Reports from the fellowship group in Vienna
Booth on the vegan summer festival in Vienna, 2014
From 6th to 9th of June 2014 the Veganmania took place in Vienna. It was the 17th time in this city and was larger and went on for longer than ever before. Like last year, the local FSFE fellowship group organized an information booth there, as different organisations are welcome to take part in the festival. So, besides enjoying lots of vegan food, clothes, books and live music surprisingly many people used the opportunity to find out about the possibilities for independence on their own computers offered by free software.
A real booth marathon
Each day the festival went on from 10am to 10pm. Some of our most active fellows maintained the booth through all four days and could hardly find time for even very short breaks since so many people where eager to ask questions about free software. The demand was so high that sometimes interested people unfortunately lost patience and went away before our Fellows could speak to them. (Next year we should probably coordinate ourselves better so that we have more people running the booth all the time.)
Hundreds of leaflets and contact cards where handed out and incredibly many consultations took place. Therefore the success of this booth was even greater than the already stunningly successful booth from last year. This once more confirms our experience, that using such events as a platform to spread the word about free software and its virtues is highly effective. Especially because we can reach so many people who have been completely unaware of software freedom so far, this booth is an excellent time (and resource) investment.
Unlike last year, we didn’t provide free distro discs. Instead we handed out leaflets (SVG source file) explaining differences between ten of the most common GNU/Linux distributions, containing links to download pages. This was also a good decision. Not only did we save on preparation time and money compared to last year, but our leaflet provided even more help for people wanting to dive into the universe of free software.
Most people were especially impressed by the possibility to install a second (more trustworthy) operating system on their hard disc without the need to hand out additional data or to pay some abstract sum of money to any corporation. They responded very well to the idea that they could test a live CD and carry on using their old system unempeded even after installing the new alternative.
Most people feel they can ask more knowledgeable friends if they encounter computer problems when using Windows or OSX, but expect to get stuck with problems if they use alternative, less known software. For this reason, our local project for making free software experts findable via a simple online form on test.freie.it, received a lot of attention and good feedback. Even if we are still in the testing phase, the page works already and can put people at ease who are worried about ending up with unsolvable problems if they start using free software.
Our little information booth even managed to get noticed by national and local media. They didn’t report on it in detail and left out the term “free software”, but the journalists obviously got the most important message: Free software is all about independence on computers. They didn’t even confuse our message by calling it “open source” or “Freeware”, so obviously we did something right: