Originally Published: Monday, 15 May 2000 Author: Paul Gray
Published to: interact_articles_lugs/Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Linux Demo Day - Coralville, Iowa

Saturday, April 29 2000, started out pretty early for Tony Geerts and me.  Around 5:30 a.m., Tony showed up at my house with his car, ready to load up my computer gear on top of his and head south to Coralville's Barnes & Noble.  Tony and I live in Cedar Falls, Iowa, which is a short hour-and-a-half drive away from Coralville. What was it that was inspiring the two of us to such an early morning drive? The agenda for the day was quite simple: partake in demonstrating Linux and engage passers by in Linux-related discussions at Barnes & Noble.

The planning of this event had been a long time in the making. Terry Dahms, from Iowa City's LUG (ICLUG), got the ball rolling after talking with Tony and me at CedarLUG's January Linux Install-a-thon in Cedar Falls. Afan Ottenheimer, Dan Wittenberg, and Stephen Hill stepped forward without hesitation to offer their assistance too, and the wheels were set into motion. The real work then began, with side meetings here, off-line discussions there, meetings with the Barnes & Noble folks, a meeting in Cedar Rapids, a meeting in Iowa City and enough e-mail passing across the network to raise the eyebrows of those that oversee such things. Who's bringing this? Who's demonstrating that? Will there be enough room? Will there be enough outlets? Who can set this up? Who can make these things on paper? And personally I was asking "How will I be able to get away to Bruegger's for some salt bagels?"


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Saturday, April 29 2000, started out pretty early for Tony Geerts and me.  Around 5:30 a.m., Tony showed up at my house with his car, ready to load up my computer gear on top of his and head south to Coralville' s Barnes & Noble.  Tony and I live in Cedar Falls, Iowa, which is a short hour-and-a-half drive away from Coralville.

What was it that was inspiring the two of us to such an early morning drive?  The agenda for the day was quite simple: partake in demonstrating Linux and engage passers by in Linux-related discussions at Barnes & Noble.

The planning of this event had been a long time in the making. Terry Dahms, from Iowa City's LUG (ICLUG), got the ball rolling after talking with Tony and me at CedarLUG's January Linux Install-a-thon in Cedar Falls. Afan Ottenheimer, Dan Wittenberg, and Stephen Hill stepped forward without hesitation to offer their assistance too, and the wheels were set into motion. The real work then began, with side meetings here, off-line discussions there, meetings with the Barnes & Noble folks, a meeting in Cedar Rapids, a meeting in Iowa City and enough e-mail passing across the network to raise the eyebrows of those that oversee such things. Who's bringing this? Who's demonstrating that? Will there be enough room? Will there be enough outlets? Who can set this up? Who can make these things on paper? And personally I was asking "How will I be able to get away to Bruegger's for some salt bagels?"

We arrived in Iowa City shortly after 7:00 a.m. Barnes & Noble was to open up to the public at 9:00 a.m., which would give us two hours of unencumbered setup time, and an hour to put in the finishing touches before the start of the event at 10:00 a.m. The outlets that we were to use were few and far between and located in the ceiling. Tony - who claims to have taught MacGiver how to use duct tape - secured the extension cords. He also brought his UPS so that we'd avoid another mass "fsck" like we experienced at our last Install-a-thon. With the extension cords dropped, power strips laid down, and the tables set up, it was time to power things up; mainly so that we could access our MP3s and drown out the piped music coming in over the Barnes & Noble speakers.

The hardware that made up the pool of demo equipment included one of Tony's boxes running Caldera, my box running Storm, a Gateway laptop (Mandrake) augmented with a USB camera and hooked up to a projector, an off-the-shelf box from Best Buy converted to RedHat Linux the night before by Afan, a 486 (also running RedHat) from Terry to use for our network substrate, and a YellowDog notebook brought in by Dan. Afan's Best Buy box was also hooked up to a projector, and his mod-SQL wizardry gave us a means to register folks that were looking for more information on our groups.

As things got closer to the store opening (9:00), the ladders were put away and most of the organizers were present. Afan put his finishing touches on the mod-SQL sign-up page (on the BestBuy box), Tony trouble-shooted networking problems, I got the USB camera ready, Terry tweaked settings with the projector, and Dan fired up ICLUG's new web pages on his iMac laptop. 10:00 a.m. arrived, and our Linux Demo Day was officially underway. We were also joined by two Linux hardware vendors from Moline: Ray Sanders and Dan Beckwith, from QLITech, (www.qlitech.net).

The demonstrations were in progress. Our demonstrations included VMWare, StarOffice, xmms, Loki games, and anything anyone expressed an interest in. For the most part, all demonstrations went without a hitch. Considering that none of us specialize in Public Relations, I think that we managed pretty well to get our points across.  We had people of all types come through -- from a gentleman wearing his Microsoft Certified Training Polo to a University of Iowa researcher that wanted a Linux box at home to complement her HP workstation in the office. One gentleman was heard saying to his wife that he needed to be left alone for a couple of hours with us. Sure enough two hours later, he was still with us, reading some of the literature that we provided.

To the young and old alike, we evangelized the benefits of Linux.  At the close of the day, we had given away many distributions, T-Shirts, boxed sets, magazines, and general Linux paraphernalia. It was a successful day by any measure.  The most important result of the day was that we achieved our objective:  to increase the community's awareness in Linux and in their local LUGs.


Hosted by the Eastern Iowa Linux User Groups:

The Iowa City LUG, ICLUG: www.iclug.org

The Cedar Rapids LUG, CRLUG: www.nipha.com

The Cedar Valley Area LUG, CedarLUG: www.CedarLUG.org


The Demo Day Desperadoes Include:

Paul Gray (CedarLUG), Tony Geerts (CedarLUG) Terry Dahms (ICLUG), Dan Wittenberg (ICLUG), Ray Sanders (QLITech), Afan Ottenheimer (ICLUG) and Bill Carlson (CRLUG), Dan Beckwith (QLITech), Stephen Hill (CRLUG)


Special Thanks To: 





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