"Locked down" Linux dispenses Justice

"Locked down" Linux dispenses Justice

Summary: The Victorian Department of Justice (DoJ) is understood to have deployed a secure, "locked-down" Linux environment across more than 100 desktops in a state correctional facility. ZDNet Australia understands the environment -- including deployment of a heavily customised form of the Knoppix Linux distribution across 120 desktops in the facility, -- went live within the last one to two months after a six-month project.

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The Victorian Department of Justice (DoJ) is understood to have deployed a secure, "locked-down" Linux environment across more than 100 desktops in a state correctional facility.

ZDNet Australia understands the environment -- including deployment of a heavily customised form of the Knoppix Linux distribution across 120 desktops in the facility, -- went live within the last one to two months after a six-month project. The deployment is also understood to include prominent open source applications such as Firefox and OpenOffice.org.

Government sources told ZDNet Australia the system had been deployed at the new AU$130 million 600-bed Metropolitan Remand Centre 20 kilometres north-west of Melbourne.

Knoppix is a project that allows users to boot Linux without installing any software directly to a hard drive. Most hardware is automatically detected and configured during the boot process.

State government officials were reluctant to comment on the fine detail of the project, citing security issues.

The software is running on a so-called TrimClient, billed as a thin-client/personal computer hybrid solution.

According to Australian open source vendor Cybersource, the TrimClient desktop environment has no writeable storage mechanism in the desktop computer itself, in similar fashion to traditional thin-clients. The TrimClient systems "boot" in read-only fashion off a central system image server.

Well-placed sources said the environment was selected to restrict the capability of keyloggers, spyware and other malware to infiltrate the code base of the software. In addition, only administrators would have the ability to modify the software on the desktops themselves.

The DoJ also confirmed to ZDNet Australia the planned launch of a redeveloped LegalOnline advice service within the next few days had been delayed. An update to the DOJ Web site late on Tuesday said only the relaunch would happen in July "in a new portal format".

The Victorian DoJ is responsible for all aspects of the law in the state, including police and prosecution functions, court system administration, provision of the prison system, administration of tribunals and programs to protect citizens' rights.

Topics: Open Source, Government AU, Linux

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