Mac and Linux-using hurricane survivors are unable to use Federal disaster relief claim form services online.

This is because the much-criticized US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has created a service that only works with Windows and Internet Explorer 6.

This acts to the frustration of survivors lucky enough to be able to access a Mac or Linux computer, and to the reported consternation of disaster relief teams on the ground.

However, some Mac users exploiting the Opera browser (which by default identifies itself as Internet Explorer 6) report being able to access the claims service.

FEMA and the US administration face strong criticism that it failed to act fast enough to help save thousands of hurricane survivors.

Some local Louisiana representatives complained that following last week's terrible natural disaster, FEMA agents actually stopped other forms of help getting through.

What happened in terms of US disaster relief last week will in future be assessed by a cross-party team led by current US president George Bush, who returned from holiday after the disaster happened but just in time to see Federal aid begin to reach affected areas, four days after the storm levelled the Gulf Coast region.

Ars Technica claims many relief workers are frustrated at being tied to Windows by FEMA's online services, as it means they need to spend precious aid money on Windows OS licenses as they set up terminals to help thousands of hurricane victims initiate the claims process.

"Workers on the ground have told Ars Technica that they would prefer to avoid setting up Windows XP workstations because they take longer to setup, and even longer to properly patch and configure for use," the report states.

"The issue isn't only security", the report continues. "Windows XP hardware requirements, while not impressive by today's standards, rule out using some donated hardware as well. Furthermore, legitimate copies of Windows also cost money, and relief workers are trying to stretch their dollars as far as they can go," it reports.