"Mother Tongue Internet Cafe": Make Your Foreign Customers Feel at Home with Tux USB Keys
Imagine you visiting Taiwan or Finland or Nepal. You cannot find a single computer that speaks your language. Not even one which speaks English. Would you rather use a "familiar" windows computer that speaks an incomprehensible language, or would you rather use an amusingly "unfamiliar" computer that has funny penguin icons called "Tux" and that speaks your mother tongue?
Now turn around the table and let's say that you run a restaurant or an internet cafe. A sane foreign visitor in your country would surely choose to use a tux computer that speaks her mother tongue in preference to the "familiar" windows computers. So here goes the proposal: Restaurant and Internet cafe owners, please contact your local LUGs and let them show you how to profit from Free/Libre/Open Source Software while making your customers feel at home -- computer-wise.
(Thanks to gnusense for the original image.)
So you have heard of GNU/Linux and/or FLOSS as an alternative to Microsoft Windows. You didn't have time to try this daunting new technology with 3-d desktops and you didn't know that "free" means "freedom" not "gratis", that you are welcome to make money out of it. That's ok. We will leave all the explanation works to your local LUGs -- Linux User Groups. I will just sketch how you can make your foreign customers happy while making profit out of it.
First google for your local LUG. For example, in Taiwan, I would google for "Taiwan Linux User Group". Or trace back from whoever gives you this article back to some Linux gurus. Offer them a one-time free space for a Linux advocacy event in exchange of their technical advices on the proposals in this article.
Learn to use a usb key (or usb stick or pendrive) to boot a diskless computer. Now you know that computers really don't need internal harddisks at all. That saves you, the owner, a lot of troubles -- no license fees, no viruses, no trojan horses, no leak of customers' privacy information, no legal burdens caused by customers' illegal downloads, ... You will realize that you can enjoy the benefits of computer LOHAS multiplied by the number of the computers in your internet cafe! Managing your PC's becomes as easy as managing TV sets. Plus, these PC's are cheaper than the ordinary ones.
Learn the demographics of your usual foreign customers -- what are the few languages used by most of them? Pay you local LUG members to create the first "French Live USB", the first "Chinese Live USB", and so on. Yes, typically you have to pay them for the efforts of creating the first live usb or live DVD. But cloning costs $0 if the first version is compatible with clonezilla or unetbootin or mk-boot-usb and if you spend your own time for the cloning work.
Put a sign "Surf the net. In your language." Ask an interested foreign customer if she has a bootable linux usb key. If she doesn't know what that is, you can, in addition to the computer rental charge, sell her a bootable linux usb key that speaks her language. "Wherever you can find a 'mother tongue internet cafe', this is a replacement of your netbook that weighs only 1%." Don't be shy about making good profits from these $0 cost clones. You will be a nice and responsible FLOSS user simply by making it clear that they are welcome to clone these bootable usb keys if they are willing to read the howto's on the internet. For the rental fee, you may well charge a bit higher than your competitors since the competitors don't offer such convenience to foreign visitors. As a beneficial side effect, you are more likely to attract foreign visitors who just want to use the internet to find information than teen-agers who want to play online games. You are most lucky if your city happens to host non-academic international events such as world games, etc., where many foreigners will likely come without their notebook or netbook computers. World Games 2009 at Kaohsiung city and Deaflympics 2009 at Taipei city are two events to be held in my country that could benefit from this, but sadly I fail to get this idea to the relevant people. It's not a surprise for a country heavily addicted to MS products to lose its imaginations, though. Sigh.
Then go to google maps (or some site to be linked from here in the future) and register your business. Put "mother tongue internet" in your descriptions. Hopefully a few years from now, a traveller will be able to search on googlemaps for such places in a foreign country and enjoy surfing the internet in his own language. I will let you know that I am the author of this article if I happen to visit your "mother tongue internet cafe". Let's have fun and have a few drinks, cheers!
To fellow FLOSS advocates: please summarize, translate, or better yet, rewrite this article into your language, possibly adding local incentives. If you do, please Link back to my article from yours, and leave a comment here with an URL pointing to your article. Please then spread the URL of your article -- not just to linux sites, but most importantly to sites about tourism (into your country) and traveling (away from your country). Of course we know that it's better without windows. The best way to spread this piece of fact is to enlighten people and enable them to profit from that knowledge. (Or, by the way, to profit from people who insist on being stupid.) So please join me to enlist the commercial power from the tourism sector in helping the tux fleets of usb keys boldly go where no windows has gone before!