SA gets into Software Freedom Day spirit

By   |  August 17, 2005

South African grassroots teams will join a worldwide celebration of Software Freedom Day on September 10, with guest lectures, software handouts and installfests planned across the country.

From Albania to Zimbabwe, free software activists will host events that raise public awareness about the open source movement.

\”We have around 200 registered teams this year from all over the world,\” says Henrik Nilsen Omma, president of the non-profit Software Freedom International, who are the official organisers of the event.

\”Most of the teams who participated in 2004 will be staging events this year, while we have a large number of new teams as well,\” he says.

The biggest change from last year, says Omma, is the sponsorship of Canonical, who are shipping about 15 000 CDs to teams worldwide. The custom-made CD will include a Live Linux image and Windows open source software.

\”In 2004 the pioneering teams put in a great effort in burning all their own CDs, which was great, but this year we look forward to a more uniform and professional CD to give to the public.\”

\”We are pleased to have a wide distribution of teams now [see . The interest from the African continent has also been very impressive this year,\” says Omma.

African countries listed on the team pages include Benin, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

In South Africa, a number of teams and organisations are planning to host events.

In Johannesburg, LinuxChix Africa will celebrate the day at Wits University. The event will include presentations by guest speakers, an installfest and hand-outs of open source software including Linux and OpenOffice.org. There will also be quizzes and games, a poetry session, a dance performance, and even a play performed by students titled \”Imagine a Future Without Linux\”.

\”We are expecting speakers from senior government officials to business executives and the participants will be women from university, high schools, civil society and health,\” says Anna Badimo.

In Pretoria, the Innovation Hub will be hosting a Software Freedom Day day event. Event organiser, Karl Fischer, says the programme will be finalised in the coming weeks and will appear on the Software Freedom Day Team Wiki]. The event will probably include guest speakers, an installfest and free CD handouts, says Fischer.

In Potchefstroom, the Open Café is planning an Open Day on September 10. The café will offer free internet access, Linux installs, free open source software, and a bring-and-braai. The café also plans to screen RevolutionOS (see trailer here), the award-winning documentary about the open source movement, and launch a new Creative Commons multimedia room at the café. \”Days like this help create a great atmosphere, bring together people and the fact that this happens globally makes it even more exciting,\” says project co-ordinator, Anna Dani.

\”We hope that on this day we will find many new interested locals that will be ready to burn their first CDs with the Freedom Toaster,\” she says.

In Durban, Free Culture South Africa is hosting a public lecture and FOSS exhibition on September 9 at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College Campus. The lecture will be given by OpenOffice.org South Africa founder Craig Adams and the exhibition will include posters, flyers and software hand-outs.

Team Leader Kofi Mangesi hopes \”the event will generate the momentum needed for a formidable FOSS movement among students\”.

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