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Linux Installfest HOWTO
Eric (AKA Rick) Meyerhoff
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
Table of Contents
1.1. Copyright and License
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
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
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
* This document does not contain any discussion of new user
The current version of this document can be found at The Linux
Documentation Project (http://www.tldp.org)
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 (http://www.tldp.org) so that you can
contribute your translation to the project.
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
People involved in an installfest will assume one or more of the
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
+ 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
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.
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
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
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:
+ CD burning
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
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.
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 [http://www.linux.org] 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
+ 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
+ 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.
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
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: ____________________________
Sound card: __________________________________________
Does this computer have (circle all that apply):
* CD or CD-RW drive
* DVD drive
* Blu-ray drive
* network interface
* 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
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
* writing documents
* music/image storage
* other (please explain):
What is your skill level with (circle all that apply):
2. computer hardware:
3. ______________________ :
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
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.
The following is a significantly modified version of a form posted on
David Pitts's Web site.
INSTALLFEST RELEASE FORM
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
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:
month: ____________ day: __________ year: ________
month: ____________ day: __________ year: ________
The following is Copyright 1998 Chris Halsall and the
[http://www.vlug.org/] 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 (www.tldp.org)
* [http://www.linux.org] www.linux.org
* [http://www.distrowatch.com] www.distrowatch.com
C. GNU Free Documentation License
Version 1.3, 3 November 2008
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