This HOWTO has three sections for things you should think about or do before, during and after the day of the installfest. It is assumed that you will be having installfests periodically and hopefully regularly.
In order to reach the most people, fests should be held on both weekends and weekdays. The time of day is not as important as the duration of the fest, which should be 6 to 10 hours. Here is why:
some people will not be able to arrive when the fest starts
it takes time to get systems moved in, connected, disconnected and moved out of the working area
making sub-systems like sound, printers and other peripherals function properly sometimes takes as long as a Linux installation
some people want to get some life out of older CPUs but OS installation takes longer on slower machines
Make sure that the place where your installfest will be held has:
Each table may have to hold multiple monitors and computers.
People will want to sit down since they will be at the fest for several hours.
Some people will want to know that they can access the Internet from their computer. Some people will need to download drivers or other software. A lot of helpful information is available on the Net. There is a list of Web sites at the end of this document.
A map and simple directions will help.
A normal line, not through a PBX, not digital, just POTS will be useful for testing modems.
How will people bring their hardware from their cars to the installation room? Are carts and elevators available?
Try to make sure that you have enough power for the number of computers that you expect people to bring. You do not want people to suddenly lose power because one person too many turned on his or her computer.
How much power does a computer need? Laptops need about 0.5 amps. For a desktop/tower/workstation type of computer the amount of power needed depends on the monitor, number of disk drives, etc. Basically though, if everything is connected to one power strip, then they need at most 3 to 4 amps at the moment that the power is turned on and 1.5 to 2 amps while they are running.
You should try to have access to the circuit breakers either directly or through readily available maintenance staff.
If you are lucky you will be able to make arrangements to regularly hold installfests at a few locations that meet your needs. If possible you should hold your fests at a variety of locations such as technical colleges, universities and businesses because Linux is for everyone.
Make sure that you will have several copies of the latest versions of the major Linux distributions available on CD. Some users will need small/minimal distributions on floppy disks so make sure that those are available. To learn which distributions to make available, please do a little research on the Web sites listed in the appendix of this document.
You may want to consider setting up a server for:
mirrors of distributions
You should provide multiple methods of accessing the distributions on the server:
In order to conserve disk space you can create a virtual CD-ROM jukebox. See Randolph J. Tata's "CDServer-HOWTO" ( http://talcon.com/cdserver-howto/) and Jeremy Impson's article "Build a Virtual CD-ROM Jukebox" ( http://www.linuxjournal.com/article.php?sid=5639 ) for more information.
Hopefully someone will create a new Linux distribution to make it easy to set up such a server.
Something similar to the classic "hello my name is:" stickers.
You may want to make some of the following items available: scratch paper, ball-point pens, sharpies, scissors, stapler, duct tape, packing tape, blank FAT formatted floppy disks (used are fine), blank CD-R media.
People will need to know:
when and where the installfest will be held
what to expect: waiver, soft drinks, pizza
that if they wish to install a Linux distribution should bring every part of their computer system: monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, USB devices, power strip. Support people will need all the components to make sure everything is functioning properly.
that they may want to bring blank CD-R media to trade for copies of distributions on CD-R (they should determine the number of disks needed for each distribution)
Here are some places to consider advertising:
local computer user Web sites
local news media
local computer retail stores
Some people will want to install Linux on very old/slow systems in an attempt to make them usable. This is OK, but there are limitations. Please look at the distributions area of www.linux.org for minimalist distributions. You may want to include minimum system requirements in your installfest advertisement so that people do not show up with an old machine, hoping to turn it into a power-house but leave disappointed.
someone will need to bring network switches and cables
You should have a few signs posted to help people find their way around the location and provide other information. Some examples are:
main entrance: So people know that they have found the right location.
reception desk: People will need to find the reception desk from the main entrance.
installation room: People will need to know how to get to the installation from the reception desk.
Due to the duration of an installfest you should consider the availability of food and drink.
Pizza usually works out well. Tell people that you will be collecting a specific amount of money at the door for pizza. If they do not want to share some pizza, then they do not need to pay. In order to know who has paid, use an ink stamp to mark their hand. Do not forget paper plates and napkins.
If there are no vending machines at the location you may want to provide soft drinks, including water and possibly coffee during the fest. If you do provide drinks, you should consider selling them at cost.
before the starting time
The people who run the fest need to be at the location at least one hour before the fest is to begin. They will need time to set up the network, installfest server, power system, signage, etc.
at the door/reception
Depending on how you have decided to operate your fest, the receptionist will:
ask users to sign a waiver
ask users to fill out a data sheet
ask all attendees to contribute money for food and/or drinks
give all attendees name tags
Since you are using this HOWTO, everything will work out fine. People should understand that it is OK to ask around for help.
after the fest is finished
Make sure that all areas are cleaned up because you may want to use the location again and you do not want to give the location owner a bad impression. Look for: items people have forgotten, items that people brought as "give aways", drink cans and cups.