[opensource] The Future of Open Source Club & Spring Workshops

BRIAN SWANEY swaney.29 at osu.edu
Fri Mar 30 09:41:30 EDT 2007


On Fri, 2007-03-30 at 02:42 -0400, Brandon Mintern wrote:
I don't think people want to hear, "We can do
> that, too," but instead, "We can do that better."
> 
> We can promote open source without even requiring a Linux install.  After
> attending an Open Source Club meeting last spring, I was very interested
> in Linux, but too used to Windows to make the switch. My first step, at
> this point, was to switch all of my major Windows programs to open source
> versions, IE -> Firefox, AIM -> Gaim, Photoshop -> Gimp, MS Office ->
> OpenOffice. 
> 

I think I sort of mentioned this idea. VLC would be a nice place to start. I've yet to find something that works better for any platform.

On Fri, 2007-03-30 at 02:42 -0400, Brandon Mintern wrote:
but there are also things better about OpenOffice,
> like auto-completion and export as PDF. 
> 
Sorry, I didn't know of these features (I don't know most of what can be done with it yet). I personally would like to see some of these.

On Fri, 2007-03-30 at 02:42 -0400, Brandon Mintern wrote:
the
> only Linux I have seen promoted by the club is Ubuntu, but I believe that
> there are better (in some respects) distros out there that could at least
> be mentioned. 
> 
Well, the school refuses to support anything but Windows (and maybe Mac), but if they have to for some reason, they support RedHat and SuSE (although I think Fedora is included in some fashion).

On Fri, 2007-03-30 at 02:42 -0400, Brandon Mintern wrote:
I think it would be great to purposely
> cause some error, show how you can search the error text in Google and
> then find a free solution to your problem on community message boards or
> mailing lists. 
> 
While I have no doubt that Google searching is a critical skill for (especially new) Linux users, I'm not sure that would be too appealing in the start.

On Fri, 2007-03-30 at 02:42 -0400, Brandon Mintern wrote:
Finally, we could implement a mentor program where someone would borrow a
> club member for an evening (or maybe a weekend in the case of Gentoo ;-))
> to assist with an install and to be there to provide help later when
> needed (by e-mail or phone). 
> 
I think this would help a lot. The issue is about who is willing to take the time to reach out to newcomers. Paul was really helpful to me and I may not have been able to do it without him, but this may be a lot to ask of a college student. I might be willing to, if I'm able to make the time and be qualified enough.


-Brian Swaney

----- Original Message -----
From: Brandon Mintern <mintern at cse.ohio-state.edu>
Date: Friday, March 30, 2007 2:42 am
Subject: Re: [opensource] The Future of Open Source Club & Spring Workshops

> On Fri, 30 Mar 2007 00:35:21 -0400, BRIAN SWANEY wrote:
> > [a bunch of good ideas]
> 
> Seriously, those are some great ideas, so please stop being so down on
> yourself :-).  I have not been to an Open Source meeting in over a 
> year,and that is something I wish to change this quarter.  Of 
> course, that does
> not solve the problem of preaching to the choir, because I have been
> running exclusively FreeBSD and Gentoo for about 6 months now.  My
> non-tech girlfriend even works regularly in Gnome.
> 
> I agree that some kind of serious recruitment campaign is in order. 
> This
> will help not only the Open Source Club at OSU, but the Open Source
> community in general, by bringing new people into the foray. While 
> I think
> it's important to show that free software can do everything that 
> Windowscan, I think it's also important to relate facts like the 
> ones about
> Apache being the most-used webserver, to show off the cool effects of
> Beryl, or to point out that many of the best new programming 
> languages are
> open source. In other words, I don't think people want to hear, "We 
> can do
> that, too," but instead, "We can do that better."
> 
> We can promote open source without even requiring a Linux install.  
> Afterattending an Open Source Club meeting last spring, I was very 
> interestedin Linux, but too used to Windows to make the switch. My 
> first step, at
> this point, was to switch all of my major Windows programs to open 
> sourceversions, IE -> Firefox, AIM -> Gaim, Photoshop -> Gimp, MS 
> Office ->
> OpenOffice.  After some time, I found that the only non-open source
> programs I was using were Calculator, Notepad, and Paint, and at that
> point, I knew it was time to switch (I still kind of miss Paint).
> 
> I think it might be a good idea to promote some of these open source
> alternatives to Windows users.  For example, I was pleasantly 
> surprised to
> learn I could customize my top bars in Firefox, even stuffing 
> everythinginto the menu bar.  I also found that the tabs, quick 
> search features, and
> plug-ins were pretty cool, too.  Brian already suggested some Gaim
> features that are good, but there are also things better about 
> OpenOffice,like auto-completion and export as PDF.  For reading PDF 
> and PS documents,
> Evince rocks all over Adobe on startup time and lack of user 
> tracking.  I
> think that the first step in converting people to open source (and 
> gettingthem to join the club) is to get them to begin using open 
> source software
> on a regular basis. Eventually, we might be able to convert them to
> Ubuntu.
> 
> The tips above can apply to just about anyone, even people who 
> aren't CSE
> majors.  For those who are majors and who think they may like to 
> hack, I
> think there is another thing that I have found to be a bit lacking. 
> When
> I decided to leave Windows, it was not for political reasons or 
> monetaryreasons, but because I liked the capabilities of the 
> command line for
> automating some repetitious tasks, and for performing some operations
> quickly without having to wait for some program to startup.  I also 
> wantedto know what was going on with my computer, to control wired 
> and wireless
> connections and to learn how things work.  In short, I was tired of 
> theWindows interface and was ready for something different.  When I 
> installedUbuntu, I felt like I might as well be using Windows. 
> Everything was
> automagic and the point-and-click interface for doing everything was
> actually what I was trying to avoid. While this is great for 
> someone who
> is non-technical, I was frustrated by it.
> 
> I eventually came across Gentoo, and I have been very happy ever 
> since.  I
> have had no dependency problems, everything on my computer is compiled
> specifically for my platform, I get great 64-bit support (something 
> Ubuntuwas lacking at the time), and no updates or installs have 
> caused breakage.
> I even appreciated the excruciatingly long installation process, 
> becauseI felt like I learned something about how everything works.  
> In short, the
> only Linux I have seen promoted by the club is Ubuntu, but I 
> believe that
> there are better (in some respects) distros out there that could at 
> leastbe mentioned.
> 
> Perhaps to cater to potential users like me, we could show some of the
> cool things that can be done through the command line by showing 
> how it's
> possible to manipulate a bunch of files through the use of xargs, 
> or to
> show how magical interweb connections actually work by running 
> dhcpcd from
> the command line.  For programmers who are used to programming in the
> Notepad-like excuse-for-an-IDE called Visual Studio, we could show how
> even the old-school vi can increase programmer output and 
> productivity.Finally, showing how easy it is to connect to your 
> home computer from
> campus or to campus from your home computer is a major benefit that
> technical users should appreciate Linux for.  I found it more 
> efficient to
> do 581 programs by VNCing to my home computer to use vim to 
> program, and
> then SFTPing it back onto the local machine to make sure it worked in
> Windows.  Being able to do things like this, in my opinion, makes 
> Linuxpretty cool.
> 
> Finally, the hardest part of switching to Linux is making "the big 
> jump".It can be scary and difficult, and that nagging uncertainty 
> can make
> people very reluctant to switch.  I think it would be great to 
> purposelycause some error, show how you can search the error text 
> in Google and
> then find a free solution to your problem on community message 
> boards or
> mailing lists.  We could show sites like Gentoo-Wiki which give great
> step-by-step instructions on almost anything you would want to do.
> Finally, we could implement a mentor program where someone would 
> borrow a
> club member for an evening (or maybe a weekend in the case of 
> Gentoo ;-))
> to assist with an install and to be there to provide help later when
> needed (by e-mail or phone).  Many people depend on their computer 
> for a
> lot now, and the thought of being stuck with no idea what to do can 
> be a
> bit scary, so having someone knowledgeable to help could be a nice
> confidence booster.
> 
> Anyways, those are my ideas, and I believe this is my first message 
> to the
> list, so hello :-).
> 
> Brandon
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