FSFE supporters Vienna

Posts Tagged ‘Fellowship’

Booth at Veganmania in Vienna 2013

Wednesday, June 12th, 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:

DVD/CD cover (for DIN A4 sheets, extended with openSUSE)
DVD/CD label (for printable disc, extended with openSUSE)
Basic free software introduction (DIN A3 poster)
Distro information sheet (DIN A3 poster)


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.)


Document Freedom Day Vienna 2013

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

On March 27th the FSFE fellowship group in Vienna organised an information booth on the corner of Mariahilfer Straße / Museumsquartier. From 10am to 7pm, a group of around 8 activists handed out leaflets and discs with various GNU/Linux distributions.

In the morning we set up our information booth in the snow. During the day however, the sun occasionally came out and managed to melt most of the snow away.

Even though temperatures where very low and most people on the street wanted to keep their time outside to a minimum, we managed to give out impressive amounts of information material and free software discs: over 1,500 leaflets and more than 450 discs with openSUSE, Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora and Trisquel live systems found interested individuals.

We did not only depend on the leaflets and discs from the official DFD promo package and the FSFE headquarter in Germany, but also added several leaflets and discs, that our own team had put together. This way, even people who only received a distro disk, also got additional information with it, since we had written basic facts about the virtues of free software and the FSFE on our self made packaging. We also organised badges as a give-away in order to promote free standards even further. Of course, these materials (linked at the bottom of this page) are all free to use and adapt.

An important addition to our resources was the generous parcel containing, amongst other items, 300 DVDs from openSUSE. The green openSUSE posters where eye-catchers and their t-shirts made visitors very happy. Thanks to the Mozilla project we could offer e. g. much loved attractive Firefox stickers and I support the Open Web bracelets.

The company Wiener Linien provides public transport in Vienna. Since the Government has a freedom of information act and since Wiener Linien is publicly funded we collected signatures to demand public access to all service information. Only a few days later Wiener Linien announced that they would make all data accessible by summer of this year.

We decided to celebrate the DFD by running a booth in the busy shopping area because we didn’t only want to reach people already informed about the issue. With most activities it is hard to reach people outside the free software community, therefore a booth in a busy shopping street is a good way to communicate with a wider audience. We had lots of opportunities to talk to people who had little or no prior knowledge of open standards and free software.

Surprisingly, many women in their twenties were very interested and wanted to know more. This contradicts the common perception that only men care about technology and its consequences.

Needless to say, some old hands dropped by as well. We even encountered a tourist who told us that he had been using Unix for a long time and that his company was one of the founders of the OSI. He mentioned that despite being retired, he still has fun tinkering with free software and he took a live disc of a distribution that he was not familiar with.

Our thanks go out to all those who helped make this very successful event possible.

We are looking forward to software freedom day in September.


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

leaflet explaining some basics about open standards
free file formats and the opensource-DVD
small batches to promote open standards (English)
free software introduction folder
free software introduction folder (black and white)
DVD/CD cover (for DIN A4 sheets)
DVD/CD cover cutting/folding instruction
DVD/CD label (for printable discs)


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.)


Software Freedom Day 2012 in Vienna

Monday, September 17th, 2012
Fully built booth with two fellows from Vienna

On Saturday 15th September the FSFE fellowship group Vienna held an information booth in Vienna’s most prominent shopping street. We began at about 10am and finished at 6pm. Although we had planned to stay until 7pm, we couldn’t because we had given out all our materials. In the end we even used the leaflets we glued to the table at the beginning of the day because people still wanted more. We distributed over 300 Live-CDs with free operating systems and about 1000 leaflets.

Most people had never heard of free software before, but were easily convinced of the virtues of free software mainly concerning independence from big corporations and governments. Many wanted to take a free sample of our operating system CDs right away. We had official openSuse, and our own FSFE fellowship edition of Ubuntu, Debian and Trisquel CDs. We did our best to match the knowledge that people had to the appropriate software for them because it is clear that less advanced computer users might have difficulties dealing with missing proprietary drivers when using Trisquel for example.

Because we didn’t have any equipment for an open air booth before, we organised inexpensive tables, pieces of wood, some screws and hinges from a nearby DIY market and built our own poster panel. Most of us don’t own cars and we store all material in our private flats. Therefore, we tried to keep the equipment small, light and durable – especially for carrying all of it by subway and/or bicycle.

In order to clarify what we stand for, we accepted an offer from a young local free software enthusiast, who owns a small textil printing shop: For a very low price he printed our slogan: Independent through free software – fsfe.org on black organic fair trade hoodies.

On SFD in Vienna we sometimes had dark clouds and for very short periods even light showers, but over all the weather was quite pleasant and we (and our material) didn’t get really wet. We brought a pile of our private copies of very good books featuring free software and free culture for display, but didn’t get into any discussions about it. In the end we didn’t even use our notebook computers that we had taken with us in order to show how our offered software looks and works because passers by didn’t need this kind of detail.

After disassembling our booth most of us celebrated the Software Freedom Day in an excellent nearby vegetarian restaurant. Thanks to the generous support of many local fellows and other friends involved in preparing and carrying out this event we can honestly say it was a great success.