Speedy Hire have a large network of depots throughout the country, providing tool and equipment hire to their customers - mainly in the construction industry and ranging from well known names to small local firms. The Speedy 'product range' includes crane hire, power tools, surveying equipment, portacabins etc.
Speedy have grown rapidly over the last decade, and until a few years ago there was no corporate standard computerised solution in depots. Some depots were paper based, while others used off the shelf software (e.g. Microsoft Access). This created problems from an administrative and maintenance point of view, as it was difficult for management to get information from the depots quickly and easily.
As the business grew the limitations became more evident, and the decision to introduce a company-wide desktop solution was made. We proposed a Linux based desktop, which after an initial trial became the standard desktop solution for the depots. One of the reasons for choosing Linux was the ability for remote administration, long stable release cycles and the elimination of license auditing.
Our solution, based around the Open Source Debian Linux Operating system, is a stable platform which is reliable in the long term, and provides exceptional ease of maintenance. Our update mechanism provides automatic centrally distributed updates, and the Open Source license of the software used gives freedom to customise the software for the business.
Speedy had selected a terminal based application as their main business software, and initially there was little perceived need for additional functionality. The Linux system currently in place was selected after trials in a number of depots. Some ran our prototype system, while others used Microsoft's Windows. Our solution was selected, and within a short space of time, was rolled out to the majority of depots. Over time, users began to utilise the other software on the system, including the OpenOffice.org office suite and Mozilla web browser.
As well as the depot computer system, we have provided and continue to manage :
- Email system for depots (Postfix and Cyrus)
- Radius authentication for dial up users (XTRadius)
- PostgreSQL database (used for Radius authentication and statistical analysis)
- A centralised, secure, nightly, remote backup of depot PCs (Rsync)
Linux Format published a 6 page article on Speedy's Linux deployment in the October 2004 issue.