Xubuntu at FreeGeek Chicago

The Xubuntu team hears stories about how it is used in organizations all over the world. In this “Xubuntu at..” series of interviews, we seek to interview organizations who wish to share their stories. If your organization is using Xubuntu and you want to share what you’re doing with us please contact Elizabeth K. Joseph at lyz@ubuntu.com to discuss details about your organization.

Several months ago we learned from Evelyn Lopez at FreeGeek Chicago that they’d been deploying Xubuntu on computers they sell through their efforts to recycle used computers and parts to provide functional computers, education, internet access and job skills training to those who want them. Evelyn took some time out of her schedule to talk to us about the work that FreeGeek Chicago does and some of the tools they use around Xubuntu and flavors being used.

Can you tell us a bit about your role at FreeGeek Chicago and work that FreeGeek Chicago does?

I’m currently the Communications Coordinator at FreeGeek Chicago. My job is to manage FreeGeek’s social networks, create content and occasionally serve as photographer for their events and volunteer days. Our organization, FreeGeek Chicago has a mission to reduce e-waste and to properly recycle computer electronics. The general public and our volunteers donate their old electronics with the intention of recycle and/or re-purpose. Our volunteers seek, test and build new computers out of the working parts donated which in turn are sold to customers with the Linux system at a reduced price. Through volunteering our volunteers learn current computer building skills and open source software.


What influenced your decision to use Open Source Software at FreeGeek Chicago?

In order to use the FreeGeek name we must adhere by certain articles, one of them being using exclusively open source software. We as an organization firmly believe in the use of open source software as a main alternative to the high prices of proprietary software. Also, we understand the positive aspects of giving the user access to modify [the software] as it can lead to a better function and understanding of the software.

What made you select Xubuntu for your deployments?

At the time we chose Xubuntu for a variety of reasons. First of all we believed that this platform best suited the needs of our organization. We also thought that it was the most compatible with the computers that were being donated to us. Lastly, we believed that it was an easier platform to teach our volunteers. At this time we currently use two different systems distros (Ubuntu and Kubuntu).


Can you tell us a bit about your Xubuntu setup?

We try to keep it as simple as we can since our computers will be going out to the sales floor or to donation. Currently, we install LibreOffice, Krita, Inkscape, VLC Player, Firefox, Chromium, GIMP among others. Installs are done by our volunteers as part of their hands-on learning education. They load the operating system from our network and use the command line to install the rest of the programs. After it is installed our Q&A team certifies the installation and the computer goes to our sales floor.


Is there anything else you wish to share with us about FreeGeek Chicago?

FreeGeek Chicago is a community organization that refurbishes used computers and parts to provide functional computers to volunteers and the general public. We provide education in practical computing, hands-on job skills training, and an outlet for community service, recycle non-reusable materials in an ethical, safe, and environmentally responsible manner.