Originally Published: Friday, 22 December 2000 Author: Jeff Alami
Published to: interact_articles_lugs/Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

LUGs Help Unite Linux Users

A LUG, Linux Users Group if you will. A physical manifestation of devotion to Linux. To explain just what exactly a LUG is we've enlisted the help of Jeff Alami. Click the link to read more.

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Its diverse and vibrant community distinguishes Linux from other operating systems. One such manifestation is the Linux User Group, or LUG. A group of users in the same geographical region get together in a LUG to discuss everyone's favorite OS, and to educate others about the virtues and challenges posed by Linux.

From personal experience, I found that the development of LUGs is one of the best aspects of the Linux community. Without a LUG, I would have difficullty learning new things about Linux. Without a LUG, I wouldn't have snagged my first Linux job. Most important, without a LUG I might not have found people nearby who share my interest in Linux.

My local LUG, the Vancouver Linux User Group (VanLUG), has been a boon to the local Linux community. VanLUG has been around since 1995 as a mailing list, and has had formal meetings since 1998. One of the larger LUGs, VanLUG has over 1,000 registered members, and the monthly meetings attract up to 200.

First things first. If you're not now participating in a LUG, and you have a bit of spare time to get involved, give it a try. You can search for existing local LUGs at Linux.com's LUGs section, or at GLUE,"Group of Linux Users Everywhere." If you can't find a nearby LUG, and you know a few local Linux users who are interested, you can found your own LUG. Check out the LUG HOWTOs first. They provide invaluable information about starting your own LUG, from people who've already gone through the process.

Communication

Once you've joined your local LUG, or started one, check out some of the avenues of electronic communication between LUG members. The most common is the mailing list. At VanLUG we have several mailing lists, including: vanlug-general, a high-traffic mailing list with all sorts of Linux-related conversations; and vanlug-announce, a mailing list for announcements and important messages.

Our local guru Brian Edmonds "mirrored" these mailing lists in a news server as well. Whenever a member sends mail to the mailing list, it gets posted to the associated newsgroup, and vice versa. I would suggest this setup for any LUG as some people prefer to read newsgroups and others prefer to receive e-mail.

Other forms of electronic communication exist, such as Internet Relay Chat (IRC) for real-time communication between LUG members. If you're looking to start your own IRC channel for LUG members, try hosting it on the OpenProjects Network, whose mandate is to serve the open source community with services such as IRC servers.

Meetings

Of course, electronic communication can go only so far, and it makes sense for people interested in Linuxto get together. The biggest strength of a LUG is in its meetings. VanLUG has meetings open to everyone on the third Monday of each month.

As for the content of these meetings, it's preferable to keep the presentations and guests under control.VanLUG meetings used to have one major presentation. When we changed to a few short presentations, things became more dynamic and interesting.

Events and Tradeshows

LUG participation in local tradeshows and conferences puts us in touch with people already interested in Linux. Events are one of the most powerful ways for LUG to reach out to the local community.

If your community has a local tradeshow, ask if you can set up a booth for your LUG. In VanLUG's case, Comdex/Canada West comes around annually. At the last Comdex, ZD Events provided VanLUG with a Linux Pavilion to place LUG information and booths for Linux companies. Comdex/Canada West is where VanLUG enlisted its thousandth member.

Aside from "invading" local tradeshows -- much to the tradeshow organizers' glee, -- a LUG can organize its own events. The most popular of such events is the installfest. In VanLUG's first installfest, people brought in computers without pre-registering and we had trouble accommodating them. Oh, and 300 other people showed up too.

Conclusion

Getting involved in a Linux user group can be one of the best things that can happen to you as a Linux enthusiast. You get to learn more about Linux, help the Linux community, help the local community, and if you're lucky, land a local Linux job. If there's a LUG in the area, and you're hesitant to join, my advice is to get involved now. You don't know what you're missing!


Jeff Alami (jeff@linux.com) should get more involved with VanLUG. He has helped out a bit with their events and activities, but there's so much more to do.




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