Last Saturday, March 26th, was Herefordshire Open Source Day, and we were there. Well I wasn’t, but our technical director Kevin Dontenville was, to support the excellent work of Herefordshire Linux User Group. These events can be tricky to put together, but building on last year’s experience HLUG pulled it out of the hat again.
There was a good attendance from group members, who used their own machines to demonstrate open source software running on both windows and Linux operating systems. There were even visitors from other LUGs coming to see how it’s done 😉 Public attendance was good and included visitors tempted in from All Saints Cafe. Kevin spoke to all sorts of interesting people including Steve Woods (twitter.com/wood5y, who wrote his account of the day here) of Bristol Wireless, and lots of local open source users and potential users, from farmers to political activists, small businesses to home users. Kevin was surprised how many people had heard of Linux/Ubuntu and were keen to try it, citing all the usual moans and groans about proprietary software. Luckily for these people, the event gave away dozens of disks. Were you one of those who took away a disk? Please let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.
Visiting speaker Mark Wright (Bristol City Council Cabinet Member for Efficiency and Value for Money) gave a talk on why Bristol City Council uses open source software. It comes down to two main points: value for money, and ethics. As well as the financial benefits to Bristol City Council, using open source software is feeding money back into the local community as local organisations support the software. Mark cited central government as the biggest block to wholesale adoption of open source and therefore full realisation of the financial benefits: central government is so mired in proprietary software that it can’t get out of the loop, obliging councils to use some proprietary software themselves. However, the recession is aiding thought processes and perhaps achieving what common sense alone hasn’t yet been able to.
On a lighter note, the event was honoured by the presence of the mayor, who presented awards to Herefordshire County Council for switching its web front ends to open source software; to Tony Sales who developed Vinux, a release of Linux for the visually impaired; and, we’re delighted to say, to us, for promoting open source technology in the business sector. It’s lovely to receive an accolade for just doing what you do. Thank you.
Last but not least, special thanks must go to Sarah Chard for all her hard work organising the event, and for inviting us along.