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The making of VALO-CD

The VALO-CD project was started in 2008 as a marketing campaign for open source software (also known as Free Software). The highest priority was to make everything as easy as possible. All the user needs to do, is to pop the CD in their computer, and a program will start automatically, where the user can browse, read about, view screenshots and install the programs. And as most desktop computers have Windows installed, the VALO-CD is for Windows (but we encourage to install Linux once you have become familiar with the VALO-CD contents – the same familiar programs are available for Linux too).

Stacks of VALO-CD and a package ready to ship to England

For each use case there is only one program, which we have evaluated and selected as the best of the breed. This way the typical home or office user can trust that the programs are good and worth trying out. In the beginning the project was only in Finnish and we still make a Finnish version, where we make sure that all the included programs are well translated. As of 2012, there is a version in English too.

Besides a few bug reports and some translations (to e.g. VLC and TrueCrypt) we havn’t done much upstread contributions in VALO-CD. Still this is considered a major contribution for the open source ecosystem and was awared the Linux deed of the year in 2010 by the Finnish Linux User Group. Yes, making the software better by itself is important, but it does not guarantee that the software will spread and make peoples lives better. You also need to reach out for the potential users and advocate to make the users feel it is worthwile to try it out. Only after that it starts to matter if the program is good and useful in practice.

In the VALO-CD project we have gone trough a great deal of effort in buying the logo and website design from a professional office, we have made several press releases and even paid for distribution via professional PR services. In Finland we have had some major media visibility. We’ve also made a considerable effor to make the website and the program browser easy to use.

We also have a neat casing. It’s DVD size to make it look better even though it is actually contains a CD. We also have bar codes and ISBN codes, so everything is as professional and retail friendly as possible. We also have a routine set up so that we can easily process orders and mail VALO-CDs world wide. Want to order one? If you are Finnish, you are likely to have a VALO-CD in a library near you.

From a project maintenace view it is also important that the infrastructure for the project is good. Our setup is based on a set of scripts that scrape our project wiki for the CD index pages and individial program description pages, transforms them with some XSLT magic and finally packages them into a iso-file ready to be made into a CD. The entire website and scripts are available in true open source fasion via our source repository. Anybody is free to do derivate work. We also welcome any contribution the project itself. If somebody wants to make a Swedish, French, Russian, Portugese or whatever version of VALO-CD, all we need to do is set up a new wiki instance, and then the contributor can make the translations or any custom content by writing in the wiki. Anybody interested in joining the development, please subscribe to the development mailing list.

We are also looking for resellers. If the standard VALO-CD suits you, when just contact us to order a batch for reselling. If have special needs and want to sell a customized VALO-CD, please join the development mailing list and state your needs, and we can then use the existing infrastructure to produce and deliver the CD. There is readyness also for a USB version. Currently the CD is pressed and packaged in Finland, but if you have high tolls or other issues, we can help you with the compilation of the software collection and you can do the physical production yourself. You know, as it is open source, everything is possible. The only limiting factor is your imagination and you will to pursue your ideas.

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