How to give away computers with Ubuntu and Edubuntu
Just in time for the holidays; your guide to giving away computers with Ubuntu and Edubuntu or your favorite *buntu. In the past few weeks I’ve been contacted by several organisations who are giving away computers pre-loaded with different versions of Ubuntu. Their stories need to be shared as they are doing some amazing work built upon all your great work in Ubuntu. So here’s a quick guide to how you can help spread Ubuntu and really make a difference in people’s lives all over the world.
- Just do it! Individuals everywhere are refurbishing older computers with Ubuntu and giving them to family, friends and local organisations. The steps are easy; locate a system (heck, you are prolly thinking of buying yourself a shiny new one this season so recycle your old machine) and locate a person or organisation who needs a computer. The caveat here is that the person or organisation you’re giving to might need additional support and training so you should be willing and available to do so. And some public schools have guidelines on accepting such items (like wiping the drives and security and filtering software) so do some research.
- Volunteer or partner with an organisation who is already doing this work. And there seem to be an ever growing number of them, which is just awesome, but also makes me wonder how we can consolidate some of these efforts for greater effect. Here’s the names of the ones I know of: Partimus, World Computer Exchange, Kidsoncomputers.org, Camara and another effort led by Caroline Meeks of the Sugar on a Stick project. Each of these organisations is recycling systems with FOSS and I’ve learned most of them have chosen Edubuntu as their prime distro. Way to go Edubuntu team!
Here’s a quick plug and summary of each organisation’s work:
- Partimus – located in the San Francisco Bay area with wonderful volunteers like Lyz Krumbach and Grant Bowman and led by Christian Enfieldt, this group has created and deployed several computer labs. If you are in the area they are having a fundraiser on Dec. 15, visit their website for more info.
- Kidsoncomputers.org – I’m on the board of directors for this one and it’s a small effort led by Stormy Peters but seeing great results. Edubuntu labs have been deployed in Mexico & Argentina, working on India. We work directly with a local organisation and volunteers travel with the laptops and help set up the labs and do training. This helps overcome many customs issues and you get to see your work in action.
- World Computer Exchange – These folks have distributed over 27,000 systems! Jack O’Donnell and his group are just amazing. Go to the site to read all about it and volunteer. Jack also helps others on the Edbuntu mailing lists so I hope we are helping him as well.
- Camara – Located in Ireland, Gary McDarby and crew recycle machines, load them with mostly Edubuntu and ship via containers to Africa. Wow – another amazing effort and to hear some of the success stories makes you feel pretty good about working on all things Ubuntu. Lots of people who are exposed to an Ubuntu machine then go onto save their money to buy their first computer.
- Ubuntu on a Stick is something Caroline Meeks and I talked about and she is working on a project in a local housing project that has many Haitian refugees. They also very much want to take the effort ‘home’ to Haiti to bring computers to education there. No website yet but the are making great progress and Caroline is definitely on the right track to a low cost, effective solution.
If you’re reading a planet feed, you’re probably light years away from the person or child who is having their very first exposure to any technology. Think about that moment, the boot up experience, the first encounter with the desktop and the very first instructions they need to do something like open Tux Paint or Gcompris. Thank you Team Ubuntu on behalf of all those who are getting that opportunity because of your work.
I also find it interesting that all of the organisations have chosen Edubuntu; and it makes sense. It’s a complete solution for these first timers and for many the thin-client solution is an easy deployment. All the software needed to start learning is there. Most of these locations do not have internet connections so a stand alone solution is a must. WCE and Camara send out regular updates via CDs to local servers help overcome the no internet issue. All of the organisations also do custom installations to work with the various hardware they are given (same with many schools who’ve adopted Ubuntu on their own), yet, with a few exceptions, they’re not yet feeding back into the Ubuntu/Edubuntu effort to let our teams know what their needs are. Your thoughts on how we (the Edubuntu Team) can engage these groups is most welcome as each of these groups is or has developed their own recipes for preparing machines as well as training for both local support staff and teachers/parents/users.
Also, all the teams spoke of the need for more mobile phone options. This area is growing faster than any laptop or desktop computing effort and has the potential to reach billions in a very short time. So thanks again, Team Ubuntu – you rock!
Happy giving all!