Sunday, August 10, 2008

SSC #72 About last year

Be ready! Its coming back!

No, I'm not talking about the McRib Sandwich (but if you see that THOSE are back, be sure and let me know), I'm talking about Software Freedom Day 2008! Not to be discouraged by last year's lackluster response from the community-at-large, we're signed up again to go out into the world yet again and pass out free software in an attempt to spread software freedom across the globe.

Last year, over 300 teams in over 60 countries participated worldwide in an attempt to help people to escape from the dreary world of proprietary software. No longer must you put up with serial-key codes, trial-versions or annoying "unlock-me! I only cost $199.95" messages. No more electronic guilt-trips imploring you incessantly to upgrade to the "Pro" version.

Software Freedom Day 2008 will be celebrated on Saturday, September 20th and I'll be stepping out of the newspaper pages and into the street to meet with YOU, dear reader. I will be passing out free CD's of Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron as well as The Open Disk project (a disk full of Free Open Source Software or "FOSS" for Windows), Linux Mint 5, and Inferno Linux (an offshoot Fire Hydrant Linux, which is an offshoot of Puppy Linux 2.17). I will also have copies of the very handy BoothCD, aka the Firefox Kiosk disk. And I might possibly even have some copies of the Linux Gamer DVD on hand at request which is a great disk pre-loaded with great Linux compatible games that you can just boot and play.

I will be doing my best to have a computer available for people to see Linux in action so they know that just because something is free, doesn't mean it's worthless. Sometimes you get what you pay for... but this isn't one of those times.

Right now, though, I need your help. In the Open Source community, there is a saying... "Everyone can help in some way." If you are already a Linux user and want to help spread the word by handing out CD's and flyers, drop me a line or give me a call and come and help directly. More hands means more stuff being handed out. And if flagging down passers-by is not your cup of tea, you can help by telling someone else about what we're doing.

Last year, the biggest problem we had was that people are afraid of the word "Free." At least ten different people accused us of trying to sell something. They insisted that there was a catch somewhere, no matter how fervently we assured them that there wasn't. Apparently, people have gotten to the sad state where not only will they not stand up and shout for what they believe in, but apparently they don't think that anyone else will either. When the word "Free" can't be trusted, what does that have to say about "The land of the Free"? Anyway, I digress.

Software Freedom is not about Freedom in the sense that it costs nothing, (it does cost nothing, but that isn't the point) its about Freedom in the sense that it is used to describe "Free Speech". Geeks across the world have banded together to fight what they believe to be an unfairly closed system of political and economic oppression. Microsoft is just one company that partakes of this, but it is not the only one. And if there are any Apple/Mac lovers out there, don't think that Apple is any better. In fact, when it comes to proprietary closed systems, Apple is worse than Microsoft ever thought about being. You can't even get a Mac unless you buy it from Apple. If you try to build one yourself, you're breaking the law.

In the early dawn of computers, the software was always free. It was a means to sell more machines. But somewhere along the line, things went sour. Now we live in a world where software is installed via virus embedded in a pop-up ad, which then relentlessly hounds you to send in money to "Unlock" its full features. Software that lies to you and tells you that your computer has hundreds of errors and/or viruses which conveniently it can fix, if you'll just type in your credit card number. Aren't you sick of not being able to trust your own computer?

It goes beyond freedom and such esoteric ideals. This is also about security. According to Symantec, the makers of Norton Antivirus, there are now over 1 million windows viruses. Thats one million viruses designed to cause havoc with your machine. Thats one million viruses that Linux is not vulnerable to.

If you take a freshly installed Windows XP machine and put it on the net, without installing protections first, the average time before it is compromised is about 18 minutes. Only eighteen minutes before your computer is a spam-slinging member of a botnet. Eighteen minutes until your machine, that you paid good money for, is now working for someone else.

While Vista has made some great inroads to correcting these problems, recent discoveries are putting Microsoft's new operating system under the same light. Viruses are already showing up for Vista and more are undoubtedly on the way as hackers across the world deconstruct it and figure out how it ticks. Every mistake that Microsoft makes is another hole in your security. Every typo or poorly designed function is an opportunity for your machine to be compromised.

With all of the mistakes and hidden agenda's Microsoft has had in the past, are they really the kind of company that you want to support?

Its time to be done with all of that. Its time for something better.

Essentially, Software Freedom is about the belief that all of us together can make better software than what comes from all of us paying a few people to do it. By the people, for the people. That sort of thing.

I'll be covering this topic for the next few weeks, outlining the plans in motion for the event. I've already received a couple of offers from volunteers in Lexington, but as of yet, I don't think it is enough for the job at hand. So if you'd like to help, either by donating your time, money for needed supplies, or by allowing us to set up at your business location, or even if it is just by telling a few friends that there really isn't a catch to this whole Free Software thing, as they say, everyone can help in some way. Take control of your computer. Before someone else does.

For more information, go to
If you'd like to see a map of all of the SFD teams, go to

If you live in Russell County or the surrounding areas and you need help fixing your computer, give me a call at (606) 219-4088 to set up an appointment.

If you have a question or comment, feel free to email me at

If you'd like to read my past articles, browse to

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