Software Freedom Day, Florida style

Free software or not, I am all about the free snacks! Yes, at this year’s Software Freedom Day in Florida, the Linux gurus there managed to distribute a number of free software titles to those who were interested in taking a different approach to software.

The Suncoast Linux Users Group (SLUG) in Florida’s Tampa Bay region decided to hold not one, but two Software Freedom Day (SFD) events. SLUG is an odd LUG, one you might almost call a Beowulf cluster of LUGs, since it holds meetings in a number of locations instead of in a single central one. This gives the group a slightly anarchic feel, but when it came time to step up to the SFD plate, enough members worked together to distribute more than 250 free software CDs even though local media almost totally ignored the event.

I was part of the LUG SFD effort in the Sarasota-Bradenton area, not the “main” event held at the Tampa Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI). The MOSI group had wireless Internet access and a location that guaranteed plenty of foot traffic, while the Sarasota-area group ended up behind the coffee stand in an uncrowded Books-A-Million store in Bradenton.

Books-A-Million here doesn’t have wireless Internet. In fact, it barely has a computer book section, and the non-Windows selection within that tiny computer books section is nearly non-existent. It was not the first choice on anyone’s list of locations. But when Joe Brandt, the person who took responsibility for organizing SFD in our part of the world, called around to find a location, its management said “Yes!” while others either didn’t return Joe’s phone calls or said “No.” [Read the rest]