[kwlug-disc] Open Source intro handout

Raul Suarez rarsa at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 29 23:19:36 EDT 2009

--- On Wed, 4/29/09, Paul Nijjar <paul_nijjar at yahoo.ca> wrote:
> Is MP3 and DVD playing/recording software legal?

Nowhere it says it is illegal. That's why they want to pass bill 61.

> You can't play DVDs on Ubuntu without enabling additional repositories

True but don't tell them they can't just don't scare them, give them the facts.

> Is hardware support in Linux still such a big deal?

Yes, it is if you are not careful but with the right expectation (you may need to replace some hardware) it is not a show-stopper.

> But if you're an Eeyore like me...

State negatives as a matter of fact with out adjectives. Some negatives are just so because of false expectations.

> 3. Do home users  purchase commercial support?

My experience is that they pay the Futureshop/Best buy or the "any problem for $60" guy for installing software and removing viruses. The keeners even go to Conestoga college word processing or image editing seminars.

> Most people really do turn to geeky friends 

Avoid using the word geek in a brochure. Although most of us carry the "geekiness" as a badge of honour (I do); it has a negative connotation in other circles.

Try to use the regular language not "our" language.

> Are you the unpaid tech support for your loved ones?

I personally haven't moved to Linux anyone for which I cannot be the personal Linux support or who I don't think are keen enough to learn themselves. I still think it's a mistake to move people that aren't ready.

IMHO Your handout should entice people that are ready for the trade-offs.

> 4. Free Software or Open Source.

I wrote my recommendations in a way that I think disambiguates itself. The reason for this movement is Freedom. An advantage is cost. If people understand the reason they will be more lenient if and when they find any shortcomings.

> Is it a great mistake to call it Open source?

Only it hides the reason of the movement. IMHO it was RMS's mistake to call it Free instead of going to Latin or other more precise language. He's already paying dearly as people associate "free" with "cheap" (as in derogative).

English is a language that evolves based on use and in this case, publications already use "open source" to refer to Free software so for most colloquial purposes they are synonyms in the general public mind. So do the search and replace and see how it reads with different names.

Whether you call it Free software or Open source, the important thing is that they associate it with Freedom. Period.

> 6. Raul and others made lots of good suggestions about
> wordiness and wishy-washiness and better wording...

Trust me on this one, if the handout reads amateurish, the image of FLOSS will be amateurish. If you are going to hand something out, make it as professional as possible or you will defeat the purpose.

> - To what degree does this give a good overview of open source?

The way you worded it I found that they would be very confused. I think that they need to read something what engages them. For a first approach they don't need to know all the details.
> To what degree is the document too long? 

I have a FSF handout at my desk, it is a double sided page. Most people I invite to read it glance at it and get bored before the third paragraph.

If the first paragraph is not engaging they won't continue reading.

> What to cut?

You should have non technical proof readers (more than two, old and young). Whatever they don't understand should be out. Whatever they tell you "so what?" is out. Whatever they tell you "I don't care" MAY be out. Whatever sounds obvious to them, it's out. In this case it's by majority. cater to the 80% not the 20%.

Whenever I have to write a document for others to read I start with a long document and by the end of the iterations it's become two pages max.

So, your call, but remember that whatever you do will reflect on FLOSS in general. And don't try to convert the people that aren't ready, they'll just have a bad experience that they'll remember for a long time.

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