Making people love FOSS: a case study at KU Leuven
By Bert Van de Poel

Most students don't really care about FOSS. Maybe they like the fact it's free. But they often don't care about the ideology. Of course, at this conference we do. But should we really continue to evangelize based on principles and ethics? Or should we look into alternative ways to make others see the light? This talk goes into how ULYSSIS tackles this problem at KU Leuven.

Monday 3 p.m.–3:30 p.m.

ULYSSIS, Unix Lovers Yield Student Services and Internet Support, is a student organisation at KU Leuven. Since our foundation in 1994, both ideological and practical reasons have made ULYSSIS the de facto FOSS organisation at our university. While the internet grew with more social media, more Oracles, more Microsofts and a lot more dull consultancy firms, students seemed to lose their interest in FOSS as a concept. As our university's curriculum no longer features the ethics of licenses, we have tried to take over to save souls! We found that the principles of FOSS by itself aren't convincing enough during an intermezzo of a 2 hour workshop, so we moved on to greater things.

Now, several years after we've steadily and subconsciously moved on to other ways of promoting FOSS, ULYSSIS organises several workshops every year on FOSS tools that make life easier, tries to publish as much of its generally useful software as copyleft and data as open data, tries to use only FOSS tools in house (even for design work), and happily organizes a CTF and an open source job fair.

By setting a good example, and showing students the practical benefits of good licenses early on, we have managed to change perception of a growing minority at KU Leuven. Something to be proud of, and that could do with copying and improving at other universities around the world. So feel free to fork!

Bert Van de Poel

Student in Linguistics at the University of Leuven (Advanced Studies in Linguistics & Linguistics: Corpus and Usage based approaches) with a passion for IT, FOSS and cooking. President of ULYSSIS from 2013 to 2016 and member since May 2012.

Pushed the agenda at ULYSSIS for more FOSS in the form of more student workshops on FOSS tools, a free (libre) relay race counting system, an open source job fair and more. Doing System Administration when I can, but also working on my FOSS thesis snelSLiM, bringing two of my great passions (linguistics and IT) together, and from time to time doing design work for ULYSSIS in Inkscape.