First Canadian National Linux InstallFest

Canada has a “Linux Day”--a novel method for getting the word out.
Overview

The general consensus is that as a public relations event, the InstallFest was an overwhelming success. It got a lot of people asking questions about Linux, some of whom took the plunge and installed Linux for the first time. However, it was not completely successful as a technical event. By no means is this a reflection on either those who organized the individual events or the volunteers who helped with the installations—they all did a stellar job—just that no one was prepared for the magnitude of the response.

Most LUGs asked people to register prior to the event. This allowed a chance for the groups to get as many volunteers as they thought they would need. Some groups, such as the Vancouver Linux Users Group, were swamped with preregistration and had to halt registration prior to the event because they could not accommodate everyone. Even with preregistration, the day of the event was hectic. The report from Seneca College in Toronto was that their event lasted until 9 PM, and they were still unable to complete all the installs. Other events had similar reports, and despite the best-laid plans, demand overwhelmed the number of installers.

Some installs were unsuccessful, due to either time constraints or hardware compatibility issues that were not easily overcome. That said, the ratio of unsuccessful to successful installs was minimal. Overall, it was one or two to fifty. I've seen more failures than that on MS Windows installations.

Where do we go from here?

One interesting side effect of the OCLUG InstallFest was that preliminary discussions were started between Zenith Learning Technologies and Corel Computer to set up a corporate Linux training program. Also, Oliver Bendzsa of Corel Computer reported that he was as busy at the InstallFest as he was at Canada Comdex, a 3-day trade show in Toronto that drew some 50,000 people.

Dave Neill, a founding member of OCLUG, said that while grassroots events like the InstallFest are a great way to promote Linux, it is now time to start approaching local computer resellers and showing them there is a demand for systems with Linux pre-installed. I work for Inly Systems, the largest independent computer reseller in the Ottawa area, and while we are now expanding the variety of Linux products we carry, we still do not offer Linux pre-installed on our machines. With at least three technicians on staff who have experience with Linux and/or UNIX installations, we could do this if people began asking for it. However, we are an exception; most resellers don't have technicians with Linux experience.

One issue that must be resolved is how and where companies can have their technicians trained. This is where training companies such as Zenith Learning Technologies come in. The fact that Zenith was at the OCLUG InstallFest shows that they realize the potential for Linux training. With such companies as Corel, Oracle, Intel and Netscape investing time and money in Linux, it won't be long before other training companies jump on the bandwagon.

Today Canada, Tomorrow the World!

Plans are already in the works for a Global Linux InstallFest next year. If you want to know more or would like to get your LUG involved, please check out the CLUE web site at http://www.linux.ca/ and contact Matthew Rice. An event of this magnitude will need lots of help organizing, so don't be shy—watch out Bill, the Penguin is on the move!

For more information on the individual InstallFest events, please visit the CLUE web site for a list of links to all the participating user groups.

Dean Staff (dstaff@echelon.ca) is a computer technician for Inly Systems and a member of OCLUG. When not at work, Dean enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters and playing with his aquarium.

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