found on its own. It was shockingly easy.

On the networking side, Linux won hands down as far as being able to know crucial, specific information such as if a computer was actually up on the network and understanding what was going on. Windows was frequently a mystery as to why something was (or wasn’t) working. I found a four hour long loose connector problem by pinging through Linux. I’m sure this utility is available on Windows, but its GUI ‘Find Computer’ equivalent doesn’t give detailed information.

An important point in Windows favor was its ‘Network Neighborhood’ desktop program. This was superior to RedHat Linux in easily visualizing and using network disks and printers for beginners and novices. Even ‘Network Neighborhood’ is difficult for some users to understand. Command line? Forget it.

Linux also outperformed Windows in three respects: security, low vulnerability to viruses and boot-up time. Windows security is simply not there. There is no question of compromising a Windows system, you can consider it done just by turning on the machine. The flip side of this is viruses. Hermano Pedro Hospital’s small Windows based network on the administrative side was actually completely off the Internet for fear of viruses. This is a good idea, but inconvenient. Linux users are less vulnerable and the recent ‘I Love You’ virus problem is merely another example of this. Finally, a major slowdown in boot-up time with Windows (and you boot up ALOT) is that it frequently has virus scanning software installed that dreadfully slows boot-up time on these machines. The machines I worked with in Guatemala were no exception and is a performance hit that is frequently overlooked in Linux to Windows comparisons.

Windows major advantage is that it is entrenched, it’s office suite is easy to use, many, many people have used it and feel familiar with it. There is a definite yuck factor to overcome for many users until they see Linux benefits for themselves.

In summary, Linux will have to co-exist with Windows in most organizations for the near future. While more technical, Linux has big advantages in the area of security and performance, while Windows frequently has more familiarity and ease of use. The final verdict: Under harsh circumstances, Linux is a winner and is likely to move ahead of Windows in all or most areas within the year.

Guatemalan Hospital to Run Linux

Last Updated: 6/14/00: This whole article appeared on here after it was edited and pictures added by Michelle Head of You can read the final installment Day 14: On the Wings of Victory and the entire travelog in the forum section by clicking Read Me…and scrolling down.

Cheerio friends, it is travel time. I’m off to Antigua, Guatemala where I will be installing a RedHat Linux based hospital network in Antigua’s all-volunteer Hermano Pedro hospital, traveling with a missionary medicine group Faith in Practice. Former Whataburger computers running OS/2 gave up their souls to run the network which was built in my house and shipped down last week. I’m
planning on running Freemed and will give a trip report upon my return (unless I ‘go native’) in two weeks. I may be off the net for awhile, however, cutting edge, high-tech can be remotely administered so if there is a way, I’ll get to it. Meanwhile, Captain Fantastic will be stepping in for me if
I crash and burn over the Gulf of Mexico. If any funny stuff appears on LMN, it is him not me.

All the best, may medicine be freed of its bondage through open source!

Apache Expands

The good folks at are not just the makers of the most popular Internet server software anymore. They have expanded into providing server-side XML, Java, Perl and PHP support. Captain Fantastic notes that the latest Netcraft Survey reports that Apache is the server software on 61% of Internet sites. Which is a great example of open-source in action. ‘Apache is simply better.’ are words uttered by: Steve Ballmer of Microsoft. XML will likely be a force to be reckoned with in medicine. An example application in medicine is the XML Medical Dictionary.

Any Medical Open-Source Palm Apps Out There?

A significant platform for medical computing is the PalmPilot(tm) Personal Digital Assistant. It is probably the defacto standard among health-care workers judging by the depth of sites like Gregory E. Jeansonne, MS III has a review of patient tracking software for medical students and others. Ranging from $2250 (GregE says NO WAY!) to $5 with his choice coming in at $35. This range illustrates that software quality in medicine is frequently unrelated to price. An open-source patient tracking project for Palm(tm) would be something. However, the existence of a project like this is unknown to LinuxMedNews.