May 28, 2002

Free as in Freedom: LinuxTag tickets up for grabs

- by Tina Gasperson -
The public relations team for Germany's LinuxTag convention is drumming up publicity for the show by touting Free entrance
. Yes, that's Free with a capital F. The passes, which are available
for download at the LinuxTag site, won't cost you anything, but that's not the
point, says Klaus Knopper, part of the LinuxTag team.Many computer and technology shows put free passes online, but the LinuxTag
tickets are different because the source code for creating these tickets is
freely available as well. LinuxTag has released the tickets under the GNU General Public License (GPL)
and is encouraging those who'd like to attend, to print out as many copies of
the ticket as they like and distribute them, as long as they also include (or
make available) a copy of the source with each ticket, according to the terms of
the GPL.

"The ticket itself can, of course, be downloaded free of charge,
but the main point is that it is open sourced, can be modified and used
for other things than LinuxTag 2002, and for this reason perfectly
reflects the free software philosophy, which is what LinuxTag is all
about," says Knopper.

So, you could conceivably download the ticket, make copies, and sell it
yourself, right? "Following the rules of the GPL, you can of course do that,
that you give the recipients access to the source code in one of the three ways
described in the GPL, the original authors are mentioned, and you
document your changes," says Knopper.

He encourages ticket holders to be creative in their modifications, mentioning
that LinuxTag might hold a "best modified ticket" contest. "We may not be able
to accept tickets larger than [paper size} DIN A0 or with unreadable fonts, though, for
practical reasons," he says. "We can't put the [ticket's] background picture
under the GPL, since it contains trademarked logos of the exhibiting companies.
But the pdflatex source is designed to compile without a background picture or
with a different background picture too, which the GPL explicitly permits.
So, you can alternatively use a different background picture instead of
the original."

Knopper says response to the free ticket offer has been good, but as holds true
for Free Software, most people don't understand the intended meaning of Free.
"There are a lot of downloads and preregistrations since the
announcement, unfortunately some people still confuse the term 'Free Software'
with 'free of charge,' and don't really understand what you can do with the
ticket and what's 'new' with the way the ticket works.

"LinuxTag is primarily an information exchange platform where
developers, users and companies meet, not just another expo or conference,
and it is a Free Software project itself, directed and conducted entirely
by members of the Free Software community." One highlight of the annual show is
the Business Congress, where IT managers and others involved in the management
of technology get briefed on Open Source software's benefits for industry.

LinuxTag is sponsored by HP, Compaq, Fujitsu, SuSE, Intel, Sun, and others.

Knopper says that in addition to free entrance to LinuxTag, ticketholders are
allowed to visit a nearby park, and get a rebate for visiting the ZKM
(Center for Arts and Media) museum, also close to the exhibition hall. But because
LinuxTag is looking to make enough money to pay for its support of Free Software
projects, show organizers are also offering an "exhibition and conference
passport," which in addition to an entrance ticket provides a conference CD with
all presentations and lots of Free Software, plus a LinuxTag pin, and Knoppix, a Debian-based distribution that
runs from a CD.

The LinuxTag 2002 show is being held in Karlsruhe, Germany, at the Fair Ground & Centre of Congress, from June 6 to June 9.


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