The Linux Box Contest: Last Call....

Posted by VISITOR on Apr 25, 2004 5:32 AM EDT
The Linux Box; By Sean Parsons
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The Linux Box is in the final stages of planning for a Linux Home Desktop Kit and is requesting participation from other members of the FOSS community.

Last Call....

If you've been considering ideas on how to improve The Linux Box Contest this is your final opportunity to do so. I want feed back from the community to make this contest reflect the will of the FOSS community. You can discuss this project further in The Linux Box Forum, or if you would rather discuss this with just me, you may contact me here. The first phase of the contest will launch in mid-May.

Now to provide some updates. I have added a 'submissions' category to the 'Site Navigation' menu on the left. The submissions category will allow you to submit news and story ideas (like the 'submit news' category did previously) and will also allow you to upload files and attachments pertaining to the contest.

What Is 'The Linux Box Contest'?

The initial idea for this contest came from Zeek Greko whom wrote an article titled GNU/Linux Home Desktop Kit PC Project: code named Gates Crusher. I have incorporated many ideas from his article into this project, creating a multiphase contest.

The first phase will be a matter of running a poll for which GNU/Linux distribution to use for this contest. With GNU being a central concept, in other words no proprietary distros (i.e., Linspire, Xandros, etc.) and no proprietary software preinstalled (i.e., Flash, Opera, Star Office, etc). Based on initial suggestions we're looking at the following distros Fedora, Debian, Mandrake, SUSE, Gentoo, Knoppix, MEPIS. We need to make sure this is both stable and easy to install, in case the end user needs to do a reinstallation. If you want another distro to be given consideration please proceed to the forum NOW!

The next phase will be to create an appropriate logo. The logo should be submitted in a high resolution format such as *.png, *.xcf, or *.svg (the only real requirement is that the logo be viewable with open source applications). Ideally, the logo needs to be determined prior to any of the flyers or banner ads (so they can make use of the logo). The logo will be turned into case pins to be included with the final PC kit.

The next phase (a.k.a., Propaganda Phase) will be much more fast paced, as we will simultaneously run the flyer, banner ad, radio spot, video, and PC kit contest. I am going to suggest some simple guidelines for each category. If you have good reason to deviate from the proceeding guidelines please do so; my only request is that you explain why you felt it was necessary.

The flyer should be submitted in a format that will allow the final retailer to add personal information such as store location & contact information (email, phone number, website address, etc.). Some examples could be the native format for scribus, GIMP's *.xcf extension, OOo Draw's own XML based format etc.

The banner ads should be viewable without the use of any proprietary tools (I'm sorry, but no Flash). While I will not state whether it has to be animated or static, nor will I require a specific format (*.png vs *.gif); I do suggest that the banner be kept under 200 KB so that it will display within a reasonable time frame on a dial up connection.

My basic recommendations in regards to the radio spot include being 50 seconds in length, so that the local retailer can provide their specific information at the end (store's name, location, and contact info). If you choose to submit an audio recording, the audio file should be no larger than 2 MB. You should submit your audio file in vorbis format (vorbis being considered open source, while formats like mp3, sorensen, etc. are considered proprietary). Here are some recording tips:

*Please read from a pre-written text rather than ad-libbing. This will make your commercial sound more professional. *Record from an external microphone if one is available. The audio quality will be much clearer this way. *If you have audio recording/editing software, start and stop your recording in 1-2 paragraph intervals. If you fumble your words you won't have to start over. *Please refrain from inserting introductory, background or ending music to your recording unless you have the express permission of the original artist. *Speak your lines aloud to yourself a few times before you record it. When you do, you will find that your editorial may need to be altered to make it more conducive to your natural speech pattern. *Try and stay calm. If you are tense, listeners will be able to sense it when listening to your broadcast.

The category I will propose the least requirements for is the video entry. I would like all video entries to be viewable without any proprietary codecs. I have already received one very good entry for this category from the Anti-LAN (Obsidian, Tesseract, and John Yackovich). You can view their entry here.

And now to discuss the hardware, my only requirement is that all the hardware be recognizable by the distro out of the box. That means no third party proprietary drivers, and no needs for special X configuration files. While I have not committed myself to a price range for the PC kit, as of yet, I would like to make sure that everyone keeps in mind some sort of rational price to performance ratio (and I don't care how nice a dual Opteron box would be, its price point would be beyond the average consumer).

Why Have 'The Linux Box Contest'?

While Linux is making rapid gains in the server and data center sector, we have yet to attain any substantial gains towards the holy grail of computing -- the desktop market. The commercial distros currently concentrating on the desktop market do not have the necessary financial means to sufficiently market themselves (Mandrake is in the process of exiting 'redressement judiciaire', Chapter 11 like bankruptcy protection, and Linspire only has two million dollars in the bank).

By participating in this contest we are creating a distributed method similar to how FOSS works for creating it high quality software. All the results of this contest will be available under an open source license thus allowing any Mom and Pop white box builder, backyard computer mechanic, or computer enthusiast to use freely so that they can successfully build and market quality desktop systems to end users in their local area.

So What's the Pay Off?

The open source community is largely based on a meritocracy, so I hope the most important part will simply be the accolades you'll receive for a job well done. I will also include some prizes of moderate financial value. The full value of these prizes will be based on how much we receive in donations for this contest. I am initially chipping in $200 of my own, and 80% of any donations I receive will be placed directly into this contest (the other 20% will be utilized for maintenance of this site).


The open source community has created a great deal of software that often rivals its proprietary counterparts, and we must find our opportunity to demonstrate it. This is a general call for us to find a more direct way to demonstrate the skills of our leagues of gurus and talented artists. If we create a contest to showcase the talents of our community, we can help to make this the year of the Linux desktop.

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