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Building computers for people is a great way to learn. The build program is a structured way for volunteers to contribute to the cause and learn about hardware and basic troubleshooting and Linux skills. Builders can also earn a computer, but the time commitment is significant and the computer is the same as that earned in the Adoption Program.
We don't require any prior knowledge for people to join the build program. The steps that precede the build workshops are called, collectively, the "prebuild steps," and teach very basic material that will be needed for people to make their way in the build workshops. Several of these steps can be bypassed by people who know the material already; see Testing Out.
The build workshops are the heart of the build program. They run twice a day on most days that we're open, and though there are teachers (and often assistants) for each one, they are largely peer-taught. In most of the workshops, the builders will range from beginners to experienced builders.
The first thing builders do in a build workshop is to quality control computers built by other builders. They use several Free Geek specific scripts and follow a checklist.
This is where participants actually build (put together) computers and update the software.
Desktop builders can help out their mobile brethren by running laptops through quality control and diagnostics. There is a lot of overlap with desktop QCs as well as some quirks specific to laptops.