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Linux Installfest HOWTO

Eric (AKA Rick) Meyerhoff


   Revision History
   Revision 1.6 2012-01-01 Revised by: EM
   Annual review and update. Removed references to modems, floppy disks,
   floppy drives. Updated the GNU Free Documentation License to Version
   Revision 1.5 2011-01-06 Revised by: EM
   Annual review and update.
   Revision 1.4 2010-01-01 Revised by: EM
   Annual review and update. Just changed the copyright date.
   Revision 1.3 2006-12-31 Revised by: EM
   Annual review and update. Just changed the copyright date and added
   Revision 1.2 2006-04-12 Revised by: EM
   Added the Translations section, corrected the section number
   references in the license and removed the reference to the defunct
   Revision 1.1 2004-09-04 Revised by: EM
   Added obfuscated email address.
   Revision 1.0 2004-06-01 Revised by: EM
   Initial release. Thanks to Tabatha "CTRL-I" Marshall for all her

   This document provides some guidelines that should help you run a
   successful installfest.

   Table of Contents
   1. Introduction

        1.1. Copyright and License
        1.2. Scope
        1.3. Version
        1.4. Translations
        1.5. Disclaimer

   2. Roles
   3. Before, During and After

        3.1. Before (preparation)
        3.2. During (on the day of the installfest)
        3.3. After (lessons learned)

   A. Sample Forms

        A.1. Data Sheet
        A.2. Legal Protection

   B. Useful Web Sites
   C. GNU Free Documentation License

1. Introduction

   This document provides some guidelines that should help you run a
   successful installfest. For purposes of this document, an installfest
   is a gathering at which experienced Linux users assist less
   experienced users with the installation and configuration of Linux
   distributions, and where Linux users can bring Linux systems to
   receive assistance with system problem remediation.

   Please take from this document whatever you want. It is meant to be a
   guide, not a recipe that must be followed exactly to have a
   successful installfest. Any installfest where most of the people
   leave happy is a successful event.

1.1. Copyright and License

   Copyright (c) 2003 through 2012 Eric Meyerhoff. Permission is granted
   to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of
   the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version
   published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant
   Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of
   the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free
   Documentation License".

1.2. Scope

   In order to limit the scope of this document, there are some issues
   that will not be covered:

     * While other activities may occur at the same time and in roughly
       the same location as an installfest, they will not be considered
       part of the installfest for the purposes of this document.
     * This document does not include any discussion of technical issues
       related to the installation of any Linux distribution.
     * This document does not currently contain any discussion of
       installfest server or network configuration, although such a
       discussion may be added to this document in the future. It may be
       more appropriate for such information to be contained in a
       separate HOWTO.
     * This document does not contain any discussion of new user

1.3. Version

   The current version of this document can be found at The Linux
   Documentation Project (

1.4. Translations

   You are welcome to translate this document into another language but
   please see the TRANSLATIONS section of the license for information
   regarding your responsibilities.

   Also, please work with the helpful and kind people at The Linux
   Documentation Project ( so that you can
   contribute your translation to the project.

1.5. Disclaimer

   No liability for the contents of this document can be accepted. Use
   the concepts, examples and information at your own risk. There may be
   errors and inaccuracies, that could be damaging to your system.
   Proceed with caution, and although it is highly unlikely that
   accidents will happen because of following advice or procedures
   described in this document, the author(s) take no responsibility for
   damage claimed to be caused by doing so.

   All copyrights are held by their by their respective owners, unless
   specifically noted otherwise. Use of a term in this document should
   not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark or service
   mark. Naming of particular products or brands should not be seen as

2. Roles

   People involved in an installfest will assume one or more of the
   following roles

          contact for all other participants

          has the connection to the location

          represents an organization that provides the location,
          equipment, network, materials, food, beverages, etc. to the

          needs assistance installing a Linux distribution or solving a
          specific problem


          + greets people as they come in, gives them a name tag and has
            them sign a waiver
          + can direct people to the restrooms, the nearest computer
          + orders food and beverages

   tier 1 support
          people who are knowledgeable about Linux and are willing to
          share their knowledge and provide hands-on assistance to users

   tier 2 support
          sets up and maintains network hardware and services (DNS,
          DHCP), mirrors of Linux distributions

3. Before, During and After

   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

3.1. Before (preparation)

3.1.1. date, time and duration

   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

3.1.2. location

   Make sure that the place where your installfest will be held has:

   strong tables
          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.

   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.

   an address that is easy to find
          A map and simple directions will help.

   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 AC power
          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

3.1.3. administration

   Linux distributions (distros)
          Make sure that you will have several copies of the latest
          versions of the major Linux distributions available on CD. To
          learn which distributions to make available, please do a
          little research on the Web sites listed in the appendix of
          this document.

   installfest server
          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"
 and Jeremy Impson's article
          "Build a Virtual CD-ROM Jukebox" (
 ) for more

          Hopefully someone will create a new Linux distribution to make
          it easy to set up such a server.

   name tags
          Something similar to the classic "hello my name is:" stickers.

   misc. office supplies
          You may want to make some of the following items available:
          scratch paper, ball-point pens, sharpies, scissors, stapler,
          duct tape, packing tape, 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

   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. Please look at the distributions area
          of [] 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.

   networking equipment
          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
          + 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.
          + rest rooms
          + networking information

   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.

3.2. During (on the day of the installfest)

    1. 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.
    2. 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
    3. during
       Since you are using this HOWTO, everything will work out fine.
       People should understand that it is OK to ask around for help.
    4. 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.

3.3. After (lessons learned)

   We would like to continually improve this document and everyone's
   installfest experience, so please share with us:

     * what went wrong?
     * what went well?
     * new ideas?
     * How this document helped or hindered you.

A. Sample Forms

A.1. Data Sheet

   This data sheet is intended to be filled out by users when they
   arrive at the reception area.

   Installfest Data Sheet

   This form is for your benefit! It will help you and anyone who works
   on your computer to make reasonable decisions. Please complete one
   form per computer. If you don't know the answer now, just wait until
   you do.

   Your name: ______________________________________________________

   CPU type: __________________________________ speed: ________
   megahertz / gigahertz

   RAM: _________ megabytes

   Hard drive 1: ______gigabytes/terabytes 2: ______gigabytes/terabytes
   3: ______gigabytes/terabytes 4: ______gigabytes/terabytes

   Video card: ____________________________

   Monitor: ______________________________

   Sound card: __________________________________________

   Does this computer have (circle all that apply):

     * CD or CD-RW drive
     * DVD drive
     * Blu-ray drive
     * network interface
     * printer
     * other: _________________________________________

   Which of these do you want to do:

    1. Install Linux:
       What distribution? ____________________________
       Do you need disks? Yes / No
    2. Fix one or more specific problems with an installation of Linux:
       What distribution is installed? __________________
       List the software tool(s) and/or hardware that you need help
       fixing: __________________________________________
    3. Other, please explain:____________________________

   Do you want to (circle one):

    1. Dual-boot Linux and an already-installed OS?
       What is the name of other O.S.? ______________________
    2. Install Linux as the only O.S.?
    3. Install multiple Linux distributions?

   What do you want to use the computer for? (circle all that apply)

     * Internet access and usage
     * learn Linux
     * firewall
     * server
     * writing documents
     * music/image storage
     * other (please explain):

   What is your skill level with (circle all that apply):

    1. Linux/Unix:
       rookie beginner
    2. computer hardware:
       rookie beginner
    3. ______________________ :
       rookie beginner

A.2. Legal Protection

   You may want to consider having users sign some kind of agreement
   before any work is performed on their systems. Such a document will
   make it clear to users exactly what they can and cannot expect from
   the installfest.

   If you do decide to use one of these documents, please have it
   reviewed by a lawyer in your area.

   If you do have an agreement approved by a lawyer, please contribute
   to the Linux community by sending a copy to the lead author of this
   HOWTO so that it may be included in future versions.

A.2.1. Release

   The following is a significantly modified version of a form posted on
   David Pitts's Web site.


   By signing this release agreement between you and the group holding
   the installfest (members of the __________________________ Linux
   User's Group, hereinafter referred to as Installers), you give up
   certain legal rights. Therefore, you should read the agreement
   carefully. If you have any questions about the legal effect of this
   agreement, you should consult an attorney and not any of the
   Installers. Please be aware that you may not participate in the
   installfest event unless you have signed this agreement. By signing
   this release agreement, you acknowledge the following:

    1. That your signing this agreement is partial consideration for the
       services provided by Installers.
    2. That Installers do not promise that the work done on your
       computer equipment will be successful. An Installer will help you
       attempt to install, configure, or otherwise get the Linux
       operating system to work on your computer equipment. However,
       because of possible defects in computer software or computer
       hardware, including improperly configured computer hardware, not
       every attempt is successful.
    3. That the attempt to install, configure, or otherwise get the
       Linux operating system to work on your computer equipment has
       inherent dangers that no amount of care, caution, instruction, or
       expertise can eliminate.
    4. That any attempt to install, configure, or otherwise get the
       Linux operating system to work on your computer equipment,
       especially including any attempt to partition or re-partition
       your computer's hard drive, may result in the loss of some or all
       of the data stored on that hard drive. That you are hereby
       advised that you should back up all important data before the
       attempt to install, configure or otherwise get the Linux
       operating system to work on your computer equipment.
    5. That an installfest is an inherently chaotic event at which many
       computer components, peripherals and systems are present;
       therefore, you are responsible for the security of your property.
    6. That you are expressly assuming the risks of the dangers set
       forth above.
    7. That by signing this release agreement, you hereby forever
       release the Installers from any legal liability they might have
       arising from the attempt to install, configure, or otherwise get
       the Linux operating system to run on your computer equipment.
       That this release includes, but is not limited to, any losses
       caused by the negligence of any Installer who attempts to
       install, configure or otherwise get the Linux operating system to
       work on your computer.

   By signing below, you agree that you understand the terms above:


   signature: __________________________________________________

   name: _______________________________________________________

   month: ____________ day: __________ year: ________

   Witness: signature:

   name: _______________________________________________________

   month: ____________ day: __________ year: ________

A.2.2. Waiver

   The following is Copyright 1998 Chris Halsall and the
   [] Victoria Linux Users Group. Reuse permitted
   for Open Source Software promotion.

   Linux InstallFest Waiver

   I, _______________________________ acknowledge that I am
   participating in the "Linux Install Festival" entirely at my own
   risk. I assume responsibility for the integrity of the data on my
   computer system, have backed up all important data, and I will hold
   the volunteer helpers blameless for any damage to my computer system,
   to my data, or any other damages or liability that may result through
   my participation in this event. I further agree to be responsible for
   any licensing fees, shareware registrations, or other licensing
   requirements that may apply to the software I will receive. The
   purpose of this event is to distribute software packages that are
   Open Source, legally distributable with no charge to the user.

   Every reasonable effort will be made to ensure that my system
   operates correctly before and after the installation, but I recognize
   that, because the software installed at this event is licensed free
   of charge, the copyright holder(s) and volunteer helpers and/or other
   parties provide this material "as is" without warranty of any kind,
   either expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, the
   implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular
   purpose. The entire risk as to the quality and performance of this
   software, and the accuracy of its associated documentation, is with
   me. Should this software or its associated documentation prove
   defective, I assume the cost of all necessary servicing, repair, or

   Signature: __________________________________ Date: ___________

B. Useful Web Sites

   These Web sites may be useful in planning and running an installfest:

     * The Linux Documentation Project (
     * []
     * []

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