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I'm taking my be-stickered laptop to a coffee shop tonight for an Ubuntu Hour. I've let a bunch of local LUG people know about it. How can I ensure people come away from it feeling like the experience was valuable? Is there something you've done that was particularly successful?

There is a wiki page about Ubuntu Hours which is very helpful. I'm interested in collecting best practices from the community.

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6 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Try and make it as regular as possible, that way you'll get to meet people more often but others will be able to pop in if they know it's going to happen so that it doesn't have to be pre arranged. In Ireland we have 3 of them running, Dublin is on the last Wednesday of the month and people chose that date and it's worked out well.

What we've found is by picking somewhere central to meet up, people can have a bite to eat, or drink and chat. Making it relaxed and not a formal event is key to making it fun and for it to happen again and again.

It's a fun way to explain/show people new features you've found in a casual way, so I've showed the Loco Directory and let people use my laptop if I was running the latest release.

Make sure everyone is welcome, if there are new less technical people present and the topics are getting too technical, talk to them separately or perhaps suggest techy talk for another time.

Above all just have fun and chat about your community. Ubuntu hours are about your local area and the people in your community.

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I've always helped identified people's needs and showed them how Ubuntu's implemented those needs. My audience is usually Mac and Windows people - but it's the same idea. Spend a few minutes touching on the new features in 10.04 then let the questions begin. I've also found that spending a little time highlighting what you like and use it for is also helpful to show why you like/use Ubuntu.

Try not to (as I've made the mistake in the past) to be THIS IS > ALL OF YOUR ALTERNATIVES as it's usually frowned upon.

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+1 for the last paragraph :) –  David Thomas Aug 22 '10 at 13:15
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The way we run our Ubuntu Hour is basically one of a very relaxed social interaction. No one needs to talk about Ubuntu if they don't want to and we generally let the flow of the hour or two take us to random places.

Basically we just enjoy each others company.

It's important to not put too much of a burden or expectation, those kinds of more targeted events should be saved for specific things, like the Ubuntu Workshops etc.

Oh and make sure you pick a location that members can get to.

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I've always thought that the Ubuntu Hour isn't supposed to preach Ubuntu to the Linux converted (although if that happens, it's not necessarily a bad thing), it's more supposed to be try and encourage people who don't have any experience of Linux, let alone Ubuntu to give it a try.

Consider making a small sign (just an A4 sheet folded into three - making a triangle should be fine) and write in VERY clear text "Give Ubuntu Linux a try". Make sure you've got Ubuntu images to hand, and if you've got a second machine that you can bring along as well, perhaps play some kind of demo video on there - perhaps something like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ll3yDLeioXQ (there are many other copies of this!)

Someone I've seen doing a great job of demoing Ubuntu at BarCamps over the past few months is http://twitter.com/biglesp http://identi.ca/biglesp and he's encouraged people into doing a few installs at events recently.

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In my humble opinion an Ubuntu hour can serve two different purposes. It is possible for the event to serve one or the other, or both.

  1. Advocacy For successful advocacy having informational handouts, CDs and a computer that people can sample improve the quality of the event. Handouts can contain Ubuntu only information or contain both information about Ubuntu and local LUGs or Free Software Groups. If people are interested in giving Ubuntu a try you can tell them about local groups that can help them or even arrange to help them at the next Ubuntu Hour. Advocacy at its simplest form is just having the logo visible so people think about Ubuntu like they do Apple or Windows.

  2. Team Building An event that helps support people currently using Ubuntu are a fantastic way of building friendships and camaraderie. These types of events usually require no more than giving advance notice and a choosing a comfortable gathering place with Internet access. If you are making use of a business space (coffee shop or similar) it is a good idea to plan on having to make purchases. With that in mind choosing a place that is not too expensive is ideal.


For both types of events remember that this is supposed to be a simple relaxed hour focused on making the Ubuntu experience a personal one. Remember to post the event at loco.ubuntu.com, your teams wiki and/or website. Working with local LUGs or Free Software groups can also be useful. Most importantly have fun.

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Step 0: Define your target audience. If you've talked to your LUG, you've probably not tapped anyone that hasn't heard of Ubuntu. Try to reach outward, far beyond the traditional LUG crowd. Try to define and reach an audience that has no idea what Ubuntu is. That's where the real progress is made.

Step 1: Advertise your event at least 1 week in advance. Create small posters and place them in busy public places. Say something like: "We're getting together to talk about Ubuntu. Please join us!" (Have an email address or an RSVP link on the poster where people can indicate they are coming. RSVP'ing is better because it potentially lets you poll them for "What do you expect from this meeting?" )

Step 2: Look at the Responses How many people are coming? What are they looking for? Can you meet their expectations?

Step 3: Prepare some small tent signs for the coffee shop tables. Make them professional, and make sure they conform to the Ubuntu Branding Guidelines. (You are representing Ubuntu so it's important to get this right.) Recognize that there will be many people that see the signs that have never heard of Ubuntu. First impressions count.

Step 4: Don't get hung up on convention/tradition/governance or any other construct that doesn't necessarily apply to your situation. The people you'd meet at an Ubuntu themed event might be totally different that what has traditionally been the Ubuntu LoCo crowd in other areas. Do what seems right for your community, culture and situation.

Step 5: Have fun. Always! People won't stick around if the events are boring, dull, or if it's all about creating work. That's what day jobs are for! (Unless they are Ubuntu day jobs of course!)

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