Ubuntu 'Weaponised' to Cure NHS of Its Addiction to Microsoft Windows

Maxwell Cooter | The Register | June 30, 2017

Take 750,000 smartcards, millions of PCs, mix in a week-long hackathon

A quiet revolution has been rumbling in Leeds, in the north of England. It may not seem revolutionary: a gathering of software developers is scarcely going to get people taking to the barricades in these uncertain times, but the results of this particular meetup could shape access to NHS PCs in the coming years.

The gathering in question was a week-long hacking session that ended today. Its mission was to find a way to deploy NHSbuntu, a flavour of the open-source Linux distro Ubuntu built for the NHS, on 750,000 smartcards used to verify clinicians accessing 80 per cent of applications – excluding those for clinical use – on millions of health service PCs.

If successful, NHSbuntu would replace the current system using Windows. Ultimately, the aim is to replace Windows on the desktop, too. Smartcard recognition has been the huge barrier. One of the brains behind the project, Rob Dyke - partner at Neova, an open-source health specialist - told me of the Leeds gathering: “We think we’ll get it working this week and another week to weaponise it”...