Running Installfests

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

Selecting a Location

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.

Try to select an address that is easy to find. Make sure that the place where your installfest will be held has the following:

  • bathroom access
  • Internet access - 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.
  • telephone connection - a normal line, not through a PBX, not digital, just POTS will be useful for testing modems.
  • an easy way to get hardware in and out - how will people bring their hardware from their cars to the installation room? Are carts and elevators available?
  • sufficient power:
    • You should try to have access to the circuit breakers either directly or through readily available maintenance staff.
    • 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.(Note: In Brazil we use No Breaks and stabilizers to stop power cuts damaging equipment)
    • 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.

Preparing for InstallFests


People will need to know:

  • when and where the installfest will be held. A map and simple directions will help.
  • what to expect: soft drinks, pizza
  • that if they wish to install Ubuntu they 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.
  • stress that they should bring in their monitor even if it's hard to move it - an usable monitor is a problem most new users are not able to handle when arriving at home.
  • that they may want to bring blank CD-R media to trade for copies of Ubuntu on CD-R
  • minimum system requirements - 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. 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.

Here are some places to consider advertising:

  • local computer user Web sites
  • local news media
  • local computer retail stores

Non-technical Equipment Needed For Installfests

  • strong tables - each table may have to hold multiple monitors and computers.
  • chairs - People will want to sit down since they will be at the fest for several hours.
  • food and beverages - 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.
  • misc. items - scratch paper, ball-point pens, sharpies, scissors, stapler, duct tape, packing tape, blank FAT formatted floppy disks (used are fine), blank CD-R media.
  • signs - 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.
    • networking information

Technical Equipment Needed For Installfests

Linux distributions (distros)

Make sure that you will have several copies of the latest versions of a major Linux distribution available on CD (erm,Ubuntu :). Some users will need small/minimal distributions on floppy disks so make sure that those are available.


You may want to consider setting up a server for:

  • DNS
  • DHCP
  • mirrors of distributions

You should provide multiple methods of accessing the distributions on the server:

  • FTP
  • rcp
  • HTTP
  • CD burning
  • NFS

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.

Networking equipment

Someone will need to bring network switches and cables


LoCoRunningInstallfests (last edited 2009-02-12 12:50:44 by port-87-193-165-87)