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Software Freedom Day in Canberra

By Loquaciousness - 17 September 2008 99

Software Freedom Day – what is it and why should I care?

You might never want to look at the nuts and bolts of the software you use, so why should you support Software Freedom Day? To keep the software you want to use free of charge, and to make sure that the people who can improve it continue to do so. You probably already use, or know of, some open source projects – Firefox (a web browser), Thunderbird (an email client) and Open Office (word processing and spreadsheet software) are all completely free programs used by millions of people worldwide.

The developers who write and maintain free and open source software do so because they are passionate about it – they’re not paid for their work, and they don’t expect to be. By using and distributing their programs, you are helping them to continue making great software for you to use free to charge. Just by copying the software and handing it to your friends, you’re supporting those people who have written the code, and who work hard to maintain it.

When you download and install open source software, not only do you get a program for free, but if you want to, you can take a look at the source code too. And if you find something there you don’t like, you can change it. Submit it to the developers, and see your contributions go out to the next person to download the software.

With proprietary software that you pay money for, the source code is under lock and key, so you can never be quite sure what you’re getting. It could contain viruses or adware, have security vulnerabilities, or just be badly written, making the software unreliable and unstable. Open source software is not only free to use, and free to share with your friends, but it’s also a step towards personal freedom for everybody. With open source software you can see exactly what you’re getting, and can help to make the software better, even if you aren’t a developer.

By supporting Software Freedom Day, you’re supporting the open source community and helping to keep knowledge where it belongs – in the hands of the people who created it.

OK! I’m excited! Where do I start?
Drop in and see the Canberra Software Freedom Day team at the Computer Fair in the Bus Depot Markets on Saturday 20 September, 2008. See free and open source systems in action, get your own free copies of the software, and ask as many questions as you want.

Then:
Drop in to the Install Fest at the ANU (CSIT building – Room N101) the following weekend on Saturday 27 September. Bring your computer and we’ll provide the software and help you get up and running.

If you can’t make it?
Jump online and check out these websites:
Software Freedom Day
Canberra Linux Users Group
OpenDisc
Open Source as Alternative

Or email us at linux@lists.samba.org and we’ll do our best to help.

[ED – depending on how Kramer struggles with his insto on the new server the volunteers might end up configuring a dual quad core beast for us]

What’s Your opinion?


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99 Responses to
Software Freedom Day in Canberra
peter@home 12:30 pm 17 Sep 08

as I am sick at home, not surrounded by my vendors, resellers etc….

Novell SuSe is a commercial program built on open source community involvement. The sister program, which spawns the great things in SuSe is called OpenSuSe – and it is completely free.

the Novell SuSe costs $50.00 USD for a subscription for 12-months. the reason that it is a viable alternative to windows are the features that it has including USB support, the Beryl graphic engine, the cube desktop etc. These are all open source innovations. IBM have developed a linux version of their notes application, which runs on SuSe.

and now for some comments:

Making people more productive usually means either that a) they don’t have to learn anything new and they can do what they always did a little better, or that b) they have to learn a tiny bit more, but they can do something before that they couldn’t before.

can you explain to me why Microsoft Office 2007 went out with a complete re-structure re forms, tabs and menu’s? How long does it take to re-learn it all?

Open office – looks the same as the “old” office. Easy to use, and it is FREE.

The commercial version of SuSe has the 2007 converters built in. what a great idea.

For most people, switching to Linux is neither a) or b). You have to learn a bunch of new stuff to do the same old stuff. And by switching, you lose access to tons of applications, thereby enabling you to do less. Oh, but it does enable you to spend many of your weekends now trying to learn to program so that you can fix bugs and contribute code so that programs will let you do what you could already do before you started going down this merry path.

don’t you have to learn a bunch of new stuff with Vista?
what tons of apps?
why not:

format the drive into 2 partitions, one for win xp, one for linux, and slowly wean your self from xp to linux??

VMware was an opensource program, so was xensource.

and a mac will cost you $3000? bollocks.

$1599 for a basic imac. will do everything most people need.

Loquaciousness 12:19 pm 17 Sep 08

gargamel said :

Oh and for the average Joe – open source is so much safer cos it it *LESS* likely to contain virii, adware et al and of course it won’t be badly written will it…?

Absolutely! All I was trying to say is that you can get in and take a look, if that is your kind of thing.

gargamel said :

Again though – good luck with it – I’m sure if there are others out there with your enthusiasm Loq then it’ll be a good day.

Thanks gargamel. I’m hardly the most enthusiastic supporter of the open source community (a few I’ve met could do with a deep breath and a lie-down), but it hasn’t done me wrong yet.

L

Aurelius 12:15 pm 17 Sep 08

In the Roman province of Judaea, there were fanatical terrorists who were determined to drive out the Roman occupiers. This was despite all the benefits that the Romans had bought the region (we’ve all seen the list on “Life of Brian”, the aqueducts, roads, civil order, peace etc).
These people were called ‘zealots’.

gargamel 12:07 pm 17 Sep 08

Loquaciousness said :

Aurelius said :

Duke, yeah, go along, get a free OS that’s not less useful than the one you had until recently. Top idea!

Not less useful + $400 cheaper == bargain!

L

L, I think you’re buying software at the wrong outlet if you’re paying $400 for a copy of XP…

Aurelius said :

With proprietary software that you pay money for, the source code is under lock and key, so you can never be quite sure what you’re getting. It could contain viruses or adware, have security vulnerabilities, or just be badly written, making the software unreliable and unstable. Open source software is not only free to use, and free to share with your friends, but it’s also a step towards personal freedom for everybody. With open source software you can see exactly what you’re getting, and can help to make the software better, even if you aren’t a developer.

Oh and for the average Joe – open source is so much safer cos it it *LESS* likely to contain virii, adware et al and of course it won’t be badly written will it…?

Good luck with SFD. Personally, I’d rather just download the (legally) free software after researching into whether it has spyware than have to head out to some place and walk around talking to people. Partly cos, as you put it, I would be talking TO the open source community rather than BE part of the open source community – that attitude being something I’ve noticed in the open source movement not only recently but over the last 15 or so years since I came across you lot.

Lets also ignore the fact that prop software is not necessarily s/w you as the end user pays for – a la Acrobat, Flash etc, IExplorer… etc etc(and can’t you find out how Acrobat works under the hood pretty easily? (not sure about IE – never had the need to worry about that…)

As Aurelius put it:

Aurelius said :

If you make something better and it makes people more productive then people will switch to it.

IMHO such a day as this goes against the very idea behind open source cos you’re really admitting that the software you’re peddling needs support rather than letting the product pull it’s own weight.

Again though – good luck with it – I’m sure if there are others out there with your enthusiasm Loq then it’ll be a good day.

Loquaciousness 12:02 pm 17 Sep 08

My bad – I linked to the wrong Linux Hater’s post. That one should be it.

L

Loquaciousness 12:00 pm 17 Sep 08

Aurelius said :

The problem with open source software (Linux being the best example) is that it is anti-productive. That’s why it’s not got the market penetration the acolytes want it to have. If you make something better and it makes people more productive then people will switch to it. Look at Google Chrome for example. That thing has been out one week and it already has more penetration than Linux.

Making people more productive usually means either that a) they don’t have to learn anything new and they can do what they always did a little better, or that b) they have to learn a tiny bit more, but they can do something before that they couldn’t before.

For most people, switching to Linux is neither a) or b). You have to learn a bunch of new stuff to do the same old stuff. And by switching, you lose access to tons of applications, thereby enabling you to do less. Oh, but it does enable you to spend many of your weekends now trying to learn to program so that you can fix bugs and contribute code so that programs will let you do what you could already do before you started going down this merry path.

OK – I’ll bite.

:sigh:

For starters, I read the Linux Hater’s Blog too.

And for seconds, I actually agree with you (and quite a lot of what our dear Linux Hater has to say too).

No free software is ever going to be the same quality as something that people pay money for. Why? Because people are doing it out of charity, or because they feel particularly passionate about it, or because they want something to do in their spare time. Those things are never going to be as great a motivator as a weekly wage.

The other reason is because open source projects – unlike proprietary projects developed within a corporation – aren’t subject to strict quality controls, usability testing, marketing (which includes making the interface pretty as well as the packaging), version control and those types of things. Open source projects are also prone to havings things happen like lead developers just losing interest, or moving onto other things. There’s more dead projects out there than there are live ones, and the quantity of those that could potentially have been something promising is (i imagine) reasonably high.

Another reason why Linux will never have the drivers and other interoperability measures of Microsoft or Apple are because those companies pay for them. Hardware vendors are always going to make their hardware compatible with MS and Apple before any of the free options. This is for two reasons – because those companies hold close to 100% of the market, giving the hardware vendors a captive (and guaranteed) market, and because they are paid to do so.

Now, having said all that, I also believe this – that software (as should all intellectual property) should not be in the hands of corporations, but in the hands of those who developed it. I have a really big moral problem with people “owning” ideas, and that is where Software Freedom comes in.

I’m not for a moment suggesting that everyone under the sun should ditch proprietary formats and come over to the light – they have their place, and that place shall remain, whether it’s monopolised by Microsoft, Apple or $NEW_COMPANY. But the concept of free software, and freedom of ideas is a valid one, and I for one support it. I do that by using and contributing to open source projects, and by helping out with events such as SFD.

And, in the true spirit of RiotACT – if you don’t support the cause, don’t go along 😛

L

Aurelius 11:40 am 17 Sep 08

The problem with open source software (Linux being the best example) is that it is anti-productive. That’s why it’s not got the market penetration the acolytes want it to have. If you make something better and it makes people more productive then people will switch to it. Look at Google Chrome for example. That thing has been out one week and it already has more penetration than Linux.

Making people more productive usually means either that a) they don’t have to learn anything new and they can do what they always did a little better, or that b) they have to learn a tiny bit more, but they can do something before that they couldn’t before.

For most people, switching to Linux is neither a) or b). You have to learn a bunch of new stuff to do the same old stuff. And by switching, you lose access to tons of applications, thereby enabling you to do less. Oh, but it does enable you to spend many of your weekends now trying to learn to program so that you can fix bugs and contribute code so that programs will let you do what you could already do before you started going down this merry path.

Loquaciousness 11:22 am 17 Sep 08

Granny said :

This is a great idea! We would go, but I’m manning a stall at the school fete that day.

Mr Granny is a software developer so I understand something of the amount of work and sacrifice that must go into developing these open source products. Mr Granny does do some freeware, but he has never found his way into the open source community.

Me, I love my newly discovered Firefox. If that is so good, what might an operating system be like? The mind boggles!

Yes I went from Vista to Fedora back in May, and the experience was quite satisfying 🙂

If Mr Granny is interested in getting involved in something, get him to drop me a line. I work in the industry and might be able to nudge him in the right direction.

(Hope the school fete is a roaring success too!)

L

Loquaciousness 11:14 am 17 Sep 08

Aurelius said :

Duke, yeah, go along, get a free OS that’s not less useful than the one you had until recently. Top idea!

Not less useful + $400 cheaper == bargain!

L

Granny 11:13 am 17 Sep 08

This is a great idea! We would go, but I’m manning a stall at the school fete that day.

Mr Granny is a software developer so I understand something of the amount of work and sacrifice that must go into developing these open source products. Mr Granny does do some freeware, but he has never found his way into the open source community.

Me, I love my newly discovered Firefox. If that is so good, what might an operating system be like? The mind boggles!

Loquaciousness 11:10 am 17 Sep 08

Mr_Shab said :

Is there anywhere that runs courses on how to use Linux? I’m interested, but I’m yet to find anyone who I can sit down with and learn from. I’d like to ditch Vista, but I’m nervous and I can only get so far from what’s out there on teh intertoobs.

I’ve asked around a bit, but I always get the same “Linux? Eww. Only nerds and losers use Linux. If you don’t like Windows, all you need to do is spend $3000 on a Mac”. When I reply that I don’t mind Windows THAT much, and anyway I don’t have $3000 to spend on anything, I usually get an answer with a subtext of “Well then, you’ve got no business owning a computer. Back to the stone age with you, troglodyte” and I get sad.

Yeah, I’ve been there Mr_Shab. There are courses around (the Red Hat ones spring to mind, I did their “Linux Essentials” course and it’s a very good grounding), unfortunately, they all cost money (which sort of flies in the face of the whole thing, IMHO). Probably what I would suggest is to get involved with the Canberra Linux User’s Group. Even if you don’t come to the meetings to start with, the email list is a great resource, and the archives are all available online if you want to browse. There’s been plenty of conversations over which distribution to choose, what works for beginners, and how to set up for Windows-like operation.

Having said all that, if you go for one of the more mainstream desktop versions – either Ubuntu or Fedora – they are very Windows-like in operation. If you’re a competent Windows user, I doubt you will have any trouble at all with either of those. The people who say that Linux is only for nerds are right for what Linux was five or ten years ago. A lot has changed since then.

I suggest you get along to the Install Fest – bring your hardware. Even if you don’t end up installing it on the day, at least the volunteers can take a look and make some suggestions. It’ll give you a chance to ask all the questions you want to.

HTH.

L

Mr_Shab 10:40 am 17 Sep 08

Is there anywhere that runs courses on how to use Linux? I’m interested, but I’m yet to find anyone who I can sit down with and learn from. I’d like to ditch Vista, but I’m nervous and I can only get so far from what’s out there on teh intertoobs.

I’ve asked around a bit, but I always get the same “Linux? Eww. Only nerds and losers use Linux. If you don’t like Windows, all you need to do is spend $3000 on a Mac”. When I reply that I don’t mind Windows THAT much, and anyway I don’t have $3000 to spend on anything, I usually get an answer with a subtext of “Well then, you’ve got no business owning a computer. Back to the stone age with you, troglodyte” and I get sad.

Aurelius 10:37 am 17 Sep 08

Duke, yeah, go along, get a free OS that’s not less useful than the one you had until recently. Top idea!

Loquaciousness 10:31 am 17 Sep 08

Duke said :

On a similar note, I need a boffin to help with a liddle IT problem i’m having. When I bought this computer a few years ago a friend installed Windows XP on it and it turns out now that this was from a burnt CD.

After a recent update I downloaded, Microsoft has identified my Windows as a pirate version and keeps hassling me about it. I now get a warning screen every time I boot up and a window popping up every few minutes asking me to resolve the problem.

Anybody know how I can get rid of all these warnings without buying a new Windows program? This one works great!

Love Duke

Come along to the Computer Fair on Sunday and pick up a free CD. You won’t have to buy a new Windows program at least … 😛

L

Duke 10:26 am 17 Sep 08

On a similar note, I need a boffin to help with a liddle IT problem i’m having. When I bought this computer a few years ago a friend installed Windows XP on it and it turns out now that this was from a burnt CD.

After a recent update I downloaded, Microsoft has identified my Windows as a pirate version and keeps hassling me about it. I now get a warning screen every time I boot up and a window popping up every few minutes asking me to resolve the problem.

Anybody know how I can get rid of all these warnings without buying a new Windows program? This one works great!

Love Duke

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