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[Fsfe-uk] Minutes / Notes from AFFS meeting 20020413

From: Andrew Savory
Subject: [Fsfe-uk] Minutes / Notes from AFFS meeting 20020413
Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2002 15:58:12 +0100 (BST)


Following on from the AFFS meeting on Saturday, here's an outline of what
was discussed and what we need to do now. I've put suggested action points
first so you don't have to read through the minutes.

Action points

A distilled collection of Things to Do. Add / edit / delete as applicable.

1) Arrange mailing lists under AFFS domain. (Phil Hands?)

2) Prepare press packs (detailed background information on AFFS and Free
Software in media-friendly formats, available through web site).

3) Prepare press releases / identify press contacts (both people to send
releases to, and people within AFFS who the press can contact). Possible
a) "new members rush to join AFFS"
b) ...?

4) Prepare "form" letters to send to the various people to be contacted,
to ensure the consistency and quality of our message (obviously with some
customisation depending on target audience).

5) Confirm arrangements for Birmingham Linux Expo, make arrangements for
London Linux Expo.

6) Contact:
a) NCVO.
b) Infrastructure Forum.
c) e-envoy.
d) DfES.
e) FSB and BCC.
f) LEAs.
g) teachers' unions.
h) LUGmasters.

7) ...?

And here's my rough minutes/notes.


0. Ajourned to the pub.

1. Introductions.

The following were present (apologies for mistakes in spelling, etc.)

Mark Ray (Luminas) (CTTEE)
Don de Silva (1990 Trust)
Martin Keegan
David Casal (Luminas)
Keiron Halfpenny
Martin Coxal (Liberal Democrat)
Neil Levine (Claranet)
Nick Mailer (web hosting, Campaign for unmetered telecoms)
Nick Hoggings (Medical informatics)
Ramin Nakisa (BNP Parabas)
Richard Smedley (Linux Format / Education) (CTTEE)
Vanessa Conchodon
Anne-Marie Mahfouf
Peter Clay (Campaign for Digital Rights)
Andrew Savory (Luminas)
Adam Bower
Alistair Kergan (UK Unix User Group)
Philip Hands (hands.com)
Brian Gough (CTTEE)
Dave Green (NTK), late arrival

MJR: Aim of meeting: decide priorities, best strategies to accomplish
aims.  also pick particular short-term projects. Two campaigns: education
and patents.

We will split in to two groups:
- general aims
- short-term aims for next three months

NL: Please make aims of AFFS clear.


Describes FSF - nothing like FSF in UK. AFFS meeting last autumn in
Birmingham, the ideas of where to take AFFS forward were not a doable
first step.

In January, a constitution for a loose membership association was written,
with the idea of incorporating later.

In Sheffield, the constitution was signed by few. Now going through
paperwork getting things set up. Now have bank account to take
memberships. Next to apply for charity status. Skeleton of 5 executive.

MJR's title is treasurer. Treasurer's report: no membership, spent no
money, nil balance.


Group 1

David Casal
Keiron Halfpenny
Martin Coxal
Neil Levine
Nick Mailer
Nick Hoggings
Ramin Nakisa
Richard Smedley
Vanessa Conchodon

<No notes available?>

Group 2

Mark Ray
Don de Silva
Martin Keegan
Anne-Marie Mahfouf
Peter Clay
Andrew Savory
Adam Bower
Alistair Kergan
Philip Hands
Brian Gough

Notes from group 2 (slightly rearranged for legibility and continuity):

<structure of AFFS and member goals>

DD:  Gaining charitable status: how?
MK:  What legal structure are AFFS aiming toward?
BG:  Company limited by guarantee
DD:  Then set up trusteeship etc?
MJR: Legal advice costs money
DD:  Charity commission can give free legal advice
MK:  Some move to incorporation in some form...
PC:  Is the goal of AFFS having members to include people, or to fund
     activities? How will AFFS be pitched to people?
MJR: Yes! Pitched as "do your bit to help free software", in other
     settings it may be more appropriate to go for inclusion.
PC:  "If you have benefited from free software join and give back"

<people for AFFS to target>

MJR: Who do we want to bring in?

BG:  Infrastructure forum - ought to find out more about them - they
     are a group of corporate users of Microsoft software, trying to
     organise for lower licence fees, a consumer organisation. Looking for
     ways to get competition with MS. We may be able to persuade them
     software patents are a bad idea. as big group of corporate users
     would have quite a lot of power, might be possible to persuade them
     of benefit of free software.

DD:  Charities should be looking at open source, particularly National
     Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). MS dominates charities.
     NCVO actively promotes MS products. NCVO is membership of charities,
     an umbrella organisation.
PC:  Could AFFS join NCVO?
DD:  That's one way. Other way is to put pressure on NCVO. Some charities
     are well-endowed, some not. But collectively, they have clout in the
     UK and throughout the world. Charities work with small budgets and
     spending much on IT. Important economically to use open source, and
     is possible. Because they are value-based, they would understand
     concept of open source.

PC:  Charities understand intuitively giving back to community. what are
     obsticles to charities using open source?
DD:  None, other than practical, who to go to. PH has been helping us/told
     us how to use open source.
PH:  Charities don't even know about it. A lot of money being made selling
     licences. Offer services at half that.
DD:  Getting consultancy of some kind together and offering to charities.
DD:  Would like together with committee to approach Alistair Hetherington
     (head of NCVO) and inform of benefits of open source. Write to him.

PC:  Anyone know of voluntary free software scheme? Free Software as
     voluntary work.
AK:  Why do you need a scheme?
PC:  People don't organise themselves. Cambridge Voluntary Fair - Free
     Software stand there?

MJR: Other business organisations: trying to get in through Federation of
     Small Businesses (FSB) and British Chamber of Commerce (BCC).
BG:  Are small companies in favour of patents? Position of Chamber may be
PC:  Find that out? Are software patents a benefit or hazard to small
PH:  All research shows patents to be hazard. only BSA research doesn't.
MJR: I've had one exchange with the FSB IT director, he is open to
     suggestions. Does anyone know anybody in the BCC?
BG:  On patents specifically, with patent campaign: go through the list of
     companies opposed to software patents (from recent consultation).
     Some of them could be useful allies. Get in touch with them to find
     out if they want to do anything more.

DD:  What about government?
PH:  Local government clients
AMM: Schools spend an awful lot of money. Primary schools have to buy
     Microsoft software.
MJR: Schools are bound by policies of LEAs.
AK:  Individual interested teachers can change an awful lot. Need to attack
     from both directions, top down and ground up.
PC:  Any advantage in going through teachers' unions?
AMM: Kids at school use Microsoft then parents at home buy Microsoft.
DD:  Go to heart of matter, the Department for Education and Schools
     (DfES). They determine school IT policies. They have a deal with
     Microsoft. Open Government IT for All centres all use Microsoft. Huge
     budgets for setting up learning centres, not one provides
     learning/training for GNU/Linux.
PH:  Computer driving licence?
PC:  ... is "How to use Microsoft software".

AB:  Health / Police authorities are being migrated to Microsoft from
     legacy systems, once on the vendor path they are stuck there.
AK:  Netprojects are putting in a bid alongside Microsoft.
AB:  Approved bidders are already Microsoft-accredited partners. Microsoft
     gives them discounts.
PC:  What about compulsory competitive tendering?
AB:  They have government approval already.
PC:  There is no accredited Free Software deliverer in the UK.
AB:  If you use a big company you can sue them.
BG:  NHS patient information system - Microsoft awarded design of system.
DD:  Same with government web site, was on linux, moved to Microsoft.
AB:  Microsoft do not sell end-user but go in and discuss problems,
     promote Microsoft solutions. They then sell through other companies.
BG:  Why aren't IBM competing with Free Software? Find someone from there
     and find out why they don't compete.
PC:  Where do we go in to try and convert people?
DD:  I've taken on the e-envoy at national IT meetings with respect to
     Open Source. As a result we have a discussion paper on Open Source.
     We need to follow that up, push the paper. Executive committee needs
     to go and see Pinder. Tell them AFFS is formed. Maybe get funding.
     Inform them of the programme for AFFS to carry out in UK.
PC:  There are only half-a-dozen of us.
AMM: Keep hitting them.

MJR: Ok, we have these groups of people to tackle.. Which is the priority?
AMM: Didn't talk about linux user groups.
MJR: We're looking to get their members involved.
AK:  They are a potential resource we're trying to draw in to what we're
AMM: Are they comfortable with the AFFS? Do they know about it? They are
     not very effective.
AK:  LUGS don't tend to go out and draw people in. Once a year an
     install day.
MJR: LUGs are first groups to contact in order to get people.
PC:  Is there any structure to linux user groups?
AK:  Most groups take part in lug.org.uk. Some other groups outside that.
     Aim at individuals running the groups.
AK:  When contacting lugs have things for people to be doing.
AB:  Give them a clear target. "Do this, achieve this, end result".
PH:  Worth getting in touch with STAND?


MJR: What are exhibitions for?
AK:  Recruitment.
DD:  Important to have stand ... lots of people appreciate that there is a
     place to go and become a member.
MJR: What data should we collect off our members?
PH:  GPG key?
AK:  As much as they are prepared to offer in a certain set of categories.
BG:  Have a members' directory.
MJR: Minimum of stuff on GPG key?
AK:  As long as we're not bound by legal constraints. Associations of a
     certain form needs addresses.
PC:  DPA is important - need to check requirement to register.
BG:  Expo -
PH:  Been talking to jonathan ... totally clueless.
PH:  Three talk streams at London, one is free software - 8 slots over
     each day. Previous experience is that usually someone doesn't turn up
     so there's an opportunity to speak in main arena.
MJR: Who is at birmingham?
BG:  No
PH:  No
MJR: What's the setup?
PH:  A huddle of free stands.
AK:  Was all stands in one row.
MJR: How many needed to man a stand?
AK:  One at all times.
PH:  Some can spill over from debian stand.
MJR: 29/30 May for Birmingham.
AMM: I will be there, there's a meeting on education there.

MJR: So LUGs first (cull people), go to Expos and sign people up,
     directory application form. With all the new members what do we have
     them doing?
DD:  Within organisation, need some funding. Is someone on committee
     responsible for fundraising?
PC:  Treasurer? What are membership fees set at?
MJR: Idea is 10-15 pounds in first year.
PC:  Can do quite a lot with no money. lobbying e-envoy with nothing more
     than people paying train fairs. Writing advocacy docs can be done
     without money. With thousands of pounds we can deploy people in
     serious numbers.
AB:  Nice thing with membership fee at the start is people get more
     committed. Also people will not join and then complain if a fee is
PC:  Between 5/10% of people that sign and pay will be willing to do
PH:  Debian heirarchy is telling people to do what they thought they were
     doing anyway.
PC:  Momentum is important.
AJS: One task should be fund raising. Get Microsoft to sponsor us.
BG:  Should there be a seperate organisation for campaigning against
     software patents, so as not to confuse the issue with AFFS?

<break for beer>


- Set up mailing lists (discuss and announce) in AFFS domain.
- Newsletter informing members of status of projects
  - Do by summarising what's on AFFS-announce?
- Education (Primary, FE, HE).
- ...?

You read this far? Congratulations!


Andrew Savory                                Email: address@hidden
Managing Director                              Tel:  +44 (0)870 741 6658
Luminas Internet Applications                  Fax:  +44 (0)870 28 47489
This is not an official statement or order.    Web:    www.luminas.co.uk

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