Installfest: Report from the Event

But seriously, the payoff was very much worth the effort—but I don't think the payoff was just two Linux systems. I think we accomplished several things this afternoon.

First, we introduced many people to the notion of desktop Linux. It's an affordable and secure way to do common tasks, such as web browsing and word processing. Many people don't even know that they have a choice for their desktop environment, let alone that there are some good reasons one might choose Linux over Windows.

Next, as I noted in the earlier article, this was a different kind of installfest, aimed at the home user rather than the hobbyist. I hope that there will be more such events. I hope that what we learned will make future events even better.

Finally, there is a lot of discussion about using open source software in community networking projects and non-profit organizations. Right now, there is a tremendous thirst for information in these communities. In fact, that was my main justification for conducting the initial research and documenting the results in this series of blog entries. I want to document some best practices for making the open source desktop work.

I think all that—not just two systems—is what we achieved today. That's why I'm pleased with the outcome.

The people who got the Linux systems were happy, so I think the installfest methodology was a success. (I'll talk a bit more about that methodology in a future posting.) The biggest weakness I saw was support and documentation. I already knew that; I had prepared a one-page "quick start guide". Unfortunately, even that was not enough.

There are two things I'd do differently next time. First, I'd like to extend the "quick start guide" to include more resources, both online and printed, to help people administer and use their new Linux systems. Second, next time I'll shoot to deliver three Linux systems.

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re: Installfest: Report from the Event

I think that possibly setting up a complete system or two for sale with Linux loaded would be nice. People could then look at the finished product and make a quicker decision/purchase.

re: Installfest: Report from the Event

(Note to readers: Stephen was one of the installfest participants.)

Stephen, I totally agree. In retrospect, I think it was a problem that we just had tables of parts and left it to people to make their own systems that we would then load. We should have pieced together as many good systems as we could, loaded them up, and put them on display.

I estimate there were parts for maybe three or four good systems (memory was the limitation). So, by that measure, delivering two systems wasn't too bad.