Finding and setting up all the tools to operate a sensor network can be a daunting task, so to make it easier we’re working on providing a virtual machine that’s pre-configured with all the necessary software and documentation.
A virtual machine (or VM) is simply an image of a computer that you run on another computer. It’s not a real computer (hence the word virtual), but it behaves as though it was. The advantage of this is that, rather than have to add lots of software to your usual machine (and then get it to work, maintain it, and manage conflicts with other software), you just download a known-to-be-working VM and work within that. Our VM uses Ubuntu Linux (widely relarded as one of the most user-friendly distros) to provide Citizen-Sensing-in-a-box. It includes tools for Arduino development, XBee radio management, data collection and visualisation.
The VM isn’t ready for release yet, but we intend to launch a preliminary version in autumn 2013. Please let us know if you have any suggestions or requirements we should think about.