Debian-NP at Summer Source Conference in Croatia

September 10th, 2003

During the week of August 29th through September 6th, Benjamin Mako Hill, Micah Anderson, and Enrico Zini represented the Debian project and the Debian-Nonprofit custom distribution in particular at the Summer Source camp on the Island of Vis in Croatia.

Billed as a "Software Camp for NGOs," the camp was a venue for networking around and discussion about free software between developers (primarily from the NGO world) and the people at NGOs who use the software (called "implementors" at the camp). With only a few other members of the more traditional free software community present, the Debian-NP members had a very busy week explaining both technical and non-technical aspects of Debian, Free and Open Source software, and the GNU/Linux operating system.

For Debian-NP, the camp was a useful exercise because it allowed for networking between Debian-NP members and projects including global and regional arms of OSI, the LINC Project, and a large number and variety of NGOs and non-profits involved in using free software or analyzing the needs of non-profits. As an example, LINC has done a large amount of work in assessing the needs of NGOs with Free Software solutions in mind and is currently in the process of preparing a free software operating system guide for NGOs. Debian-NP was able to talk to the LINC people about the guide, our potential place in it, and about Debian in the NGO world more generally.

Many participants at the camp showed interest in Debian in general and Debian-NP in particular. The three NP-ers walked many participants through Debian installs using PGI, boot-floppies, and the Knoppix-based Debian installer. They helped teach participants about the use and administration of Debian systems, answered questions, and worked with participants to solve problems. At the end of the camp, many of the participants returned with Debian installed on their laptops or with copies of Debian and Debian derived distributions and Debian custom distributions. For example, a leader of Schoolnet Zambia returned home excited about the prospects of rolling out Skolelinux in Zambian schools.

The only other distribution with developers represented at the camp was dyne:bolic. Other projects represented were Benetech's Martus human rights reporting software, APC's Action Apps and many many more.

The Summer Source was organized by the Amsterdam-based Tactical Tech Collective and was sponsored by a group or organization's led by George Soros' Open Society Institute. The camp was hosted by MAMA, a multimedia collective from Zagreb.