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]>
To: SLUG Activ­i­ties <[email protected]>

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 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.