Event Report: InstallQuest 2011

We had a blast at the InstallQuest last Friday! I’d say that roughly 20 people showed up, and most of them were students from LES Loueizeh and LES Tyre.

We started at 4:00PM with a short introduction to Linux in general, and then Fedora and Ubuntu. David Correia (the Elementary Coordinator in Tyre), Paul-Marc Bougharios (a local Fedora Ambassador), and I presented Unity, KDE and GNOME Shell respectively. We then took a quick break, and started both the installs and the sessions.

The Sessions

My wife, Naomi, gave a talk on creating documents using OpenOffice.org/LibreOffice, and then exporting them as PDFs so anyone with a computer can read them. She was only supposed to go for fifteen minutes, but there was so much interest that she ended up going over thirty minutes.

Desaturated lizard

Hisham Hamdan, the Assistant System Administrator here in Loueizeh, then did a session on package management and system updates. We broke for pizza (generously provided by the school), and returned to a session on photo editing using the GIMP by David. He showed how to desaturate a photograph except for one small element.

Finally, I finished off the sessions with a short demo on how to use photorec (part of testdisk) to recover photos deleted off of an SD card.

The Installs

While the sessions were happening in the main computer room, where people could either use the school computers or their own, the installs were happening in the small computer room next door. We had cleared the computers from the room, leaving a few monitors, keyboards and mice just in case anyone brought desktops without the peripherals (which ended up being pointless; all of the installs were done on laptops). We left the network cables in the room and did PXE installs where possible.


Both Tyre and Loueizeh use Fedora with GNOME Shell as our default desktop, so I wasn’t too surprised that a majority of the guests chose to install Fedora. What did surprise me was the number that chose KDE. Paul-Marc did an excellent job of demonstrating just how functional (and pretty) KDE has become. For someone who hasn’t used KDE since my Mandrake days, and who hasn’t looked at KDE since 4.0 came out, it was quite the eye-opener! KDE has become very impressive, and, while I prefer the simplicity of the Shell, I can see why many are so passionate about it.

We probably ended up doing about fifteen installs, with the final one ending just before 11:00PM. We only had one failure, a laptop with a BIOS password that the owner didn’t know.

Lessons learned

While I thought the InstallQuest went well for the first time around, there are a few things I’d love to see done differently the next time around. The sessions were a big hit, but there was some disruption as people would have to leave their installs to attend a session, and then try to pick up from where they stopped. We may try to split the sessions from the installs next time around.

I would also like to see more people from the other Linux communities in Lebanon involved. We had good representation for Fedora, but only one person came to represent Ubuntu, and there was nobody from the other communities.

Related to this, we need to do a lot more advertising the next time around. While we did advertise on the Fedora and Ubuntu Lebanon mailing lists, and on a few other Lebanon-specific open source sites, I’m convinced we didn’t do as well as we could at reaching out to the schools and universities here in Lebanon.

We will be doing another InstallQuest, probably in January or February. By making some simple changes, we hope to make it an even bigger success.

A huge thank you to those involved in making the InstallQuest a success: Hisham, Paul-Marc, David, Naomi, Steve White, the principal of LES Loueizeh, and all those those who participated.

InstallQuest logo – Released under a CC-BY license. Modified from USB Flash Drive by Ambuj Saxena