[sf-lug] mastering CDs in bulk for Software Freedom Day

Grant Bowman grantbow at gmail.com
Mon Aug 31 00:41:51 PDT 2009

On Sun, Aug 30, 2009 at 11:26 PM, Rick Moen<rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:
> Quoting Sameer Verma (sverma at sfsu.edu):
>> This is a somewhat long answer
> Sadly, it is not an answer at all.

I respectfully disagree with your conclusion.

Assumptions about various "users" can bring one to different
conclusions.  It is difficult to speak with authority about the
spectrum of "users" as one lump group when there is a range from
Microsoft Certified Professionals (I am one) through folks that are
given computers (with software) by family or friends just to get them
onto email and the web.  People who need instructions for how to turn
on a computer or load software themselves, if given a disc, may only
offer it to whoever is their "informal tech support" as an alternative
to try.  The life cycle of a CD is not something that is easily
quantifiable.  At SFSU I suspect students would make up a large
percentage of the population to whom this disc would be distributed.

During computer platform trials or after a decision is made, people
think of migrating their computer platforms on an application by
application basis with an eye toward existing data and future data
compatibility.  Everyone has their own subjective list of needs they
need to address.

Ultimately the problem is education.

> ...
>> Diffusion and adoption of an innovation (FOSS as an innovation) has
>> been studied for around 50 years and has a well established record
>> across various fields such as agriculture, healthcare, technology,
>> etc.
> Just as a gut reaction:  I would be deeply doubtful about any attempt to
> consider those things comparable, given that they have, for starters,
> radically different fundamental problems.

While I respect your gut about many topics (as you might already
know), I trust that 50 years of research might also be helpful in some
ways if it is directly applicable.  Are you saying you don't believe
that Open Source software can be categorized as a technical innovation
from a societal perspective?

> ...
>> Populations to be addressed by events such as Software Freedom Day are
>> the early majority going through the persuasion stage.
> Begs the question:  What persuasion is accomplished?  I've seen what
> happens:  They just perceive it as free-of-charge stuff for MS-Windows,
> and another reason to take no other action.

Users care about their data.  They use applications to get to that
data.  Operating systems only exist to help applications share
resources, at least that's how Linus Torvalds explained it in an
interview once.

If users use software that is Open Source and can read legacy formats,
don't you think this is progress?  Whether people realize the value in
the short term or long term varies, however taking this step
absolutely removes a huge factor when considering switching from
Windows to Linux.  If they can switch their OS and use the same
applications (i.e. Open Office, Firefox, Gimp, etc.) they are far more
likely to consider switching, don't you think?

> ... You're not including them in any
> meaningful way whatsoever:  They treat it, and regard it, as just
> free-of-charge stuff.

I have had different experiences from yours.  I'm sorry the people you
have tried to help in the past with Open Source applications running
on Windows have not realized the full value of what you were offering.
 Times do change and each user comes with different levels of
education about Open Source.  If it doesn't work for one user it does
not necessarily mean all users won't understand.  Whether Open Source
application users realize it initially or not, if they use Open Source
software and know that other applications exist and perceive some kind
of value, then in my mind they are far more likely to look for other
solutions that they may have been ignorant of in the past.

> ...
> And, by the way, you have no hope whatsoever of getting across the
> concept ...

No hope?  Seems a little bit of a stretch, though it would be more
difficult.  If I correctly decipher the meaning from your statements,
I agree with you that "Open Source" should be name used when talking
about Free Software and Open Source software.

Grant Bowman

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