The Edu­ca­tion Expo is on this week­end. I’ve sent a couple of missives to our help­ers. The second one con­tains some advice that would work well in many situ­ations regard­ing FOSS (espe­cially where mar­ket­ing is con­cerned), so I’ll repro­duce it (slightly edited) here:

Sub­ject: Edu­ca­tion Expo, this weekend!
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2008 23:29
From: Srid­har Dhanap­a­lan <[email protected]​dhanapalan.​com>
To: SLUG Activ­it­ies <[email protected]​slug.​org.​au>

Thanks again to every­one who has volun­teered to help with the Linux Aus­tralia stand at the Edu­ca­tion Expo.

The expo itself runs from 9am to 4pm on Sat­urday and Sunday. Entry is free. It’s a fun day for fam­il­ies with chil­dren in the K‑12 space, so feel free to bring along your kids and make a day (or two!) out of it.

This year, the expo will be held in Rose­hill Race­course’s brand new Events Centre, and our stand is in a prime pos­i­tion right in front of the door. If you haven’t already, take a look at the ori­gin­al announce­ment and the Edu­ca­tion Expo Web site.

I asked in my pre­vi­ous mes­sage if people could tell me when they would be avail­able to help out. If you haven’t already, please let me know. If you’re unsure, that’s fine too: just show up and grab me at the stand.

I’ll be there at 8am on Sat­urday (an hour before it starts) to set up the stand, and prob­ably at 8:30 on Sunday. I might need some assist­ance to set up, and also to pack up afterwards.

Some tips:

  • Wear com­fort­able cas­u­al cloth­ing. It might get hot in the exhib­i­tion hall.
  • If you’ve got any Linux or FOSS themed cloth­ing, wear that 🙂
  • Wear com­fort­able shoes. You’ll be stand­ing most of the time.
  • Keep some water handy.
  • Talk­ing to stand vis­it­ors can strain your throat. Some mints can help.

Make it clear to vis­it­ors that there is a vibrant FOSS com­munity in Aus­tralia, and espe­cially in Sydney. Invite them to SLUG, which meets in the city on the last Fri­day of every month (next meet­ing on 27 June). SLUG has a seg­ment known as ‘SLUG­lets’, which is inten­ded for newbies.

Famil­i­ar­ise your­self with the leaf­lets that we will distribute:

Have a read of Linux Aus­trali­a’s guides to Free and Open Source Soft­ware (FOSS) and FOSS in edu­ca­tion. Remem­ber to pro­mote these to stand vis­it­ors as the best place to start with Linux and FOSS:

One import­ant point to remem­ber is that Linux is not FOSS. We will be hand­ing out cop­ies of the OpenE­duca­tionDisc, which is a CD full of edu­ca­tion-ori­ented FOSS for Win­dows. Not every­one is able to switch over to Linux cold-tur­key, but we can get them star­ted with FOSS on Win­dows first.

Sim­il­arly, open stand­ards are not FOSS, but they are a good start. Inform people about the dangers of pro­pri­et­ary file formats, as seen with Microsoft Office, and pro­mote in their stead open altern­at­ives such as Open­Doc­u­ment and PDF.

Show people that Linux isn’t strange and new. Many don’t real­ise it, but they are already using FOSS. For example:

  • Fire­fox and Open­Of­fice are becom­ing increas­ingly pop­u­lar. The NSW Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion is in the pro­cess of switch­ing over >40,000 school com­puters to OpenOffice.
  • Wiki­pe­dia is built around the idea of open know­ledge, inspired dir­ectly from the FOSS move­ment (and it’s built on FOSS too!).
  • Even Mac OS X has many import­ant com­pon­ents based on FOSS, such as the ker­nel, file shar­ing, print­ing and the Web browser.
  • About two-thirds of Web sites are served by the FOSS Web serv­er, Apache.
  • Most of the large Web com­pan­ies (like Google, Face­book and Yahoo) are built with FOSS.
  • It is nor­mal for Hol­ly­wood films to be cre­ated using Linux.
  • Linux is pre­val­ent in a range of con­sumer devices.
  • The pop­u­lar ASUS Eee PC, and many of its com­pet­it­ors, come with Linux pre-installed.

Show people that Linux is easy to install and use. Ubuntu has an installer called Wubi, which is a Win­dows applic­a­tion that installs Ubuntu as a file without par­ti­tion­ing the hard drive. It behaves like a nor­mal dual-boot sys­tem, but it can be unin­stalled from ‘Add/​Remove Pro­grams’ just like any Win­dows applic­a­tion. We’ll also have cop­ies of Edubuntu. Remem­ber that this is an add-on com­pan­ion, not a stand-alone liveCD as in the past. Give a copy of Ubuntu with every Edubuntu disc you distribute.

Linux is more secure. While noth­ing can claim to be 100% secure and vir­us proof, Linux has an excel­lent track record. It does­n’t need ‘band-aid’ solu­tions like anti-vir­us and anti-spy­ware soft­ware because the soft­ware was built sanely to begin with. The Inter­net was built for UNIX, not for Windows.

Linux and FOSS is great for fam­il­ies. It’s afford­able and reli­able. It won’t get infec­ted and show unso­li­cited porn adverts to your chil­dren. There are heaps of great edu­ca­tion­al soft­ware install­able with just a few mouse clicks.

Some caveats:

  • As a com­munity stand, we are not selling anything.
  • Avoid unne­ces­sary Microsoft-bash­ing. We’re run­ning the stand because we love FOSS, not because we hate Microsoft.
Education Expo, this weekend! / Sridhar Dhanapalan by Sridhar Dhanapalan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.
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