Friday, August 31, 2007

Software Freedom Day: Taking open source to the streets

Thousands of open source advocates and enthusiasts from around the world are expected to take the message of free and open source software to the streets on September 15 for the fourth annual Software Freedom Day.

On Software Freedom Day, teams of enthusiasts hold local events to educate their local communities, supported by the parent organisation, Software Freedom International, and sponsors such as Canonical and the Free Software Foundation. It's an advocacy event whose the primary motive is outreach -- promoting free and open source software to local communities.

The event is growing. The inaugural 2004 Software Freedom Day had around 12 teams. Pia Waugh, president of Software Freedom International, says, "We had about 180 teams last year, and this year we are expecting about 250."

Events on the day vary from team to team. Activities usually include informational seminars, software demonstrations and training, and product giveaways. Some teams have been known to dress up in Tux costumes to gain attention and direct people to the action.

Running a Software Freedom Day event is beneficial to Linux and other open source user groups, as the impact can last beyond the actual day.

At Mawson Lakes, a suburb of Adelaide in Australia, Paul Schulz' 2006 Software Freedom Day event brought together different enthusiast groups. The most notable result has been the continuing interaction between local Linux user groups and Air-Stream, an Adelaide-based community wireless initiative. Their cooperation recently included a speaker interchange between the LUGs and Air-Stream. Several new LUGs have also been formed in the area due to the interest sparked from last year's event, and the organizers say they have seen a greater level of open source involvement in the local community center.

Another lasting effect can be seen in neighboring New Zealand, where past Software Freedom Day events in Christchurch have paved the way for a Linux and Free Software training programme. "Since we found a more permanent home for our SFD events, in a suburban library ICT teaching centre, we have been able to maintain the positive relationship through monthly Ubuntu and free software live CD-based evening classes," says Rik Tindall, a member of the 2006 Christchurch team. "Many new users have seen this series advertised, and come along for CDs, tuition, and installation help. Thus we also gained a regular schedule and base for training our SFD volunteers. From SFD, the profile of FOSS in the community has therefore been doubly lifted."

Best Event Photo 2006The training programme is so popular that there is also a need to cater for children. Tindall says, "This experience has also identified the need for a creche-like facility on SFD, for the many small children that attend a library with parents or grandparents on any weekend. We will prepare a section of our teaching suite accordingly, as a 'penguin creche,' with several games and puzzle packages ready."

By Melissa Draper

Lucky Lips - Cliff Richard

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Software Freedom Day 2007 Sep 15h --Bigger than Ever

September 15th marks Software Freedom Day, the world's largest celebration and outreach effort about why transparent and sustainable technologies like Free & Open Source Software are so important. Community groups in more than 80 countries organize local activities and programs on Software Freedom Day to educate the wider public about free software: what it is, how it works and its relationship to human rights and sustainability. We already have over 140 teams around the world registered: join them in spreading the word! Registrations for Software Freedom Day teams that want to receive a free SFD team pack close in two weeks, so register now!

"Software Freedom is about creating a digital platform for trust and longevity, particular in a future where more and more of our lives are dependent upon technology" explains Pia Waugh, President of Software Freedom International, the organization behind Software Freedom Day. "It is important we can participate in and trust the software we use in the same way we need to be able to participate and trust in a political system. Ultimately our basic freedoms are only as free as the tools we use, and thus our commitment to Software Freedom."

Support for this year's Software Freedom Day event is fantastic with Google, Mindtouch and the Free Software Foundation coming on board as sponsors as well as long term sponsors the Danish Unix User Group and Canonical. The event also has support from The Open CD, OsCommRes and the International Open Source Network.

"Software Freedom Day is a fantastic event that demonstrates the global reach of open source software." says Jane Silber, COO of Canonical. "We at Canonical are proud to sponsor the event and encourage everyone in the Ubuntu community, as well as the open source community writ large, to participate in this important global event."

Registrations of teams participating in SFD will continue right up to the event however teams who wish to receive a free SFD team pack, including stickers, t-shirts, CDs and balloons must register before the 31st July! So get in quick! There is also an online shop where anyone can purchase t-shirts and packs of The Open CD. Teams get a 50% discount on all prices marked. Teams that have difficult circumstances can write to the Software Freedom International Board with special requests for additional goodies.

Already this year's event is looking bigger and better than ever before, so what will you do to help take Software Freedom to the world. After all, freedom isn't just for geeks.

[ Thanks to Pia Waugh for this article. ]