[kwlug-disc] Open Source intro handout

Paul Nijjar paul_nijjar at yahoo.ca
Thu Apr 30 01:19:31 EDT 2009





> > 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.

I'm not sure I know the facts, to tell you the truth. I guess I can
trust you and reword the document to make DVD playing sound less
illegal. 

Am I at least correct in saying that it is a grey area in the U.S.? Or
is it not grey because it is forbidden outright?


> > 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.

Replacing hardware can be a big deal with this audience. 

> > 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.

To what degree are these avenues closed to people who use open source?
(That is a question, not a criticism.) 

> > 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.

I don't use the term as a badge of honour, actually. I use it for
colour. Otherwise you end up using sterile language like
"technologically adept". 

I will see whether I can come up with a compromise. "Computer whiz" or
"computer genius" might be appropriate. 

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

This is the intention. I often don't succeed. 

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

The intention of the handout (and the associated software discs we are
giving away) is to give people options. Not all options work for all
users.

> > 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.

Then only people who care about freedom are entitled to use free
software. Given that I used free software well before I understood
freedom, I am not sure I buy this argument. 

For example, the statement "Free software is software that respects
your freedom" is a statement that means a lot to people who know where
it comes from and very little to everybody else. Software is an
inanimate entity.  It does not respect or disrespect anybody. 

Similarly, the first statement in your rewrite is: "Do you know that
there are Free alternatives to the computer programs you are used to
buying?" That statement is easily misinterpreted. 

I'm going to have to think about this.

> Only it hides the reason of the movement. 

This is probably the crux of the criticism. I am probably hiding the
motivation behind the movement. 

> 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.

Also in my mind. On a shallow level, I understand the difference
between the GPL and BSD-style licences. I understand the four
freedoms. However, I cannot solve John Kerr's riddle of free software
that is not also open source. 

> > 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.

That is the sort of statement that makes me want to throw up my hands
and not do anything at all. I can do what I can do. I understand your
sentiment (and having seen a number of poor attempts at explaining
FLOSS, I can agree). But there is a side to the "make it as perfect as
possible or go home" view that is really disheartening. 

I also think that professionalism is overrated. It has never served me
well, in any case.

> 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%.

That's good advice. It won't happen in this case. I will be happy if I
get a couple of nontechnical proofreaders tomorrow and Friday. 

Thanks again for the food for thought. 

- Paul




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