Originally Published: Saturday, 12 February 2000 Author: Sam Williams
Published to: interact_articles_lugs/Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Setting up LUG Communication

In warfare the deciding technology for success or failure is communication. In LUG work, as in warfare, the first order of business is to set up communication! In years past this was sometimes very difficult. You might use uucp or some type of dial-up BBS because one of your members had some type of access to these technologies. Today, you might be blessed to have a member that either works for an ISP, is a student in college, or was otherwise lucky enough to get some space on an internet connected box. In the very near future, DSL and cable modems will allow everyone to have their own internet connected systems.

Today, I'm writing this to suggest that in the meantime there is an alternative which can be taken to implement within 24 hours (with some limitations) email listserv capability, chat/talk access, file vaulting, event calendering, and web serving. All for the phenomenally low price of $0 dollars


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In warfare the deciding technology for success or failure is communication. In LUG work, as in warfare, the first order of business is to set up communication! In years past this was sometimes very difficult. You might use uucp or some type of dial-up BBS because one of your members had some type of access to these technologies. Today, you might be blessed to have a member that either works for an ISP, is a student in college, or was otherwise lucky enough to get some space on an internet connected box. In the very near future, DSL and cable modems will allow everyone to have their own internet connected systems.

Today, I'm writing this to suggest that in the meantime there is an alternative which can be taken to implement within 24 hours (with some limitations) email listserv capability, chat/talk access, file vaulting, event calendering, and web serving. All for the phenomenally low price of $0 dollars.

WEB SERVING ISSUES

Rock River Linux Users Group was blessed almost a year ago with a local ISP benefactor that was willing to provide web access. The service work well for the LUG until the last few months. Partly, because of bloated graphics and partly because of system and network over-utilization, our initial blessing has become a sore spot with LUG members and an embarassment to anyone I am trying to get interested in Linux.

The other day I decided I had, had enough and would seek an alternative. The alternative came in the form of LinuxStart. LinuxStart will provide a free web-hosting capability for those people and or organizations that work within the open source community, particularly LUGS. The procedure is very simple. Go to www.linuxstart.com and click on the icon labeled "Free Web Hosting". You are required to register and if approved (within 24 hours), you will receive information on how to publish and view content on your new site. I can warn you now that the procedure, while simple, will confuse the newbie. In a nutshell, you simply ftp your website to ftp.linuxstart.com. If you are familiar with most web providers you will undoubtedly be confused over the lack of a public_html directory in your account. Basically, dump all your html files in the root drectory of this new account. There will already be a bin, lib, and cgi-bin directory. Did I forget to mention that you can do CGI?

LinuxStart is quick and easy. You are not allowed to telnet to the server so all content must be created elsewhere, then transferred in. You can create seperate directories from within ftp, like an image directory. All in all, it is a quick and reasonable approach to setting up your web access and getting 15 Mbytes of site storage.

The only caveat to using LinuxStart is the url. In the case, of RRLUG, the url is http://members.linuxstart.com/~RRLUG. Esthetically, it is rather ugly. My next order of business is to get a domain name for the LUG and hide this ugliness.

EMAIL LISTSERV's etc.....

LinuxStart can provide a free email account if you request it. This can always be a handy plus. Unfortunately, it is a vanilla account with no frills added. What to do?

After thinking about it for a second, I realized that I either needed access to a server that I could run mailman or majordomo on, or find another benefactor willing to provide these services. The current, RRLUG site provider has no listserv capability. Ruling out the first option, I was forced to search for someone willing to provide this service.

Egroups.com was the provider I found. Go to www.egroups.com and within a couple of minutes, using a total web-based admin tool, I was able to establish a list for RRLUG. It behaves just like majordomo. One email address to send mail to all list members. One address to subscribe or another to unsubscribe from the list. It is quite cool. One attribute of the tool is the ability to load up your LUG membership and then send one invitation to all existing members simultaneously. Members can also subscribe through the website, by email invitation, or by sending mail to groupname@egroups.com. It is incredibly simple.

E-groups also provides the ability to store files on the site. You can store up to 20 Mbytes. E-groups also provides chat capability. Normally, I am archaically opposed to these types of systems, however I found both to be very usable. E-groups, has simplified the ability to manage day to day LUG communications!

Can we win the war? It is too early to tell. If we lose it won't be because our communication was flawed. Give these technologies a try, particularly if you are normally access challenged to these types of machines. You'll be glad you did :)

This article was provided by Sam Williams samurai@acm.org. Currently, Sam is the chairman of RRLUG in Rockford, Illinois. Professionally, he is now a Senior Software Engineer working on flight systems for an aerospace company, but who is still looking for the perfect Linux company to work for.





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