Reports from the fellowship group in Vienna
Software Freedom Day 2013 in Vienna
On Saturday 21th September the FSFE fellowship group Vienna held an information booth in Vienna’s most prominent shopping street. Despite short rain showers occurring all day long we began at about 10:30am and finished at 7:30pm. At times we needed to protect the leaflets with our jackets, but overall we had good feedback and many interesting conversations. Up to three free software advocates ran our booth.
Surprisingly many people had heard of free software before. In most cases people quickly understood our concerns about dependence on big corporations and governments. Many wanted to take a free sample of our operating system DVDs right away. We had our own FSFE fellowship editions of Debian, openSuse, Fedora and Trisquel DVDs. Additionally we brought some of our private copies of very good books featuring free software and free culture for display.
We are considering producing USB sticks with some free software distributions to give out to people for a small donation in order to avoid one way discs and to add an additional value to the media we give out. We could possibly make a FSFE branded stick to gain additional attention through people using them.
Some people asked us for posters. We where able to give away the robots poster from last DFD, but we didn’t have the requested Fedora poster. Next time we should probably organise distro posters and t-shirts.
As we set up our stall in front of a memorial and used it to hang up our SFD-posters we had some discussions with people who felt this to be inappropriate. It was the Marcus Omofuma memorial which is dedicated to a black Nigerian man who got choked to death in 2003 during his deportation flight to Bulgaria whilst in the custody of Austrian police. The 5 meter high black stone memorial was originally illegally placed in front of the well known Vienna Opera House. The government couldn’t remove it without provoking a public outcry. Therefore one month later it was moved from the Opera to the shopping street where we set up our booth.
In our discussions we could even use this controversial point to refer to the importance of civil rights and free speech and it’s direct connection to free software. Marcus Omofuma probably would have supported free software since it is an important instrument to allow free speech in modern society. Even the memorial itself originally was placed without any permission.
An older man, living high up in a building near our stall saw our posters on the memorial and came down to visit us. He told us that he had had difficulties with installing free software on his two computers. He reported that it got stuck in an error message late in the installation process just before the desktop should start. He took some of our distro disks with him in order to have an other try.
We invited many people to our monthly fellowship meetings and encouraged them to become FSFE fellowship members.
We asked people with advanced knowledge in the field of free software if they were interested in our local project to make free software experts accessible for private free software users. We set up a new association and web page called: freie.it where we bring experts willing to support private free software users together (with or without charging for it). The web page is designed for people who value the virtues of free software, but do not have the motivation to learn more about how computer systems work at all. It is meant to give end users a means to easily find experts willing to help them with free software issues. The web page just offers the possibility to search for experts relevant to the entered search terms. Visitors get a list of these experts that they can then contact for help. The project isn’t public yet. We are still in the testing phase and want to go public when we have enough experts to give visitors satisfying results for the most frequent issues ordinary users want help with.
After packing up we celebrated the Software Freedom Day in the excellent vegetarian restaurant Harvest. Due to a newly forming fellowship group in Linz some of our colleagues went there in order to support a similar booth. Therefore we were fewer people in Vienna this year. Nevertheless, we managed to have a successful SFD in Vienna as well.