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SFD Start Guide

This start guide is designed to introduce you to SFD and give you some tips and pointers for organizing your own SFD team event. If you have any questions please join and use the team mailing list or contact us though our contact form. You can also chat with us via IRC on Freenode channel #sfd using an IRC client (or by WebChat with a browser) if you want to bounce ideas around or get more advice. Also check our SocialNetworks page to start networking with the SFD community around the world.

Forming a Local SFD Team can be a fun, effective community building experience for your local user group and community. Software Freedom Day is an outreach day where you can inspire newcomers with the values and quality of Free Software and communicate the broader issues of Software Freedom through a variety of activities of your choice. Is there something locally relevant to your country or region that you need to express? Is there some great local success story you want to tell?

Software Freedom Day is your chance to stand united with the entire Free Software world with what you care about. Freedom.

How can I celebrate Software Freedom Day?


There are three primary ways to celebrate SFD:

  1. Join a local SFD Team and help make their SFD event a success.
  2. Make your own SFD team!
  3. Encourage local schools to make their SFD events!

SFD will be most effective if we keep some target groups in mind:

  • Families
  • Government
  • Small Business
  • Big Business
  • Schools and Colleges

Steps to build your team

  1. Read the CodeOfConduct page and see if you can agree!

  2. Sign up for the SFD-announce mailing list. This is a low bandwidth announce mailing list only. Team discussions happen on the sfd-discuss list which you are also encouraged to join.

  3. Create a team page on this wiki below your Continent/Country to prepare - you will need to sign up or login to be able to edit pages. Please make sure you read the instructions for creating a new team page.

  4. Make a shortcut of your team page if you want.

  5. Register your team. If you register before the deadline (see the Registration page) then your team will receive some goodies to help you make your event awesome!

  6. Check out the competition pages (2009 results) from previous years to find ideas and for ways your team could win great prizes! Make sure you also keep up to date with the mailing list for announcements and to share information with other teams.

  7. Report on your event. We'll have an easy report webform for you to fill in after the event!

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The average SFD event usually requires only one or a few organisers to share the workload and ensure the event is in hand. You can often recruit helpers from:

  • GNU/Linux User Groups
  • Special Interest Groups (Programming Languages, Distributions, Applications, etc.)
  • Universities & schools

  • Computer clubs
  • Family and friends
  • Companies (Developers, Marketing departments, etc.)

We have found that the event can bring the local groups together as well as grow the community as a whole. The number of helpers required depends on the sort of activity you choose, but generally, the more the better. That way people have a good time and it also becomes a social event. If your volunteers enjoy themselves, they will pass on a good vibe and offer to volunteer next year too :-)

Remember, we are all volunteers so it is a matter of what we can, when we can. Always remember to thank your volunteers and make sure they have a good time.

What should we do?

Be creative! You can organise any kind of SFD event you want. Your organising team can find a location / time to have a few meetings to brainstorm / discuss about the event:

  • Set your goals like objectives, target audiences, scale, style, theme.
  • Event timing (should it be a morning, afternoon, evening or a whole day event? why?)
  • Who can be the Master of Ceremony, host or speakers?
  • What should be included as contents?
  • Who else can you get involved?

But just to get you started, here are a few ideas some people have had:

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  • Have a FOSS picnic or BBQ.
  • Run a booth at a market, fair or computer day.
  • Get together with schools, universities and other people who can benefit from Free Software.
  • Run a competition, best FOSS developed music, graphics, short video.
  • Set up simple public booth and hand out CDs.
  • Run some demo machines in a public space and show off your FOSS.
  • Hold installation workshops and combined FOSS installfests in schools, businesses or other areas.
  • Hold a seminar on Free Culture, Patents, etc.
  • Have a cultural event - food, drink, music (jam session? - Free Culture music).
  • Organise an expo to highlight local FOSS success stories.

You may also set a theme for your event / activity, we have a wiki page for team leaders to share your ideas here.


Depending on the sort of activity and scale of your event, you may need to set a budget for the event. It's good to prepare a budget plan and find ways to finance it, there are usually a few ways:

  • Sponsorship from Free Software Friendly Companies.
  • Donation from members of local communities and computer clubs.
  • Sharing cost among the participants.

If you plan to raise fund, it's good to prepare a proposal clearly specify the event details suggested as below and then approach different Free Software companies / organisations.

  • Objective of the event.
  • Target audiences.
  • Messages to be delivered.
  • Date and venue.
  • Activity scale and form.
  • Estimated budget plan.
  • Benefits of sponsorship / donation.

Promoting the event in advance

It is very important to communicate the event to your target audiences, there are a lot of ways just to name a few here:

  • Posters and flyers: Download the poster design from here (tbc), put your event details, print them out and post them in selected places two weeks before the event.
  • Announcement in different websites and mailing list: e.g. GNU/Linux User Groups, Computer Clubs, Interested groups, Colleges and Universities.
  • Press release: if you have connection with local press of your country / city, approach them, either send them a press release to build awareness of your event before and after the event or host an interview if possible. Otherwise, you can always approach local technology / IT related journalists to do so. You may want to contact them to make them come to the event.
  • Social Networking: Status.net, Identi.ca, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • Word of mouth: ask around to bring friends, family and co-workers to the event.

Preparing for the day

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Below is a basic checklist that should cover most events that you would plan on running:

  • Got your volunteers organised?
  • Your venue is well prepared? Microphones? Video Projectors? White Screens? Whiteboards? Notice boards? Network? Internet access?
  • Are you planning to live stream your event? Have you checked our Video Conferencing page?

  • Do you need insurance for your event? (some people can look to larger organisations to help out with this. Ask around.)
  • Do you have schwag to hand out? CDs, flyers, balloons? Anything shiny that will give you the chance to engage in discussion. We are proud to be able to offer to teams gratis materials to help you look and be great on the day!
    • {i} SFI encourages you to distribute any Free/Libre Open Source Software. Please keep in mind that what you distribute should be pleasantly usable by your target audience.

    • Look at FreeSoftwareMedia to get information about how to work with installation, etc. media.

  • Have you liaised with any other SFD teams in your region or country? Sometimes this can help with pooling resources and having a stronger all round effort.
  • Do you have have decent signs prepared so people can find / recognise your event?
  • Do you have signs to tell participants how to tag, twitter, etc.?
  • Do you have a board to allow participants to write down what they feel about the event?
  • Is your event in an easy to find place that is useful to reach out to a broad new audience?

On-site management

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According to experiences, there are a few things you may want to pay attention during the events.

  • Documenting the whole event by photos or video and share them in different channels, it is suggested to tag the photos to "softwarefreedomday".
  • Interviewing audiences to get feedback of the event (as sometimes paper surveys may not get the same result).
  • Others would be the temperature, ventilation, sound level of the speakers, noise control from audiences.

After the event

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  • You may want to gather those materials that can be reused for the next event.
  • Of course you have to indulge yourselves with a good meal to talk about the feeling of the event together with the other volunteers, saying thank you to all the volunteers are very important as well.
  • Encourage those volunteers / yourself taken photos during the event, ask organizers and audiences for their feedback, post them in websites and / or blog about it so that we can reach out even more people.
  • Send a press release to different press.
  • Send thank you letter and report summary to sponsors, speakers and supporting organizations.
  • Check out the competitions page for ways your team can win great prizes! Make sure you also keep up to date with the mailing list for announcements and to share information with other teams.

  • Report on your event! You can create your own team gallery, and we'll have an easy report webform for you to fill in after the event.

  • Summarize the event experience, share them with our mailing list here so that we can put them into this StartGuide to make it more complete. :)

Useful Documents, Templates, Files and Examples

Best SFD Organizing Award Event reports

Every year winners of best event awards would be selected by the SFI board, please find below the competition page of each year and feel free to download their reports for reference.


All the photos in this page were taken by SFD teams from different countries and are under Creative Commons licenses! A big thank you to all of them / you! Remember to tag yours to softwarefreedomday. :)


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