Preparing for Fedora's SXSW Debut

Fedora is going to have a booth at the South-by-Southwest (SXSW) music, film, and interactive conference expo in Austin, TX in just a little over a couple of weeks now.
Why are we going? Well, our plan is on the Fedora wiki, but my main goal in attending is to promote free software to all of the designers (and developers, too!) that will be attending for the interactive conference, and hopefully even drum up in them some interest in getting involved themselves and help them get started.
We do not have enough designers in the free software community, and I believe we desperately need them. Are we going to find them at the Linux and free software-centric conferences we attend every year? Unless they’re already a member of our community – no, probably not. Are we going to find them at SXSW? I believe so – a show like SXSW is a far more natural habitat for the folks we need!
So this is a little pilot foray into seeking out a certain skillset we need, on their turf! We’ll see how it goes. In preparation, myself and Emily have been spending a lot quality time with Inkscape and Scribus making sure we’ve got all the materials we’ll need off to the various vendors in time to have swag for our booth. Here’s what I worked on this week:

Stamp Postcards

Print-ready CMYK PDF
Scribus SLA source
‘Creative Hands’ image on Open Clip Art Library – I remixed it from Asrafil’s ‘Free Culture’ design.
The idea here (I think it was originally Spot or Emily’s idea) is to have a postcard we hand out at our booth, with four slots to be stamped on the back. The expo is four days long – March 14-17 – so the idea is that we’ll have a different stamp for each of the four days. Folks who want to enter our contest for a sweet prize (TBD) will need to come by our booth each day to fill out their stamp cards to be eligible.
Since we’re trying to reach out primarily to designers / creatives here, I decided with folks’ input in #fedora-design when I was working on it that our stamps are going to represent four awesome free software design applications. We had also considered doing one stamp for each of the four foundations of Fedora, but as Felix had pointed out, we’ve not really had formal materials to support upstream apps we carry in Fedora at events before so it’d be an interesting first-time thing to do. I also think each day the stamp could be an interesting conversation starter – for those who might just drop by to enter the contest, they might ask about what the stamp means and it’ll open up the way for a conversation and maybe even a demo of the app in action. And when the conference is over, they have a listing of free software apps to try out on their postcard. Maybe moving to a completely new operating system would be quite a bit to ask of them…. but trying out a cross-platform piece of free software and having a good experience with it might have a kind of “gateway” effect that could lead them on to trying more and more free software until they do end up trying out Linux (and I hope giving back, once they start getting our culture and what we’re all about! We share a lot of common interests – such as net neutrality, bridging the digital divide, open collaboration, and a passion for technology – as Diana Harrelson pointed out during her FUDcon Tempe talk last month.)


Inkscape SVG source
These are the designs for the stamps themselves.
Incidentally, I had made by hand the original GNOME event box GNOME foot stamps for use at sponsored pub events a few years ago. I think at some point some time back the event box with them was stolen. I found a supplier who will do custom stamps for a really reasonable price, so if they turn out nicely I think we should use them to replace the GNOME event box GNOME foot stamps (if there is interest in that.)

Media Sleeve

We are going to have updated versions of the Fedora 14 Design Suite available as handouts at the booth. They’ll have our highlighted apps and of course tons more pre-installed. With John Biebel’s help, we figured out that they won’t boot on newer Powerbooks, but Matthew Garrett helped us figure out a couple of workarounds to suggest for Mac-bearing folks who want to use the discs to try Fedora out.
We’d also considered putting together some discs with cross-platform installers for the free creative apps, but time and budget constraints led to us dropping that.

Print-ready 300 DPI CMYK PDF
Scribus SLA source (linked image in same directory)

Badge Stickers

Print-ready CMYK PDF
Scribus SLA source
We wanted to have some type of sticker handout – from perusing folks’ photos from previous SXSW events, stickers seem to be a really popular handout. So we made these little icons – I’d first seen this style of sticker at LGM in 2007 – that folks could stick on their badges to give a bit of their personality.
We found a great vendor to produce these for us, and were able to work out a clever budget-friendly solution for them. I must have spoken on the phone or had email exchanges with over a dozen vendors in the past week, so let me share my experience:
It seems most sticker vendors, first off, will not produce a sheet of multiple die-cut stickers – instead they want to do rolls of a single sticker design. So finding a vendor who could even do sheet-style stickers was rough. Then, when you get into vendors who can do sheets, many do a lot of business printing labels – for sticking on jars and various other form-factor products. The most popular (in the US) form factor for these label sheets to come in is 8 1/2″ x 11″ US Letter size sticker paper, and the vast majority of these vendors’ dies seem to be made for this size paper. We wanted a small, easy-to-stow-away form-factor for our sticker sheets, no larger than 5″x7″. Not only would this cause die charges as most places don’t already have dies for this, but it would cost a lot in paper since they’d have to cut down a full 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet to make one 5″x7″ish sheet. So the vendor we ended up with, Consolidated Label, is going to cut down each 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of 1″ diameter die-cut stickers into four smaller sheets for us. We’ll actually end up cutting through two rows of unused die-cut circles to do this – but for about a third of the cost of getting the same number of sheets at the same size.
I hope they’ll come out all right. They are a pretty serious vendor though; they do work with some pretty big, well-known clients. I was really, really happy when they called me to tell me a change needed to be made to the color of some of the text to make it more readable – I thought I was going to have to send them another draft of the file but they told me no need – the Scribus-produced PDF I sent them was apparently clean and easy-to-work-with and they were able to make the change for me.

More is afoot

We’ve got some more cool things planned for SXSW… well, you could cheat and read our plans (damn you, transparency!) or try to not click on the link and wait to be surprised as we give you more updates on this pretty exciting happening for Fedora. 😉


  1. Jerome Haltom

    So this is cool! I'll be in Austin for SXSW, but I don't have tickets… so I probably won't be able to stop by. Unless those aren't required.
    I'm doing support for a group of fixed gear bicycle riders that are riding from Dallas to Austin. SXSfixed. =)

  2. It is a great idea to work to develop your talent to produce something. I'm sure many will do and buy stamps and badges. I noticed that people feel the need to be represented, not knowing what it involves fapt.The words "sweet" and "outlets" are strong words in marketing 😉 …

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  5. Glad to hear Fedora's going to SXSW.
    If you have the time, I'd enjoy seeing a blog post on your thoughts about the greater Linux / open source community's issues with attracting designers and the other design issues that affect the community, e.g. too many cooks, inconsistent UIs, beta-quality software in the repos, etc.

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