FSFE Fellowship Vienna

Reports from the fellowship group in Vienna

Booth at Veganmania in Vienna 2013

On 8th and 9th of June 2013 the Vienna fellowship group of the FSFE organised an information booth at the Austrian vegan society’s summer festival. This year’s festival was the 16th and, as always, welcomed visitors from all over Austria and quite a few guests from other countries too.

On the run up to the festival it looked dangerously like it wasn’t going to work out very well due to the awful weather – In the days before there was heavy rainfall causing floods all over central Europe. Fortunately, the days of the festival, and only those days, saw perfect weather: It was warm and sunny. According to official estimations – about 9000 people visited the festival.

For our booth we ordered new leaflets from the German headquarters and, as before, we prepared free software operating system discs. This time we made more than 200 pieces with five different distributions: Ubuntu 12.04 (for absolute beginners), Debian 7.0, openSUSE 12.3, Fedora 18 and Trisquel 6.0 (for experts).

Our little booth was at the centre of the festival area directly opposite the main beverage stand. At times most areas were too crowded for comfortable walking or standing. Nevertheless, our booth, even at those hectic times, provided a calm little corner, which was obviously inviting for people to stop by. We can say without doubt that our spot was one of the best.

On both days we set up our booth at about 9am and packed up at about 10pm. Starting from about midday it was hard to take a break because there were always people very interested in our subject of independence on computers and mobile phones. On no other of our quite successful booths before have we had so many engaging talks with people who had been unfamiliar with free software before, but who were instantly very interested in giving it a try.

This time we made sure that we didn’t just give away random discs to anyone willing to take something for free. We evaluated the knowledge level and explained the basic concepts of free software and even the history of why we insist on the term free instead of open and GNU/Linux instead of Linux. Our visitors listened very carefully to our explanations about why free software can’t always work on any proprietary hardware and why open file formats are the saner way to share digital data.

Like always in such situations, one of the most frequent questions was about, the nowadays unexpected fact, of how something good and reliable can be given out for free. We narrowed the wide field of possibilities down to two main ways that free software emerges: The first route is paying programmers to write something needed, but not yet existing (without the plan to sell the result afterwards). The second explanation refers to all those programmers unsatisfied with writing crippled proprietary software in their jobs, since many of them just want to prove to themselves (and others) how well their programs could work if there was no need to ensure that workflows are profitable for companies.

In numbers we handed out fewer discs than at other occasions such as DFD or SFD, but I’m sure we got a lot more about our core concerns across.

Looking back on both days, I’d like to say, that Veganmania seems to be by far the best kind of event for our booth. At Linux weeks and similar events most of the people are not very interested since they believe they know everything that they need to know about free software already. It makes more sense and reaches more people when we have a booth in a shopping street. As far as Veganmania is concerned, it seems that people there are generally open to thinking critically and therefore, more willing to try out something new in order to limit the control of corporations and governments.

We even got invited to have our booth at the large vegan summer festival in Zagreb in September.

New material

Feel free to use and adapt our information material as you please:

cd-huelle.pdf
DVD/CD cover (for DIN A4 sheets, extended with openSUSE)
cd-label.pdf
DVD/CD label (for printable disc, extended with openSUSE)
frei-schild.pdf
Basic free software introduction (DIN A3 poster)
distro-schild.pdf
Distro information sheet (DIN A3 poster)

Images

You can open images in full size by clicking on it. (Unfortunately the quality of the images is very limited due to a very old digi-cam.)

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7 Responses to “Booth at Veganmania in Vienna 2013”

  1. Guido Arnold Says:

    This is so cool! Congratulation to your success!

    I am much in favour that we don’t just stick to known community events where the visitors (as you wrote it) “believe they know everything that they need to know about free software already”.

  2. Franz Gratzer Says:

    Thanks.

    Yes, it’s very useful talking to people with no prior knowledge in the field – at least if they are somewhat prepared to question common practices at all…

  3. Chris Says:

    Hi Franz,

    das war eine richtig coole Aktion. Vielen Dank für dein Engagement und deinen Weitblick!

    Liebe Grüße,
    Chris

  4. Franz Gratzer Says:

    Danke. Auch Dein bisheriger (und geplanter) Einsatz im Hintergrund freut mich sehr. Es ist schön Dich mit dabei zu haben. :)

  5. Marcus Moeller Says:

    Links to the documents seems to be broken.

  6. Marcus Moeller Says:

    At least frei-schild and distro-schild.

  7. Franz Gratzer Says:

    Thank you for the feedback, Marcus. I corrected the typo error in the links. They should work now.

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