Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Taking Free Software To the Streets

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:35AM (#29476041)

    Standing around town centres like homeless winos. 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.

    If you want to guarantee that the public forever sees FOSS as a fringe thing unworthy of the consideration of normal people then carry on. If you want to really promote FOSS set up a business based on FOSS and make it work and grow.

  • Re:"Go away" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 19, 2009 @08:40AM (#29476065)

    Your terrible sense of humor should be illegal. It's goddamn 2009, and you're making jokes about windows ME. Go back to compiling Gentoo or something.

  • by joaommp (685612) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @09:17AM (#29476205) Homepage Journal

    I kind of agree with the initiatives in the schools, but if they start doing parades, they would better spend their time (and money) improving the quality and features of the software instead of doing parades which gather little attention. These events won't bring them closer to actually competing with commercial giants. They should do stuff like Google Summer of Code or something like that. Those I believe they it make things go forward because during a few days, people are supposed to be intensely involved into a project. Like pidgin, for instance. I love GSC because every summer, pidgin get's stabler and more features.

    Parades kind of reminds me the "gay pride parades" which end up making them look more ridiculous. The alternative would be mardi grass, but somehow I can't/won't/don't wan't to imagine a topless RMS with beads licking Linus' nipples.

  • Time Bandits (Score:3, Interesting)

    by malevolentjelly (1057140) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @09:17AM (#29476207) Journal

    So, basically, you're going to take to the streets dead set on destroying peoples' data and wasting their time? Most people have a computing solution that works for them. If they want free software, chances are they will seek it out.

    For most people, this whole operation is going to be abstract, confusing, and really unfortunate if they make the mistake of putting the software onto their machines.

    Remember: all that silly documentation and those help manuals were written for most users. They require that sort of thing. Most open source solutions are terribly documented It's software where you need to *just know* what's going or hit the forums or wikis. That's unacceptable. If software like OpenOffice was any good whatsoever, companies would brand it and sell the media in stores.

    Adapting to a whole new software ecosystem is difficult. It's a terrible time sink that most people don't really have the social motivation for. What's so great about free software? It's free? Is Open Office better then MS Office? No? Is GIMP better than Photoshop or PSP or anything? No? Is Linux easier to use than OEM Windows or Mac? Absolutely not? Wait, why do I care about this again? What if I don't have a fanatical hatred of all things proprietary? What if I am not a freetard, but a productive member of society who needs to use the computer as a tool and not a time wasting obsession? What if I am not into "fighting the power" where "the power" is one of two large software companies that provide a framework to make my home computer usable? What if my computer were like a coffee maker for me, but for email and typing documents and browsing the web?

    In short, anyone idealistic enough to run free software is already doing so.

  • Arr (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Lueseiseki (1189513) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @09:22AM (#29476221)
    Arr... software freedom day? Be I the only seafarer here celebratin' National Talk Like a Pirate Day? Ye all be landlubbers, arr...
  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @09:39AM (#29476315)

    handing out Linux and FOSS collections...

    Taking unknown software from people you don't know. Isn't that what the security community has been telling everyone NOT to do for years, decades. Maybe these advocates should think a little about the underlying message they are sending out and stop undoing the good work that others are doing to stop the spread of malware.

  • by viralMeme (1461143) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @10:32AM (#29476563)
    Beats parking an "I'm a PC" booth outside Apple Store [appleinsider.com]
  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @11:31AM (#29476925)

    Insert Ubuntu CD, boot, click on Install, answer a few questions and that's it.

    Ok, now I just need to open my wedding invitation Word file from last year and-- ALL MY DOCUMENTS ARE GONE!!!!

    (Psst: you're missing a huge step here.)

    Plug in your 3 mobile broadband USB dongle and you're on the Internet.

    What the fuck is a "3 mobile broadband USB dongle?" I certainly don't have one of those. Will Ubuntu work with my laptop's built-in Wifi? Possibly. My desktop's USB wifi? Doubtful. My desktop's built-in network card? Probably. But all of those answers have built-in vagueness.

    How many Windows users have to install from scratch anyway ?

    Not relevant to the issue at hand.

  • Re:Time Bandits (Score:3, Interesting)

    by malevolentjelly (1057140) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:09PM (#29477187) Journal

    When you install Ubuntu into a dual-boot situation, it asks if you want it to import your entire My Documents folder.

    You have to consider that data extends beyond merely the sort you'd store in My Documents. Not all applications follow that proper behavior, beside the fact that a user's application set could be considered part of their data. Many users identify their applications by name, even, not even description or type. It would be safe to say that a user would require a well-written guide with a series of alternatives for popular applications easily available for then. Perhaps Add/Remove Programs should alias keywords connected to applications that its F/OSS options are alternatives to-- if it doesn't already.

    To an extent, I agree with you, but you're overstating your case a bit. I'm certainly not happy with the sorry state of F/OSS documentation, but your implication that proprietary software is any better is nonsense. The software written by the companies Joe Sixpack knows the names of--that is, Microsoft, Apple, and Adobe--tends to have built-in help systems. Because those companies can afford to hire someone to write it. The software written by everyone else, proprietary or open source, has half-assed or nonexistant built-in help. Even those three big companies aren't great at it. Their help systems don't answer the questions users actually have, they answer the questions they think users are going to have. The amount of overlap varies wildly from app to app--I find Excel's help system to be extremely useful, and Word's to be a waste of RAM, personally. The wiki approach to documentation is, by definition, a closer match to what users actually need, and part of the point of open source is that the original authors are not the only ones competent to write documentation. The fact that most people's first instinct is to look for a drop-down help menu is simply because that's what they're used to. It doesn't mean it's a better way to do it.

    I don't often utilize documentation, but whenever I do it's a pretty quick process. Apple is probably right in making things such that no documentation should be needed, but I don't think the wiki is a strong case against professional documentation. The wiki's in ubuntu should be fully integrated into the help system per application-- the wiki-ized help system should link you up contextually when you try to get help on a certain function. It should be safe to assume internet connectivity at this point.

    For most end-user applications, the absolute best in the industry is usually proprietary. That's true. The competing free software tends to do about 80% of what the proprietary solution does. But only the 1% of users who use that particular application at a professional level ever need, or, sometimes, are even capable of understanding, the other 20%. The differences between OO.o Word Processor and MS Word are the things that you don't need unless you're a professional writer/editor/publisher. The differences between OO.o Spreadsheet and MS Excel are the things you don't need unless you're an MBA. The differences between GIMP and Photoshop are the things you don't need unless you're an artist. A lot of people will need the proprietary application in one or two domains, but would never notice the difference anywhere else. But they're paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars for the proprietary solution anyway.

    I disagree whole-heartedly. The commercial applications have far more accessible functionality. Microsoft Word 2007, for instance, makes it extremely easy to create a well-formatted and attractive document-- as does Pages. It's hard to make an ugly presentation with Keynote. However, no matter how hard I've tried, I've never been able to make an attractive looking document in OpenOffice- and I used openoffice for years. Its formatting is always just a bit ugly, a bit awkward, and its default content is always a bit lacking. Anything pushed out of the software ju

  • by westlake (615356) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:20PM (#29477265)

    Insert Ubuntu CD, boot, click on Install, answer a few questions and that's it.
    Ok, now I just need to open my wedding invitation Word file from last year and-- ALL MY DOCUMENTS ARE GONE!!!!
    (Psst: you're missing a huge step here.)

    Dual booting or virtualization are things no ordinary user will ever want to do.

    Two operating systems to maintain. Two operating environments. Two software libraries. Multiple skill sets.

    That can be agony for even the most dedicated enthusiast or IT pro.

    If you are looking for FOSS the simplest - least painful - solution is to download and install the apps ported to Windows or the Mac.

  • Re:Time Bandits (Score:3, Interesting)

    by petrus4 (213815) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:58PM (#29477871) Homepage Journal

    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.

    No. You can't compare Stallman's need for new drones with the need to protect/reclaim the environment. The simple reason why is because, unlike anything which the FSF cares about, the environment is something that actually does matter, to people who aren't simply drinking cultic Kool-Aid.

    This is easily demonstrated as fact, when we realise that FOSS survives more despite the FSF, than because of it.

    - The FSF generates no code now, at all. Cygnus/Red Hat do that, and have for some time.
    - Non-copyleft licenses, such as the MIT/BSD license, have survived without copyleft, or without any form of enforcement in court, and they've done so just fine. This categorically proves that any argument which Richard Stallman has ever made about the necessity of copyleft, is completely and entirely false.

    I will say it again; the Free Software Foundation needs to die. It produces nothing positive whatsoever at this point; the only things it generates are conflict, division, and pointless heat and noise. The world will be a much better place when it does.

  • Re:Time Bandits (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dshadowwolf (1132457) <dshadowwolf@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday September 19, 2009 @03:01PM (#29478231)

    So the fact that numerous people - myself included - use Linux every day for basic tasks doesn't make it usable? The fact that my somewhat technophobic and highly computer-illiterate father often borrows my linux laptop for browsing the web doesn't make it usable? That my sixty year-old mother has requested that, for any computer I build her, I make sure Linux is installed doesn't make it usable?

    Linux TRIES to compete as a consumer product. What happens? Well... Back when the Pentium was new MS told OEM's one of two things - either 'we are going to charge you for a license for every computer you manufacture, regardless of whether it has our OS on it or not' or 'If you sell computers with any OS on it that we did not produce, you will lose the bulk-licensing price-cut we give you'. In other words they forced computer manufacturers to put MS created OS's on their machines - forcing any competition out of the market.(*)

    And now MS has forced so much mis-information into the public mind that teachers confiscate copies of Linux install disks, claiming they are illegal... Best Buy employees are taught that Windows is the only way to go... The public is taught that a machine of a lower-price is better than a Mac - despite the fact that the Mac generally has a better processor, better video card, bigger hard drive and more RAM than the lower-price machine... MS basically does everything it can to keep the public from ever learning the truth about alternatives to its stranglehold on the OS market.

    Yes, Linux has historically had problems handling new hardware. But these days it can run a wider range of hardware correctly than Windows can. I don't really even have to research things anymore - if I go to Wal-Mart, Best-Buy or any other big chain store and purchase a piece of hardware, it is almost certain to be supported by Linux. As an example... Two weeks ago I walked into the local Wal-Mart here, purchased a web-cam and an MP3 player without ever doing research about supported hardware or even looking for a "works with linux" stamp on the packaging. I get home and plug the web-cam in - and it works(**). I plug the MP3 players dongle into the device and into the laptop and it shows up. Everything fully supported. In Windows I'd have had to install the drivers and reboot before I could do anything.

    *:Yes, they got hit with a lawsuit over this by the US DoJ, but it didn't have any real, lasting effect.

    **: Okay, so it took a quick search of Google to get the camera working with a couple of programs. But at least the information was there and didn't involve things like 'edit registry key...' - in fact, the solutions were short and to the point.

    --
    This post contains factual information from third parties as well as anecdotal evidence. You should not trust either before doing research and fact-checking.

  • Re:Time Bandits (Score:2, Interesting)

    by malevolentjelly (1057140) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @03:21PM (#29478395) Journal

    So the fact that numerous people - myself included - use Linux every day for basic tasks doesn't make it usable? The fact that my somewhat technophobic and highly computer-illiterate father often borrows my linux laptop for browsing the web doesn't make it usable? That my sixty year-old mother has requested that, for any computer I build her, I make sure Linux is installed doesn't make it usable?

    That's just talk. I've tried to leave home users with Ubuntu before in the past. There's always something that goes wrong and is absolutely impossible for a home user to solve. It's just too *big* and has too many points of failure without the organized support backend of something like the Windows Platform. Open source offerings will get much better when they simplify and reintegrate.

    And now MS has forced so much mis-information into the public mind that teachers confiscate copies of Linux install disks, claiming they are illegal... Best Buy employees are taught that Windows is the only way to go... The public is taught that a machine of a lower-price is better than a Mac - despite the fact that the Mac generally has a better processor, better video card, bigger hard drive and more RAM than the lower-price machine... MS basically does everything it can to keep the public from ever learning the truth about alternatives to its stranglehold on the OS market.

    Actually, it's not a conspiracy. At this point, Windows is simply more user friendly and usable. I suspect Haiku will overtake Windows in usability before the Linux desktop does, it just has a broad natural advantage in terms of architecture. You certainly can't take away Linux's server utility, though. It will always be firm in that market.

    The moment Linux came even close to being usable, Dell and HP picked it up as options. Those don't do that well on the market. I would say they put exuberant faith in it to offer something like Ubuntu on a consumer machine. It certainly doesn't belong there.

    Yes, Linux has historically had problems handling new hardware. But these days it can run a wider range of hardware correctly than Windows can. I don't really even have to research things anymore - if I go to Wal-Mart, Best-Buy or any other big chain store and purchase a piece of hardware, it is almost certain to be supported by Linux. As an example... Two weeks ago I walked into the local Wal-Mart here, purchased a web-cam and an MP3 player without ever doing research about supported hardware or even looking for a "works with linux" stamp on the packaging. I get home and plug the web-cam in - and it works(**). I plug the MP3 players dongle into the device and into the laptop and it shows up. Everything fully supported. In Windows I'd have had to install the drivers and reboot before I could do anything.

    I've never owned a machine that worked with Linux without incident. Never. My current laptop, for instance, the Gateway LT3103u, does not work well with Linux at all. Its battery life and power management under Linux are especially dismal- and this is pretty ordinary hardware. It's actually losing quite heavily to Vista on this machine. I find that hilarious.

    It sounds like you haven't used a Windows system since Windows 98. I can tell because you mention the system rebooting to install a USB device driver.

    Windows users don't have to do research to know if something is supported on their system. Almost any device you buy includes a driver CD. I don't think it's terribly complex. It will even update WHQL drivers through Windows update. On Windows 7, you can basically just rely on Windows to find all its own drivers online.

    It's not really the consumer's job to do this, though. Your OEM is supposed to handle all the basic driver packaging for your PC.

    Linux TRIES to compete as a consumer product

    And it fails. I think Haiku has a better shot of becoming a usable desktop os. It's designed for the desktop, it h

  • Re:"Go away" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mdwh2 (535323) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @05:36PM (#29479327) Journal

    But showing up at someone's door isn't the same as giving stuff out in the street. And the criticism is also about disputing the claims that Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses etc make.

    If you're going to claim that anyone advertising anything is as bad as Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses turning up at your door, then perhaps you should criticise companies (including software companies) that spend millions on shoving adverts everywhere, rather than a handful of volunteers in the street?

  • by mdwh2 (535323) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @05:38PM (#29479333) Journal

    "Go away" is my reaction to most adverts full stop. However, it would be rather foolish to conclude that therefore advertising has no effect at all.

  • Re:Time Bandits (Score:3, Interesting)

    by orasio (188021) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @09:59PM (#29480639) Homepage

    Linux is a kernel, and it's not a consumer product. It's a software project, but it doesn't even have a price.
    Market concepts are not universal in principle, and also they don't apply that easily to free things.

    You don't seem to understand the concept of usability. Windows is not usable if you analyze it by formal usability metrics, and it has a great market share. Usability is not all. For example, familiarity is even more important. Interoperability costs are important too.

    Ubuntu would need to be a lot better to get people to switch. Right now it's only better.

  • Re:Time Bandits (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Reservoir Penguin (611789) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @10:48PM (#29480821)
    Maybe to many computers are just tools, but it's be foolish to compare them to ordinary household appliances. I don't entrust my life savings (via online banking) or my private thoughts and private images to a coffee maker. As long as you use windows or OSX you can never be sure it's not beaming your private data to whatever propretary company, I use Linux and I can.

You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred. -- Superchicken

Working...