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Communications Software Linux

Do LUGs Still Matter? 155

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the places-to-learn dept.
Joe Barr, writing for NewsForge asks, "Do LUGs still matter? Back in the day, LUGs were rowdy, popular, and highly contagious centers for aficionados of Linux. Install fests were a big deal. Members came from all walks of life, united only by a penchant for something new and cool, and a chance to place a bet on the impossible notion of world domination by an operating system hacked together by a ragtag bunch of students on the Internet. It's different today. Linux is now mainstream, it's being spread by slick corporate marketing, and with most distros, installation is a snap. So the question arises, do LUGs still matter?"
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Do LUGs Still Matter?

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  • by dawhippersnapper (861941) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @08:30AM (#14335645) Homepage
    I mostly see groups like these still holding together for community ties. If they mattered before they matter now. Corporate backing is no reason for people to still not gather together for what they believe in and what interests them.
    • by slazzy (864185)
      Since linux is becoming the mainstream, I think we'll see more specific types of LUGs develop, such as gaming and programming.
    • That's right on the money. There are still user groups out there for the old 80's micros, but there isn't really that much "new" stuff out there for people to "learn". They really exist more for comraderie...a chance to hang out with people who understand just how cool you think certain hardware or a piece of software is. LUGs will probably go this way, as places to go and hang out with other people whose families wonder why their houses are full of stuffed penguins and gnomes.
  • Esotericism (Score:1, Interesting)

    There's a double entendre here, by the way: Lesbians Until Graduation is a well-known acronym at certain artsy high schools where the cock-ratio favors Y-chromosometes.

    As far as user groups are concerned, however, their relevance is directly proportional to Linux' esotericism: as it becomes mainstream, every office and class will become a spontaneous LUG.

    • Re:Esotericism (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Well, in all fairness, most linux geeks are unlikely to have attended such schools.
    • Hmm, "well known" may well be a bit of an exaggeration. Lugs are threaded rods, as far as I've been able to tell - anything else is just silly.
  • Yes! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 25, 2005 @08:34AM (#14335649)
    LUGs are still vital! There is plenty going on at my local lug. Things haven't really changed. There is a lot of knowledge transfer and a lot of fun. We still do install fests, although now it is usually a mix of complete newbies and people with really strange install issues that are indeed a challenge to crack.

    In some ways, LUGs are one of the only places for someone new to get training and learn without spending thousands on classes. They also serve as a great place to meet fellow enthusiasts.

    There is plenty of activity going on on the bleeding edge as well and this makes for great meeting presentations.
  • by hyeh (89792) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @08:34AM (#14335652) Homepage
    I heard that Linux User Groups were a good place to meet chicks? Is this true?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Of course it matters - OPLUG [oplug.org]! :)
    • That's because Oslo is cooler than everything, and it's fundamentally impossible to discuss the rest of the uninteresting, uninspiring world in terms of Oslo.

      Oslo's part of Norway. Scandinavia is just by default cool. Score one for Norway (and Oslo)
      Oslo is where Opera comes from. I'd have to be using some less awesome browser if it weren't for Oslo. Oslo is damn cold, here I am having to use my air conditioner on Christmas Day.

      There are many more reasons that Oslo rules, these are just a few.

      Signed,
      Uman, wh
  • by putko (753330) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @08:35AM (#14335654) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:

    "I guess my answer is that yes, LUGs do still matter, but not as much as they did in the early days. They are not the primary drivers of Linux adoption that they once were. Improvements in the ease of installation of modern distributions, Linux's widespread adoption, and its acceptance as an enterprise tool have all combined to lessen the need for what LUGs offer. Today's LUG is less a vibrant beacon of a community of users and more of a professional/social club for admins."

    Yeah, sounds pretty reasonable to me.
    • Linux's widespread adoption, and its acceptance as an enterprise tool have all combined to lessen the need for what LUGs offer. Today's LUG is less a vibrant beacon of a community of users and more of a professional/social club for admins.

      Where I live, Linux has zero visibility outside the university and college campus, no presence, no spokesman, no involvement in the community whatever.

      Yes, there is employment for the big-system Linux administrator. But Linux in the home, Linux in small business, not in

  • by CompTune (941281) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @08:35AM (#14335655) Homepage
    LUGs are a holdover from the days of the BBS, when communication was slow and information was hard to find. There was a LUG in my town. I think it got taken over by a needy charitable organization and is hosted in a drafty and somewhat smelly clothing drop-off center. I've never been to it. I just downloaded and installed Fedora Core last year and I've been hooked ever since. The internet is the only user's group I'll ever need. So the real question becomes "What's next now that user's groups are dead?" Ans: Slashdot!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      ??? It would be nice if slashdot gave good linux news, however it's usually uninteresting or a question to the readers. If you want the true replacement of a LUG, look up forums.gentoo.org and many other good linux forums. Slashdot is a general news source with no proofreaders, and editors that scan comments and take out any unpleasentries without even a forward. I guess a lot like Wiki.
      • Sometimes the more general news/blog/wiki comments are more entertaining, if not informative. It helps keep things in perspective. I think one reason our LUG isn't surviving is the complete lack of builliten boards in our community coupled with strict solicitation, flyer distribution and litter laws. It seems the cost of newspaper advertising has tripled lately as well. As we become more and more "paperless" the motion is toward online communities. Heck, even my site is a sort of online community in it
    • I have to agree with parent poster. LUG's are outdated and the members usually are running different distros. The internet distro forums are way better to communicate with users of your own distro, like mine Gentoo who have a large and knowledgable base. Send these LUGs to the dustbin.
  • All sorts of tricks and tips and new programs and scripts and ideas can be passed around and shared.
  • by Crash Culligan (227354) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @08:45AM (#14335671) Journal
    Linux is now mainstream, it's being spread by slick corporate marketing, and with most distros, installation is a snap. So the question arises, do LUGs still matter?

    I remember my days in a user group. It attracted lots of people because there were always things to learn. Even experts could pick up tidbits of valuable information, and more often than not the novices picked up help from the experts. In that way, everyone became a little more expert. And lemme tell you, there are few things more satisfying than telling people something they don't know, and watching their jaws literally drop.

    That "slick corporate marketing" will convince you to buy into a particular software and hardware solution, but buy-in and installation are only the beginning. There's later configuration, installations on top of your existing system, new peripherals, and plus you may just want to do new things with it. The original seller can't afford to hold the hand of every novice that comes along and gets their system. Trust me on this, in that case the user group is a godsend.

    And now for the twist: note that at no time did I actually mention Linux. That's because the user group [wap.org] I was talking about dealt with a different platform, one that still values its user group network [apple.com].

    Take the hint: easy to set up and easy to install, and it still supports its user groups. There is power in community.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 25, 2005 @08:58AM (#14335687)
    People with a common interest will get together. We're doing it right now aren't we. That part of human nature will never change.

    Having said the above, the nature of LUGs will change as the technology matures. A successful group will probably have one or two core members who keep it going. Otherwise, the group will die out.

    Hot rodders are similar to Linux users in many respects. In the early days, everyone had to be a bit of a mechanic because cars were primitive. It was easy to make improvements on your car for the same reason. As cars became more sophisticated and laws became stricter, most people quit working on their cars and left that to the professionals. You still have hot rodders though. They still get together at the burger joint. There are still hot rod clubs. I think it will be the same with LUGs. Certainly as a proportion of the population of Linux users, the number of Linux geeks will decrease. However, in absolute numbers, there will probably be just as many of us or more.
  • LUGs and interst. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @08:58AM (#14335690)
    Yes. But there is a problem. There aren't enough Super Linux Users and too many newbies who really aren't intrested in pushing Linux as far as you can push Linux. I'm in a LUG like that. My LUG members aren't intrested and don't see the need for what I as a Super Linux User do.

    Another issue is Linux gaming. This year. I'm hosting a purely Linux LAN war this X-mas Day. No Windows. All Linux. I've done this beforee. But I expect this year to be one of my best.

    There are alot more Super Windows Users who can build complex Windows networks (Such as Actiive Directory) than there are Super Linux users to match and thats with technologies such as OpenLDAP, due to intrest, and goals. To make LUGs more effective, more Super Linux users need to be produced so Linux that Linux improves, and the education about Linux improves.
    • by nietsch (112711) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:16PM (#14336105) Homepage Journal
      Think again before you say something that makes you appear as one of the few doing something good. Maybe the other Lug members are not interested in you and your lack of modesty. People tend to shun that (or at least I do) althoug the subjects you are dealing with may or may not be interesting.
      If you really think you have something interesting to say, I think nobody will stop you if you prepare and have a little presentation about a subject of your choice. But keep in mind that you need to supply reason why other people should be interested in your subject, so approach it from a general or newbie point of view. 'because I can' is not a good reason, for the most part because 'I' is the most important word in that sentence and most people are not interested in your 'I'.
      In short: stop boasting, start teaching or shut up.
    • Then start your own movement... What Would Super User Do?
  • Lug Radio (Score:4, Informative)

    by shish (588640) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @09:02AM (#14335694) Homepage
    Without LUGs, there would be no LUG Radio [lugradio.org]!
  • I agree with the article that LUGs mattered in the dark days of Linux, when partitioning the hard drive and setting up lilo were done with your fingers crossed.

    Now, with near-automated installs of most distributions, the average user who wants linux just has to pop in the CD and answer some (mostly easy) questions.

    The LUGs have been supplanted by forums for users. Why wait until a LUG meeting to ask a question or trouble shoot a problem when you can ask it on your distribution's forums and get a knowledgea
    • The LUGs have been supplanted by forums for users. Why wait until a LUG meeting to ask a question or trouble shoot a problem when you can ask it on your distribution's forums and get a knowledgeable answer in a fairly reasonable time period.

      I agree that for many problems you can merely google the answer or find a forum to get an answer or three, but for the more detailed problems where else can you go to get an entire room full of knowledgeable people focused on finding you the answers for free?

  • My local linux LUG gets abotu 100 people per meeting. Useful for casual chat.
    • Re:They're good (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kadin2048 (468275)
      Just out of curiosity, where are you located?

      I have never heard of a LUG (or Mac User Group, which is the other OS I use) in my area, although if there was an active one I'd probably join. That begs the question -- where and how do people find out about LUGs in their area, and how many users are muddling along (as I am) on their own, wishing they knew more people in their local area who also used Linux that were willing to help them?
  • (include "disclaimer/english is not my mother tongue")

    Not being part of a LUG myself, I couldn't tell wether they still matter or not even though I'd like to say "YES they do". Not sure about the other slashdotters, but I'd rather be tutored by a friendly human next to me than having to read half-done (the other half being outdated) HOWTOs.

    I co-founded GrUMF ("Groupe d'Utilisateurs Macintosh Francophones") back in '99, it's a french-language Apple User Group based in Belgium (but our mailing-list and active
  • by p0 (740290)
    ... through a LUG gathering some years back. Now I'm a sysadmin in an ISP running Linux. Yap they did matter back then and they actually worked as far as I am concerned. As for now, a little change of LUG policies can make them matter to make what Linux is still not today: an OS WELL KNOWN by regular people.
  • by MadFarmAnimalz (460972) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @09:15AM (#14335709) Homepage
    Maybe something like 6 years ago, I co-founded the Egyptian Linux Users' Group. Me and my 3 co-conspirators had a vision of free software as a social movement, not just as a different kind of software development approach.

    6 years on, we have what has got to be one of the most vibrant communities in a LUG anywhere. We teach one another, we help with downloading distros, we do activism, we hold installfests, we go out for coffee, dinner, hold LAN parties where one unnamed individual always beats us into submission at bzflag, and we work to bolster the bottom line of Egyptian beer manufacturers.

    Since when was a LUG about helping people install Linux? It's a community Goddamn you. Communities will always be relevant. If there was no community there would be no free software: a LUG is simply the most evident face of this community.
  • Lugs are groovey. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Keaster (796594) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @09:20AM (#14335714) Homepage
    Being a n00b it was nice to have a place to go that gave you face time with enthusiasts who were enthusiastic to help and also, from my personal experience, expect to be asked n00b questions. You also get exposure to different views first hand, whereas when just parsing forums you are generally exposed to what you are looking for, at a LUG you may be exposed to something you had never considered and later use. Not to mention I have never been invited to a WUG ... Also, my local lug is located by a great bar and gives me an excuse to tell my wife .... I mean ... I like going to the LUG, it is fun.
  • LUGs do matter ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phoxix (161744) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @09:28AM (#14335723)
    Here is why:

    Networking. And I'm not talking about the TCP/IP kind. I'm talking about meeting each other, getting to know other linux professionals and people of the tech community. Instead of overly peppered resumes with mindless certifications, you get to meet people who actually can talk about the technologies, the issues, etc. You should see the number of head-hunters, hiring agencies and etc that come to a LUG meeting with the hopes of meeting real intelligence. (Recently my LUG (NYLUG [nylug.org]) and Google threw a big party at a fancy restaurant in Manhattan in an attempt to attract the tech community, but python developers in particular. Google's Alex Martelli was the speaker (you python guys should know him)).

    Additionally, networking doesn't just mean the kind that gets consultants hired and what not. I'm talking about building a community. Letting people meet new people and become friends. Every time our LUG has a meeting, you can always see various circle of "LUG-friends" get together and talk amongst themselves. Its brilliant. At a LUG meeting you aren't talking to someone overly concerned about mindless shit like the latest Pop music star, but people who take to the same issues that matter greatly to yourself (DRM, DMCA, kernel stability, PHP security, source compilations, etc). Its quite a treat to be able to sit down and have a beer with someone else who actually knows what a buffer-overflow is.

    LUG's are also are great because they can tap in from a pool of talent to get a single effort going. The president of my LUG is also one hell of a salesman. His ability to be a people person is like no other, and so we get great speakers all the time (Ie: Google, XenSource, Novell, Chris DiBona, etc). But our president isn't a super technical guy, so we leave server management to someone else. We also leave mailing list management to another guy, who is incredibly level-headed and thus handles flame-fest situations very well. For an individual to do all of the above would be nearly impossible. A group of people OTOH, can do this very well without sucking up a too much of a single person.

    While Linux isn't brand spanking new, it does not mean LUGs are not useful anymore. It means they've adapted, re-focused their energies, and aim for a new direction. Gone are the days where many LUG presentations were introductions about the technology. Today we talk about new technology, but more important what you can do with this technology. (IE: Xen virtualization.)

    This January is our LUG's 7th year birthday. And we are strong as we have ever been.

    Sunny Dubey

    Officer
    New York Linux User's Group
  • LUGs are still important today, because Linux is NOT as wide-spread as the article would make it seem. Linux is still very much a grassroots type organization, regardless of which companies appear to have jumped on the bandwagon.

    The big drive for the LUG I am in is making Linux known to more people in the community, and help others with hardware and software under Linux/GNU based operating systems. There are people who come to the group for help, from all walks of life.
  • the members of your LUG will still be there to help. The slick marketteers will be off marketing a new wave.

    LUGs are the great Linux learning centers. They matter a lot. I may be biased because my LUG [pdxlinux.org] is a particularly good one.

  • Sure (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lagerbottom (704499)
    The Central PA LUG [cplug.net] is still going strong. I have only been a member for about 3 years, and it has changed a lot in that time. However, it is still a relevent club. There are more new users then ever before (mostly, I assume, related to the lower barrier for entry and growing popularity). Those users still want help with networking and installation etc. The other reason I believe that our LUG has remained active though is that the guy [openthought.org] who runs the show is a die hard. For a LUG to remain strong it takes
  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @09:45AM (#14335767)
    There is a lot of stuff that can be gained and contributed at a LUG. It is a collection of people with a common interest that share knowledge. You can just hang out and listen to the techno babble, or get more involved if you want. The first LUG meeting I went to was like visiting a country where people spoke the same language as I. It's the only place I can say "cat /proc/bus/usb/devices and grep for Vendor" and not get a strange look.
  • I'd say they're still just as relevant as they were, which is some, but not all that much.

    They have value, but only to a small subset of people. They're great things, but 9 times out of 10 if you know about the existance of a LUG it's something like preaching to the choir. They appeal to and are accessible by university students, or tech geeks. Definitely an invaluable resource for helping each other through configuration/installation, and a lot of fun but not really any more or less valuable than any o
  • Without LUGs where would middle aged computer geeks get to escape and show off all their new gadgets and toys? At my LUG we usually have a presenter which demonstrates an opensource application like Apahce, Xen, OpenLDAP etc... Everyone sits in a circle around the presenter, sporting a wireless laptop, half listening to the presenter and half trying to get their latest gizmo/gadget working.

    After the LUG meetings people usually head out for a burger/pizza and socialize a bit. It's good for geeks to get
  • $0.02 USD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skudd (770222) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @10:07AM (#14335808) Homepage Journal
    While I have never been a part of any LUG, I feel compelled to share my opinion.

    User groups, regardless of what the primary focus is, are an integral part of our world. Look at popular sports, for example. The social companionship is enhanced exponentially when there's a common primary subject of focus, whether it is an operating system, a particular footbal team (American, British, Martian, etc.), or a certain league of motorsports. The amount of social bonding that takes place when fans of any topic come together is simply amazing, and is beneficial to our species. Additionally, when groups of like-minded individuals come together on a certain topic, the collective knowledge exceeds that of what could be learned in any individual instance.

    Now consider for a moment the explosion of the use of Linux. It is becoming the sole server OS on the internet, intranets, and that small 4-node LAN you have running in your house. Linux is free, stable (for the most part - this is not going to be an OS war), highly configurable, and easily administrated from a remote location. Being that it has so much that it can do, there is so much knowledge to be had about it -- more than what a single human can and should know.

    By gathering some of your closest affectionados to set up a load-balancing, caching, super-cool-illegal-ninja-moves DNS server, several things happen. Firstly, the social bonding takes place. Secondly, the knowledge of the group as a whole allows for the task to be completed quickly and properly. Thirdly, everyone knows something that you don't: Everyone learns something new from the time spent.

    Now, you're probably thinking, "What good is that if you're not doing it for hire?" The answer is simple. By simply living, you need to be ready to take on a new walk of life at a moment's notice, just for your own survival. Certain walks of life have certain benefits. This walk of life that we have all considered taking (if you're reading this, you're in the IT field, considering it, or retired from it) is needed for other walks of life to function. Since it is a rather large dependancy in itself, success and knowledge are rewarded by fairly decent financial reimbursement -- your salary. To be successful and knowledgable, you need hands-on learning, discussion with other knowledgable individuals, and the above mentioned social bonding. In addition to the primary skills you gain from such events, the secondary skills are equally as useful.

    Now that I realise I have been babbling for the last 20 minutes (It's early on Christmas. Give me a break.), I'm going to stop there.

    In short: Yes, LUG's still matter.
  • by systems (764012) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @10:33AM (#14335857)
    Back then I only had a 56 kbps dial-up connection, and downloading linux wasn't really an option. I visited the linux-egypt website [linux-egypt.org] to know from where I can buy linux CDs
    And sometimes I just need an egyptian to talk to, explain to him my linux problem and get his feedback
    Other times I just feel like talking about the presence and the future of free software in egypt
    So I think, my conclusion is, as long as distance and culture matters, lug, (local linux help) will continue to matter.
    • Good point. When I first started using Linux (early 90s) the LUGs here in Western Australia were a common way of acquiring ISOs of distros. Back then most of us here were on 56K dialup lines, and 640MB downloads were enough of a tough chew to drive many into the shops to buy copies of RedHat.

      I did that myself for a while, when I got sick of ploughing through all those SLS/Slackware floppies, but am happy to be able to say Slackware is still where it's at for me.

  • I don't believe there is a group in my city (Saint John, NB), but I do know there is a high need for one. Linux is still a mystry to many many people and thus there is a strong desire for them to exist, and to be more publisized! If people knew about LUGs more, I think people would be able to more use linux and learn about the freedom it grants to everybody.
  • by stry_cat (558859)

    Linux is now mainstream, it's being spread by slick corporate marketing, and with most distros, installation is a snap.

    Seriously what are you smoking? Linux is not mainstream. In a company with over 4000 employees, I'm the only one using Linux. Outside of server admins most people don't even know what it is. The only slick corp marketing is found in geek mags.

    As for the "do LUGs matter" question. I went to one once. It was the biggest waste of time. Some idiot talked about doing stupid things all

    • I worked in a company with 50 employees. Two of us ran Linux, and about 15 more employees even had a home computer. (talking about 5 years ago). Now when you do your statistics, of 4000 people, with 1 Linux user, it's a pretty bleak picture. However if you do my statistics with 2 of 17 computer users using Linux,it's a might better. Not mainstream of course, so that point is taken.

      If you average my yearly salary, and Bill Gates salary, the average American earns how much per year ??

      regards

      dbcad7

  • The social aspect of the LUG, as mine [uhacc.org] has found, seems to be as relevant as the technical part. Sure, UHACC does installfests, community service, trips, and presentations, and the like, but we also came to the realization that we value the building of the community at least as much as we value the technology. Once we embraced that, our mission became a whole lot clearer. Build the local FOSS community, promote open technologies, serve the community at large, have fun. In my book, there's still only one bunc
  • They may not, but (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pupeno (100437) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @11:09AM (#14335946) Homepage
    LUGs may not matter, but, I see most of LUGs turning into something that matters much more:

    Free Software User Groups

    or FSUGs.

    Those groups can promote free software on proprietary platforms (such as firefox and open office on windows), generally as a transitory stage to reach a free platform. Various free platforms are embraced: GNU/Linux, *BSD and why not GNU (that is, with HURD).

    Here, the local LUG is very important and they make huge events each year bringing thousands of people to learn about free software, there's no marketing of any company that can replace that.
    • Yes, linux centrism is a problem; there is interest in *bsd or even less know projects such as ReactOS. Sadly the couple of groups in my city not only are linux fans, they are also debian zealots. Daring to try something a little different is a blasphemy to their eyes.

      So i don't care for groups like that anymore. There are much better communities online, and more interesting things to try than wasting the time dealing with rabid fanatics.

      If the idea of free software groups really takes off here, i might gro
  • by farrellj (563) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @11:20AM (#14335972) Homepage Journal
    Over at the Ottawa Canada LUG, (OCLUG), most of the discussion is about the politics of the upcomming election...but not about technology, or Linux, or anything like that. Some people try and make a go of it, but unless it get's an overhaul soon, I will be writing it off. :-(

    ttyl
              Farrell
    • I am also a member of OCLUG, Orange County Linux Users Group that is.

      The nice thing about living this area is that there are ~7 LUGs to choose from within a 100 mile radius of my house. Each group has their own atmosphere, and there are several big names that visit once in a while.
  • Lost User Groups (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MindPrison (864299) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @11:33AM (#14336005) Journal
    Past and gone are the wonderful days of personal computers when computers where indeed personal.

    Im one of the "oldschool" geeks that grew up with an Atari 2600 and wrote my first assembly code games on a Commodore 64 way back then when an electronics kit where all the buzz and computers where something that banks used.

    I was a part of a local computer club in Stavanger in Norway where we met once a week to bring our beloved computers together and exchange code and just marvel at the "cool" computers we had. You could see a range of Commodore 64, Vic 20, Spectrum, ZX-81,BBC and many more there. It was passionate fun - and basically every day of our lives revolved around our home computers.

    Not too sure where all that went - but I had an "idea" about LUGs being somewhat the same as "back then"...unfortunately it seems like that no longer holds true (at least not to me). Im a Long time Linux user myself - using Slackware (an derivative self-compiled version of it that is).

    But Ive tried several times to get in touch with such groups, I now Live in Denmark in an small town called Odense. I tried to meet with the local LUGs over here and most of them where elitist-snobs to say the very least. It consist of mostly System-administrators and incarnate Linux professionals that seems to be very good friends - but shun any outsiders. If you dont know your way around Bash - then youre frozen outside and no one would even dare to talk to you. Funnily enough - theyre not the only example ...other LUGs Ive tried to get in contact with - are less than willing to help and waste most of the time by measuring you up-and-down on who you are and what on "earth" makes you "think" that youd even fit in.

    Oh-boy - times have sure changed. Maybe its just me that is getting to be an old geezer and stuck in the past, either that or it actually could be why theyre getting "less important"...at least to the "commoners" like me.

    Just my 5.14" cents.
    • Agreed. We must be about the same vintage. I was a member of the same kind of computer club. In my area it was mainly C64 and Apple //e.

      Now I'm surrounded by these young arrogant zealots at work all day, telling me there's no reason to run anything other than Linux and that I don't understand it. Why would I want to go and surrround myself with even more of them at a LUG?

      "Hey, I was installing Yggdrasil Linux from floppies downloaded via UUCP when you were still in nappies (diapers), bucko."
  • by kupojsin (681728)
    of course LUGs are still relevant almost all the people that replied here are involved in their local lugs and seem to be doing great. As for us http://www.lilug.org/ [lilug.org] we're still doing amazing stuff each weekend, you know why? because they're is still amazing stuff out there to learn about linux almost every day. I almost can't believe this is a question! So for all those out there that weren't aware, GO GET OUT THERE and visit you're local LUG.
  • The Omaha Linux User Group [olug.org] changed locations to a more downtown location and in general had a pretty good year in 2005, IMHO. User groups are at least as relevant as Linux usage in local companies, which is pretty strong in Nebraska, as evidenced by the informal Omaha Linux company list [phpconsulting.com]. Merry Christmas everyone.
  • The LUG at the University of Michigan (university policy says we can't call it "The University of Michigan Linux Users Group) revived very recently. At U of M, ResComp (the residential computing service) doesn't support Linux at all, so we're getting ready to provide full support for Linux on campus, hopefully by move-in 2006. The idea is to provide information to the campus community about switching and accomplishing common tasks such that if Joe Frat Boy wanted to use Linux, he'd have as much or more supp
  • by totallygeek (263191) <sellis@totallygeek.com> on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:27PM (#14336126) Homepage
    Our LUG [vle.org] found it difficult to keep meetings going, but the forums [vle.org] have become a great place for question and answer.
  • Heck yes! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jejones (115979) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:37PM (#14336150) Journal
    I set my sister up with a computer running Ubuntu. I visit a couple of times a year...and she has spent most of the year without a functioning printer. I couldn't diagnose it from afar, and only now are things back in order (we came back for Christmas).

    If there'd been a local LUG, she'd have had a working printer (and probably have the Wacom Graphire 3 going) a long time ago.

    Corporate movement towards Linux is great, but don't forget the home user.
  • by epcraig (102626) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:37PM (#14336153)
    The whole point of Free Software is to distribute the knowledge of how to make a computer work to computer users.
    When people disagree about how to use computers, they may split whatever organization they have to do this a different way,
    Both sides of a fork win by involving new users in whatever obsessions they share.
    It's all a plot, well, a bunch of plots really, to make users, not all, but enough, into developers.
    Whether you're speaking of software, news sites, blogs, email lists, or LUGs, with Open Source forks are more often than not good things for Free Software, including the fork between Free Software and Open Source.
    Any fork produces new developers, and more ways of doing neat things.
    What I don't understand is why there are no Open Office User Groups.
  • by mfarver (43681) * on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:38PM (#14336158) Journal
    I've been an active and sideline member of the Austin Linux community and the ALG group Joe Barr is primarily referring to for many years. I think Austin is somewhat unique, and the slow death of its user group can be attributed to people as much as anything.

    Some issues:
    During the early years of the group is was usually hosted at sites that had two rooms. One for organized presentations, and the other for freewheeling conversations and people were able to wander between the two. The site had some form of open net access. The moderator (Stu Green, or others) usually started the conversation going with a 15 minute rant on current events, and elicited questions, inform the group on what people were working on and what they needed to find out. This helped match people together by interested and really jump started the socialization.

    Later the group moved to venues that had one room, and on days where a presentation was less than interesting there could be no social aspect until dinner after the meeting (Katz's, Starseeds or some other late night venue.) Also, the new venue's were at City and State owned buildings, and some core members had such strong political views that they refused to attend meetings in those buildings. The meetings also for a time alternated between a North Austin and South Austin location instead of a central one, meaning most people only attended whichever meeting was closest.

    The Internet Bubble hit Austin hard in 2001-2002, and many core members were jobless, and could no longer afford to eat out. The dinner group dwindled to just a few, and we found many people were attending meetings just for the dinner socialization.

    There were a lot of ongoing ego battles... many of the original founders of the group held strong political opinions but did not frequently attend meetings. They were also typically older, and had some of the grumpiness generally expected of people in their age bracket. ;-) Over time the leadership of the group, and its direction became set by the younger, more frequently attending members. The mailing list became a venue for a battle between the young vs the old, the new members vs the founders. Some members split off to form splinter groups, some people got tired of the fighting, and the group dwindled further.

    In both computer and social networks there are true benefits in the number of nodes/people. The more people, the more interactions, and the more useful and interesting the group becomes. The Austin Linux group died the death of a thousand small cuts.. the increasingly mainstream use of Linux is only one of those.
  • by falkryn (715775) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:42PM (#14336171)
    I've been using linux for a few years now, and am a sys admin in likewise at a uni. That said, apart from trying to co-found one at the college I went to (didn't really pan out to much while I was there), I'd never been to a LUG.

    Just recently however I started attending the one in my city, to bring my oldest there (7 years old). It's really wonderful, gives us some nice time together, and exposes him to linux and part of linux culture. After the first time (which was an installfest, where some fellow there let him play a bunch of linux games on his box) my son asks about going ahead of time and looks forward to it. If something less than interesting for a seven year old is being discussed, I just bring my lappie with free games on it anyhow to keep him entertained (loves wesnoth). That and the the free food of course ;-)
  • by macurmudgeon (900466) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:44PM (#14336174) Homepage
    What a ridiculous question. Maybe those who need to believe themselves super geeks may leave but they'll be easily replaced by new users who take joy in learing more about their chosen OS. As president of a MUG, I can say that a good OS attracts passionate users who like to share and learn. Does constant Mac mainstream press kill Mac User Groups? Not hardly. Does ease of use kill Mac user groups? Ain't no easier computer - still got the groups. All computers are complicated to use and user groups are a great resource and a great social opportunity for people to share their passion.

    And the idea of Linux being mainstream is just a mite hopeful. It may be mainstream among network administrators and computer science grads reading Slashdot, but I can guarantee you that the general public wouldn't know a Linux box from a linotype machine. And what they do know is probably wrong anyway. Macs get lots of press and misinformation about them is the norm.

    I've attended a couple of local LUGs and can testify that their members are just as avid and cultish as Mac users, and just as welcoming and eager to share. As long as Linux remains an underdog users will band together against the Windows world. You may loose a few members who only were proud of Linux because it was so difficult to make work but they are leaving because of some other need than the one to share and learn from each other.
  • There are no other *user* groups in our city than our LUG. At one time we had old-school groups just like any other city, but once PCs were no longer rocket science/magic to the general public, those groups died out.

    Our LUG thrives today because it's changed to what TFA talked about - a professional/social/educational group where the local techies and admins can get together and talk tech vs. just pat asses and shake hands like the other "professional" technology groups. We actually learn and do things

  • I think there is a misconception here that Linux is being led by slick marketing campaigns and corporations. Sure, you can find slick marketing types who are extolling the virtues of such products as Linux 9.0 when they really mean RedHat 9.0 but are to fucking stupid to actually know anything.

    But there are an aweful lot of people who use Linux, regardless of the distro, and are much more useful in getting things to work, problems solved, interesting things done, tried, and learned. The corporations have

  • by PerlDudeXL (456021)
    I attended a meeting of the local Hannover Linux User Group a few years ago.
    It was disappointing. A group of unmotivated academics/geeks with no real drive to do something.
    Same for the Unix Group at my University.

    IRC has much more value for me.
  • Indian LUGs (Score:2, Insightful)

    by viksit (604616)
    Well, one thing I can confidently state is that LUGs in India are pretty active. I've been personally involved with the New Delhi LUG, and have had chances to see activities in the Bangalore LUG as well. The first one is still a bunch of old school users - people who have been using Linux for a long time, as well as droves of new users who discover Linux everyday - have developed a camaraderie through all the meetings. This extends to more than just discussions and demos - the group has conducted a number
  • Why call it a lug when you can call it a MUUG.

    Unix users groups are a broader subset than Linux users.

    And in Winnipeg, a city of 650.000 - we like our MUUG - the Manitoba Unix User Group.

    After all - some are Unix by day and Linux by night (and vice versa).
  • well we could call them technology groups. my lug talks as much about the stories on slashdot as linux in general.. A meeting place for like minded(ish) people.
  • The "do xUG's matter" question gets asked periodically, as the platforms and OSs mature. I can remember back in the early 80's when UG's were about getting Commodores to work. By the late 80's, the old timers were complaining that their UG's were no longer about cool roll-your-own solutions, but instead were about how to get MS Word to print special fonts, and so forth. The evolution seems to be from 'getting it to work at all' to 'getting the applications to work'. At the risk of a certain amount of fl
  • I still remember attending a LUG meeting way back (1997?) and having none other than Larry Augustin introduce himself to me, give me his business card, and discuss Linux with me, a clueless "luser." I had no idea who he was at the time, but he sure is a nice guy.
  • La-la land, where you can define anything any way you want to! Hungry? Say you're full! Dead? Declare yourself alive! Poor? Announce that you are rich!

    Hate Linux? Declare that Linux is dead! Worried about your Microsoft stock plummeting when free OSes take over the world? Insist that Linux can never make it on the desktop or that no sane person can ever adjust to the complexities of Linux. Right, well, let's improve the Linux experience by having Linux user groups. OH NO! NO NEED FOR THAT! LINUX IS PLENTY

  • I just want to point out that mainframe user's groups like SHARE are still going strong. They have always been a great place to learn what others are doing, keep up with what's new, meet other people doing interesting things and find others you can call for help when you need it.
  • My local LUG had a lot of potential (btw, I deliberately did not say which LUG it is that I am talking about; they wouldn't recognize themselves anyhow), but it became very apparent to me that this LUG was a good guide on how not to run a LUG. Things this LUG did was to:

    1. Become a Tax-Free Non-Profit Organization in order to be a Cheapbytes or Linux Central Disk Reseller (heaven forbid they burn their own disks and give some proceeds to linuxiso.org).

    2. When given a choice between involving the me
  • I ran an install-fest at Cornell Univ. last semester, and it was a huge success. We distributed something on the order of 300 CDs, and helped out a huge number of folks with one-on-one install/configure walkthroughs, along with various group tutorials and presentations. A big success.

    Why? Because folks who have any sort of trepidation re Linux want personal attention and communication. The Cornell Student LUG filled up with e-mails soon thereafter because people who installed and had questions wanted help f
  • Mainstream?? (Score:2, Informative)

    by theraccoon (592935)
    "Linux is now mainstream, it's being spread by slick corporate marketing, and with most distros, installation is a snap."

    Mainstream? You guys really need to get out of the Slashdot Universe and look around. Linux is far from mainstream.

    And which distros make installation a "snap?" When installing Linux, I still have to TELL it what kind of Keyboard and Mouse I'm using. Go ahead, ask your mom or sister or girlfriend or the star athlete at your school/college what kind of mouse they use. Wait for the blank st
  • "Members came from all walks of life, united only by a penchant for something new and cool, and a chance to place a bet on the impossible notion of world domination by an operating system hacked together by a ragtag bunch of students on the Internet."

    This would be quite impressive if the OS in question was actually designed from the ground up by the students and represented a significant advance in OS technology. Instead, they took the position that a decades old OS was the ultimate that could be achieved a

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