Fedora 11 is going to be released at the end of the month and very soon, our massive army of ambassadors will want to spread how proud they are of their Fedora 11 release to the masses. But HowTo run a successful release event?
What kind of event?
On the one hand, you have to define what you would like to do for your event. There are lots and lots of things you could do to present Fedora. First you can have a classical ‘Install Party’. You already guessed the purpose: help install and configure Fedora on people’s computer. Even if it is a classical release event to run, it is not the easiest. Having to deal with many different devices and laptops requires you to be gifted in some advanced Linux configuration if you encounter a still reluctant device. Moreover, if you are installing a laptop, you would certainly have to stay with the future user to help him doing his first steps on Fedora. An efficient install party you would need to be quite numerous, to be able to install PCs without having people waiting for you. The little things that matters: prepare a disclaimer of liability for install people. Its purpose is to cover you from any data loss and hardware failure that you would not be responsible of. Of course, you remind everyone of the risks for their data and that they should first save them before attempting to install any operating system installation.
There are other things you can do around a release event… You can have several presentations about Fedora. There are so many subjects you could cover! What is Fedora? How does virtualization work? How to create an RPM? How does YUM work? What are the new features of Fedora 11? There are so much subjects to cover…
If the room you chose is big enough, or if you have several rooms, maybe you can have workshops, so as people can manipulate their new OS and see how easy it can be to do basic configuration. Workshops have the drawback to need some already configured computer with Fedora. Then a demonstration can be done as an alternative.
Finding the best place for your event
All these clues have to be linked to the room(s) you would be able to get. Space is the clue to assign activities to areas.
Ordering a room is also some tricky topic. The best advice you could be given is not to be alone to look for it. You should for example get in touch with your local lug. They may have some experience in running these kind of events and may also know the good people to order the room you need.
What kind of room do you need? A large one of course! or several if you can. Is there any university or grammar school nearby? They have lots of rooms, lots of table and chairs! You also need lots of power-plugs in your rooms. Some installation would be tricky and you may spend some time on them.
Lets add on this you would need some internet connexion to do the post install updates and to look for documentation here and there, and you’ll have all the criteria to choose the perfect room for your release event. Last point about the room, if you can, do your best to order a room near a populating place. It will draw people to your event, curious people about what is happening with all the computer addicts.
Make a successful event communication
Organizing an event is great. But telling people they can join is greater. Again, do not stay on your own, but contact every people that are able to buzz about your event. Your local LUG may have again some good contacts to get introduced to. Go to every websites you know FOSS and tell them about your event. If you have a blog, blog it again and again.
Newspapers or TV are also very good contacts. Of course, it is very difficult to have them join and make a report about your activity. But try, again and again.
Be very precise on your communication. Where is it? At what time? How to come? What can I expect from this event?
Having concrete things to say to people
Having an Release Event means being in contact with users. First users, you know, the one you used to be some years or months ago. This means you have to stay at their own level of knowledge. Don’t try to answer to their questions in so much details. Answer their questions briefly and ask them to try on their own, with you at their side. For example, if someone asks you ‘How can I install a bank account manager?’, show them _one_ way to do it. If you feel the person is not ready for command line and the yum story, don’t even tell him t exists, and show him how to install with the graphical installer tool. Always remind from where they come from. They have in mind one process for doing something, it first needs to be replaced by another one. Not by two or three.
Answering questions means to know what you are talking about. Are you able to talk about Fedora for some times without refering to notes or websites? If yes, you may be ready. If not, there are some places you should not forget about.
This first page explains you very quickly what the Fedora Project is about and the links it has with Red Hat.
This second page details the four foundation about the Fedora Project. As you would see, it is not about software only, it’s about human being. With this page in your pocket, your have the four keywords to explain what Fedora is all about.http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/FeatureList
Revise your features. Giving the 5 best new features of a release is perfect to answer to the ‘What’s new in this release?’ question.
This last link to stick to the latest news of the Fedora Project.
What questions you may be asked
I have ran some Release Events and stood on booth. The most frequent questions which falls into my ears are the followings:
- What is Fedora? I have not heard about it before.
- What is the difference between Fedora and the others Linux distro… because, you’re all doing the same thing aren’t you?
- Why a 6 months release schedule? It’s so fast, I can’t get use to a release that the new one is already out!
The first question is not a tricky one. However, one can easy be trapped by answering the two other questions. Keep in mind to always stick to the Fedora Project objectives. We are not doing the same thing, we are working on Fedora to make the software stronger and enhance its development. That’s why we need a 6 months release schedule. It helps and motivates us a lot to go as fast as possible to improve the user experience through Fedora.
Having concrete things to give to people
People should not leave your Release Event with nothing in their pocket or in their notebook. A new user will have questions to ask about his brand new system, so giving him you mail address or a forum page will help him a lot. Moreover, as a good organizer, you will also give him the good links listed above to keep in touch with the Fedora Project.
If you have Live media, do not hesitate to give them. If someone introduce himself as a teacher give him plenty for his computer science students. What is important here is that people have something they can expect something from. A live media, documentation, a mail address or a forum on the web. People should not be left on their own, alone with unresponded answers. Don’t forget, the Fedora Project is also about friends. What would you do for a friend?