[Linux-aus] LA's SFD CD Run

Russell Stuart russell-linuxaus at stuart.id.au
Tue Aug 25 17:30:55 EST 2009

On Tue, 2009-08-25 at 15:32 +1000, Silvia Pfeiffer wrote:
> I would support the notion of a gold coin fee for the CD-R. It helps
> that it is not just thrown away as worthless, but because people paid
> $1, there is additional incentive to actually use it. Free CDs usually
> end up in the bin.

The comments on this thread seem to imply most people approach SFD very
differently from the way I did.  I didn't see my job as handing out free
CD's.  Rather, it was more of a case of being a street corner preacher
for a day, proselytising open source.

The major difficulty in doing that was cajoling passerbyers to stop and
listen to a geek who obviously wanted to tell them about some bee he had
up his bonnet.  Maybe you good looking people found it easy to do that,
but I sure as hell didn't.  I needed all the help I can get.  That is
where the free CD's come in.

I waved them about, using them to attract listeners.  When a poor
unsuspecting person wandered over to get the free CD, what they got
instead was me telling them about open source.  I had prepared a list of
points I wanted to get across earlier, so I didn't bore them silly with
um's and ah's.   The points went something like this:

- There are free alternatives to the software the pay for now - like
Windows, Office, Photoshop, Publish and games.

- That often got a sceptical look, which gave me an excuse to say point
out the free software they were already familiar with (thank goodness
for Firefox!), and then say Firefox was but the tip of the iceberg and
list a few more,

- Then I could go on about how Free Software drives most of the internet
servers, their ADSL modem and wireless router, etc, etc (and in a
delicious irony I can now add Microsoft Bing to that list), ...

- By now they were beginning to accept there really was free software
written by people who just liked doing it, so I could then explain some
of these people were local.  In other words, promte Humbug - where they
could ask questions about the best software for a particular task, get
problems solved for free - even during the week if they used the mailing

- And then I tried to explain why it all worked - in other words the
ideals behind copyleft.  Usually this was pushing it, and their eyes
glazed over.

Only after they had listened to all this did I give them the CD.  I
figure they probably deserved it by that stage.  And really, I didn't
care whether they installed it, threw it in the bin or used it as a
Frisbee.  It had already served its purpose.

I am not saying this was overly successful.  I don't recall anybody
turning up to a Humbug meeting as a result of doing it.  But I hope it
did a better job of I think SFD is all about - promoting Open Source
software, than just handing out free CD's would.

More information about the linux-aus mailing list