Originally Published: Sunday, 5 September 1999 Author: Maurice Entwistle
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

My First LUG Meeting

I went to my first LUG (Linux Users Group) meeting last night. It was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it to all! I had looked previously, over a year ago, for a Linux Users Group in my area. Alas, the closest one was miles away in another town. Recently I clicked on the LUGS hyperlink, right here on Linux.com, and found that there was now a local group meeting not too far away. I immediately joined....

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I went to my first LUG (Linux Users Group) meeting last night. It was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it to all! I had looked previously, over a year ago, for a Linux Users Group in my area. Alas, the closest one was miles away in another town. Recently I clicked on the LUGS hyperlink, right here on Linux.com, and found that there was now a local group meeting not too far away. I immediately joined.

I am not much of joiner, so this was a big step for me. I have the introverted writer mentality that allows me to be a hermit. But a Linux/GNU group was just too much to resist. Besides, still having a modem problem that I knew I needed help with clinched the matter. Believe me, I still messed with my COM ports and IRQ's and read about "jumpers"; but I became increasingly aware that a little help from some more experienced folk would save me several months of agony.

I arrived early at the downtown office building. There were five guys sitting outside in T-shirts, jeans and khakis. The giveaway that these were Linux/GNU guys were the boxes on the ground with keyboards and wires sticking out. I walked over with my bag of wires and asked if this was the "Linux Users Group." "Yeah" was the response. I went back to my car and got my box. I had already been impressed by the LUG messages I had received - so many offers by members to bring boxes, monitors, whatever was needed for the meeting to be a success!

Being a group of guys, there were no introductions. Those who were talking just kept on talking. I was surprised to see several white-haired men among the group. I thought to myself, "These old geezers must be pretty adventurous to be getting into Linux/GNU." I was wrong. The white-haired quiet ones turned out to be the Linux gurus, having migrated from Unix -- but I'm getting ahead of my story.

We waited outside until the group grew to about ten. Then we went into a conference room high up in the tower. There were monitors lined up on one of the tables. We were told to hook up the boxes we had brought to the monitors, plug them in and get ready to go. We obliged. Still, there were no introductions. I wondered if everyone in the group knew everyone else except myself. A projector was hooked up to one of the monitors and the creative process began.

This meeting was on networking. With everyone watching the large screen, Ethernet cards were put in, config files were changed, tested and saved. This was real time learning, real world experience - hands on. Many side discussions developed, but soon the network was established. It was 9 or 9:30 PM before I stood up and begged for the group to help the newbie set up his modem. I was obliged.

One guy took out my modem and set the jumpers (apparently he had just set up a modem similar to my own). Three others pitched in, looking at my COM and IRQ's, dropping me into Vi and Minicom, saving, rebooting - the works! Finally, KPPP in the KDE desktop recognized my modem and dialed out to my ISP. I was a happy camper. By now it was 10 PM, but I was excited to go home.

At the end of the meeting one of the older gentlemen said, "This was really fun! This was even more fun than the last meeting." In the elevator on the way down, he said, "You know why these Linux groups are so much more fun than the old Unix groups? Because it's a free exchange. The old Unix guys were all consultants and they would have wanted to charge $50 an hour."

On the way home I kept thinking about how much fun everyone had, and how the older men had been such good mentors. In our culture today there are few areas of life where mentoring occurs. My experience of the LUG meeting made me realize how much we would all benefit if mentoring would once again become a significant part of our culture. I felt mentored and it's a wonderful feeling. And the mentors felt gratified as well. My earlier pieces on the spirit of GNU/Linux and its significance were experienced first hand.

Maurice Entwistle, maurice@linux.com





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