Upgrade to FirstClass Server

For many years, the Bread Loaf School of English has been using a mail/conferencing system called FirstClass.  FirstClass was one of the first ‘bulletin boards’ to develop a graphic user interface and the BLSE has used this technology for mail, course conferences, support of the Bread Loaf Teachers Network and general discussion conferences.  Until last May, the server running the FirstClass server software was located on campus and supported by the Enterprise and Network Solutions group.

Last May, LIS decided to outsource the administration and support of this server to WhatIf Networks, a company based in Westbrook, ME that has years of experience supporting FirstClass servers.  The cut over of services took place just before the beginning of the 2010 BLSE summer sessions.   At the conclusion of the summer classes, we began planning to upgrade the server to a newer version of the software, from version 8.0 to version 9.1. One of the driving factors in this decision was the increasing number of requests of the BreadNet community to access their mail and conferences from smart phones (particularly iPhones) and iPads.  Our upgrade now makes this possible and we have a number of happy smart phone users.

However, to prepare for the upgrade, it was necessary to reconfigure the roughly 1000 user desktops so that the upgraded client view was clean and uncluttered. Caroline Eisner, the director of Breadnet;  Margaret ‘Mugs’ Johnson of WhatIf Networks and Shel Sax worked over the weekend reconfiguring the user desktops in preparation for the upgrade.  The upgrade was effected late Saturday afternoon, November 20th and the new software installed without incident

After the upgrade, a typical FirstClass client desktop looks like this:

screen shot first class server

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