Software Freedom Day 2008 report


Software Freedom Day (SFD) is a global, grassroots effort to educate the public about the availability and benefits of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). Local teams around the world organise events on the third Saturday in September. In 2008, Software Freedom Day was celebrated on September 20th.

The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS) organised meetings in 2005 and in 2006 to promote free and open source software, but did not register with the official Software Freedom Day website.

In 2007, the TTCS held a SFD event and submitted a report to the Software Freedom Day organisation ; our submission received a “highly commended” award from the Software Freedom Day organisation.

This article is a report on the planning that went into SFD 2008, a overview of the presentations made on the actual day and various photos and video clips from SFD 2008.

Ideas for SFD 2008

The TTCS registered as a team on the Software Freedom Day website in early July 2008 at :

At our regular monthly meeting on July 15th, the TTCS discussed what we should do for SFD 2008. In looking back at SFD2007, the following observations were made :

  • the planning for SFD 2007 event began on the last week of August 2007. So we should do more preparations earlier for SFD 2008.
  • We had very good turnout with up to 50-60 persons present at the SFD 2007 venue which is essentially a large single room. However, if we were to promote SFD 2008 better, we would have more persons attending, that venue would not be able to handle more persons.
  • the time for presentations and Q and A made it difficult to highlight other aspects of open source.

So there was agreement that we should get a larger venue for SFD 2008. A larger venue would facilitate a different type of SFD event than 2007. The precise type of SFD 2008 wasn’t agreed upon as yet but the thinking was that the SFD venue for 2008 should allow for :

  • SFD2008 being a two day event – a lot of material was presented last year in one day and there wasn’t time for other topics.
  • having booths/tables showcasing some aspect of open source at all time while there are scheduled presentations in another area.
  • aim for size of 100 attendees.

A new approach for SFD 2008

The TTCS wiki page on SFD 2008 planning went up on July 17th, 2008 at

It was updated by TTCS members with sections on : what needs to be done, what kind of event, venue candidates, type of booths, type of presentations, ideas on promoting SFD 2008, potential costs, and other ideas. See the snapshot of the TTCS SFD 2008 planning page on 26th July 2008

On Sunday July 27th, 2008, the TTCS had its first ever online meeting using Skype (late 2007 saw increased broadband competition in Trinidad and Tobago resulting in faster bandwidth at lower cost so more persons had broadband capable of VOIP). The meeting focused on SFD 2008 and was from 5pm to 11pm! See meeting notes

Many possible venues were eliminated due to unsuitability due to high cost, size, location etc and narrowed down to two possible candidates :

A new idea for SFD 2008 was proposed and adopted at the July 27th, 2008 meeting : have a media launch event the evening before SFD (Friday September 19th) from 5pm to 9pm. This would be a invitation only event for business persons, IT managers, media persons ; those persons unlikely to attend a meeting on a Saturday. Since there would be costs to have food and beverages served at such an media launch, we would need to attact sponsors. This was never attempted by the TTCS and it would also serve to introduce ourselves to the wider public.

The Saturday SFD 2008 would be a single day event, but would start earlier (from 9am instead on 1pm like last year) and would have simultaneous presentations about open source in two separate areas ; one track of presentations in one room would be geared for the casual computer user and the other track of presentation in the other room geared for more computer savvy users. We would target the general public by having newspaper ads and by sending letters of invitations to secondary schools.

Formal letters from the TTCS were sent via fax to the Ministry of Public Administration (MPA) re: use of the Old Fire Station and to the University of the West Indies re: use of university facilities on were sent on July 31st, 2008.

From August 1st, 2008, teaser ads were placed at two electronic billboards, one in San Fernando and the other in Port of Spain.

At the TTCS meeting on Wednesday 13th August 2008, attendees discussed SFD 2008 and worked on a schedule of presentations for SFD 2008 which was duly posted to the TTCS wiki page.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Administration had responded, asking for further details about TTCS. However, the Ministry rejected the application for the two days on August 15th, 2008 due to the nature of the media launch on Friday evening. A new application for Saturday 20th September 2008 only would have to be done.

After some discussion, it was decided to have the media launch event at Guardian Life Limited (GHL), Westmoorings. The TTCS has assisted Guardian Life Limited with a previous endeavour at that venue and GHL was receptive to the idea. The media launch would now take place at GHL, Westmoorings on Friday September 12th, 2008 from 6 to 8pm. This was considered better than having a media launch on September 19th and SFD on the 20th because to try to setup at two venues in two days would have been very difficult to do and that by having it on the Friday the week before SFD, there would be better chance for reports to appear in the media to promote SFD.

The letter to the MPA was sent on August 22nd, 2008 and a formal letter to GHL sent on August 26th, 2008.

To better co-ordinate SFD 2008, a ttcs-sfd mailing list was created on August 23rd, 2008.

Another online TTCS meeting was done on Sunday August 24th, 2008 from 5.00pm.

The TTCS received a favourable response from UWI on Tuesday August 26th, 2008. It was considered to repeat SFD on the 27th September 2008 for the UWI students but a followup meeting at UWI confirmed that due to the start of the academic year in September 2008, many facility schedules were not available. Due to this uncertainity, the TTCS decided to rule out using UWI this year. The TTCS had kept in contact with members in the UWI Computing Society re using UWI for SFD 2008. The UWI Computing Society were running a booth on the University Campus for orientiation week from September 8th to the 12th
and offered to promote SFD 2008. The TTCS agreed to supply UWI Computing Society with flyers.

August 25th 2008 – a Software Freedom Day Facebook group and the related Facebook Software Freedom Day 2008 event were created.

Between August 25th and September 6th, 2008, via the ttcs-sfd mailing list, IM, emails and phone calls between members, decisions were made about :

  • confirming sponsors for SFD 2008 :
    • Trinidad and Tobago Network Information Centre (TTNIC) offered sponsorship for printing TTCS OSSWIN CDs (our CDs of open source software for Windows) and Ubuntu CDs.
    • Log On, a company specialising in Drupal deployments signed on as a sponsor and would sponsor newspaper ads and would be able to present at the media launch and have a booth on Software Freedom Day.
    • Guardian Life Limited – for allowing use of their facility for the SFD media launch on September 12th, 2008.
    • Handarnold Trinidad Limted – sponsorship of wine for the media launch
    • A.S Bryden – sponsorship of alcohol for the media launch.
  • deciding on having our own T-shirts with the TTCS logo to be worn by presenters and members on SFD, proposing various designs, getting pricing and placing the order for 20 T-shirts.
  • preparations for the media launch on September 12th : what would be the schedule from 6 to 8pm ; who do we invite ; what food to get ; what documents to give to media launch attendees
  • design of newspaper ads to promote Software Freedom Day. The ad would also mention the sponsors.

On Saturday 6th September 2008, from 10am, TTCS members edited (and re-edited) and finalised the following documents :

The letter to the secondary schools was approved and using and the spreadsheet of secondary schools of their names and addresses compiled last year, a mail merge was done to create 200 letters and envelopes were printed. The letter to the schools, along with the presentation schedule of events were folded and placed in each envelope.

About 50 flyers/posters, schedules and press releases were printed for the UWI Computing Society for their booth at University orientation week.

The week from September 8th to the September 12th :

  • letters to schools were posted
  • the page on SFD 2008 went up
  • quotations from two CD duplicating stores were done.
  • 40 folders for media launch attendees were done, these contained the seven documents (printed in colour) finalised on September 6th, 2008 along with our TTCS call card, a Ubuntu CD and TTCS OSSWIN CD.
  • two machines were prepped for the media launch
  • leaflets about One Laptop per Child (OLPC) – the TTCS has 3 of these laptops and the Asus EEE PCs (we have two of these laptops) to show along the laptops on media launch.
  • the CD labels for the Ubuntu CDs and TTCS OSSWIN CDs were done.

Videos and Photos


  • 38 minute video of interviews taken at Software Freedom Day 2008


Media coverage


  • Alyson Henessey, NCC Studios, Channel 4 – interview with Dev Anand Teelucksingh and Anil Ramnanan re: Software Freedom Day 2008 recorded Friday September 19th, 2008 (video not yet available until Wed 30th October 2008)