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Fun and Informative Way to Introduce Open Source?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the indoctrinations-made-easy dept.

Education 364

jwg asks: "I work in an office environment where I provide technical services and solutions to my co-workers (as I am sure most Slashdot readers do at their respective places of employment). Once a month, we have a round-table meeting to discuss pressing issues in our office. At the beginning of these meetings, it is one person's job to provide some form of 'professional development', usually an activity or game to teach some skill, idea, or trend directly related to their job. My turn is coming up soon, and I would like to introduce my co-workers to the idea (and to some, the way of life) of Open Source. There are many examples of Open Source software and communities out there to reference (Mozilla, Wikipedia, MySQL and... oh yeah, Linux), but has anyone come up with or come across a method to introduce it in a quick, fun, and informative way to a wide variety of people each of which possess a even wider range of technical skill? Did I mention it has to be fun?"

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FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171041)

FP For Me

Re:FP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171240)

Mozilla, MySQL

Try getting permission to contribute to one of those "open" projects and see how far you get.

Why not show them some real OSS? They might not work properly (think GNOME, Linux), but they are open: every idiot who has once written a line of code in GWBasic is allowed to change core functionality.

Of course, the kernel is deeply broken since 2.6.7 and is only in a working state because Suse fixed the idiots' idiocies, but hey: it's open source.

Great days we are living in. We are jolly geek giants, we walk the earth, with compilers.

Re:FP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171482)

After all, "open source" is an anagram for "once poseur", invented by SCO-executive and Linux-inventor Darl McBride to characterize the unsocial and immature attitude of software thieves Linx Torfland, Robert Stallmayr and Eric Sigourney Gaymond.

Open Source Computer on a Stick (5, Interesting)

Ohmster (843198) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171044)

How about creating or buying a ready-made "computer on a stick"? That is a USB memory stick...there's a fair bit of open source software, OS, apps, utilities etc., that can boot from a USB drive. You can put this together or buy one from third-party vendors. Another inexpensive alternative would be to pass around a "how to" sheet to your group after you give them a demo off a USB drive. On it you could also include the PCmag reviews of OpenOffice reassuring Microsoft Office compatibility. If you want to go the extra mile, you could even set up the Mozilla browser with all the open-source resources bookmarked like wikipedia, Wikinews, imdb, etc. It's an eye-opener for those not familiar with open source. More here: l []

One word... or two (2, Funny)

GuitarNeophyte (636993) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171243)

One phrase. Frozen Bubble.

Fun, exciting introduction to Open Source.

But, then again, nobody would have any productivity for the rest of the day.

Tired of answering tons of basic computer questions for friends and family? Send them to [] instead!

Re:One word... or two (1)

arodland (127775) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171520)

And probably the most popular game ever to be written in Perl.

Re:Open Source Computer on a Stick (5, Informative)

UnderScan (470605) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171403)

Computer-on-a-stick [] uses the Gnome desktop, includes remote access via SSH, VNC, RDP, and runs on Linux kernel 2.6.x so it is impervious to 99% of all spyware, adware, viruses & exploits since they target Windows OS & applications.

If you already have a USB memory device or if you PC can not boot from a USB device, then there are alternatives.

Two Linux distros designed for small size & boot on CDR or USB devices
Damn Small Linux 50MB /13/puppy-linux-live-reviewed/ []
Puppy Linux 40-90MB 005/06/11/damn-small-linux-12-review/ []

Two Linux distros designed to boot from CDR & used as the base for many derivatives
Knoppix []
Slax []

examples you could use... (5, Insightful)

kuom (253900) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171497)

One example I've found to be rather effective is compare it to medicine or food recipes. Ask them if they would buy a medicine that does not list the ingredients (hopefully most would answer 'no'). Then compare that to software that don't tell you what's in it. Not a perfect comparison, but I find this to be a good introduction for most non-technical people. A slightly better example might be to compare it to cars. Take Linux for example, when you buy a Linux-powered car, you have the permission to open up the hood, take the engine apart, fix it, enhance it, tweak it, and share your improvements with the other linux-car owners, thus making their cars better too. Compare this to a Microsoft car, where opening your hood will void the warranty.

Most fun (-1, Troll)

darth_MALL (657218) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171054)

Format clients computer and leave them with a BSD install disc. Tears will flow.
Oh wait...that's fun for me, not them.

first post (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171056)

you could always try the whole falling thing you know where everyone catches the falling person. then demonstrate it if everyone tried to make there catching system "propritary"

Re:first post (1)

tsalaroth (798327) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171076)

I hate to say it, but this should be modded up.

It's a good idea, even if it is poorly presented.

Or you could PUT THEM IN A HEADLOCK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171220)

and say "FREE AS IN FREEDOM, BIATCH!!!!!" []

Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like
Reason: Don't use so many
Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like caps. It's like

Re:first post (3, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171376)

Then make sure you explain that 2/3 of the "catch projects" will be abandoned as folks decide to do something that will actually pay money. So, 1/3 of the demonstrations WON'T result in concussions.

Re:first post (1)

llamaguy (773335) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171382)

Shh, don't give the patentors any ideas...

Or... (1)

hobbesx (259250) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171433)

You could make up some sort of presentation with some sort of animated character...

Let's see, you'd want him to be something everyone in the office was familiar with, say a paperclip or something...

Re:first post (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171531)

So when the person falls and busts their ass you can say, "well if you don't like it, fix it!"

show em' why its good (2, Funny)

QaBOjk (614183) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171062)

It's always fun to have your oppinions matter. Maybe collaborate a cool fictional car, that everyone can have a say what goes into it and everyone can make a difference.

Get them thinking... (5, Insightful)

avronius (689343) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171063)

Ask everyone in the group to imagine a simple piece of paper.
Ask them:
What would use a blank sheet of paper for?
What do you know about where the paper was manufactured?
What do you know about the inventor of paper?

There are few simple alternatives to paper. Sure there are whiteboards / chalkboards / computers / sheets of mylar, etc., but each has limitations that are not inherent to paper.

Ask them how they would feel if it suddenly cost $300.00 to purchase each sheet of paper simply because the biggest vendor decided that that was what they wanted to charge. What would they do to get around this barrier to their productivity. The alternatives aren't very convenient for most people. Would they look into making their own paper?

Then tell them that there is a community that is offering other ways to manufacture paper that drastically decreased the cost - back down to the previous rate - how would they feel about that.

Better still, what if that community were all volunteers, whose goal is to make access to this type of information / service / activity available to as many people as possible?

This is rather simplistic, and doesn't address a lot of what OSS/FOSS is about, but it is a simple way to introduce the subject.

It wouldn't hurt if you could download an Open Source paper airplane design so that they can build $300.00 paper airplanes at the end of your chat.

- A

Re:Get them thinking... (5, Interesting)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171170)

Expanding on the paper airplane thing might make more sense than hammering on the cost. Start with a simple paper airplanne, get ideas from the room to improve it. Eliminate what doesn't work, and keep building off what does. SHow that thats how the open source model works- individual contributors adding together neat ideas to make the whole.

Re:Get them thinking... (3, Funny)

avronius (689343) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171206)

Good idea. In my defence, I'm operating on 0 sleep and 0 coffee...

Re:Get them thinking... (2, Informative)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171346)

jezus christ does anyone here apart from me actually work in a company with real people and real project teams where we all contribute to achieve a goal?
Trying to persuade people that what they do normally at work is open source, but calling it open source makes it somehow better will see you swiftly moved into the loon category in the workplace hierarchy.

Re:Get them thinking... (1)

callipygian-showsyst (631222) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171485)

Get them thinking about how *they* would like it if there was a community of underemployed kids who wanted to do their jobs for free.

In all seriousness, I don't know why folks who wrte computer software for a living like free software. You don't expect free rent, food, clothing, etc. Why should software be free?

I would... (2, Insightful)

daviq (888445) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171064)

I'd personally start by installing and putting Firefox as the default browser on their computers. If you have extra computers lying around, i'd set them up in your lounge or other central location with an easy distro of Linux installed(Mepis, Ubuntu).

Re:I would... (1)

One of the abnormals (817423) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171224)

I disagree. This won't show anyone the uses of FOSS - many people I've shown Firefox to say, "This is the same as what I'm already using (IE)." Firefox isn't a good way to introduce FOSS because the main competitor is also free (as in beer).

My view, then, is to start by installing as the default office suite. This will demonstrate to the employees - as well as the management - that FOSS can be just as effective as closed source software.

Re:I would... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171427)

Just what every computer user wants! An admin who installs new programs on their computers without asking, especially one that replaces the one they are using.

Viruses (4, Funny)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171069)

Bring a couple hundred viruses into the office, they'd be glad to not use proprietory windows afterwards.

Re:Viruses (5, Funny)

TheOtherAgentM (700696) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171145)

I was going to say to bring a nice packet sniffer in the week before and then present them with their private emails and instant messages. Tell them they can be a super spy too with open source.

Two Words: (4, Funny)

Mad_Rain (674268) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171072)

Enemy Territory [] .

Okay, some further explanation might be in order - it's an FPS that was released free to the public. It can be used/modified by anyone who is interested because it is - Open Source. And play a game or two (if your office can handle your l33t pwn4g3 sk1llz!) before steering the conversation in to the other good things about Open Source.

Introduce open-source, hmm (-1, Offtopic)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171088)

Fun and Informative Way to Introduce Open Source

Oh my, when I read that title, for some reason, I thought of the goatse guy...

I feel dirty now...

Don't even bother... (5, Insightful)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171105)

Most people outside of IT (and many who do work in IT) could not care any less about the politics of software. They don't really care about this "Open Source" thing. And why should they? What they care about are applications that install and work as close to flawlessly as possible (or at least allow them to accomplish their tasks with a minimum of problems). I really don't think you'll get much more than "Gee, that's interesting... By the way, after the meeting, can you come by my cube and show me what I'm doing wrong with this Excel macro?" If I where you, I'd "introduce" specific applications (like OpenOffice, Firefox, other more specific applications...), not the concept of "Open Source". The accounting / administrative / human resources / other non-IT folks cjust have other things to worry about.

Re:Don't even bother... (5, Informative)

crimethinker (721591) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171302)

What they care about are applications that install and work as close to flawlessly as possible (or at least allow them to accomplish their tasks with a minimum of problems).

I agree that most people don't care about the freedom aspect, but if you start pointing out the forced upgrade cycles, the inevitable breakage of some app or another with the next security patch or service pack, the fact that F/OSS puts as much guarantee on their software as Microsoft does for theirs (NONE), and if something bugs you about a F/OSS app, you can change it.

People want a minimum of hassle. So point out things like the Word 95/97/2000/XP incompatibilities. My previous employer sent out a company-wide e-mail stating that we were not to install Office XP on any systems, either from our own CD's (as this amounted to piracy) or from MS Developer Network CD's, and we especially weren't to spend company money to buy a copy. The reason was that they didn't want to upgrade the entire organization to Office XP, and yet once you saved a doc with XP, you had a decent chance of being able to open it only with XP.


Re:Don't even bother... (3, Insightful)

rizzo420 (136707) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171389)

the word incompatiblities are fewer now, at least with the later versions. but it is a good point to bring up.

people definitely don't give a crap about the politics and why free/oss is better than proprietary software (try telling any graphic designer that there's a f/oss thing that's better than the adobe products).

your grandparent mentioned firefox. start there. talk about extensions. talk about spyware and popups and how it's mainly for IE. mention the ieview extension. show other cool extensions and cool features of firefox that IE lacks... because being a computer tech for an office generally means you are their spyware remover... show them how to avoid it with firefox. i think that'll get their attention and make it a bit more interesting.

Re:Don't even bother... (2, Insightful)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171337)

Yup. People won't care. People who did care enough have stoopped using IE though.

You could get them into the 'free' aspect of it by showing them Open Office and Gimp. Gimp will be the most useful for Mary Jane and Brad who want to make a collage of their kids.

Most browsers are free so that won't woo them and most desk jockeys use IE for the games that sites like Popcap has that are IE only (recent ones)

show them the beauty of open source (1)

54v4g3 (756080) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171106)

you say these people are techs like yourself?

Show them the beauty of OSS software ^_^. Find some software that doesn't work they way you'd like (it could be web-based software such as minibb [] , or desktop-oriented, such as the gameboy advance emulator Visualboy Advance [] ), edit the source code, recompile it [if needed], and then show them the software, changed to fit your needs. You simply can't do that with closed-source software.

There is only one way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171108)

Blockquoth conerned.user.question {
but has anyone come up with or come across a method to introduce it in a quick, fun, and informative way to a wide variety of people each of which possess a even wider range of technical skill? Did I mention it has to be fun?"

There is only one way: swear to them that Linux was responsible for the removal of GOATSE!

Tru that, my gay nigga...tru that. When yoos at the round table of niggas, let them know I can't attend because I'm outa diapers.w

Make it a game for everyone to play... (1)

MindPrison (864299) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171109)

Why not introduce OpenSource to them by example?


You one person a piece of paper and ask if that person want to type something of interest down on that paper.

Then you tell him/her to pass the paper along to someone else

Further - tell everyone that anyone who wants to see whats on that paper can get a copy right away (ok..I hope you have a photocopier standing by)

Now that everyone has a paper with all these "fun" suggestions or words on the paper introduce to them - the fact that they've just participated in an opensource project.

By that you can demonstrate the quick evolution process that a developement project can have if willing participants freely participate in an "OpenSource" project.

That is a dead-giveaway for you to start introducing real world examples of your own (insert long interesting speech here), and will be sure to make your audience listen.

Re:Make it a game for everyone to play... (1)

MindPrison (864299) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171173)

Thats weird. I wonder how "Give" turned into "You"... Someone messing around? Hm?

Write a story (2, Interesting)

Locarius (798304) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171110)

Have each person write a paragraph for a story, and allow each other person to edit parts that they feel could use work. Use it as an illustration to show that if people pitch in and contribute ideas to a project work can be fun, and much faster than conventional methods of doing work.

jesus (4, Insightful)

Cylix (55374) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171111)

I would shoot myself if I had to do this.

Prime examples of wasted time at the work place. You know what would make this even worse? Having to do something like this with co-workers you hate. Even so, I think I could make it fun.

"Today, were going to play some reality television. I want everyone to vote for someone to leave the office. Now, while this isn't indicative of that person losing his or her job... it just might help.

It's secret ballot... so have at it... I should also mention that not choosing another individual indicates you are not a "Team Player" and will be autmoatically chosen for not submitting a ballot."

Re:jesus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171250)

I can just imagine:
"Milton, you've been voted out of your cubicle because you're squirrely looking, you mumble a lot, and you listen to the radio too loud."

Re:jesus (1)

vidnet (580068) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171316)

It's at a reasonable volume!

Re:jesus (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171277)

I want everyone to vote for someone to leave the office. Now, while this isn't indicative of that person losing his or her job... it just might help.

Can I vote for myself?

Emule (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171117)

Emule [] is without a doubt one of the most popular open source apps (over 125 million downloads from SourceForge).

You can teach your coworkers how to acquire pirated software, music, dvds, and ebooks all for free. Certainly a valuable professional skill, especially if one wants to take work home with them.

And you can't beat the fun! ;-)

Fun and Informative Way to Introduce Open Source? (5, Funny)

OctoberSky (888619) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171122)

Do anything but show them source code.

yeah baby! (1)

dotpavan (829804) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171124)

"open" the source slowly and seductively.. I am definitely having fun! errr and getting info too....

Nethack (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171129)

Of course, you provide it on a Knoppix disk.

From reliable reports, it's epidemically infective in offices that have never encountered it before.

Sort of like when the Europeans introduced smallpox to the Western Hemisphere, there's no resistance.

Start off with... (1)

michrech (468134) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171133)

...something they can take home and run on their computer UNMODIFIED. Mozilla, Firefox, OpenOffice, Gimp, etc.

Let them decide if they want to trash their existing software in a jump to a full linux machine on their own. If they think they might want to but aren't sure, give them a Knoppix (or similar) CD to play with BEFORE they trash their software.

It's the forcing them into an all-or-nothing situation that will turn them away from you faster than girls from pocket-protector-wearing, tape on the bridge of the nose support on your glasses geeks. :)

telnet:// [] -- TW2002 and LORD registered!

Re:Start off with... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171535)

Hey, that tape contrasts beautifully against the glasses. It's just a matter of choosing the right color.

The Open CD (2, Informative)

Glomek (853289) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171139)

Give them each a copy of The Open CD [] . It's got games and screensavers and a bunch of work-friendly Free Software on it too.

I know a way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171141)

Did I mention it has to be fun?

It's called swinging, aka "Open Source IRL."

Just go to your manager's PC... (0, Redundant)

Ray Alloc (835739) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171151)

Reformat its hard disc,
and install Linux.

The look on your manager's face will be priceless, how fun ! As pink as the slip you'll be handed over.

Black Box (2, Interesting)

guaigean (867316) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171156)

How about making a black box that blinks in a certain order known only to you. Let them try and figure out what it does, and see how long it takes. Now open the box and pull out the instructions. Simple.

LiveCD's (2, Insightful)

wickedmm (711725) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171160)

How about some CD's (or wallet CD's) that have open source software on it. You can get them started with the OpenCD [] , then Damn Small Linux [] , then maybe Knoppix [] . Try demo'ing them.

Yes! (1)

ninja_assault_kitten (883141) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171162)

Walk into work in a penguin costume and a baseball bat. Then walk around from cube to cube smashing anything MS related chanting screaming "Linus is lord!".

Transverse the alphabet in nonalphabetical order (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171178)

You can transverse any collection of letters (i.e. sentences, product names) in this manner to memorize them.

Also take a look at the "Name Game". One thing holding back discovery of good ideas is prejudices like "It's just for young people/people some age younger than 18". It isn't just that the good idea is viewed that way as much as ways of discovering good ideas is thought of that way.

Set up some software that they can play with like (1)

o517375 (314601) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171181)

Lincity on a few linux laptops. I was really addicted to that game for a few weeks. It's better than any game that comes with windows. Install frozen bubble on there too []

Set up Xfce with these and other games. Maybe the Gimp. Even Vlc (Videolan) with some porn movies. Hey, I think I have a project for home...

I had this same problem, here's what I had to do: (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171183)

I had a few friends and coworkers I wanted to turn onto Linux. This entailed creating instructions for them, burning four fedora core or mandrake discs, explaining how to set up a dual boot with several partitions and, in the end, turned out to be more trouble then it was worth. I stopped suggesting it, but it wasn't so long ago that I was a freshman in college and a friend of mine handed me a debian disc....

I suggest showing them how to edit photos in The Gimp 2.0 in Win32. Or maybe making documents in OO.o in Win32 (there's an easy .exe available). Or perhaps they'd enjoy the simple beauty of emacs...well, maybe you should leave out emacs.

Maybe you should start with simple tools first like pdfcreator on sourceforge. Or even show them how to use GAIM instead of 3 different IM programs. Maybe let them toy with NASA World Wind?

Most of these suggestions are just tiny steps, actually running Linux was one of the greatest eye-openers I've ever experienced.

Collaborative Effort Game (4, Interesting)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171185)

Play a game where each person contributes their expertise. Tell a collaborative story, or make a drawing on the white-board.

One person draws something, then each person takes a turn 'fixing it.'

Or, play a mini-game of "Clue." You come up with something like maybe 'Dumbo.' Then you tell one person to draw an elephant while you give everyone else individual clues as to specifics about what you want this elephant to look like.

The Clue people tell the elephant person small changes to make for the elephant to look more like it's supposed to. (You can have the clues be images, to more accurately explain what the clue givers are supposed to describe.)

Okay, so that's nothing like "Clue." The point is, you involve your coworkers in an exercise where they each contribute to help the outcome achieve a more desired shape.

focus on the business/development model (2, Interesting)

nietsch (112711) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171196)

In my experience, most people have trouble understanding the business model that open source companies make their money off. They will by now have heard something about open source, so they will likely have some preformed opinion on that issue. The most conservative will insist on skewing the licence terms to the company because that how they are used to making money.

If you figure out a way to get the point across that the different business model you need for open source is not hindering your chances of succes, you will have your 'war' won. You will still have to battle the nah-sayers, but if you can show the money and how it's made, you win.

-TaCO (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171198)

Free as in Beer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171208)

Yesterday's /. actually answered this question for you - look at the article "Free Beer That's Free as in Speech", and make a catchy presentation about open source that doesn't refer once to software, Mozilla, Linux or any of that nerdy stuff. I'm sure a few references to Bud/VB/Stella or whatever the brew of choice is in your part of the world will do enough to conjure up images of big bad software monopolies versus the equally good open source little guy.

People understand Beer. Beer is fun. :-)

Fun With Firefox Extensions (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171219)

Introduce the staff to the fun and excitement of installing Firefox and using Extensions. Most of them don't require a great deal of skill and regardless of the industry you work in, many of them can be extremely useful. Adblock is an easy one. Mouse gestures could also be. Show the staff how to navigate the Extensions site and take them through the installation of a few, then encourage them to each go out and find an extension that would help them in their job.

This has a dual effect. It will increase the number of Firefox installs in your office (which will probably increase your job satisfaction as you decrease the spyware outbreaks you have to deal with) and will do the job of promoting open source software.

Knoppix (2)

Frank Dreben (811036) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171221)

Why not use a Knoppix CD to demonstrate Firefox,, and Linux? Then give CDs to anyone that wants to play with it. They can try it all with no risk.

LiveCDs + media (1)

Lifewish (724999) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171222)

Given that your audience has a range of technical ability, just showing them software isn't going to cut it. One idea would be to grab a bunch of customised knoppix distros. For example, there's a Linux Audio LiveCD [] which, if topped up with lots of Creative Commons samples, would probably allow you to have a pretty good attempt at some on-the-spot DJing (disclaimer: I haven't tried the CD, I have no idea if it's any good). I don't know if there's an equivalent for video, but that would also be cool. And, of course, there's always Games Knoppix [] . Burn a bunch of each type and pile 'em up on the table so people can grab whatever they want on the way out.

Two important caveats: firstly, make sure the CDs run properly on the demonstration computer - I know that Knoppix has some trouble with my mum's new LCD monitor. Secondly, if you want to demo more than one LiveCD, you'll probably want to have more than one machine rather than waiting for each Knoppix instance to shut down and the next one to boot up.

firefox (1)

memnon (769981) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171225)

just install firefox on a comp and give to them, show them all the extesions and other good things about it that IE doesnt have, like security. now that doesnt sound like much fun maybe but after using IE for a long time i bet they find it funny

You're welcome to have my machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171231)

See if you can get Linux installed on this piece of crap. I've had such bad luck it's ridiculous.
First the MGA Mystique is never ever ever recognized by the X11 - EVER!!! Oh sure, Knoppix can figure it out, to give me false hope, but then I try installing and nope! Not fedora, not suse, not mandrake, not ubuntu. None of them recognize it.

So I switch to an ATI card and I get ubuntu installed, but there was some error configuring something and it fails. so i try again and again and again and I give up after the fourth time.

So I switch back to fedora and it won't recognize my mouse. Now this is a pretty standard simple mouse. But nothing I do can get fedora to see the mouse.

so I install windows with MGA card - fine. I install windows with the ATI card and the mouse - fine.

I wipe it all out to try linux - because that's my main goal, and this time I try mandrake and it doesn't see the mouse.


I think your office mates would love open source after first trying to install linux on my machine, and then trying to install windows.

yup. Love it the way I do.

TheOpenCD (3, Informative)

Wapiti-eater (759089) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171232)

Just in case you didn't see it before: TheOpenCD is a project - at least partly - developed with this in mind.

Chock full of F/OSS software for Windows, it's a great tool to introduce MS entrenched minds to the availability of quality, alternative software. []

Firefox (1)

bahwi (43111) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171255)

Firefox, Greasemonkey, Platypus, BetterSearch to name a few are pretty fun and interesting. RSS Feeds as well can encourage some people(As well as save them time while reading the news during work hours!).

All I can think of, other than PenguinRacer that is. =)

The egg trick (2, Interesting)

big.iron.wiz (773525) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171263)

Try to give:
- 1 pan to each participant;
- The same number of eggs as participants to one of the participants;
- Salt to another;
- Dishes to another; ... and so on, and then ask them to make an omolete by convincing each other to that you pan is better to do the omollete.

Secretlly promise sushi lunch to one or two of the participants if they get the ommolet on the pan they have.

After some time reveal you secret agrrement, and ask each participant to give some of the things youo gave them.

Finnally you will have Open Source lunch;
- Everyone gave very little, but all gainned.


"I found it faster to explain the effort of open sourced projects when i show wikipedia,"

(I am portuguese. If you think my english is bad, try posting in portuguese!)

Dunno... (2, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171283)

This has a whole "Fisher-Price/Romper Room" stink about it.

Our Host: Hey, kids! I'm Open Source Bob! Today we're going to have informative fun with the wonder of open source.

Children: (dead silence)

OSB: And here to help me is my sidekick, Tickle-Me-Tux, the Linux penguin! Say hello to the children, Tux!

Tickle-Me-Tux: (takes a draw from cigarette) Hey, kids.

C: (tepid cheers and puzzled looks.)

OSB: Where shall we begin today, Tux?

TMT: (stares at OH while grinding out cig under foot) Look, kids, it's all a lie. Open source is a fun thing, but when you need to get things done in the real word and in mass numbers, just buy a fucking Winblows box and be done with it.

C: (uncomfortable giggles and a few sobs)

OSB: Um. Yeah. Well. Tux. You did get the updated script?

TMT: Script my fuzzy black and white ass. Hey kids, any chance this is a reform school? Any of you got a shiv? How about a nice sharp protractor?

OSB: Tux!

TMT: For fuck's sake, I can't go on living this lie, like some sort of craven icon of hope and desperation for the geek set. Hey, you. Fat kid. Would you fall on me? All I want now is the cold, silent, endless sleep of death.

OSB: That does it, Tux. It's back to the hot box for you. For a month. And you can forget those conjugal visits from Gadget Mouse.

(OSB grabs Tux and storms from the room)

TMT: Like I can get it up anymore, you fucking ballsucking cockgobbler. Hey, you in the back, toss me that drain cleaner. Hurry! Dammit! Augh! Someone fucking kill me!

C: (open bawling from the kids who haven't fled screaming)

Re:Dunno... (1)

taustin (171655) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171340)

To be honest, that would actually be a pretty good presentation. At least at any business meeting I've ever been to.

At least it would keep them awake.

Bring in a stripper with OSS tatoos (0, Troll)

exes (853401) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171311)

Bring in a stripper with OSS tatoos

Re:Bring in a stripper with OSS tatoos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171448)

and lose your job.

jwg (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171350)

Hey jwg: YOu are a fucking tool. This is the gayest post I have ever seen on this site. By far.

SLAX! (1)

pakkman781 (823536) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171351)

SLAX Linux is perfect to start with, Hand out some SLAX Mini-CDs. Have two choices, SLAX KillBill for Intermediate Computer Users, and SLAX Popcorn for Novices. SLAX []

Pain vs. Pleasure. (2, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171354)

The problem with most open source software are that they are designed to elevate pain from working with closed source software. Open Source doesn't really give a person pleasure, just relief from pain. The trick is to figure out how using open source can actually give pleasure. You need to find tools and applications that actually can give people pleasure.

Introduce it like this: (2, Insightful)

lightyear4 (852813) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171359)

Make a list of popular, successful Open Source programs. For example:
  • Firefox (thunderbird, mozilla, etc)
  • Gaim
  • Open Office
  • (insert the best of whatever slashdotters suggest here)

Give a brief synopsis on each of them, and then ask how many of your colleagues have heard of one or more. Then throw a curve: Continue speaking, and itemize the cost per program by comparing with other examples of such software. (i.e. the latest edition of MS Office retails for almost a grand). Now say: "These programs and their alternatives are compatible, deployed in many hundreds of companies and countries. They have a loyal user base, are easy to use, and are well known for their professional quality. ..The difference between these and their alternatives is simple. These are free."

Introduce them to Wikipedia (1)

robert bitchin' (765408) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171360)

Everyone is an expert on something..even, non-professional things like food or recreation. Dig up info on the most opinionated people in your office, divine their opinions..and then see what Wikipedians have had to say about them. Chances are they'll disagree somewhat and want to correct it on the spot. The 'gee whiz' factor should make converts of some of them.

...or Wiki in general (4, Interesting)

Em Ellel (523581) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171462)

There is a difference between introducing them to OSS software (i.e. using oss software instead of closed source) and understanding the concept and usefullnes of open colaboration. If your goal is latter, introduce them to Wikipedia, and then set up a Wiki instance on the intranet for colaborative information storage. Show them the basic concept of Wiki and, set some loose goals for what sort of data you would want to share, and then set them loose on it for a few weeks. I think it is probably the best way to show what OSS is capable of - as well as showing the benefits (and pitfalls!) of open cooperation.


Whip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171365)

out an AK-47 and make everyone pay. Then as the cops kill your ass make sure you're wearing your Open Source T-shirt so that the news helicopters can get a good view. That should be fun to watch.

What do you work at Initech? (1)

jinzumkei (802273) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171367)

sorry, this whole "Fun with co-workers" seems a little Office Space to me :)

"And remember Friday is Hawaiian shirt day! So If you want go ahead and wear a Hawaiian shirt and jeans."

Re:What do you work at Initech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171457)

you do realize that the movie office space is a pretty realistic view of coporate america dont you?

or did you think we all sit around playing with nerf guns and filling peoples cubicles with packing foam...

Show them the command-line (5, Funny)

dhanks (588795) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171398)

Kill all of your processes.
$ ps -ef|awk '{print $2}'|xargs kill

Edit a file and delete the first and last line.
$ vi

Find out what's filling up your home directory.
$ du -k|sort -rn|head

Who has access to the computer?
# cat /etc/passwd|cut -d: -f1,3

Add commas to numerical strings
sed -e :a -e 's/\(.*[0-9]\)\([0-9]\{3\}\)/\1,\2/;ta'

Call someone's cel from your laptop thru Asterisk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171401)

Install Asterisk on your laptop and spend a few bucks on a Voice-over-IP Service Provider for termination (to make outbound calls), then fire up a softphone on your laptop and call someone on their cel in the meeting.


Three words: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171408)

Free Software Song!

Post copies of the GPL and pix of RMS in all cubes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171409)

That will endear you to your friends and cow-orkers.

For example... (1)

Decameron81 (628548) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171417)

Tell them that it's immoral to develop close sourced programs.

Then tell them that if they use close sourced programs they become immoral too.

Then tell them that immoral people go to hell.

And if that doesn't work, turn off the light, light your face with a torch and repeat. It may help to change the tone of your voice accordingly.

Obviously... (1)

Lost+Found (844289) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171431)

...the best fun and informative way to introduce Open Source is to order a bunch of free Ubuntu CDs, and use them to play a massive game of office frisbee.

Myth TV Setup (2, Informative)

a3217055 (768293) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171447)

Try setting up a myth tv box it is pretty cool what Myth can do. Lot of youngsters and adults would like. It can be a commmunity project.

Get a normal ariel antenna, get a tv card ( get the one that works please no tv card hackin ) and a box that can hold all that stuff and an nvidia gfx card. Put it together. Tell people why you have the hardware you have.
Get a good guide, and start getting the parts of mythtv installed. Make small groups and make everyone install a small portion. The zap2it direcotry services. One group does the mytht tv config, one group does the themes etc....

End result you will have people doign the samething at home. Sure Linux is free, only if your time is free. And if you get a community and each individual gives a small bit and talks what they have done then, you get a pretty fast application turn around. And mythtv is easy. Tiedious but with good instructions you got MythTV box ready to blow away the TiVo and that VCR.

PS nothing against Gentoo but please no gentoo distro because the time required to install would be too great. And yes Distcc is great but it doesn't work all the time etc... This is educational so use a binary disribution. Afterwards you will be set. Men will want to be you and women will want you and children will make you their idols. And slashdot users will slashdot your webpage.

Mythtv is fun try it :). Big project and each person can do a small bit. Lot of small parts but with enough guidance people can get all of it to work together.

keyword: refreshments! (1)

10am-bedtime (11106) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171453)

presuming such a topic as beer [] is not going to get you fired, you could get them into the hacking mode w/ a little bit of "spirited" (yuk yuk, i slay me) fun [] .

the best way to teach is to do, the best way to do is to not fear failure, the best way to not fear failure is to use failure to learn, the best way to learn is up to each person to find. so, don't worry if no one groks your presentation. w/ some luck there will be a bite, if not sooner, then perhaps later.

Why Not Show them examples they can use at home? (1)

ZOverLord (902034) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171475)

A GREAT example would be show them Open Office: [] ask and tell them they can install this on their systems at home, to communicate with work as well. It shows them just how much money they can save using open source concepts and also saves them a ton of money instead of them needing to purchase a version of Microsoft Office form their home systems and at their cost. You could also explain, that unlike Microsoft Office, when a bug is found in this software because you have he source, you can fix it, instead of waiting for patches from Microsoft. Heck, if you can convince your office to use it, you just might save the company a TON of money as well ;-)

Re:Why Not Show them examples they can use at home (1)

ZOverLord (902034) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171534)

Sorry for the Typos, but I think you get my point

your job sounds gay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13171476)


Recipe swap? (1)

Noctrnl (110574) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171477)

Why not have everyone take 2 pieces of paper and write down the dish they make the best on one, and the ingredients on another. Have each person hand in the dish name, but not the recipe. Then, read off all the names of the [some no doubt very exotic] dishes. Then, after you're done, take a poll and find out how many people would like the recipe to them. Tell them they can't have it. Then, equate that to closed source software. Pick one or two and give the ingredient list out. Tell them that's what OSS is like.

Just something that came to mind off the top of my head, and something most people can participate in. :) If people don't have a dish they make, or a recipe, just have them pick their favorite and have them imagine if anyone could make it just the way they like it!

My $0.02 might be worth slightly less, but at least I tried!

Two Word Answer: "Briefing Puppets" (3, Funny)

GeneralEmergency (240687) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171479)

Yep. Seriously.

They're fun to make and great fun in those long, boring staff meetings.

Just decorate old tube socks (Puh-leeese wash them first) or paper lunch sacks with bits of brightly colored felt and pipe cleaners. Use Dilbert comic strips for subject matter inspiration if you lack creativity in this area.

Once complete, break out your favorite Monty Python sketch recital voices and brief your audience's pants off!

P.S. If you get fired, I NEVER POSTED THIS and YOU DIDN'T READ IT!

Now, where did I leave those Meds.....

Scavenger hunt! (1)

KhaymanUCSD (801306) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171508)

Every time I try to talk open source to non-technical folks their eyes glaze over real fast. So don't get too technical. If you just want to introduce the idea that, hey... there might be other alternatives out there divide the group in half. Give each "team" a laptop. One should have a copy of MS Encarta on it (they were giving it away with every OEM for a while, shouldn't be too hard to scrounge one up). Set the other up with a web browser with Wikipedia as their home page. Then have an information scavenger hunt with a prize to whichever team can find all the answers to a series of questions using their particular tool the fastest. Then do a little 5-minute talk about the differences (Wikis being community developed, etc...).

Free Beer! (1)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171514)

What can be easier, more informative and more fun than free beer?

It is guaranteed to enhance the team spirit(s) and after a while, you may even be able to convince one or two of them to boot Knoppix or Puppy Linux and try it... hic...

You've picked quite a challenge (1)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171528)

If you're trying to demonstrate the advantages of OSS over the rest to the ordinary office person, you've picked a challenge. The benefit of OSS is that anyone can examine and alter the source. The traditional OSS development model also builds a community of people who develop and share ideas related to that source.

Your challenge is to make looking at source code and changing it fun for people who may not nessecarily have the skills to do so. It may very well be that although OSS is beneficial to a company, it is not of direct use to many of the people you serve. Several people have suggested FrozenBubble, but in as much as you demonstrate Open Source principles, you might as well have used Snood.

Whatever you do, there should be a take-away that the accountants and everyone else you assist can observe in action in your demo. Perhaps you can intro a game, ask for some quick suggested changes, and introduce them into the game. If you can't, then you're just highlighting that your company isn't capable of utilizing OSS to its full capacity.

Legos and CD's (1)

vinn (4370) | more than 9 years ago | (#13171538)

Along similar lines to some things mentioned..

Bring a tub of legos. Not the fancy stuff, just simple rectangular blocks. Before the presentation, prep the foundation of a house using the blocks. Then during the presentation, pass the house around with the tub of blocks and ask everyone to add something to it until you have a simple house-like structure.

When you're done, point out that everyone working together can produce something. Usually it takes someone with some inspiration to start it. The community built the rest. When you're done, you can clearly see the work involved. Someone else could look at it and make a copy or disassemble it to see the individual blocks that make it up.

That's source code.

While you're passing around the legos, show >> EYE CANDY . Show some awesome 3D stuff, show a web browser, OpenOffice, Word running under Wine, etc. All the common stuff they would expect a computer to be. (DON'T SHOW SOURCE CODE - EYES WILL GLAZE OVER.)

Bonus points for showing off the corporate Intranet. The big challenge is always breaking the mindset of, "Open source is great, but it can't work here."

Playing with legos is fun.
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