Unite Community have teamed up with members of the North East Linux User Group for a new project which aims to help people with low incomes get access to computer equipment in their homes.
The Durham Free Software Skill Share (DFS3) project aims to demonstrate how old computer equipment can be brought back to life with entirely free software, known as Free Open Source Software (FOSS), entirely avoiding the need to use expensive software from Microsoft or Apple.
The idea for the project came from Mark, a Unite member, who said “If we can connect people with unused computers to the people who need them, and give people the skills to take control of their own computing, then we can begin in a small way to set people free from the cycle of destructive consumerism and wage labour”
After an initial meeting to discuss Mark’s idea a couple of old computers were donated by Unite Learning Organiser Mick Simpson to try out the software. Both these computers were no longer capable of running Microsoft Windows and were simply sitting in a corner gathering dust. Mark and Barry, also from the Linux User Group, demonstrated how easily a free Linux operating system and software could be installed, and both computers are now fully functional and available for use in the Durham Unite Community Support Centre.
Plans were then put in place for an initial public event for DFS3 on the 26th July at the Community Support Centre. Around a dozen people attended, with Mark and Barry joined by other Linux users Dan and Wilf to support the event.
Mark opened proceedings with an overview of the day and a brief description of the differences between free and proprietary software. The rest of the morning involved Dan giving a ‘live’ demonstration of converting a computer from Windows XP to a Linux Mint Operating System and how the various applications operate.
Workshop sessions followed lunch with one group installing Mint on a notebook computer, Barry and Dan leading a group looking at photo editing and creativity whilst a third group discussed safe use and online security.
Everyone agreed the day was an unqualified success and shared a determination to build on a solid foundation.
DFS3 is dedicated to promoting socially and environmentally responsible use of technology and fair access to an open internet. Through the project, we hope to be able to make IT equipment available to those who would not otherwise be able to afford it, as well as introduce open-source software to anyone who is sick of having to upgrade their computer every few years because it has slowed to a standstill and wants an alternative, which Linux can provide.
We will shortly be advertising more sessions of the project.
If you have any old desktop or laptop computers which you want to breathe new life into, or would prefer to donate to the project instead of disposing of them, then please contact the Durham Unite Community Support Centre. Any computers we receive will be completely wiped of all old data, so you can be certain that any personal information stored on them will not be accessible to others.
To find out more about the project, have a look at their website at https://network23.org/dfs3