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Free Geek Robbed 275

Posted by kdawson
from the free-as-in-ripped-off dept.
Ellen Wilson writes, "Portland, Oregon, non-profit Free Geek, which turns old PCs into Linux boxen, has been robbed of about $4500 worth of hardware. Portlanders are asked to keep an eye out for suspicious sales of Ubuntu laptops." This blog post has some details of labeling that could help to spot the stolen laptops. BoingBoing picked up the story and added that another local outfit, the Independent Publishing Resource Center, which supports Portland's zine scene, had been hit on the previous night.
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Free Geek Robbed

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  • Free Geekin' (Score:4, Informative)

    by Shadow Wrought (586631) * <shadow,wrought&gmail,com> on Monday November 20, 2006 @03:42PM (#16920298) Homepage Journal
    I've been to there a dozen times looking for old hardware and the place is just awesome. It bites that someone robs them and i hope whoever it is caught. They deserve the book, the largest, to be thrown at them.
    • Not a book . . . (Score:3, Interesting)

      by StefanJ (88986)
      An old Kaypro. One of those luggables with two full-height 5.25" floppy drives. This is probably the most useful thing you could do with such a system other than breaking it down into raw materials.

      The only question would be to aim for the knees or the solar plexus.
      • The only question would be to aim for the knees or the solar plexus.
        Both.

        Twice.
      • Kaypro (Score:3, Funny)

        by djdavetrouble (442175)
        I love Kaypros, you insensitive clod! Why, I just ran across someone selling one for $20 on craigslist last night.
        I was seriously considering buying it. That was one fine luggable CPM Computer !
        kaypro for sale [craigslist.org]

        I still insist that a Kaypro and an Epson MX-80 is enough computer for any person.
        I even had a text only version of Lode Runner on that baby.
        • Awwww . . . (Score:3, Informative)

          by StefanJ (88986)
          . . . don't take it personally. I don't actually have a grudge against the machines. In fact, I was going to write "Osbourne" but somehow "Kaypro" seemed funnier.

          Also, Osbournes had rounded edges. The Kaypro luggables I remember hard square edges. That would hurt a lot more.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ZeroExistenZ (721849)
      They deserve the book, the largest, to be thrown at them.
      Now the question is, who can throw the largest book [cnn.com] far enough to hit them?
    • by gwayne (306174)
      Hopefully, it's the Microsoft EULA!
    • by bitt3n (941736) on Monday November 20, 2006 @04:48PM (#16921356)
      this is almost enough to make one lose faith in the noble enterprise of burglary.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by robyannetta (820243) *
      Well, now I know who to make a hardware donation to.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 20, 2006 @03:42PM (#16920304)
    If this doesn't make it on CNN, I am so firing off an email.
    • by TFGeditor (737839) on Monday November 20, 2006 @04:00PM (#16920630) Homepage
      In other news tonight, Microsoft kingpin Steve Ballmer was arrested in connection with the theft of several thousand dollars worth of laptop PCs configured to run the competing Linux operating system. As he was led away by police, witnesses reported Ballmer saying, "It has to stop somewhere! Won't someone *please* think of the children!" Ballmer then reportedly munbled over and over, "Damned pinguins, damned pinguins," until police took him away.

      • Ballmer then reportedly munbled over and over, "Damned pinguins, damned pinguins," until police took him away.

        I think you meant "I'm gonna f***ing kill FreeGeek!!! muhahahahah!!!!
  • by chroot_james (833654) on Monday November 20, 2006 @03:45PM (#16920354) Homepage
    I was playing in a band and we went on tour. We stopped in Birmingham, Alabama. After we played we were waiting for the follow up bands to finish and someone broke into our van and stole my laptop and someone else's laptop. They stole 2 of our cell phones too. I figured wtf, I'll call one of them. The robbers actually answered the phone and after about 30 minutes we convinced them to bring us the laptops back. We met in a dark alley and walked slowly with our hands in the air while on the phones to each other. I held up a couple 20's with some 1's and we did the swap. When I booted my laptop, it went into recovery mode as though someone turned it on, saw the linux boot up screen and thought, "wtf is this crap?! Jeez... I can't sell this... Hmm... the phone is ringing." and decided to try to get money for the crazy system from the owner.
    • You agreed to meet a burglar in a dark alley? That sounds insane.
      • Just as good as a Walmart parking lot...

        Important sidenote: I live in a rural community.

        A while back my barber started complaining to me about stupid criminals. the story goes that she was walking out of the local Walmart and got mugged by a couple guys. they grabbed her cell phone and bag of stuff she bought and ran. She was quite upset but when she got home she decided to call the cell phone and see what would happen. The dummies answered and she managed to convince them that she knew where they
        • stuff !> life. They could have had knives or guns, that was a stupid risk. This story just feels fabricated anyway.
          • by pimpimpim (811140)
            This is my favorite quote of the post!

            Then told them they had best give up the life of crime and her and her husband beat the crap out of them.

            Isn't it a crime itself to beat the crap out of someone? But parent shouldn't worry too much as well, since she was a barber, she probably carried around some frightful scissors, ready to ruin their haircuts. That's what happens when I go to the barber, anyway.

    • by dr_dank (472072) on Monday November 20, 2006 @04:21PM (#16920922) Homepage Journal
      walked slowly with our hands in the air

      Did you then wave them around like you just didn't care?
      • Come on, someone mod the parent +5 Funny.
      • Yo geeky ladies around the world

        Got a wired box to show you

        To telnet the boys and girls

        Shell your brother, your sister and your momma too

        Windows is going down

        And you know what just to do

        Wave your RAM in the air like you don't care

        Run Glide with your games as hackers stop and stare

        DVD and DVD and DVD then boot

        Come on Linux tell me what's the word

        Word op! Everybody say

        When you hear the system call your drive will be getting underway.
    • by fyoder (857358) on Monday November 20, 2006 @04:32PM (#16921108) Homepage Journal
      When I booted my laptop, it went into recovery mode as though someone turned it on, saw the linux boot up screen and thought, "wtf is this crap?! Jeez... I can't sell this...


      Nine out of ten thieves agree, Linux is not ready for prime time.

  • Uh. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 20, 2006 @03:46PM (#16920370)
    "suspicious sales of Ubuntu laptops"

    So, ANY sales of Ubuntu laptops?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Portland, Oregon, non-profit Free Geek, which turns old PCs into Linux boxen

    Please stop using this boxen word. There is no such thing is boxen. The plural of box is boxes.

    This madness must stop. Anytime somebody says boxen in real life to me gets a punch in the face.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by jdray (645332)
      boxen boxen boxen boxen

      Personally, I think it's an imminently useable colloquialism.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sam Nitzberg (242911)
      boxen - made of boxwood.....

      http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Boxen [thefreedictionary.com]
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by DesertBlade (741219)
        Boxen: [reference.com] A fanciful plural of box often encountered in the phrase "Unix boxen", used to describe commodity Unix hardware. The connotation is that any two Unix boxen are interchangeable.
        • You'd have done even better if you'd included the definition of "fanciful":

          not based on fact; dubious; "the falsehood about some fanciful secret treaties"- F.D.Roosevelt; "a small child's imaginary friends"; "her imagined fame"; "to create a notional world for oneself"
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by firegarden7 (808626)
      It's been explained before in previous Slashdot articles, but here it is again. The word "boxen" comes from a Brian Regan stand-up comedy bit on his Live CD.
      • by Sabaki (531686)
        Regan has one CD entitled "Brian Regan Live" which was released in 1997.

        I'm pretty sure I'd heard "boxen" used at work before 1997, and I don't recall having heard of Brian Regan before now. He might have helped spread it, though.

      • by pluther (647209) <pluther.usa@net> on Monday November 20, 2006 @05:34PM (#16922070) Homepage
        Oh, it's quite a bit older than 1997.

        I remember using the term back in the early 80s, so it was around before then (i.e., I didn't invent it, either.)

        My guess is it derives from "vaxen" which is, of course, the plural of VAX, one of the most popular computer systems in universities in the 70s. Although, now that I think about it, vaxen probably derived from boxen, not the other way around, so the term is likely from even earlier.

        It's a rather obvious derivation:
        ox --> oxen
        box --> boxen
        Makes sense to me.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 20, 2006 @04:16PM (#16920862)
      Please stop using this boxen word. There is no such thing is boxen.


      Allowing new words to the language embiggens us all. Besides that, it's a perfectly cromulent word.
    • by onebuttonmouse (733011) <obm@stocksy.co.uk> on Monday November 20, 2006 @04:21PM (#16920924) Homepage
      And I think that a burglar burgles, but that won't stop talk of 'burglarizing'. Some groups of people use language that other groups consider incorrect, no need get all uppity about it.
      • by identity0 (77976)
        As a non-native speaker of English, I must ask you people to sort out your collective nouns before you go opposing some cute plural forms.

        I mean, what is a group of boxes/boxen? A network of boxen? A horde of boxes? A gaggle of PCs? A school of Apples?

        I suppose we can say "A FreeGeek of hardware", though. I've been there once, it seemed like the kind of really cool place any geek would like. Kind of a Salvation Army of computer hardware and Linux, really.
    • by beadfulthings (975812) on Monday November 20, 2006 @04:31PM (#16921082) Journal
      Oh, dear! It's a good thing that you're probably too young to remember the vaxen. They might have driven you to violence.
    • by pryonic (938155)
      I always assumed it was from 1 ox, many oxen

      Us geeks love our word play. Byte, nibble, bit!

      Mooo!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Mister Whirly (964219)
      Quit complaining or I'll infect you with some virii I got from an ATM machine when I entered you're PIN number wrong.
    • by xrayspx (13127)
      Moosen I completely agree with you but slashdot won't let me post very quickly so I need to burn time.
    • New words get into the English language all of the time. Why not "boxen" for a group of computers, just like a herd or flock?
    • by hey! (33014) on Monday November 20, 2006 @05:44PM (#16922212) Homepage Journal
      I often wonder whether the person who coined the term "neologism" did so with a twinge of guilty pleasure.

      But then that's probably just me.
    • Boxen is a perfectly cromulent word.
    • by markana (152984)
      >There is no such thing is boxen.

      Yes there is - I just saw a boxen match on TV....

    • by Repton (60818)

      I went to a public lecture by David Crystal [wikipedia.org] earlier in the year. He was talking about the effect of the internet on language. His basic thesis was: "OMG, there's a language revolution going on under our noses! Isn't this awesome??". He cited the resurrection of the -en plural form as one of the really cool things happening.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thealsir (927362)
      Or how about, anybody who wants language to stand frozen in time needs a punch in the face.
  • Sounds like burglary (Score:4, Informative)

    by D H NG (779318) on Monday November 20, 2006 @03:49PM (#16920448)
    Burglarized [wikipedia.org], not robbed [wikipedia.org].
  • by businessnerd (1009815) on Monday November 20, 2006 @03:56PM (#16920554)
    These guys must have been so eager to use Ubuntu that they couldn't wait long enough to download and burn their own copy or order one in the mail. While I admire their enthusiasm over Linux, I can't condone stealing stealing a copy.
  • Don't get me wrong (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TheBogie (941620)
    Don't get me wrong, I think the scumbags who did this should be lined up against a wall and shot.

    I also think that giving computers away to needy people is admirable.

    But don't you think the folks at FreeGeek doing sort of a disservice to those they give computers to? Linux is not the easiest to learn, and once it is learned the skills are only applicable to less than 5 percent of all computers.

    If I were a poor person scraping to get by, one of these computers may just convince me that computers are not f

    • by whistlingtony (691548) on Monday November 20, 2006 @04:13PM (#16920802)
      Hi there,

      I do volunteer work at FreeGeek. I teach the command line class once a week.

      Freegeek does more than just hand out boxes. They teach people how to make the boxes. They teach people how to use the boxes. They empower people to fix their own stuff.

      They're not always successful mind you. It's still a wonderful endeavor.

      Right here I'd insert a "Teach a man to fish" line... but you get the idea.

      -Tony
    • by egypt_jimbob (889197) on Monday November 20, 2006 @04:28PM (#16921038) Homepage Journal
      But don't you think the folks at FreeGeek doing sort of a disservice to those they give computers to? Linux is not the easiest to learn, and once it is learned the skills are only applicable to less than 5 percent of all computers.
      Firstly, they seem to mostly give machines to non-profits and their volunteers. Secondly, they train their volunteers in using the software as well as how to build a machine from parts. Also, those skills will be useful on a computer the volunteer now owns which could not happen without this program (or something like it). The more people who are turned on to Free software, the more people will know how to use it and the more useful the skills become.

      Your post reminds me of teachers I had in high school who had the mentality that we were "just kids" who couldn't be expected to learn without being forcefed. Poor does not equal stupid; give people the opportunity to learn and they will surprise you.

    • by Glowing Fish (155236) on Monday November 20, 2006 @05:05PM (#16921642) Homepage
      It is too bad you got graded a troll, but this is an honest question:

      First off, we use Linux because it is the only possibility. Free Geek distributes over 100 computers a month. All of these have Ubuntu and Open Office (and many other programs) on them. How much would Windows XP and Microsoft Office cost to license for each computer? 500 dollars each? That would add up to 50,000 dollars a month. Free Geek doesn't have 50,000 dollars a month, period, and if we did, we probably wouldn't choose to spend it on software license fees. It could also be possible, I suppose, to beg for some sort of non-profit site license, but that would require a very strict accounting procedure. At Free Geek, the operating system is installed over the network. To install Windows, we would have to move to installing from master CDs, which we would then have to keep under lock and key, and keep a strict tallying of where systems were going. In addition, while the situation with hardware at Free Geek isn't what it used to be (the original system specs were for medium range Pentium-Is, which could only support Debian), it is also true that Ubuntu runs on our available hardware the way any Windows Operating System couldn't. Next year, we will probably be sending out systems around a Gigahertz with 256 Megs of RAM...something that Windows Vista will almost certainly not run well on.

      Second, even if somehow Microsoft said we could put out as many computers as we wanted for free, I have never seen evidence that Windows is intrinsically simpler than Linux. Yes, people are used to it. But it is not like there is some awesomely hard concepts that Ubuntu Linux throws on the average user that Windows does not. Yes, working in command line is hard (but not something that I haven't taught dozens of people to do in a half hour or so), but on a modern distribution, you are only working on the command line for certain special uses. The things that you are going to fix on the command line are not things you are going to easily fix in Windows, either. Anyway, I have seen many people, many of them quite marginal in terms of education and past experience, pick up the simpler side of Linux in a few hours. I have also taught dozens or hundreds of people,from the age of 12 to the age of 82, many with no computer experience, how to take apart and rebuild computers, and how to install and use Linux on it. Yes, some people still prefer Windows afterwards, but I have yet to see a gigantic reaction of shocked incomprehensibility to Linux. It does take some effort to learn, but it isn't impossible.

      Basically, the only real reason people change over to Windows from a Free Geek computer is to play games.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by br0k_sams0n (848842)

        To install Windows, we would have to move to installing from master CDs, which we would then have to keep under lock and key

        Sorry, this is blatently false. Windows installs across a network in "unattended" mode very similar to Kickstart or AutoYAST. In fact, all three can be installed on a common infrastructure of ISC DHCP and TFTP for the PXE portion of things and Samba for media. Provisioning Windows using OSS tools has been around for many years. You are mostly right about licenses, but this detail is an

    • Linux is not the easiest to learn, and once it is learned the skills are only applicable to less than 5 percent of all computers.

      This is not true, but unfortunately it's a fairly common line of thinking. Although the parent comment was quickly modded "Troll" here on Slashdot, it would probably be taken quite seriously at a local PTA meeting. (Actually, come to think of it, pretty much everything that gets said in local town meetings ought to qualify for '-1 Flamebait'...but I digress.)

      A whole lot -- practically all -- basic computer skills are platform-independent and interchangeable. If you're trying to teach someone who's never used a computer much before, and you're teaching skills that are very specific to one OS, you're doing something wrong. The basic concepts of computers today are widespread: the "desktop metaphor" with folders/documents arranged in hierarchies, use of the mouse to open/close/arrange windows, use of a browser to access the WWW, basic email concepts -- all of those things are the same, whether you're using a Mac, or Windows, or KDE, or Gnome (or even something more exotic). Heck, most mainstream OSes these days even have more similarities: a program-launcher bar at the bottom of the screen (in some form or another) is pretty common, as are the File and Edit menus, and Cut/Copy/Paste.

      There really isn't much diversity anymore in computer operating systems, at least not in the major Linux GUIs, plus Mac and Windows. The differences are mostly either technical or trivial (mounted disks on desktop vs. in "My Computer," icons on left of screen or right, etc.). A person with a good set of basic skills, ought to be able to accomplish basic tasks on an already set-up system running either OS.

      Teaching someone mindless procedural 'recipes' that allow them to do a task, without any conceptual understanding of what they're doing along the way, is really doing them a disservice. Telling someone "this is how you check email," and making them memorize some steps, which will stop working and leave them stranded with the next OS upgrade or interface change, is truly disempowering.

      IMO, all basic computer classes, particularly those aimed at children, should be taught using computers that have a non-standard GUI and OS (which would follow conventionally accepted metaphors and design principles, but not be carbon copies of systems they might have already seen), to encourage critical thinking rather than mere procedural memorization and repetition.
      • by smoker2 (750216)
        If Linux is difficult, then my VCR is flashing 12:00.

        Fuck me, is that the time ?

        Just kidding, I entirely agree. Who said that "learning" should be "easy"? That's what makes it worthwhile.

    • But don't you think the folks at FreeGeek doing sort of a disservice to those they give computers to? Linux is not the easiest to learn, and once it is learned the skills are only applicable to less than 5 percent of all computers.

      No, I don't.

      easy != worthwhile and popular != best

      I altered my career path about six or seven years ago because of a few words of wisdom a mentor spoke to me. At the time I was an AS/400 computer operator, and my career goal was to be an AS/400 programmer. One day, this

  • I'll help (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Beek Dog (610072) on Monday November 20, 2006 @04:00PM (#16920624)
    I'm in Portland, and when I'm not at work I could easily be mistaken for a criminal (I look like a skater). I'm going to call up some of my more unscrupulous friends (I went to an inner city high school) and see if anyone knows where to find a 'cheap' laptop.

    I think checking CraigsList and eBay can be helpful, although I've never had much luck with eBay. A friend of mine found his laptop on CraigsList and contacted the seller to buy it. Once he had met the individual, he was able to 'persuade' the individual into to giving it back.

    I can't stand thieves in the first place, but from FreeGeek? That's low.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Mister Whirly (964219)
      "I can't stand thieves in the first place, but from FreeGeek? That's low."

      I know, I mean I can't stand a thief without a Code of Ethics.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by identity0 (77976)
      I'm in Portland, and when I'm not at work I could easily be mistaken for a criminal (I look like a skater).

      I think everything after your third word was redundant... "I'm in Portland" pretty much implies the rest :-)

      But yeah, it's pretty low stealing from FreeGeek.
  • Considering that they aren't having much success extracting teabagging extortion fees from the fiercly masculine Linux userbase, they've had to resort to more desperate means. $4500 should cover the $699 fee for about six machines and Darl McBride's penis shortage.
  • It's FreeGeek's fault! They should have had better security!

    If it works for breaking into a computer system and stealing credit card numbers, it should work for breaking into a building and stealing computer systems.
    • by Glowing Fish (155236) on Monday November 20, 2006 @04:46PM (#16921332) Homepage
      It should be noted that Free Geek does have pretty tight security, to an extant that most people, even most people who spend lots of time there, don't know about.

      Two points: first, in five years, large scale breaches of security have not been common.

      Second, as much as there was stuff taken, there was a lot more valuable stuff not taken, due to security measures that you will have to guess at.
  • by 8127972 (73495) on Monday November 20, 2006 @04:30PM (#16921068)
    ..... Slashdot readers picking up the slack by donating PC's or donating money? I'm guessing that this organization could use the help.
  • ... a warehouse in Portland was found to be storing a large Beowulf cluster pieced together from old hardware for the purpose of sending out advertisements for "V1agra/C1alis".
    • ... a warehouse in Portland was found to be storing a large Beowulf cluster pieced together from old hardware for the purpose of sending out advertisements for "V1agra/C1alis"

      I can tell from your post that you have never visited the place. They don't have enough machines powered up at any one time to be a Beowulf cluster.

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