Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Education GNU is Not Unix Software

Fun and Informative Way to Introduce Open Source? 364

jwg asks: "I work in an office environment where I provide technical services and solutions to my co-workers (as I am sure most Slashdot readers do at their respective places of employment). Once a month, we have a round-table meeting to discuss pressing issues in our office. At the beginning of these meetings, it is one person's job to provide some form of 'professional development', usually an activity or game to teach some skill, idea, or trend directly related to their job. My turn is coming up soon, and I would like to introduce my co-workers to the idea (and to some, the way of life) of Open Source. There are many examples of Open Source software and communities out there to reference (Mozilla, Wikipedia, MySQL and... oh yeah, Linux), but has anyone come up with or come across a method to introduce it in a quick, fun, and informative way to a wide variety of people each of which possess a even wider range of technical skill? Did I mention it has to be fun?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Fun and Informative Way to Introduce Open Source?

Comments Filter:
  • by Ohmster ( 843198 ) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:37PM (#13171044) Homepage Journal
    How about creating or buying a ready-made "computer on a stick"? That is a USB memory stick...there's a fair bit of open source software, OS, apps, utilities etc., that can boot from a USB drive. You can put this together or buy one from third-party vendors. Another inexpensive alternative would be to pass around a "how to" sheet to your group after you give them a demo off a USB drive. On it you could also include the PCmag reviews of OpenOffice reassuring Microsoft Office compatibility. If you want to go the extra mile, you could even set up the Mozilla browser with all the open-source resources bookmarked like wikipedia, Wikinews, imdb, openmedia.org etc. It's an eye-opener for those not familiar with open source. More here: http://mp.blogs.com/mp/2005/07/on_computers_on.htm l [blogs.com]
    • One phrase. Frozen Bubble.

      Fun, exciting introduction to Open Source.

      But, then again, nobody would have any productivity for the rest of the day.

      Tired of answering tons of basic computer questions for friends and family? Send them to ChristianNerds.com [christiannerds.com] instead!
    • by UnderScan ( 470605 ) <jjp6893@@@netscape...net> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @07:14PM (#13171403)
      Computer-on-a-stick [fingergear.com] uses the Gnome desktop, includes remote access via SSH, VNC, RDP, and runs on Linux kernel 2.6.x so it is impervious to 99% of all spyware, adware, viruses & exploits since they target Windows OS & applications.

      If you already have a USB memory device or if you PC can not boot from a USB device, then there are alternatives.

      Two Linux distros designed for small size & boot on CDR or USB devices
      Damn Small Linux 50MB http://www.thepodcastnetwork.com/linuxuser/2005/06 /13/puppy-linux-live-reviewed/ [thepodcastnetwork.com]
      Puppy Linux 40-90MB http://flaviostechnotalk.com/wordpress/index.php/2 005/06/11/damn-small-linux-12-review/ [flaviostechnotalk.com]

      Two Linux distros designed to boot from CDR & used as the base for many derivatives
      Knoppix http://www.linuxforums.org/news/article-24309.html [linuxforums.org]
      Slax http://www.tuxmachines.org/node/1193 [tuxmachines.org]
    • by kuom ( 253900 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @07:24PM (#13171497)
      One example I've found to be rather effective is compare it to medicine or food recipes. Ask them if they would buy a medicine that does not list the ingredients (hopefully most would answer 'no'). Then compare that to software that don't tell you what's in it. Not a perfect comparison, but I find this to be a good introduction for most non-technical people. A slightly better example might be to compare it to cars. Take Linux for example, when you buy a Linux-powered car, you have the permission to open up the hood, take the engine apart, fix it, enhance it, tweak it, and share your improvements with the other linux-car owners, thus making their cars better too. Compare this to a Microsoft car, where opening your hood will void the warranty.
      • >>you have the permission to open up the hood

        No, you're *required* to. It's what separates tools from hobbies. Most people want the computer to be a tool. All they want to think about is the task they want to solve, and that does not involve messing with the computer.

        I want my car to get me to work and to the store with the least bit of my involvement. Most people want that of their computer as well.

      • I don't know about you, but I eat stuff all the time that doesn't have ingredients listed. And odd thing is, the more I pay, usually the less they're willing to tell me about the recipe.

        Medicine is a good analogy. But then again most software isn't life and death. So there isn't as compelling a reason why the "ingredients" should be listed on software.

        Then there's the old car analogy which is becoming less and less apt by the year. "Would you buy a car with the hood welded shut?" Even if you don't kn
      • (With tongue in cheek):

        Present them with a freshly installed linux box running the distro of your choice, sans web browser. Then, tell them that they can open a terminal window and surf the web by simply typing "lynx" at the command prompt.

        When they start asking questions about the text only browser, stare at them like they are idiots and chant "man lynx" like it will make a difference.
      • Compare this to a Microsoft car, where opening your hood will land them in jail.

        No need for thanks, to help is what I'm here for.

        You've also seemed to have omitted the following:

        Furthermore while you're driving your windshield is completely covered with advertisements (i.e. spyware), and when you get into a fatal accident due to these adverts, clippy finally pops out while your brains are oozing out of your head and he asks "It seems you've been in a near-fatal car accident and are unable to move while

  • first post (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:38PM (#13171056)
    you could always try the whole falling thing you know where everyone catches the falling person. then demonstrate it if everyone tried to make there catching system "propritary"
  • It's always fun to have your oppinions matter. Maybe collaborate a cool fictional car, that everyone can have a say what goes into it and everyone can make a difference.
  • by avronius ( 689343 ) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:39PM (#13171063) Homepage Journal
    Ask everyone in the group to imagine a simple piece of paper.
    Ask them:
    What would use a blank sheet of paper for?
    What do you know about where the paper was manufactured?
    What do you know about the inventor of paper?

    There are few simple alternatives to paper. Sure there are whiteboards / chalkboards / computers / sheets of mylar, etc., but each has limitations that are not inherent to paper.

    Ask them how they would feel if it suddenly cost $300.00 to purchase each sheet of paper simply because the biggest vendor decided that that was what they wanted to charge. What would they do to get around this barrier to their productivity. The alternatives aren't very convenient for most people. Would they look into making their own paper?

    Then tell them that there is a community that is offering other ways to manufacture paper that drastically decreased the cost - back down to the previous rate - how would they feel about that.

    Better still, what if that community were all volunteers, whose goal is to make access to this type of information / service / activity available to as many people as possible?

    This is rather simplistic, and doesn't address a lot of what OSS/FOSS is about, but it is a simple way to introduce the subject.

    It wouldn't hurt if you could download an Open Source paper airplane design so that they can build $300.00 paper airplanes at the end of your chat.

    - A
    • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:48PM (#13171170)
      Expanding on the paper airplane thing might make more sense than hammering on the cost. Start with a simple paper airplanne, get ideas from the room to improve it. Eliminate what doesn't work, and keep building off what does. SHow that thats how the open source model works- individual contributors adding together neat ideas to make the whole.
      • by avronius ( 689343 ) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:52PM (#13171206) Homepage Journal
        Good idea. In my defence, I'm operating on 0 sleep and 0 coffee...
      • jezus christ does anyone here apart from me actually work in a company with real people and real project teams where we all contribute to achieve a goal?
        Trying to persuade people that what they do normally at work is open source, but calling it open source makes it somehow better will see you swiftly moved into the loon category in the workplace hierarchy.
      • by mrmoj0 ( 446060 )
        Then show how even if everyone has access to the underlying knowledge of how to fold an airplane, someone can still offer a paid service that folds the paper airplanes for people and repairs if a wing gets bent.

        And maybe mention in passing that the community airplane has the unique advantage of not bursting in to flames after 12 minutes of flight time.
      • You could also write a sentence full of spelling mistakes, and get people to fix it, one word at a time. Spelling mistakes are bugs, they are the developers, and closed source would be an audio file that does not allow you to see the spelling mistakes.
    • Get them thinking about how *they* would like it if there was a community of underemployed kids who wanted to do their jobs for free.

      In all seriousness, I don't know why folks who wrte computer software for a living like free software. You don't expect free rent, food, clothing, etc. Why should software be free?

      • Quit conflating "free as in beer" and "free as in speech".
      • First of all, a vast majority of people who actually write software for a living don't work for a software company. Most of those that do, don't get paid per copy. They get paid according to how much time they spend creating the software.

        I can't speak for all free software developers, but the main reason I donate time to free software is that I want to contribute to the sustenance of an environment that gives me a lot more back than I put in. I have over 800 packages installed on my system, and have on

    • by Stauf ( 85247 )

      Ask them how they would feel if it suddenly cost $300.00 to purchase each sheet of paper simply because the biggest vendor decided that that was what they wanted to charge.

      The easiest way I've found to completely undercut all arguments to open source is to describe it how you just did - as a reaction to paying for software. It makes it sound like a juvenile reaction to the 'real world'; it makes it sound like no serious developer would touch it; and it makes it sound like the whole thing is driven by pe

  • I would... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by daviq ( 888445 )
    I'd personally start by installing and putting Firefox as the default browser on their computers. If you have extra computers lying around, i'd set them up in your lounge or other central location with an easy distro of Linux installed(Mepis, Ubuntu).
    • by clem ( 5683 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @07:28PM (#13171542) Homepage
      Why stop there? I like to sneak into my manager's office, wipe his harddrive and slap a ten year old version of Slackware on his system.

      Wait, was this supposed to be fun for him or for me?
    • Firefox is, for the average user, much more accessible than many of the traditional Open Source tools like gcc and emacs. Popup Prevention *was* a really useful demo, though some Flash things seem to have gotten around it, and IE is starting to add popup prevention. Tabbed browsing is really nice, especially for applications like "So you want to open a bunch of articles from Google News / Your company website, etc. at once". Furthermore, you can show off how easy it is to install extensions (giving a plu
  • Viruses (Score:4, Funny)

    by superpulpsicle ( 533373 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:39PM (#13171069)
    Bring a couple hundred viruses into the office, they'd be glad to not use proprietory windows afterwards.

    • Re:Viruses (Score:5, Funny)

      by TheOtherAgentM ( 700696 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:46PM (#13171145)
      I was going to say to bring a nice packet sniffer in the week before and then present them with their private emails and instant messages. Tell them they can be a super spy too with open source.
      • And in order to make it "fun", you could always put this information up on the big screen and have the audience play a guessing game as to who's chatting online pretending to be a 16-year old looking to hook up at the mall...
  • Two Words: (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mad_Rain ( 674268 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:40PM (#13171072) Journal
    Enemy Territory [4players.de].

    Okay, some further explanation might be in order - it's an FPS that was released free to the public. It can be used/modified by anyone who is interested because it is - Open Source. And play a game or two (if your office can handle your l33t pwn4g3 sk1llz!) before steering the conversation in to the other good things about Open Source.
    • -1, offtopic (Score:5, Informative)

      by Krunch ( 704330 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @07:37PM (#13171614) Homepage
      ET is not Free/Open source. However there are tons [nexuiz.com] of fun [ufoot.org] Open Source [cubeengine.com] multiplayer [mtp-target.org] games [wesnoth.org] that [ysagoon.com] you [freeciv.org] can [sf.net] use [bankiz.org].

    • Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory - Resource Site: Access Denied

      You are trying to access a restricted area.

      We are Sorry, but this section of our site is for Registered Users Only.

      I can feel the freedom from here.

      So is there a way to try this out without having to register on a forum where the vast majority of downloaders will never post?

      I understand that they want to keep the bandwith bills down, but would it be too hard to put up a torrent or provide an ed2k:// link? It would certainly help spreadin

      • Well, I don't run the site, and it is a 250+MB download, so I can understand their hesitancy to let just anyone use up their bandwidth. ;)

        Here's what I found using Google:
        Torrent links here [idsoftware.com]
        regular download here [mrbass.org]
        and another faster-for-registered-users here [3ddownloads.com]
  • by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:43PM (#13171105) Homepage
    Most people outside of IT (and many who do work in IT) could not care any less about the politics of software. They don't really care about this "Open Source" thing. And why should they? What they care about are applications that install and work as close to flawlessly as possible (or at least allow them to accomplish their tasks with a minimum of problems). I really don't think you'll get much more than "Gee, that's interesting... By the way, after the meeting, can you come by my cube and show me what I'm doing wrong with this Excel macro?" If I where you, I'd "introduce" specific applications (like OpenOffice, Firefox, other more specific applications...), not the concept of "Open Source". The accounting / administrative / human resources / other non-IT folks cjust have other things to worry about.
    • by crimethinker ( 721591 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @07:02PM (#13171302)
      What they care about are applications that install and work as close to flawlessly as possible (or at least allow them to accomplish their tasks with a minimum of problems).

      I agree that most people don't care about the freedom aspect, but if you start pointing out the forced upgrade cycles, the inevitable breakage of some app or another with the next security patch or service pack, the fact that F/OSS puts as much guarantee on their software as Microsoft does for theirs (NONE), and if something bugs you about a F/OSS app, you can change it.

      People want a minimum of hassle. So point out things like the Word 95/97/2000/XP incompatibilities. My previous employer sent out a company-wide e-mail stating that we were not to install Office XP on any systems, either from our own CD's (as this amounted to piracy) or from MS Developer Network CD's, and we especially weren't to spend company money to buy a copy. The reason was that they didn't want to upgrade the entire organization to Office XP, and yet once you saved a doc with XP, you had a decent chance of being able to open it only with XP.


      • by rizzo420 ( 136707 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @07:12PM (#13171389) Homepage Journal
        the word incompatiblities are fewer now, at least with the later versions. but it is a good point to bring up.

        people definitely don't give a crap about the politics and why free/oss is better than proprietary software (try telling any graphic designer that there's a f/oss thing that's better than the adobe products).

        your grandparent mentioned firefox. start there. talk about extensions. talk about spyware and popups and how it's mainly for IE. mention the ieview extension. show other cool extensions and cool features of firefox that IE lacks... because being a computer tech for an office generally means you are their spyware remover... show them how to avoid it with firefox. i think that'll get their attention and make it a bit more interesting.
        • (try telling any graphic designer that there's a f/oss thing that's better than the adobe products)

          You could try, but you'd be wrong. There are plenty of features that professional graphic designers rely on which are absent from most FOSS tools - like good, solid support for Pantone or Wacom tablets.

          For most tasks, they may be as good, or even better, but a lot of the stuff that isn't so hot on the FOSS stuff is absolutely critical for many professionals.
        • In the English language, and most others as well, the first word of a sentence is capitalized. Most educated people know this.
      • The reason was that they didn't want to upgrade the entire organization to Office XP, and yet once you saved a doc with XP, you had a decent chance of being able to open it only with XP.

        How about bringing in a couple of copies of Knoppix, than challenging them to create an MS Word document (using MS Word) that could be opened by MS Word, but not by Open Office? Start by showing them how to create a document (with Word) that can be opened by OpenOffice, but not by MS Word.

    • Yup. People won't care. People who did care enough have stoopped using IE though.

      You could get them into the 'free' aspect of it by showing them Open Office and Gimp. Gimp will be the most useful for Mary Jane and Brad who want to make a collage of their kids.

      Most browsers are free so that won't woo them and most desk jockeys use IE for the games that sites like Popcap has that are IE only (recent ones)
      • Gimp will be the most useful for Mary Jane and Brad who want to make a collage of their kids.

        I don't think so. Gimp is not ready for professionals that now use Photoshop, and way too much for people that just want to make a collage for their kids. Gimp has potential but trying to say it is anywhere near what current Photoshop users want is just dilusioning yourself.

    • People don't care until it affects them.

      Give someone a peice of software like a spam filter and then after 30 days it stops working and they have to register - At this stage they care.

      They buy it and then try to use it on there notebook as well but they can't - At this stage they care.

      They tell there friend that they to can get rid of spam but they'll have to pay for it - At this stage they care.

      They upgrade there email client and they have to upgrade the spam filter - At this stage they care.

      They get
  • Write a story (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Locarius ( 798304 )
    Have each person write a paragraph for a story, and allow each other person to edit parts that they feel could use work. Use it as an illustration to show that if people pitch in and contribute ideas to a project work can be fun, and much faster than conventional methods of doing work.
    • Be careful with the collaborative activities. Remember, the various developers of the open source community do not always agree. The disagreements themselves can often consume huge amounts of time and effort. While you may want to show that that is part of any group effort, don't let it get too out of hand.

  • jesus (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cylix ( 55374 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:43PM (#13171111) Homepage Journal
    I would shoot myself if I had to do this.

    Prime examples of wasted time at the work place. You know what would make this even worse? Having to do something like this with co-workers you hate. Even so, I think I could make it fun.

    "Today, were going to play some reality television. I want everyone to vote for someone to leave the office. Now, while this isn't indicative of that person losing his or her job... it just might help.

    It's secret ballot... so have at it... I should also mention that not choosing another individual indicates you are not a "Team Player" and will be autmoatically chosen for not submitting a ballot."
  • by OctoberSky ( 888619 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:44PM (#13171122)
    Do anything but show them source code.
  • Of course, you provide it on a Knoppix disk.

    From reliable reports, it's epidemically infective in offices that have never encountered it before.

    Sort of like when the Europeans introduced smallpox to the Western Hemisphere, there's no resistance.

  • ...something they can take home and run on their computer UNMODIFIED. Mozilla, Firefox, OpenOffice, Gimp, etc.

    Let them decide if they want to trash their existing software in a jump to a full linux machine on their own. If they think they might want to but aren't sure, give them a Knoppix (or similar) CD to play with BEFORE they trash their software.

    It's the forcing them into an all-or-nothing situation that will turn them away from you faster than girls from pocket-protector-wearing, tape on the bridge
  • The Open CD (Score:2, Informative)

    by Glomek ( 853289 )
    Give them each a copy of The Open CD [theopencd.org]. It's got games and screensavers and a bunch of work-friendly Free Software on it too.
  • Black Box (Score:2, Interesting)

    by guaigean ( 867316 )
    How about making a black box that blinks in a certain order known only to you. Let them try and figure out what it does, and see how long it takes. Now open the box and pull out the instructions. Simple.
  • LiveCD's (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wickedmm ( 711725 )
    How about some CD's (or wallet CD's) that have open source software on it. You can get them started with the OpenCD [theopencd.org], then Damn Small Linux [damnsmalllinux.org], then maybe Knoppix [knoppix.org]. Try demo'ing them.
  • by Marc_Hawke ( 130338 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:49PM (#13171185)
    Play a game where each person contributes their expertise. Tell a collaborative story, or make a drawing on the white-board.

    One person draws something, then each person takes a turn 'fixing it.'

    Or, play a mini-game of "Clue." You come up with something like maybe 'Dumbo.' Then you tell one person to draw an elephant while you give everyone else individual clues as to specifics about what you want this elephant to look like.

    The Clue people tell the elephant person small changes to make for the elephant to look more like it's supposed to. (You can have the clues be images, to more accurately explain what the clue givers are supposed to describe.)

    Okay, so that's nothing like "Clue." The point is, you involve your coworkers in an exercise where they each contribute to help the outcome achieve a more desired shape.
    • I guess the problem I see here is that if nothing else, it will highlight the flaws in the process. Committees are extremely bad at some things. For example, almost anything creative.

      One person draws something, then each person takes a turn 'fixing it.'

      Oh, great. Sounds like loads of fun.


      None Of Us Is As Dumb As All Of Us.

    • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @07:54PM (#13171751) Homepage Journal
      Then you try to do the same with the whiteboard turned around so that no-one can see what the cow-orker is drawing.. turn the whiteboard around and BAM everyone can see how freakin' insane it is to keep your software proprietary.
      • Who modded this funny? This is as insightfull as it gets.

        You could even do both at the same time. Both are allowed to ask questions, but the 'market' only sees the Open Source one.

        Now see what result is better. The closed source one will have listend to the market and did what the marked told him to do.

        This must be the easiest way to explain OS I have ever heard. Even if you do not have a whiteboard, explaining this will be very easy for laymen to understand. Thanks for this great idea (or did you patent it
  • by nietsch ( 112711 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:50PM (#13171196) Homepage Journal
    In my experience, most people have trouble understanding the business model that open source companies make their money off. They will by now have heard something about open source, so they will likely have some preformed opinion on that issue. The most conservative will insist on skewing the licence terms to the company because that how they are used to making money.

    If you figure out a way to get the point across that the different business model you need for open source is not hindering your chances of succes, you will have your 'war' won. You will still have to battle the nah-sayers, but if you can show the money and how it's made, you win.

  • Why not use a Knoppix CD to demonstrate Firefox, OpenOffice.org, and Linux? Then give CDs to anyone that wants to play with it. They can try it all with no risk.
  • Given that your audience has a range of technical ability, just showing them software isn't going to cut it. One idea would be to grab a bunch of customised knoppix distros. For example, there's a Linux Audio LiveCD [suse.com] which, if topped up with lots of Creative Commons samples, would probably allow you to have a pretty good attempt at some on-the-spot DJing (disclaimer: I haven't tried the CD, I have no idea if it's any good). I don't know if there's an equivalent for video, but that would also be cool. And, of
  • TheOpenCD (Score:4, Informative)

    by Wapiti-eater ( 759089 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:54PM (#13171232)
    Just in case you didn't see it before: TheOpenCD is a project - at least partly - developed with this in mind.

    Chock full of F/OSS software for Windows, it's a great tool to introduce MS entrenched minds to the availability of quality, alternative software.

    http://www.theopencd.org/ [theopencd.org]
  • Firefox, Greasemonkey, Platypus, BetterSearch to name a few are pretty fun and interesting. RSS Feeds as well can encourage some people(As well as save them time while reading the news during work hours!).

    All I can think of, other than PenguinRacer that is. =)
  • The egg trick (Score:2, Interesting)

    Try to give:
    - 1 pan to each participant;
    - The same number of eggs as participants to one of the participants;
    - Salt to another;
    - Dishes to another; ... and so on, and then ask them to make an omolete by convincing each other to that you pan is better to do the omollete.

    Secretlly promise sushi lunch to one or two of the participants if they get the ommolet on the pan they have.

    After some time reveal you secret agrrement, and ask each participant to give some of the things youo gave them.

    Finnally you will
  • This has a whole "Fisher-Price/Romper Room" stink about it.

    Our Host: Hey, kids! I'm Open Source Bob! Today we're going to have informative fun with the wonder of open source.

    Children: (dead silence)

    OSB: And here to help me is my sidekick, Tickle-Me-Tux, the Linux penguin! Say hello to the children, Tux!

    Tickle-Me-Tux: (takes a draw from cigarette) Hey, kids.

    C: (tepid cheers and puzzled looks.)

    OSB: Where shall we begin today, Tux?

    TMT: (stares at OH while grinding out cig under foot) Look,

    • To be honest, that would actually be a pretty good presentation. At least at any business meeting I've ever been to.

      At least it would keep them awake.
  • Pain vs. Pleasure. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @07:08PM (#13171354)
    The problem with most open source software are that they are designed to elevate pain from working with closed source software. Open Source doesn't really give a person pleasure, just relief from pain. The trick is to figure out how using open source can actually give pleasure. You need to find tools and applications that actually can give people pleasure.
  • by lightyear4 ( 852813 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @07:09PM (#13171359)

    Make a list of popular, successful Open Source programs. For example:
    • Firefox (thunderbird, mozilla, etc)
    • Gaim
    • Open Office
    • (insert the best of whatever slashdotters suggest here)

    Give a brief synopsis on each of them, and then ask how many of your colleagues have heard of one or more. Then throw a curve: Continue speaking, and itemize the cost per program by comparing with other examples of such software. (i.e. the latest edition of MS Office retails for almost a grand). Now say: "These programs and their alternatives are compatible, deployed in many hundreds of companies and countries. They have a loyal user base, are easy to use, and are well known for their professional quality. ..The difference between these and their alternatives is simple. These are free."

  • by __aahsof7392 ( 588795 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @07:13PM (#13171398)
    Kill all of your processes.
    $ ps -ef|awk '{print $2}'|xargs kill

    Edit a file and delete the first and last line.
    $ vi

    Find out what's filling up your home directory.
    $ du -k|sort -rn|head

    Who has access to the computer?
    # cat /etc/passwd|cut -d: -f1,3

    Add commas to numerical strings
    sed -e :a -e 's/\(.*[0-9]\)\([0-9]\{3\}\)/\1,\2/;ta'
  • Tell them that it's immoral to develop close sourced programs.

    Then tell them that if they use close sourced programs they become immoral too.

    Then tell them that immoral people go to hell.

    And if that doesn't work, turn off the light, light your face with a torch and repeat. It may help to change the tone of your voice accordingly.
  • Myth TV Setup (Score:3, Informative)

    by a3217055 ( 768293 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @07:19PM (#13171447)
    Try setting up a myth tv box it is pretty cool what Myth can do. Lot of youngsters and adults would like. It can be a commmunity project.

    Get a normal ariel antenna, get a tv card ( get the one that works please no tv card hackin ) and a box that can hold all that stuff and an nvidia gfx card. Put it together. Tell people why you have the hardware you have.
    Get a good guide, and start getting the parts of mythtv installed. Make small groups and make everyone install a small portion. The zap2it direcotry services. One group does the mytht tv config, one group does the themes etc....

    End result you will have people doign the samething at home. Sure Linux is free, only if your time is free. And if you get a community and each individual gives a small bit and talks what they have done then, you get a pretty fast application turn around. And mythtv is easy. Tiedious but with good instructions you got MythTV box ready to blow away the TiVo and that VCR.

    PS nothing against Gentoo but please no gentoo distro because the time required to install would be too great. And yes Distcc is great but it doesn't work all the time etc... This is educational so use a binary disribution. Afterwards you will be set. Men will want to be you and women will want you and children will make you their idols. And slashdot users will slashdot your webpage.

    Mythtv is fun try it :). Big project and each person can do a small bit. Lot of small parts but with enough guidance people can get all of it to work together.

  • presuming such a topic as beer [wikipedia.org] is not going to get you fired, you could get them into the hacking mode w/ a little bit of "spirited" (yuk yuk, i slay me) fun [glug.org].

    the best way to teach is to do, the best way to do is to not fear failure, the best way to not fear failure is to use failure to learn, the best way to learn is up to each person to find. so, don't worry if no one groks your presentation. w/ some luck there will be a bite, if not sooner, then perhaps later.

  • by GeneralEmergency ( 240687 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @07:22PM (#13171479) Journal

    Yep. Seriously.

    They're fun to make and great fun in those long, boring staff meetings.

    Just decorate old tube socks (Puh-leeese wash them first) or paper lunch sacks with bits of brightly colored felt and pipe cleaners. Use Dilbert comic strips for subject matter inspiration if you lack creativity in this area.

    Once complete, break out your favorite Monty Python sketch recital voices and brief your audience's pants off!

    P.S. If you get fired, I NEVER POSTED THIS and YOU DIDN'T READ IT!

    Now, where did I leave those Meds.....

  • What can be easier, more informative and more fun than free beer?

    It is guaranteed to enhance the team spirit(s) and after a while, you may even be able to convince one or two of them to boot Knoppix or Puppy Linux and try it... hic...
  • If you're trying to demonstrate the advantages of OSS over the rest to the ordinary office person, you've picked a challenge. The benefit of OSS is that anyone can examine and alter the source. The traditional OSS development model also builds a community of people who develop and share ideas related to that source.

    Your challenge is to make looking at source code and changing it fun for people who may not nessecarily have the skills to do so. It may very well be that although OSS is beneficial to a company
  • Along similar lines to some things mentioned..

    Bring a tub of legos. Not the fancy stuff, just simple rectangular blocks. Before the presentation, prep the foundation of a house using the blocks. Then during the presentation, pass the house around with the tub of blocks and ask everyone to add something to it until you have a simple house-like structure.

    When you're done, point out that everyone working together can produce something. Usually it takes someone with some inspiration to start it. The comm
    • I meant to add, bring some CD's with a bootable distro to take home. Maybe someone will actually try it out! The revolution is proceeding on schedule.
  • Scrap the meeting, leave that for the end.

    In the course of the month, introduce people to some cool software that also include their source code.

    Some of it could be, for example, Firefox :) You can say: "Use this when browsing the web for non-office uses", then show it off like the plugin capabilities, etc.

    For peer to peer downloads, recommend shareaza 2.1 (it's free of spyware!)

    You could ALSO use freeware (but not open source), like CDBurnerXP Pro or IrfanView for image editing. Earn your reputation as
  • Try playing a few hands of poker, 5 card draw - just to warm up, get a sense of the game. Everyone plays against each other, against the dealer too. Tell them "that's closed source".

    Then make everyone but the dealer play 5 card stud - the dealer continues to play 5 card draw - and everyone plays against the dealer, blackjack style. Tell them "that's open source, in a closed source world".

    Then switch to everyone, including the dealer, playing 5 card stud, but with all cards showing, and everyone against
    • FWIW, I note that the "fortune" at the bottom of the page in which I'm submitting this comment says "One good suit is worth a thousand resumes.". Maybe there's a career in this, if you play your cards right.
  • Something I like to do with my cartooning friends is something you could (with some fudging of definitions) call "open source comics". One person draws a panel, then passes it on to the next, who draws another, and so on. At the end, you usually have something far funnier than any one person could have come up with in the same amount of time.

    Of course not everyone's comfortable with the process of sequential-art storytelling, so maybe instead you could produce an "open source" drawing of a beach scene, or

  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @07:37PM (#13171615)

    Dig an old PC out of storage, like maybe something around a P500. Install Linux. Install OpenOffice and Firefox.

    Start your activity by having everyone use the PC for a bit, then have them try to guess the MHz of the machine.

    Give the winner the PC. Give everyone who attends a copy of TheOpenCD [theopencd.org].

  • Theres a lot of open source games, get them into one of them then get some guys to add some new content and such.

    You then explain how OSS works and if any of them make any content (maybe even some new clothes in a game or whatever). Explain how they are now "part of the system" and they should spread stuff on and such, so then everyone benefits and gets a better game because everyone shares.
  • It's fun! (Score:3, Funny)

    by pegasustonans ( 589396 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @07:52PM (#13171739)
    Every time you have to enter the root password, take a shot. Every time someone says, "That's really neat," take a shot. Every time someone says something starting with, "But [MS] Office lets me," take a shot. Every time someone says, "I don't like this commie crap," beat them with a chair.

    You'll be having lots of fun in no time!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    To play this fun game, you need the following items:

    * one Windows XP disk
    * one Linux disk
    * one FreeBSD disk
    * one telephone
    * computer (any OS) with a few CD burners

    Have the group divide into pairs. Call them "departments". One pair can be "accounts receivable", the other "human resources", and "I.T.". Yay!

    Now, give a short presentation on the GPL, the BSD license, and the Microsoft EULA. Have each "department" pick one of the three OS CDs to run their department.

    Then burn a copy of each team's choice ont
  • Well I have moderator points that are about to expire so I thought here's an easy discussion to mod a few people up for. Unfortuntely the best reply so far compared the whole thing to Romper Room and I really hate funny replies.

    Our Host: Hey, kids! I'm Open Source Bob! Today we're going to have informative fun with the wonder of open source.

    Children: (dead silence)

    Now first off you're asking the wrong crowd. You already know about open source, and therefore you are, what they call in the field of educa

  • Painting, animating, and modeling tools are fun. I'd do a quick demo with Blender http://www.blender3d.com/cms/Home.2.0.html [blender3d.com] , perhaps do a quicky animation (of your logo or some such), or sculpting using the sculptmesh http://wiki.blender.org/bin/view.pl/Blenderdev/Scu lpMesh [blender.org] (shameless self promotion) plugin.

  • As part of the meeting, you could demo Firefox and its powerful plug-in system.

    First, show them just the naked browser, and how it doesn't differ much from IE in its capabilities.

    Then begin installing extensions, as diverse as possible: maybe mouse gestures, adblock, an RSS reader, scrapbook, smoothwheel, tab extensions and so on.

    Finally make the point that all of this is only possible because every part of the browser is open and can be extended or overwritten by extensions.

    Now while such a demo might
    1. Split the group into two teams: 'oss' and 'proprietary'.
    2. Give everybody equal number of supplies (paper, pens, rubber bands).
    3. Give one member of each team instructions for some simple task, eg. making an origami crane.
    4. Everyone has the goal of accruing as many cranes and as many other supplies as possible
    5. The OSS group is able to share or copy the instructions among themselves (and even with the other team), while ithe proprietary team cannot copy the instructions and only person may look at them at an
  • Tell everyone that you have a great idea for the next meeting, but don't tell them what it is! When your turn comes up, show up to the meeting fashionably late if possible.

    Before your co-workers can react to your entrance, stroll into the meeting room and shoot each and every person in the kneecap.

    While they're wailing in pain and rolling in pools of their own blood, fire a few rounds into the air to get their attention. If you're out of ammo, just bang the butt of the gun on a table or wall.

    Once you hav
  • http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20040111 [userfriendly.org]

    It wont really teach them what OOS is but it will be fun and introduce them to some of the players. :P

  • by jab ( 9153 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @09:05PM (#13172267) Homepage
    It's performance art.

    Get a computer with Debian attached to a network and projector. Then take software installation requests from the crowd. For example, when some says "computational linguistics" hunt through the package listings and apt-get install the closest program - probably mmorph in this example. Encourage bizarre requests and surprise yourself at how much wild and crazy open source software is at your fingertips.

    PS. If anyone asks how it works, say the computer is downloading knowledge from 'The Matrix' and refer to the helicopter scene in the movie.

  • by doodleboy ( 263186 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @10:04PM (#13172738)
    First of all, it's a waste of time to get all bug-eyed about politics. Most folks barely know how to turn their machines on and are suspicious of any kind of change.

    The place I last worked I was responsible for the IT budget, such as it was, and like any rational person I used the money on hardware--actual stuff--as much as possible. Shiny, quiet computers with lots of ram, mirrored RAID drives on the server, a zoomy networked laser printer that cut the cost of consumables. Stuff like that.

    Everyone got Thunderbird for mail. Everyone got OpenOffice except the owner, who did these baroque spreadsheets in Excel that wouldn't run in OO.o without a lot of screwing around.

    The biggest hit was showing IE and Firefox w/Adblock running side by side. Again no mention of politics or anything. No ads or pop-ups either.

    What software did I pay for? OEM Windows SBS 2003 ($450), a half dozen OEM copies of XP Pro ($140 per), Grisoft antivirus ($35 each for 2 years), one OEM Office XP ($70). About $1600 all in, a lot less than it could have been.

    I couldn't really do linux on the server because the owner knew I was quitting and he felt like he'd have more of a chance with a familiar looking interface. In actual fact administering SBS probably isn't much easier than linux, but I didn't push it.

    It's just not possible to shove your own software preferences down other people's throats. But now there are a few more happy users of OO.o, various Mozilla products, etc, and an owner that'll balk at shelling out big bucks for a $0.25 CD that'll only run on one machine.

    Use free software where it makes sense. Gradually things will change.
  • by crovira ( 10242 ) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @10:14AM (#13175763) Homepage
    If these people do any kind of statistical analysis or modeling, they would love the R Project software.

    http://www.r-project.org/ [r-project.org]

    Its open source. Its got loads of examples. In runs in every environment (I've got it for Mac in a .dmg, Windows in a .zip & Linux [lots of download options] and it works fine.)

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.