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Revision as of 10:52, 12 May 2005 by (talk) (→‎[[Prebuild]] steps: moving this material out the way for now)
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Building computers for people is a fun way to learn stuff. 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.

Prebuild steps

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; they can ask to be "tested out."

Build workshops

The build workshops are the heart of the build program. They run almost every day we're open, and though there are teachers (and often assistants) for each one, are largely peer-taught. There will be a range of extreme beginners to experienced builders in each workshop.


The first thing builders do in a build workshop is to quality contol computers built by other builders. They use several free geek specific scripts and follow a checklist.

  • Educational goals: Learning to use scripts and other utilities, basic troubleshooting, seeing the pitfalls others fall into.
  • Material goals: Make sure the FreekBoxen, Grantboxen, and Storeboxen are ready to go out the door!

Assembly and software

More troubleshooting! This is where participants are actually building (putting together) computers and installing the software.

  • Educational goals: More in-depth hardware knowledge, use of configuration tools.
  • Material goals: Um, we need computers! Reuse is our mission.

"Graduating" from build

A builder who has completed six computers may bring one home (one per person per year, kids). There's also a certificate we want to give out to these 'graduates' but we aren't super-good at tracking it!

Build assistants and instructors

Builders who seem to really 'get it,' enjoy participating, and answer more questions than they ask may be invited by the build instructor to become a build assistant. Build assistants are expected to try extra hard to help their neighbors and pick up abandoned machines. They can also sign up for build workshops in assistant slots when the workshop is otherwise fully booked.

Those who really enjoy teaching and want to help out a lot may go on to be build instructors, at which point they have earned the undying love of their peers and may start to develop a halolike glow and a fan club.

Advanced testing

Builders who want to play with hardware more than they want to work with people may elect to do advanced testing in place of some of their six builds. This would involve motherboard testing, modem testing, and other similar testing, which is often not all that well documented.

"Advanced Linux" classes

One of the benefits of being a builder is eligability to attend the (sporadically-held) "advanced linux" classes that go into some of the more technical aspects of using the operating system.

Laptop program

Because of the limited nature of the laptop program, the laptop repair classes are open only to build instructors.

Related links