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GNU is Not Unix Linux

Taking Free Software To the Streets 184

Posted by Soulskill
from the spreading-the-word dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It's that time of year again; the nights are drawing in, the leaves are beginning to turn, and literally hundreds of teams of dedicated F/OSS enthusiasts from around the world are preparing to hit the streets in celebration of Software Freedom Day 2009. In an effort to increase awareness of free and open source software among the general public, SFD teams will be standing around town centers and shopping malls, holding talks at schools and universities, giving demonstrations and handing out Linux and FOSS collections for Windows on CD. With money being tight and paranoia about malware and viruses at an all-time high, the time is right to help consumers switch to the myriad of quality open source applications available. If you would like to check for an SFD team in your area and consider attending, be it to help out or simply learn more about free software for yourself, there's an interactive map to help you find your way."
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Taking Free Software To the Streets

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  • "Go away" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:24AM (#29475981)

    "Go away" is my reaction whenever someone on the street wants to give me something free - a religious booklet, a pro-something leaflet, a "work from home" job offer printed out on an inkjet...

    On a sidenote, this would be a perfect opportunity to spread malware. Just pretend you're one of those guys and hand over CDs with some crap that will infect the computer.

  • Malware (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DeadPixels (1391907) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:41AM (#29476073)
    With paranoia about malware and viruses at an all-time high, I certainly wouldn't run a CD a stranger on the street gave to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:44AM (#29476087)

    You don't know me but I'm your brother
    I was raised here in this living hell
    You don't know my kind in your world
    Fairly soon the time will tell
    You...telling me the things you're gonna do for me
    I ain't blind and I don't like what I think I see

    Takin' it to the streets (takin' it to the streets)
    Takin' it to the streets (no more need for runnin')
    Takin' it to the streets (Oh, oh-oh, nah, nah)

    Take this message to my brother
    You will find him...everywhere
    Wherever people live together
    Tied in poverty's despair
    Are you...telling me the things you're gonna do for me
    I ain't blind and I don't like what I think I see

    Takin' it to the streets (takin' it to the streets)
    Takin' it to the streets (no more need for runnin')
    Takin' it to the streets (takin it to the streets)
    Takin' it to the (BREAK)

    Are you...telling me the things you're gonna do for me (yeah, hah)
    I ain't blind and I don't like what I think I see

  • Re:"Go away" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Yvan256 (722131) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:49AM (#29476111) Homepage Journal

    If I had only said "Windows" then I would have been modded troll by Microsoft fanboys. But even those guys know that Windows ME sucked.

  • by Scholasticus (567646) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @09:06AM (#29476159) Journal
    I wouldn't be too worried about this effect. This isn't going to show up on the radars of most people even as much as all those "Save Farscape" flyers which were all over the place when that show got cancelled. "Joe Public" (a.k.a. Joe Sixpack, a.k.a. Aunt Milly) doesn't even know enough about F/OSS to give a rat's. If F/OSS is ever going to become widely adopted by home users, it will be the same way Windows was - because that was what came installed on the computers people were buying at the time. Netbooks may help with this. Handing out CDs on street corners almost certainly won't.
  • Will not work (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shadowblaster (1565487) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @09:12AM (#29476185)

    Most people probably won't know what to do with it anyway and it will end up in the bin. The average person will need help installing and configuring linux.

    Even if they try installing it they will end up being frustrated for not being able to get things to work. They will end up scarred by the experience and fall back to Windows.

    Much better to spend their efforts educating students at universities or school. Even better to get universities and schools to convert to FOSS. This way children are forced to learn and work with FOSS. When they grow up they would be able to use the experience to promote FOSS at home/work.

  • by jrowlingson (1003641) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @09:29AM (#29476267)

    I know this is probably flamebait, but, it seems like there is no other industry that works as hard as we do to put ourselfs out of jobs.

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @09:51AM (#29476377)

    These guys need to advertise inside or be associated with a particular business that people are going to. Take the grocery store. At my local grocery store, the Girl Scouts often set up a table to sell their cookies. This is a brand that people trust for quality. We trust the Girl Scouts that their product is safe for us to consume. On the other hand, I often see a woman that is sitting on folding chair and when you leave the supermarket she asks you, very quietly if you want Tamales [wikipedia.org]. I wouldn't take a Tamale from this woman if it was free, because I do not trust her.

    The local supermarkets often have people stationed inside providing samples of various products. Usually a retiree standing in front of a table with a small griddle or toaster oven. While I have no interest in the products they are usually preparing, I would trust that they are safe. These guys should set up their table inside of computer stores (Apple Store, BestBuy etc..), atleast that could add some credibility to their product, or atleast the appearance of credibility.

    On the other hand, why should I trust a random group of people on the street? Did we forget the recent incident where hackers mailed malware infected CDs to Credit Unions [slashdot.org]? The only difference is that instead of pretending the CDs come from some gov't organization, they're coming from some "OpenSource" group standing at a table on the street.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 19, 2009 @11:29AM (#29476911)

    I think far more interesting is the fact that the campaign at its basis is supposed to be against all closed-up software, including e.g. OS X. If you check that video, you'll even see them throwing away 'OS X' boxes. But it's not really mentioned.. not in the video, not in the website, and absolutely not in the campaign name.

    Apparently they know better than to try and make their point using a highly popular target, which would absolutely result in backlash, and try to go for the one everybody loves to hate instead.

    Unfortunately targeting either under the campaign is pointless.. people, in general, don't love OS X because it's closed-up any more than they hate Windows because it's closed-up. They love OS X because it's nice and shiny and 'just works' (for the most part), and hate Windows because it's far from shiny and is still fraught with problems left and right. Whether that is fact (probably) or popular opinion propagated by the masses (certainly partially) doesn't even matter.

    Before they can make it clear why some things are bad, they'll have to get people to care about those things first.

  • Re:Time Bandits (Score:4, Insightful)

    by malevolentjelly (1057140) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:12PM (#29477213) Journal

    This post was about free software. If you don't care about free software, it's your problem. Proprietary software affects you a lot more than your coffee maker. At least it's somewhat like environmental issues. Using proprietary software does harm yourself and everybody, both by giving away your freedom, and by acting against technological advancement. Just ignoring it is not going to make it go away. Of course, much like environmental issues, there are wacky ways to create conscience, and there are reasonable ways to do it, but it doesn't mean it's OK that people don't care.

    Computers are just tools. Besides tools, they are consumer products. This culture war is simply absurd-- Linux should have to compete as a consumer product along with everything else. It can have its market share when it's usable. Not before then.

  • by koick (770435) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:22PM (#29477281)
    You can be sure the "normal people" walking around malls haven't. Hell, you'd be lucky if they can name the vice president.
  • by multisync (218450) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:29PM (#29477313) Journal

    That's the problem with FOSS advocates, they keep coming up with these wacky ideas, and each time they put them into action the public sees.... err, a wacky idea, associated with FOSS.

    Yeah, those wacky FOSS advocates and their wacky ideas to promote the projects they believe in.

    Lord knows, Microsoft [slashdot.org] would never engage in something as shameless as encouraging their supporters to host parties in their communities and generally evangelize Windows 7 to non-converts.

  • Expected reaction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tecnico.hitos (1490201) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:32PM (#29477335)

    FOSS Advocate: You are allowed to get the source code and modify the software to better fit your needs.
    Average Joe: Lol wut!?
    FOSS Advocate: ...you also don't have to pay.
    Average Joe: You mean there are programs you have to pay for!?

  • Re:"Go away" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Statecraftsman (718862) * on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:44PM (#29477421) Homepage
    Your reaction is not universal. And handing out a leaflet is done because it is a method of getting a message to many people cheaply. Yes, many will throw such a leaflet away or not look at it, but some will. So if you look at it from a cost-per-impression basis it's quite effective. What alternative do you propose?
  • Re:Wow Slashdot. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by petrus4 (213815) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:27PM (#29477685) Homepage Journal

    For being one of the most free-software-leaning discussion sites on the internet, the level of derision here for Software Freedom day is odd.

    That is an extremely encouraging, healthy, and positive sign.

    The Free Software Foundation, and its' activism, both need to die if Linux is ever going to become anything more than fringe.

    If Slashdot's readership are discouraging of such activism, it will hopefully gradually move us towards a point where said activism ceases to occur.

    I am not saying that I think Linux advocacy should cease entirely. It does, however, need to cease being radical, cultic, and infused with as much hate, fear, and paranoia as it has been in the past. There needs to be far more focus put purely on Linux's technical strengths, and as little as possible put on the mind control of Richard Stallman.

  • Re:"Go away" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@slashd o t .org> on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:43PM (#29477771)

    I'd recommend changing your reaction to "you're doing it wrong!".

    Because the trick is not, to come to you. The trick is, to make you come to them, and offer something so great, that you'll beg to get it. ^^

    I recommend putting up a large projection of Compiz an action, giant "Never get Viruses again!" banners, etc.
    Make them drool and wish to throw away their Windows.
    And give away the Linux DVDs in a "Shop price: $xxx" "Get a free copy! Only today!" booth.
    Play music! Add some lights! (But in a way that also drags older people there.)
    Offer tasty food that you can smell on the whole street, drinks, sexy babes/men on two elevated platforms, friendly people (to fulfill our basic needs/interests).
    Sell merchandising that people can afford to buy just out of impulse and for fun! Stickers, T-Shirts, things you can't get anywhere else.
    And add a Linux DVD / open source software DVD to every sale of anything on that booth. Let the sexy people throw the DVDs into the people.
    And do it in a place and at a time, where there are enough people to make it work. If nessecary, work out a deal with a local shopping mall, or something similar.

    That will give you hype and interest! ^^
    You will have 40 year old hockey moms talk to all their friends about that really cute new "Linux" (used as if it were a version of Windows), that they caught, when they were surprised by that hot guy looking at her. She will put the DVD in, it will start, looking really fancy. And when it runs, it throws the full power of beauty and power at them! So that even if they don't understand a thing of it, they will want to learn to have that too.

    Unrealistic? Well, the most common reaction I get from girls, when I show them my Linux desktop is: "I want that too! Can you put that on my computer?". QED. ^^

  • Re:"Go away" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by petrus4 (213815) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @02:14PM (#29477969) Homepage Journal

    "Go away" is my reaction whenever someone on the street wants to give me something free - a religious booklet, a pro-something leaflet, a "work from home" job offer printed out on an inkjet...

    Exactly the point. We say, "Go away," when the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses, or members of any other cult show up at our door.

    Is anyone noticing the similarity in tactics that are being used here, between the FSF, and those other organisations, which the FSF's drones probably don't mind acknowledging as cults? ;)

  • by westlake (615356) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @03:22PM (#29478405)

    If you check that video, you'll even see them throwing away 'OS X' boxes.

    There isn't a "Windows 7" box to throw.

    They love OS X because it's nice and shiny and 'just works' and hate Windows because it's far from shiny and is still fraught with problems left and right. Whether that is fact or popular opinion propagated by the masses (certainly partially) doesn't even matter.


    But it isn't being propagated by the masses.

    Win XP wiped the floor with OEM Linux in the netbook sector. You didn't need to do much more than slap the Windows logo on your product to make the sale.

    Vista has about a 20% share of the client desktop. That has to be consumer based and it represents a significant investment in new and more powerful hardware.

    The Win 7 RC 1%.

    These numbers look very good when compared to OSX, which is also essentially a high-end consumer product - a discretionary purchase.

  • by HitoGuy (1324613) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @04:08PM (#29478747)
    You're assuming Stallmanists actually think. If they did they'd see through about 90% of the propaganda Stallman cranks out these days.

    I support free software, but only so far as its actually practical. Like, I won't use GNash since it is not as good as Flash, and I want actual 3D acceleration, etc. I won't declare software evil purely because its proprietary but based off of the actual character of the software makers. RMS would rather we just blindly hate on all proprietary software. If I did that I'd use crippled disributions like gNewSense.

    The problem I see with Stallman is he overly politicizes software. I think it should be more treated like a PERSONAL PREFERENCE then a POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY. I like open source because I *have* noticed a significant quality and, yes, fun aspect of FOSS. Maybe it's because I'm a tech-savvy programmer. But I have noticed a couple cases where the open source alternative doesn't really work all that well or doesn't offer what I really want. Then I go proprietary.

    I use the "nvidia" driver, Flash 10... not nv (Which only supports 2D on nVidia cards... barely. Since I like eye candy this driver is not used at all by me if I can help it.) or Nouveau (I admit I know little about this driver or what its features are. I *do* know it's not up to the proprietary driver's level.). Too bad KWin in KDE 4.3 doesn't have alpha blurring anymore.

    I know people will say GIMP/OpenOffice are not as good as Photoshop/Office. Personally, I think GIMP is quite good. Maybe not as good as PS, but the difference between GIMP and PS is hundreds of dollars and professional features I don't give a shit about. I personally think that, with a little refining, Go-OpenOffice (The Novell Fork of OO.) can easily beat or at least match MS Office. It certainly fills my limited needs, at least.

    My "software philosophy" is "forget politics or what is moral in theory, use what works well for you," I honestly don't see any real MORAL issue as an end-user whether or not I use proprietary software or not.

    In fact, I would not be honest if I said I don't believe there isn't evil open source software, either. I personally don't trust Mono, for example, because of the companies backing it.
  • Re:"Go away" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smoker2 (750216) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @04:27PM (#29478871) Homepage Journal
    This is quite true, and I agree. But this time it's not a con. I still wouldn't do it though. People come to free software, or else they do without. But you know zealots ...
  • Re:"Go away" (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 20, 2009 @04:10AM (#29481829)

    Then when those girls find out how nonsensical Linux is, they will want Windows back on their computers. Do you honestly think they would want to learn about Linux?

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