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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] Free Software CD for Windows?

From: Will Rico
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] Free Software CD for Windows?
Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2012 23:26:02 -0500
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:17.0) Gecko/17.0 Thunderbird/17.0

I started this thread on December 1 and owe a report on how our Free Software outreach, at a local community college in Boston, went.

First, thank you to everyone who made suggestions regarding the Free Software CD for Windows. I looked at Qumble, OpenDisc and Valo-CD (thanks Alexey, Michael, and Tomi for those suggestions!). In evaluating the three options, I noticed each had some software that was more up-to-date than the others, e.g. one might have a newer version of Firefox, but an older version of LibreOffice, so it was hard to decide based on versions. Overall, I found the selection of software on each disc was comparable.

We downloaded the ISO for OpenDisc ( and burned a DVD. Unfortunately, it wouldn't install. The autorun didn't run, and when I clicked Kiwix.exe nothing happened, so that pretty much ruled out OpenDisc.

Valo-CD ( can only be downloaded via a torrent and my colleague who was doing the downloading didn't want to install a Torrent client and was pressed for time, so we skipped Valo-CD.

Qumble ( downloaded nicely and popped up a nice menu as soon as I put it in the drive. It let me choose which program(s) to install, categorized by type, and gave a little description of each. Unfortunately, the main Qumble site is down and one if it's touted benefits is the website and its forums, so that was a little disappointing, but overall, it seemed nicely packaged and was the one we decided to go with. One last quibble with Qumble is the name, which I'm not sure how to pronounce.

Thanks again to Alexey who I understand is part of the Qumble team!

So here's how the outreach event, which was on December 4, went:

The college in question was Roxbury Community College and I worked with their Community Partnership Program Coordinator, who was super helpful, in putting together the event. The idea was simple. We were given a table on the first floor of an academic building and between 12 & 2 on a Tuesday, we could talk to students, hand out literature, DVDs and CDs.

We brought the following material with us to hand out:
-- What is Free Software (
-- A handout I made with a list of on-line and in-person resources
-- A list of "Why Free Software" (short bulleted list of reasons to use Free Software, meant as a compliment to the "What is Free Software" doc)
-- Qumble CDs (with Free Software for Windows)
-- Ubuntu 12.10 DVDs (I know, I know, more on this below)

I didn't know what to expect since I hadn't done this type of an event before. We had a very makeshift banner that said "Free Software," which piqued some interest, but for the most part, we had to approach people and start conversations, usually by saying "Would you like some free software?"

Most people were skeptical (one woman commented "there aint nothing in life that's free"). Some thought it was a promotion for something that they'd have to pay for later. In some cases it took quite a lot of reiterating to convince people that no, they wouldn't have to pay in a month, or 3 months, or 6 months or 10 years; this is 100% free. Of course, we took the opportunity to segue into conversations about "Free as in Freedom."

Hardly anyone had heard of Free Software or GNU/Linux previously. We described Ubuntu as a replacement for Windows or Mac operating systems, and pointed out that they could install the DVD for free, get a modern operating system, and avoid "upgrade" fees for Windows 8. We also talked about LibreOffice as a replacement for Microsoft Office.

The "free as in beer" argument went over well. In some cases, "free as in freedom" and "free as in beer" are interconnected, particularly when people are coerced by various mechanisms to upgrade versions of proprietary software when in actuality they don't realize a benefit as a result. Depending on a person's economic situation, these fees can cut deeply, or drive people to pirating software. We talked about how Free Software doesn't make people feel like criminals for doing one of the most natural things in the world, sharing, and that seemed to resonate with people too.

The "There Aint Nothing in Life That's Free" woman, who originally seemed the most resistant, wound up having the longest conversation with us and by the end was telling us about the dangers of Facebook, impingements upon privacy, and the importance of freedom.

Some results:
1- We handed out all the DVDs and CDs (48 in total).
2- One of the students attended the Ubuntu Mass Colo in Dorchester the next day 3- None of the students came to our Desktop GNU/Linux meetup ( in Cambridge (also the next day) 4- I didn't hear from anyone via email (I listed my email address on the Resources handout)

Overall, I would have loved to receive emails from people I met, but I'm pleased with the results. We introduced the concept of Free Software to lots of people and got free software into their hands. I'm hopeful some of those people tried the software, and others handed the discs off to relatives. More people may be running freer software currently as a result. Ultimately however, I know it will take more than one "touch" for most people to internalize the message, make a change, and get involved.

What I would do differently:

Well, I definitely wouldn't have handed out Ubuntu 12.10. Our event was three days before the Stallman post on Ubuntu being malware. As I commented in another thread, I agree with that assessment and wrote a blog piece about it myself (

Perhaps Trisquel would have been a better option, as Jason Self pointed out in this thread, prior to the event. I was hesitant to hand out Trisquel for two reasons: 1- I felt Ubuntu would have a better shot of being hardware compatible for most people 2- I liked being able to point people to the plethora of Ubuntu-centric resources online, many of which are especially nice for new users

Final comments:

Putting together this event took time and effort, but it was a lot easier than I imagined and the experience was rewarding. Anyone who hasn't done this type of outreach before, shouldn't be intimidated. The hardest part was finding a venue. Roxbury Community College was the only local college/university that embraced the concept. I've had a hard time making connections at the other colleges and universities. But I'm sure there are plenty of places that would be receptive to the idea (farmer's markets was an interesting idea suggested by Mark Holmquist).

Feel free to respond to this thread or email me privately if you have questions.


On 12/03/2012 03:55 PM, Michael Dorrington wrote:
On 02/12/12 20:38, Gustavo C. M. wrote:
Just an exercise of making distinctions:

For example, the owner of an "Internet Cafe" could offer the use of
Free Software on machines that the users do not own.
Since the software is not being distributed, the GNU GPL does not come
into effect.
It comes; it's just that it's "propagation", not "conveying", of a
"covered work".

If only there was a FAQ on the GPL:

I would say the Internet Cafe would be similar to the "Laptop Loan" (but
this is not legal advice and I am not a lawyer):

There is also an explanation of the terms propagate and convey:

If you do come up with one or more questions (preferably with answers)
then could you try to get the FSF to add them to this FAQ (or another FAQ).

Carry on. :)


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