The first version of NGO-in-a-Box was built and distributed in Croatia during the Summer Source Camp in September 2003.
The Summer Source offering was envisioned as a very simple proof of concept, providing 'home-made' burns of various FOSS distributions, tools and resources in a cardboard box, accompanied by basic documentation. A small factory of CD burners was set up on the Island of Vis, participant requests were collected and individualised boxes were then created for each of them to take home. The contents of the first NGO-in-a-Box reflected the different countries and working contexts of participants at Summer Source. The resulting set of CD's included major Linux distributions, software brought by participants themselves (e.g. Martus, Dynebolic), software downloaded on request (including content management systems (CMS) and security packages), plus various forms of documentation and materials created during the camp.
In the follow-up to the camp, participants consistently stated that this 'take-home' was one of the most useful and practical things they took away from the event. On the Summer Source discussion list and in the summaries of activities post-camp, colleagues from Brazil to Belarus reported how useful this resource was when they returned home and reinforced the need for a continuation of such an initiative. In particular the reasons included:
Ability to carry the box with them to NGOs and copy when necessary
All of the tools had already been used and vetted by peers from the known community of event participants
The box provided an updated collection of tools in one place that could be applied to different circumstances without being overwhelmed by choice
As a product, NGO-in-a-Box provided a vehicle for promoting FOSS to the groups with which they work
The feedback on this first version of NGO-in-a-Box combined with subsequent discussions validated the need for a simple low-tech toolkit that could help implementers, developers and activists from countries without efficient IT infrastructure to participate in the local implementation and adaptation of FOSS solutions. It also re-emphasised the need for easy access to tools, materials and methodologies for people to utilise and localise in their day-to-day work.
A second version of NGO-in-a-Box was compiled and distributed during Africa Source, the African F/OSS developers meeting which took place in Namibia in mid-March 2004. As with the Summer Source version, a variety of distributions and applications were selected specifically to the needs of the participants. The range was intended to provide grassroots intermediaries in Africa with a suite of tools for use in meeting the diverse needs of non-profits they support, whether working with refurbished computers or newly donated equipment and whether implementing streaming media, file and printer sharing, or using FOSS applications running on Microsoft Windows.
This version included live/bootable distributions, software for older machines with limited hardware resources, a high-security distribution suitable for firewall/router use or for systems that contain highly sensitive information. In addition, there were tools to support specific areas of NGO work, as well as locally created tools.
Free Software Forum edition
A similar third version was created in collaboration with the Projeto Software Livre, Brazil for a Latin American audience.
In June 2004 Tactical Tech met with over a dozen leading FOSS advocates working in the social sector in Latin America, they worked with Privaterra, Debian NP and the Projector Software Livre to create a Spanish version of NGO-in-a-box and distribute it at the Free Software Forum held in Porto Allegre. The response to this was extremely positive and requests were made to explore the possibility of establishing a Latin-American hub for NGO-in-a-box.
Fourth release of NGO-in-a-box has been prepared for the occasion of OSCON conference having place in Portland in 2004.
This special edition was compiled to provide conference visitors with an insight in to the actual state of the art regarding the further development of NGO-in-a-box and a flavour of FOSS produced by Tactical Technology Collective partners. These ranged from field- specific tools (e.g. human rights, education, multimedia) to localised distributions (e.g. Brazil, Spain, South Africa).
Fifth version of NGO-in-a-box, Security Edition was created in October 2004.
This version of NGO-in-a-box was significantly different from those produced in the past. This version created for a security training of trainers event held in Almaty, Kazakhstan and now in its second edition for an event in Asia, was designed in collaboration with Privaterra and Frontline. It was the first step in utilising a core group of technology experts to create a specialised and targeted box set of tools and materials. This toolkit" was intentionally designed to provide users with a comprehensive range of resources within a particular area, including predominantly FOSS solutions, but also some proprietary solutions with negotiated license donations.
Secure NGO in a box consisted of eight CD's. The box set, with an interface in Russian, provided participants with software selected by experts to help secure the data and communication channels of NGO's. Also included on the CDs was a range of materials on security practices, public access to computers, computer viruses and risk assessment techniques.
Software was selected and divided in to the following categories;
password management applications
data storage, backup and destruction tools
network monitoring tools
system rescue and data recovery applications
secure communications tools, from email to voice over IP
human rights tailored secure data applications, e.g. martus
The last release of NGO-in-a-box was released in February 2005 during AsiaSource.
The box produced in Asia reflected the three main tracks of the event: Localisation, Migration/Access and Open Content/Video Publishing. The box for this event contained compilations based on participant's recommendations and sets prepared by experts, for example there was an Alternative Access CD containing a specifially selected collection of tools for wireless networking and Voice-over-IP communication.