Mozilla Party at the "Village Cévenol"


Though a MozParty at the “Village Cévenol” will never be as famous as John Coltrane playing at the Village Vanguard years and years ago, still it did take place -on a bright sunny Sunday (23 November 2004) at Aumessas!

This article is adapted from "Mozilla Party cévenole Compte-rendu".

It was one of the MozParties held all over the world, including India, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Israel, Turkey, Mexico or Russia, to celebrate the release and success of Mozilla-Firefox Preview and 1.0 versions.

"Thank you's" for all the help

Marie-Renée, the Mayor of Aumessas, kindly let us settle in the room next to the Library, and spent a moment in our company. Three computers were lent to us for the presentation and the "praticals" by Anita from Équi'Terra (fair trade in handicrafts), by Annie (creator of "AniMagerie-Callipyges"), and by CIRBEL (a university Research Center based in Montpellier).

The party lasted for over than three hours under the benign gaze of a Mozilla painted on a large canvas panel by Brigitte, and copied from a free image on the Web.

The MozParty Goers

A dozen people from the two districts of Aumessas and Arrigas and a couple from the district of Mandagout — 20 kms further South — turned up for the MozParty. Villages and hamlets being rather far off from one another and small gatherings are rather the norm in this area.

Coming from variegated backgrounds, like most people living in the Cévennes, not all of them web surfers, the participants aged between 35 and 70 shared a two-fold interest:

  • getting informed about free GNU/GPL software,
  • discovering alternatives to Micro$oft software which is neither good nor safe.

Patrick, the "Café de la Gare" owner, managed to steal out of his busy Sunday afternoon pub to attend the presentation.

Bernard, one of the Cévennes National Park wardens, Robert or Magalie freed themselves from their various duties for a couple of hours. Mr. Lhomme, who is in charge of the Computer Club at the Bourilhou cultural centre in the nearest small town, apoligized for not being able to come, while Philippe and Pascale came back too late from the annual Paris meeting of a charity for the wellfare of horses.


An account of the Journée du libre à Montpellier (A day Conference on GNU/GPL software and projects), focussing on three GNU/GPL projects, which could be of interest to all made up the introduction.

Slide Show

A slide show followed, being an overview of the software created by the Mozilla Fondation, and offering a brief explanation of what GNU/GPL software is all about.

The first page displayed an image of Mozilla as a big green lizard belching out fire on a crumbling IE icon. Below the image, the caption "Aumessachussetts" was a humorous hint at the Cévenol MozParty, and further afield at the part played by such an institution as the MIT (Massachussetts Institute of Technology) in the developement of GNU/GPL software, namely Linux.

Beware — the documents are unavailable at the moment and are in French anyway :shock: The slide show was made in, then exported into PDF format.

A show achieved with GNU/GPL software

The show enabled us to display the high performance of some free software: (OOo)

The slide show was made with this excellent office suite. A mini-Web site was created from the original slide show -a piece of cake, thanks to the "Export" function in OOo. The show was displayed on the three computers in the form of a slide show or of Web pages. OOo is compatible with Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and other platforms.


For the demonstration of Mozilla-Firefox “live” while no connection to the internet was possible, a copy of the Mozilla-Fan Web site was made with HTTrack. The software can copy a site for you to browse it off line just as if you were connected. French, mulitingual software for Windows and Linux.


For the demonstration of cookies and how to manage them in Mozilla-Firefox, I used EasyPHP, another French software. This software works on Windows only since Linux and Mac have other means to combine an Apache server, a MySQL database, PhpMyadmin, and PHP. Using it, you can create a local Web site as if your computer was an actual server and your site was really on line. So, you can build and test an entire site off the Web.


To build and update the Mozilla-Fan Web site locally and on line, I used a French, widely multilingual CMS (Content Management System--horrible phrase), which is a great help. Works on all platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac, etc. Requires an Apache server, a MYSQL database plus PHP.

So, apart from Windows alone, which all the present users complained bitterly about, everything was free, not necessarily like free beer but more importantly like freedom — freedom to use, copy, give, and even modify or sell.

Small Talk

There was small talk on technical subjects most of us were quite ignorant of, on the various OS (Mac, Windows, Unix, Linux) or on Wi-Fi. We are all waiting eagerly for the advent of ADSL or Wi-Fi in our remote and hilly area. Some of us have horrendously slow and temperamental dial-up connections.

The Mozilla and consorts Workshop

Anita, Paul, Annie, Alain and Brigitte then got down to work, installing Mozilla-Firefox and Mozilla-Thunderbird, learning how to adjust the settings, and getting an overview of the various functions.

What was missing was the possibility of browsing a few Web sites dealing with Mozilla in French, namely Mozilla, MozillaZine in French, Mozilla-Europe, and Geckozone (See links Vers Mozilla et les “indépendants”). I ought to have copied them with HTTrack. That way every one would have been able to get some real experience of Mozilla-Firefox, and get some more information. Well, I did not have enough time to be more imaginative.

Before Saying Goodbye

At last, as the night was now pitch black, it was time to go back home.

Paul went away with a CDRom on which we burnt the products and some other free software, and he asked me to get him other free software for Mac OS X.

Alain asked me if I could give him a hand sometime with the installation and the settings of Mozilla-Firefox and Mozilla-Thunderbird on his computer — which is now free from spybots. At the same time, he invited Anita to come and get informed on solar energy, as he has set up everything on his own in his home while in the past he even built a windmill with a couple of friends, and erected it at the back of his garden.

Annie who has been using Mozilla for some time and is quite familiar with free software came with a pile of free CDroms for us. I borrowed DemoLinux, a Live CD which can be used to try Linux without installing it. She bought those CDroms very cheap on two French Web sites.


So, that was a friendly evening full of shared experience and knowledge even if practise was not given full scope.

Finally, Michel had the bright idea of running downstairs to raise his glass of beer and cheer Mozilla while we — shame on us! — didn't even manage to share a drink to honourably conclude this MozParty.

The regional newspaper, called Midi Libre, rejected an account similar to this one, arguing it was an advert and read like a tupperware party of old -Funnily enough, major national newspapers in France published articles full of praise for

What about a picture?

You must mean the picture I was supposed to upload to the Mozparty web site and on this very page. Well, I'm afraid there was not enough light for Anita's webcam — though of course Annie would have been able to edit the pictures after the event. Nevermind, we managed to make a picture later on with that webcam -which is quite fun and easy, though it cannot compare with a good Reflex camera. The picture was then duly uploaded to the MozParty Website. Don't miss Mozilla Party, Firefox 1.0, Aumessas, Ankara.

Looking forward to the future

Look out for the next episode at Aumessas or at Arrigas which will be a GNU/Linux demo, with a Live CD.

This time, there'll be plenty of practise, we'll click away no end, left, right, and middle, while Mozilla will take pride of place again alongside other GNU/GPL software.

It would be great if some English-speaking people from the area came along too.

So don't miss the news on Libre-Fan web site!