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Do LUGs Still Matter?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the places-to-learn dept.

Communications 155

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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FIRST POST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14335644)

happy festivities-applicable-to you!

Do they still matter? (5, Insightful)

dawhippersnapper (861941) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335645)

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.

Re:Do they still matter? (2, Interesting)

slazzy (864185) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336579)

Since linux is becoming the mainstream, I think we'll see more specific types of LUGs develop, such as gaming and programming.

Well, since you asked.. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14335646)

No.

One word (1)

Enoch Lockwood (889602) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335647)

IMPEACH!

Esotericism (1, Interesting)

(1+-sqrt(5))*(2**-1) (868173) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335648)

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 (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14335763)

Well, in all fairness, most linux geeks are unlikely to have attended such schools.

Yes! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Yes! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14335664)

There is plenty of activity going on on the bleeding edge

Oh, there's a lot of activity going on alright. Disgusting homosexual activity, that is!

Re:Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14335689)

They matter as long as the LUG nuts can keep the wheels on it.

Re:Yes! (2, Informative)

SilverspurG (844751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336011)

Where else can I go to drink beer and talk geek?

Meeting Chicks (5, Funny)

hyeh (89792) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335652)

I heard that Linux User Groups were a good place to meet chicks? Is this true?

Re:Meeting Chicks (5, Informative)

Brento (26177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335662)

I heard that Linux User Groups were a good place to meet chicks? Is this true?

Yes, in the sense that you'll meet the "chicks" you've been having virtual sex with.

Re:Meeting Chicks (1)

dubbreak (623656) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336152)

Here's [devnulled.com] an enticing picture of them...

Re:Meeting Chicks (1)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336308)

The one in the dark blue shirt MIGHT be a chick...

But don't think LUGs are just boring, here is a group in Davis, CA that combined the fun and excitement of open source, with MAGIC!

see the pictures [lugod.org] .

You can't tell me that LUGs aren't cool.

Keep looking at the rest of the pictures on the site...here is another example [lugod.org] then tell me how a bunch of computer geeks managed to use photos that are 640x480 pixels, yet had a file size of over 150K each.

Actually, I know a lot of the people there, and a lot of them work on web related projects. View the HTML source on the same page...

It just amazes me what these people seemingly get away with, because they other people believe they have some tech/geek-cred just because they use an alternative operating system.

Just because you use Linux doesn't mean you know what is going on.

Sorry, don't want to sound like a pain in the ass, but when I am sitting there at a meeting at work (I work with a lot of them), and these clowns try to tell everyone who will listen that the world must start using open standards, it's frustrating. They actually gave a class about CSS once...yet they obviously don't pay attention to it themselves.

Re:Meeting Chicks (1)

XMLcommando (854501) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336401)

That is one of the funniest things I've ever read on Slashdot.

Re:Meeting Chicks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14335665)

I heard that Linux User Groups were a good place to meet chicks? Is this true?

Maybe if you're into pre-op transexuals. I've never seen a LUG meeting that was anything but a complete sausagefest. Women don't use Linux, they use Windows.

Re:Meeting Chicks (2, Funny)

ettlz (639203) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335681)

Maybe if you're into pre-op transexuals. ... Women don't use Linux, they use Windows.

Oh, you bitter quasi-misogynistic sod!

Re:Meeting Chicks (4, Informative)

Hymer (856453) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335710)

"Women don't use Linux, they use Windows." Bullshit !
Just look at our cousins @ BSD, there are lot of girls... and women do also like Mac...
--
I dream of a united Linux, xBSD, Mac OS X, UNIX world... and with no room for M$ !

Re:Meeting Chicks (1)

Jane_Dozey (759010) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336505)

Holy crap! Does that mean I'm a pre-op transexual because I'm not actually male and I use linux? My ruddy parents have been lying to me all this time! Dammit.

Try and remember, minority != non-existant.

Re:Meeting Chicks (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14335684)

Sure its true. And all those presents left under your tree were delivered last night by a fat guy in a red suit.

Re:Meeting Chicks (1)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336346)

Actualy, I wasn't wearing anything. I think what you might've seen was my rash...

Re:Meeting Chicks (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335789)

Not just chicks. Chicks with hardware.

Re:Meeting Chicks (0)

Halfbaked Plan (769830) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335882)

Actually, for the bearded hacker chickenhawks who hang out in the back of the meeting room, this is indeed the case.

But not in the sense intended.

Oslo PILS and Linux User Group (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14335653)

Of course it matters - OPLUG [oplug.org] ! :)

Re:Oslo PILS and Linux User Group (2, Interesting)

koreaman (835838) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335947)

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, who had nothing better to post

Here's the answer from TFA (4, Informative)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335654)

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.

LUG Concept Outdated (5, Insightful)

CompTune (941281) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335655)

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!

Re:LUG Concept Outdated (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14335668)

??? 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.

Re:LUG Concept Outdated (1)

CompTune (941281) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335688)

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 itself, since I've been posting all of my Linux experiences there. (Shameless plug)

Re:LUG Concept Outdated (1)

CoonAss56 (927862) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336217)

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.

Sure they do. (1)

pkplex (535744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335660)

All sorts of tricks and tips and new programs and scripts and ideas can be passed around and shared.

If the community knows what's good for it, YES. (5, Insightful)

Crash Culligan (227354) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335671)

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.

My local LUGs are dead, kaput, incommunicado (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14335682)

It's a very timely question that this article's
subject asks, because the day before yesterday I was looking
to see if any of the LUGs listed for my area were
operational. Apparently none are. No meetings,
no responses, nothing.

People get together (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:People get together (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336559)

Yes, but hot-rodders get laid.

LUGs and interst. (4, Insightful)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Thumping our own chest , are we? (4, Insightful)

nietsch (112711) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336105)

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.

WWSUDO! (1)

splerdu (187709) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336439)

Then start your own movement... What Would Super User Do?

Lug Radio (3, Informative)

shish (588640) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335694)

Without LUGs, there would be no LUG Radio [lugradio.org] !

Re:Lug Radio (2, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336041)

More importantly, there would be no wheels on my car.

No More LUGs?! (0, Redundant)

sabat (23293) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335696)

No more Lesbians Until Graduation? What a shame.

LUGs don't matter to home users anymore... (2, Interesting)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335697)

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 knowledgeable answer in a fairly reasonable time period.

Most distributions have very end user friendly forums. If people on the forums can't help there's always google as a backup.

Re:LUGs don't matter to home users anymore... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336182)

You bascially said the same exact thing as the article summary and got modded up.

Re:LUGs don't matter to home users anymore... (1)

Saxerman (253676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336209)

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?

They're good (1)

hey (83763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335702)

My local linux LUG gets abotu 100 people per meeting. Useful for casual chat.

Well... (1)

Virus1984 (624552) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335704)

(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 members list include many French people). One would say that Apple software and hardware being more "mainstream" than Linux in general, an AUG would be totally irrelevant; in fact, even Apple Belgium-Luxemburg thought we didn't matter back in our early days, now they finally realised that AUG are free advertisment, free user support, and are a wonderful breeding ground for good ideas. Apart from that, being human beings, it's always a pleasure to meet other human beings sharing at least one interest with me. Many members of my AUG are now personal friends, and that friendship covers way more than Apple stuff.

My take on this: Yes, $COMMON_INTEREST User Groups matter, as long as humans will be more flesh than wire.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14335724)

> 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.

Of course, once being tutored by a human you DO go and write up the documentation so it's now current, don't you?

I'm sick of people complaining about varions linux or other F/OSS documentation for days as they try to solve a problem, and then go solve it by their own nous, and refuse to go update the documentation. It's not going to write itself.

You're using software created by people who allow you to use it for free, the least you can do it be unselfish and give back. You owe them at least that much.

Re:Well... (1)

Virus1984 (624552) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336162)

Of course, once being tutored by a human you DO go and write up the documentation so it's now current, don't you?

Well, actually I DO write some documentation (especially covering the usage of a terminal and various command-line utilities under Mac OS X); and I've hosted a few presentations at my AUG's mettings. As my docs and presentations are written and done in french you wouldn't get much from them, but my numerous english-illiterate readers really appreciated my effort.

Of course this is not exactly "updating existing F/OSS documentation", it's "writing inexistant french-language documentation, as many users can't read english". Also, maybe "tutoring more users once I've been tutored myself" doesn't count by your definition of "being unselfish". You got point.


I became aware of Linux (2, Interesting)

p0 (740290) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335706)

... 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.

Yes, LUGs are still relevant (5, Insightful)

MadFarmAnimalz (460972) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335709)

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. (3, Interesting)

Keaster (796594) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335714)

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 ... (5, Interesting)

phoxix (161744) | more than 8 years ago | (#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

Re:LUGs do matter ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14335791)

... 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.

Man you have an interesting life...

Re:LUGs do matter ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336321)


(Recently my LUG (NYLUG) 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)).

Google depends on Linux; Google heavily courts Linux geeks. Without Linux, there may have been no Google. So why doesn't Google make any effort to support Linux adoption by providing Linux versions of its products (e.g. Google Earth)?

"Don't be evil" sounds nice; are parasites good or evil? Or in-between?

LUGs are still very important! (1)

SaDan (81097) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335731)

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.

Yes (-1, Offtopic)

Solilok (791022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335756)

my car was stolen last year, and I wish I had a lock up garage then!

When it just doesn't work for you (1)

mikeraz (12065) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335762)

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 (2, Interesting)

lagerbottom (704499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335764)

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 a leader who really wants to make it a success.

Of course they still matter! LUGs are great! (2, Insightful)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Of course they still matter! LUGs are great! (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335795)

of course they matter they would be the only way to find out that the best way to have an up to date (from the first install) Mandriva system is to use the boot.iso and grab from a devel branch of a mirror. Note kiddies devel !=cooker

Re:Of course they still matter! LUGs are great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336489)

.. but why didn't you just "grep /proc/bus/usb/devices Vendor" .. redundant cat there. :-)

Overexaggerated relevance. (1)

Oz0ne (13272) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335783)

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 other operating/computing system centric group. Example: there have been mac user groups for decades now, and they're great for mac users, but pretty much irrelevant and off the radar to those that aren't already converts.

Of course! LUGs serve to reinforce the geek ethos. (1)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335797)

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 out and share with other geeks in the community. We share tips, tricks, knowledge, and jokes. Also, it gives people who are curious about Linux a chance to learn more as well.

Is my local LUG spearheading the Linux movement like Perens or Raymond? Ummm.... not so much, but the community needs users/bug testers as well as creators.

$0.02 USD (5, Insightful)

Skudd (770222) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335808)

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.

As long as culture matters (3, Insightful)

systems (764012) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:As long as culture matters (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336031)

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.

LUGs do matter (1)

Dragon_Hilord (941293) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335907)

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.

Re:LUGs do matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14335929)

The truth is that no-one in your area gives a fuck about linux except you.

What are you smoking? (1, Interesting)

stry_cat (558859) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335910)

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 the while running Gnome as root. Talk about stupid, he couldn't even read the warning saying don't run Gnome as root. The LUG aparently died a year later. To me they don't matter.

Re:What are you smoking? (1)

dbcad7 (771464) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336469)

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

It's the social part that matters (1)

m0ng00se (64796) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335931)

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 bunch that can do all that: us.

They may not, but (5, Interesting)

pupeno (100437) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335946)

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.

Re:They may not, but (1)

Artemis3 (85734) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336519)

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 grow interest in grouping again. I like the term much better and it would do some justice to the free software movement.

Of Course They Still Matter! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14335950)

Long Live PLUG-AZ!

Some do, some don't... (2, Interesting)

farrellj (563) | more than 8 years ago | (#14335972)

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

Not me! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14335987)

I am a self-employed professional. I am also a Linux expert. I've been to one of my local LUG meetings and I would say that I wouldn't dare put the vast majority of them in front of a single client of mine. Maybe one or two can pull it off with professionalism... but most of them would come across like RMS, a dirty old hippie.

Lost User Groups (4, Insightful)

MindPrison (864299) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336005)

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.

Re:Lost User Groups (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336298)

If you were "OLDSCHOOL" that would be your 5.25 cents. At the very least.

lugs (1)

kupojsin (681728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336019)

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.

still relevant in Omaha anyway (1)

ubiquitin (28396) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336086)

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.

I hope so! (1)

EvilSporkMan (648878) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336097)

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 support as he does with Windows.

Victoria Linux Enthusiasts LUG (2, Informative)

totallygeek (263191) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336126)

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! (2, Insightful)

jejones (115979) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336150)

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.

LUGs are like distros (2, Interesting)

epcraig (102626) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Austin is probably not typical (5, Insightful)

mfarver (43681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336158)

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.

Re:Austin is probably not typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336544)

Marv? Is that you! Where you been you crazy LUG fuck -
we're down at the HoJos. Sorry about losing your number.
Drop in!

bringing my kid to one (2, Interesting)

falkryn (715775) | more than 8 years ago | (#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 ;-)

You must be trolling (5, Insightful)

macurmudgeon (900466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336174)

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.

LUGs are the last bastion of computer user groups (2, Interesting)

Dano (2872) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336176)

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 relevant to the places we live and work.

BisManLUG
http://www.bismanlug.org [bismanlug.org]

LUGS are not CORPORATIONS (1)

tacocat (527354) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336205)

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 no incentive to provide that synergistic cooperation unless it can be tied back to their product line. At least that's the general rule of corporate business and economics.

But most of the interesting stuff being done today isn't on the front page of redhat or suse. Neither of them will help you understand the differences of RAID 5 versus RAID 1/0 and how to impliment it under EIDE, SATA, or SCSI or why you might care.

No (1)

PerlDudeXL (456021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336221)

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 (2, Insightful)

viksit (604616) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336332)

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 of *events* spanning over a day or two with workshops, seminars and talks to make even larger numbers aware of Linux.. and if you do this in a city with more than 30 colleges which offer Computer Science as a major, you've got a serious number of potential LUGgers coming in. Not only the main LUG, but suburban LUGs too have sprung up under the umbrella of the mother LUG, so to speak - which offer localized help to both organizations and home users - an example being the Linux Access Project, which aimed at helping schools adopt Linux. Bangalore on the other hand grew from something described above into a much more formal affair - attended by a large number of people who would come to attend talks and presentations decided over mailing lists, and they too organize one of the largest events in south asia - Linux Bangalore. Group these together with fledgling and established LUGs in half a dozen cities across India, and the growing exposure just can't be discounted. Whats important here is that LUGs today propogate the concept of Open Source, and community based development, offering people a glimpse into projects they might be able to contribute to - and this goes much farther in helping the community, rather than teach a newbie all about Linux and solve teething problems - thats where our IRC channel on Freenode comes in - and I daresay, people in there are able to solve a lot of common problems, or atleast, refer people to channels related to whatever problem they've been facing. IM(NS)HO, LUGs are still important - although not in the same way they were say, 10 years ago. Their functions and focus has changed, but in essence, they are still what they were initially visualized to be - a meeting place for people interested in discussing about (Linux, OSS and ) technology.

Re:Indian LUGs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336496)

Wanna try putting in some CRLFs? (carriage return/line feed)
Thanks.

Sure! (1)

gall0ws (902335) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336357)

Do you know how many people say new-lienux instead of gnu-linux?

Winnipeg (1)

paxmark1 (636441) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336387)

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).

My experience with LUGs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14336395)

There are two LUGs in my area.

The nearest, DCLUG [tux.org] , has had very small attendance at the meetings to which I went. One driver of this may have been that the group seemed completely ambivalent to new attendees to their meetings. Not one person said so much as "hi" at any of the meetings I made. That wouldn't be surprising if the meetings were turning out a hundred people; but less than 12 people, where everyone else there knows each other on a first-name basis? Every time I went, the topics discussed were development or admin related, and the talks (as well as topics discussed before presentations) were repeated interrupted by disputes and disagreements, some of which were clearly fueled by personal animosity. This was obviously a group of people that have known each other for a while, discussing topics of professional interest to them.

The next-nearest, NOVALUG [tux.org] , is very active and typically has a lot of attendees at their meetings. If not aggressively seeking and welcoming new members, they don't seem ambivalent to their presence, in contrast to DCLUG. People were definitely friendly. So I went to their meetings several times, and in all but one, the topic of discussion was (again) either development or professional admin related, with a skew towards admin stuff -- e.g. LDAP, LVM, etc. The one meeting I attended that had a skew towards user applications -- a "Tricks with the GIMP" kind of meeting -- interestingly seemed to get the biggest response of interest from the crowd present.

TFA is correct, at least here: LUGs here appear to mainly be groups where professional Linux admins discuss issues of interest to professional Linux admins. To the typical home user, beyond some assistance getting an install done or an obstinate device to work, they don't have much real educational value. Which is sad, but hardly surprising: the motivated people who keep a group going are going to want to discuss the things that interest them. Sorta like open source development: contributors work on the problems/issues of interest to them.

Lugs (1)

medgooroo (884060) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336397)

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 Evolution of User's Groups (1)

Eadwacer (722852) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336443)

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 flameage, I'd suggest we look at what Windows groups are doing now (I know, "how do I get this malware off?"), or what Mac OS 9 groups were doing right before the Big Switch.

Never know who you'll meet (1)

RussP (247375) | more than 8 years ago | (#14336581)

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.
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