Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Tue 18th Sep, 2007

Software Freedom Day 2007 in Canberra

On Saturday September 15th members of the Canberra Linux Users Group ran a stall at the Computer Markets at the Old Bus Depot in Kingston. We had two tables generously paid for by Ingenious Software, conveniently on the left near the entrance and the food (so that more people would see us, of course). We set up several laptops and a big wide screen (courtesy of Jason) on my gaming machine to show off the different capabilities of Fedora, Ubuntu and Open Source Software in general.

Mike Carden and Chris Smart were a force to be reckoned with, giving away almost all of our Ubuntu CDs and then our Open CDs by standing at the front gate giving them to people in line to get in. I discovered some CDs that I had put in my bag and forgotten at about 1:30PM, which gave us an extra stock, but while it was nice to have CDs available to hand to people who came to the actual stand, I agree with their fundamental aim to get those CDs to as many people as possible. Mind you, I still have over a hundred Open CDs left, so I'll be giving out more at work in the upcoming week.

We also had Daniel, Jason, Rainer, Matt, and particularly Fred and Ian on the stand, talking to people about the benefits of FOSS and Linux and answering their myriad questions on compatibility and usability. Fred's demonstration of DVB-T tuners in Kaffeine impressed many people. Ian had only recently posted on the CLUG list and had started using Linux with no background in IT at all. He'd patiently worked away, learning by asking questions and Googling, and was a great example to all of us and a great person to talk to the less technical people out there who might have been afraid of taking the plunge. Hopefully I haven't forgotten anyone else who helped on the stand.

I should also like to thank the many people from the Canberra Linux Users Group who donated $360 to purchase over 1000 CDs, and the many (overlapping set of) people who also helped burn Ubuntu and Open CD images onto them. That huge effort made the stand really worth something - many people had the CD and came over to the stand to find out more about what they'd just got :-). Thank you to everyone who made it possible.

Next year, I'd do three things differently. Firstly, I intend to get funding from Linux Australia to print large quantities of the CDs, for all SFD groups in Australia. That will significantly save on shipping, relieve the burden on us to both buy and then burn and print them (although getting donations from groups and individuals would be good), and give a more professional quality to the CDs we give to people. Secondly, I intend to get a bit more organised with the equipment on the day - it was good but I'd have liked to have a few more machines, even one or two which people could play with themselves. Thirdly, I'd like to have an Install Fest / Bar Camp day a week or two afterward so that people had a place to bring machines to to get them installed, could learn a bit more about the Free Open Source Software world, and give the people who do know about Linux but haven't come along to a CLUG meeting before a chance to meet us and get into the Bar Camp atmosphere.

So thank you everyone to helped on the day and in the weeks beforehand. I think the response we got was very very positive - most people were interested, many people already knew about Linux and free software in general, and I think most people that looked at the stand were impressed by the quality of what FOSS has to offer. Go Software Freedom Day! (But preferably, next year with a T-shirt colour that looks good? Please?)

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