Meet the Guangzhou LUG

guangzhoulugWe happened to be in Guangzhou earlier this week and spent a wonderful evening with the core members of the local GNU/Linux user group in Guangzhou. They gave us an overview of their group history and progress: basically it is a two years old group with over 700 people subscribed to their mailing list and around 5 core members to manage the group activities. They host regular meetings on a monthly basis in different locations such as restaurants or classrooms. They also organized Software Freedom Day events the past two years and recorded over 100 participants in 2012. While we shared our experiences of how we ran and grew the Beijing GNU/Linux User group with them.

They also mentioned that half of their members are interested in “free” hardware highlighting the growing connection between two movements that we feel very linked. In fact we cannot ignore the fact that hardware needs software to operate and a bit of free culture to make those logos, the documentation and the potential courses that go together to bring it to more people. Each of the movements (software, hardware, culture, OER) should care equally about each others in order to exist as they need one another to thrive. I truly believe that bringing those concepts as one within our communities and to the world will create a bigger impact for everyone.

To conclude, Guangzhou LUG wants to grow in terms of attending members and meeting frequency so we offered to put them in touch with the Shantou Linux Association as they are planning for their upcoming activities right now, and sharing ideas can’t hurt. Besides, there are five universities in Guangzhou with computer science classes which are located in the same area and could become a very prosperous ground for cooperation and activities. That’s another lead right there!

In light of all those discussions and plans we will be hosting a round table discussion mid December on our next visit to Guangzhou. We hope that getting members from each university and setting up a plan together will create a more diverse group in the area with a more balanced workload for everyone.

I am always very happy to meet passionate people from different communities and can’t wait to meet them again soon!

SFD preparation meeting@STU Linux Association

After moving to Southern China, we have been attempting to meet with local FOSS communities. Finally we got to visit the Shantou University (STU) and talk to the core members of Linux Association, one of the winners of  Software Freedom Day Innovative event award 2009 from

Since its establishment in 2005, STU Linux Association has been hosting regular meeting on a weekly basis (except holidays and exam period). They strive to introduce members of different FOSS applications and give technical lessons that their core members are familiar with. They even have members dedicating to help students with difficulty in installing Linux.

It was a great pleasure to meet with all of them due to their enthusiasm towards FOSS. Some of them have been the core members for 4 years, that’s usually not the case in other universities I’ve met. This year they are planning for a double capacity SFD event. Fred and I promised to support them with more goodies and be the SFD speakers. We are looking forward to celebrate SFD with Shantou University and wish everybody Happy Software Freedom Day!

First Joint Event with Beijing GNOME User Group

Beijing Linux User Group (BLUG) and Beijing GNOME User Group (BGUG), two of the most active open source communities in Beijing just celebrated their anniversary in November (one day after the other)! With 7 and 1 year of services for BLUG and BGUG respectively it was about time we organized a joint event. In fact being a core member of both groups and a close friend of Emily Chen, BGUG’s President, I can recall how it all started: in 2008 we worked very closely to organize the first instance of GNOME.Asia Summit 2008 in Beijing, bringing passionate GNOME people from all horizons together, discussing and willing to contribute to the GNOME project here in China. The rest happened “all by itself” and it is really nice to see BGUG growing up strong with now a few core members taking over some of the group management responsibilities!

For this joint event we presented to both groups a report of the second instance of GNOME.Asia Summit which happened in Vietnam this year. Emily, Fred, Ray and myself were giving presentation there and we gave a summary of what happened, who we met, how vibrant the local Open Source scene is and showed of course many pictures of the 3 days event. In the second part of the meeting Peter Junge, core member of community, presented his experience while representing the BLUG and attending the Conference (OOoCon) in Italy. It was really a wonderful evening flooded with event highlights, innovative technology, travel and funny stories. After witnessing the success of GNOME.Asia Summit in Beijing and Vietnam, I can’t wait to know where it will be hosted in 2010 and of course participate again!

Emily Chen, President of Beijing GNOME User Group
Emily Chen, President of Beijing GNOME User Group
Peter Junge, community member
Peter Junge, expert, represented BLUG to join the Conference
First joint event of BLUG and BGUG, over 60 members joined!
First joint event of BLUG and BGUG, over 60 members joined!

Wende School Project – Part 4

Just back from Cambodia and Vietnam, I returned to Wende School to see how things were going.  With the help of Julien and Jason, they already incorporated computer classes into their existing curriculum, once a week for grade 3 to grade 6 (grade 1 and 2 should have it soon) teaching children how to use the keyboard and mouse with Gcompris and giving Art classes with Kolourpaint. Miss Liu already scheduled each grade classes until the end of the school year. When we arrived grade 5 was actually using the computer lab, it was so cool! At the end of the class, we discussed again with Miss Liu and gathered more comments.

The main reason of our visit was to give formal training to the English teacher (whom I mentioned in my previous blog post). For this session, we tried to deliver a class that would enable her to teach at the end of the course. We managed to build a new 2 hours class focusing on:

  1. Concepts of Computer, FOSS and Open Education in education (10 mins)
  2. Hardware and Operating System introduction (30 mins)
  3. Apps to teach English (30 mins)
  4. Italc classroom management system (30 mins)
  5. Q&A (20 mins)

The purpose of the shortening of the initial teacher training class is mainly due to the high turn over rate of teachers in Migrant Schools. After 2 hours of training, the teacher take the Gdium home and practices with it during her spare time. Any question is then directed to either Miss Liu who is already trained (and of course ourselves).

This time again, at the end of the training section, the Maths teacher this time popped in and expressed her interest to join the training next time. It seems that word of mouth is doing wonder at Wende School hopefully we can spread the word all over China soon!

Computer class of Gcompris and Kolourpaint, not demo any longer!
A real computer class of Gcompris, not demo class any longer!
Teaching children how to use keyboard and mouse with Gcompris
Teaching children how to use keyboard and mouse with Gcompris
Concept of FOSS, Operating System and Educational Apps training
Concept of FOSS, Operating System and Educational Apps training
Italc Classroom Management System Training
Italc Classroom Management System Training
Computer classes are already incorporated in their existing school program
Computer classes are already incorporated in their existing school program
Happy kids in Wende School!
Happy kids in Wende School!

Open Source Education and Loongson reduce the digital divide for migrant workers kids

After months of work from corporations, institutions, universities, Open Source communities and NGOs the first fully Open Source based lab is launched in Beijing. The purpose of organizing this Opening ceremony on November 12th is to raise concerns of Migrant Schools education from different organizations!

Everyday hundreds of thousands of children from migrant workers families who are building modern China fail to receive proper education and can’t get basic computer teaching, leaving them even more behind and increasing the digital divide. The complexity of addressing education needs for the part of the Chinese population requires a lot of problems to be solved and computer access is only one of the problems. However computers coupled with the possibilities of accessing the Internet will give them the chance to discover and access invaluable content which can secure their future and give them access to job they didn’t even know existed!

Delivering proper computer based education to poor schools issues range from electricity consumption from a full classroom (one normal PC can easily consume 60 to 200W, multiplied by 20 or 50…), teacher knowledge about IT and integration of the digital tool into their curriculum, content cost and licensing, and of course computers cost.

Today in Wende we have managed to address all the problems above thanks to technology, vision, and collaboration from various parties. The Chinese Academy of Sciences has built a general purpose low powered CPU that runs free software and which enables to consume as low as 15-17W per machine at a very competitive price, enabling manufacturers such as Lemote and Dexxon to build some of the cheapest netbooks on the market.

Thanks to Dexxon for its contributions and sponsorship of the classroom, WenDe today has a fully equipped 20 Gdiums Loongson based set up. Dexxon has sponsored Mandriva, a French Linux software company to bring the latest technology on the Loongson architecture and customized a Linux distribution for education.

Furthermore non-profit organizations such as Greenboard and LEAD have been building the education material together with teachers and released them under an Open Source license so any school can use them for free, modify and improve as they wish.

The last part has been completed by Greenboard and CSIP who are also graciously training the group of selected teachers by WenDe’s headmaster in order to get them ready to deliver the initial curriculum. LEAD is currently training some of their members to get ready to deliver the same kind of training to other migrants schools.

A special thank you goes to COPU for their support throughout the project and helping Greenboard and Dexxon to connect the dots.

So from now on the children of Wende school will be able to access the latest software and technology to become computer literate but also to improve their knowledge in general topics such as maths, English, geography, arts, problem solving, programming and much more.

The organizations involved will continue to build new curriculum, more exercise and will also get more teachers involved in the near future. One of the advantages of using a free software licensing model is that all the cost of such a solution only goes to the hardware and any school can just download, use and adapt the content to their needs. Hopefully we will soon see a strong teacher community improving this initial work and working together to create better free educational content for our children.

The inauguration was organized by Greenboard core members
As a core member of Greenboard, we hosted an inauguration on 12th November at Wende School
Celebrated our success with Chairman Lu and Kewei from Chinese OSS Promotion Union, Dr. Qiu from CSIP, Liwen and Garfield from LEAD, Laurette from the French Embassy, Professor Zhuang from Beijing Normal University, YunYun from Friends of New Citizens, Wende headmaster / teachers / students and many more
We had people from Dexxon, Greenboard, Chinese OSS Promotion Union, LEAD, CSIP French Embassy, Beijing Normal University, Friends of New Citizens, Beijing LUG, Lemote, Wende School and other Migrant Schools!
Professor Zhuang, at School of Educational Technology of Beijing Normal University will definitely join the Greenboard project helping to improve the teaching skills of Wende and other Migrant Schools teachers!
Zhuang Xiuli, Professor at School of Educational Technology of Beijing Normal University will definitely bring a lot to the Greenboard education project helping to improve the teaching skills of Wende and other Migrant Schools teachers!
Class demonstration given by Wende teacher, students were very concentrated to learn how to paint with computer
Class demonstration given by Wende teacher, students were very concentrated to learn how to paint with computer (even the room was full of visitors)
After 3 classes, students could paint something really amazing with Koularpaint, isn't it coo?
After 3 classes, primary students could paint something really amazing with Kolourpaint!