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Is the LUG a thing of the past?

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the where-else-do-you-get-cds dept.

Linux 162

tinahdee writes "Linux User Groups dying out? LUG leaders report that attendance is down — but mailing list traffic is still good. Do we still need LUGs, given the ease of installation and ubiquitousness of online information about Linux? Lots of people say, yes, we still need LUGs (and some disagree)."

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Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (1, Funny)

cs02rm0 (654673) | more than 7 years ago | (#19955957)

I must be at a LUG.

Re:Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19956179)

Burbage dies, pg. 12
Hedwig dies, pg. 56
Mad-Eye dies, pg. 78
Scrimgeour dies, pg. 159
Wormtail dies, pg. 471
Dobby dies, pg. 476
Fread Weasley dies, pg. 637
Voldemort kills Snape, pg. 658
Voldemort kills Harry, pg. 704
Harry comes back to life, pg. 724
Neville kills Nagini, pg. 733
Tonks, Lupin and Colin Creevy's deaths confirmed, pg. 743
Hagrid, Malfoy and Neville survive.
Nineteen years after the events in the book:
Ron marries Hermoine
Harry marries Ginny
Their children attend Hogwartz together
Ron's children are named Rose and Hugo
Harry's children are named Lily, James and Albus Severus
Draco Malfoy has a son named Scorpius
The final two sentences are:
"The scar had not pained Harry for eighteen years. All was well."

Leaders and topics (1, Insightful)

dysplay (1026828) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957113)

I find two issues have been eating away at my local LUG. First is the leadership issue. In the last three years the LUG's leaders seem to be growing increasingly lazy. Four years ago we had a great leader, fun meetings, good attendance. The next year we had a leader who put in a lot of effort, but chose some lousy meeting topics. The year after that it picked up again at first, but towards the end our president stopped putting effort into the club and meetings started disappearing. This year there were so few members left that our current president ran unchallenged. We've had one installfest, and no meetings (understand the turnover point is in April). The second issue is the topics. I think the face of Linux is changing and that's causing some issues with the meetings. It's great to have some newbie meetings to get people up and running. But I miss the days when the LUG was specifically geared towards the hobbyist. When we all went out, found some new, cool, weird way to use Linux. When I was first attending Linux meetings as a newbie, there was little I understood. I was there because I wanted to learn no matter what. I recognized that the things my fellow members were doing were incredible. Recently in my Operating Systems class we were allowed to pick a personal final project. The presentations given were amazing. My MythTV box was one of the more pathetic works. I remember thinking, "This is what we're missing in LUG!" The creativity to adapt Linux to suit our zanny nerdy needs. The projects included booting Linux (and Windows) from USB drives, a Linux OS customized for digital sound manipulation, a router with OpenWRT and text-to-voice software. The users could log in, type a message, and the router would talk. One classmate used Puppy Linux and customized it to run all his normal applications with little to no load delay. LUGs aren't having fun with Linux anymore. But that can change. We need good leaders who can find these projects and good member to present on them. I hope that Linux users haven't forgotten how to have fun with Linux.

The only good thing about LUGS .. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19955977)

.. is that they double as a homosexual nerd dating club. If you don't swing that way, there's no point.

Re:The only good thing about LUGS .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19956039)

I know this is probably a troll, but funnily enough I met my first boyfriend at a LUG. Ah, happy times.

Re:The only good thing about LUGS .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19956345)

I'm sure you were his first boyfriend as well.

MOD PARENT UP!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19956043)

That's how I met my man!!!!!

Re:The only good thing about LUGS .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19956193)

Ha! That's truer than most people might think. There were at least two gay couples at my local LUG back when I used to go at University.

Re:The only good thing about LUGS .. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19957627)

I only once met a fellow queer at a LUG (but unfortunately he's not my quite type, and I'm not his either :( ). He's been a valuable help with my coming out, though.

The other way round has happened much more often: on more than one occasion, I've installed Firefox and Thunderbird after a hot steamy mandate... Once, we even "did it again" right after the install. Indeed, the time of the download allowed my "batteries" to resplenish themselves of plenty of fresh chantilly for a juicy second shot :)
A different way to advocate free software, hehe...

Unfortunately, one time I got short-changed, and got crabs. I would have understood it if I had installed Internet Exploder and Outlook on the guy's box, but for Firefox and Thunderbird?!? Thankless bastard!

local forms yes, (5, Interesting)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19955981)

It isn't 1997 anymore. We don't need to meet up in shopping malls to trade 1.44M discs. LUG over the net makes sense as having a community to rely on for troubleshooting is what makes or breaks a distro.

Re:local forms yes, (1)

weazzle (1084967) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956061)

I went to LUGs in college for the free (Google funded) pizza! Actually, this only occured when the LUG at my university had firefox extension revision days, which were awesome:)

Re:local forms yes, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19956363)

They sure sound it.

Re:local forms yes, (2)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956185)

LUG over the net makes sense as having a community to rely on for troubleshooting is what makes or breaks a distro.


You don't get out much, do you? Now, I've never been part of a LUG, but I can tell you that meeting people face-to-face is oftentimes a lot more productive than exchanging e-mails or even in IRC or IM. Plus, it's about the networking. I've met many people in my life who have became good friends, and some have given me excellent job leads, through other groups I've been involved with (other than LUGs). It's how I met my wife (this was a religious group, rather than an geek group, though).

Re:local forms yes, (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956463)

I get out plenty, but when my box goes haywired I want an answer now, not next month at the LUG.

Re:local forms yes, (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956839)

I think there's a big difference between why one goes to LUG vs. hitting the Internet. The difference might the same as preferring to go to work rather than telecommuting, or taking a class at college vs online classes. Some things are just a lot better in person, and if you have the time it's definitely worth it to show up.

Re:local forms yes, (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957023)

If all I want to do is meet peeps, I don't need to be a member of a tech club to do that. I can hang out with my friends, for the sole reason of just hanging out. Don't need a "special occasion."

Re:local forms yes, (3, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957215)

Yes but some people like to, yannow, make *new* friends, and it's often enjoyable to make friends with people who enjoy the same things as you do. That's kinda the whole POINT behind clubs and organizations.

Re:local forms yes, (2, Interesting)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956471)

We don't need to meet up in shopping malls to trade 1.44M discs.
That may be true, but the advantage of a LUG is that your attention is focussed on that one topic - Linux, Open Source, Freedom to Tinker, News things happening, Meeting Real people... the last point being a very important factor.

People make presentations about their offerings, and offer Services for a fee; we get to talk about local and topical issues.. like the impact of Vista on the local IT and user companies; tips and tricks used by Sysadmins etc. etc. Emails, mailing lists etc. are a very poor substitute - if one doesn't already know a bit about a topic, say SOA or JBoss, an email cannot spark much interest.

A 30-minute presentation on how an entire hospital has been converted to Open Source products and technologies by the company that did it... makes an instant impact. Wednesday evening, I am attending a presentation on Open Source products and services, at the local CSI (computer Society of India) chapter.

As I remarked elsewhere, Linux (the kernel) is a very small aspect of LUGs and the FOSS world. Time to move off from LUGs.

Re:local forms yes, (1)

cyclop (780354) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957059)

That may be true, but the advantage of a LUG is that your attention is focussed on that one topic - Linux, Open Source, Freedom to Tinker, News things happening, Meeting Real people... the last point being a very important factor.

Real people? Do you mean that people I talk with on the Net are all.. Bots? Droids?

Seriously, stop the "real people vs Teh Internet" FUD. The internet is made of the very real people talking on it. What we communicate doesn't change a lot if we communicate it using voice or using the TCP protocol.

Re:local forms yes, (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957225)

The internet is made of the very real people talking on it. What we communicate doesn't change a lot if we communicate it using voice or using the TCP protocol.
Even a telephonic chat is much less effective than an in-person chat / presentation. You get to ask questions, and get meaningful responses then and there.... and everyone benefits.. even those who didn't bother to ask. A synchronised webcast with multiple attendees comes closest, but very cumbersome to setup.

Re:local forms yes, (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956589)

It depends. In a college I can see the value/fun of LUGs. Outside not so much anymore. Linux has become more mainstream and the Internet really has done a job on this kind of get together. Kind of like user groups in general I don't know if they have much value. It is kind of sad in a way. Local BBS and user groups where local. Now that we have the internet fewer and fewer local groups seem to be thrive. Like the death of computer magazines I think we are getting exposed to fewer and fewer new ideas. We seek out those that fit with what we know. That is why you have "Computer Experts" that think that Windows is the Alpha and Omega of computers. They know nothing about Macs, Linux, or even that there are computers bigger than PCs or maybe a server.

Re:local forms yes, (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956659)

In Colleges, LUGs are usually Lesbians Until Graduation.

I'm sure they'd still attract plenty of lonely geeks from Mom's Basement at an open meeting though...

Enterprise Linux Users Groups expanding... (1)

Shoeler (180797) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956709)

The problem I have with most LUGs is it's - well - what it says it is, a user group.

There's been a movement lately to create ELUGs - Enterprise Linux User Groups. I know the one I'm involved with in my city just had a long discussion about creating an enterprise group. The problem is one of need. Users need very different things then those of us involved in day-to-day management of an enterprise Linux base.

I know I for one enjoyed being in the different LUGs I was in, but I gave more then I got for the most part. As an admin, I want to be better at what I do, so it's not just that I'm a jackass, it's that I want to continually expand my abilities through others misfortune. :)

LUG Catch-22? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956925)

LUG over the net makes sense as having a community to rely on for troubleshooting is what makes or breaks a distro.
Unless you're trying to troubleshoot your Internet connection.

Second life for LUGs? (1)

bwcbwc (601780) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957437)

Maybe LUGs should virtualize their meetings on Second Life or similar virtual spaces. That would give most of the benefits of the live meetings (interactive troubleshooting, a decent-sized audience for presentations), but allow for geographically dispersed groups to interact or consolidate if that makes sense.

Re:local forms yes, (1)

I_Love_Pocky! (751171) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958015)

We don't NEED LUGs anymore, but that's not to say that they need to disappear. It is just that it would be more like a club now. People with similar interests getting together. Not because they NEED to, but because they WANT to.

No (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19955985)

No, as stated by Netcraft, only BSD User Groups are dying.

Re:No (2, Funny)

kraemate (1065878) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956293)

'Course, BUGs are bad, arent they?

Re:No (1)

linuxpyro (680927) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957931)

Out of curiosity, are there any BSD user groups? The LUG I helped start touches on the BSDs, but I haven't heard of any groups dedicated to those OSes.

Re:No (1)

Vitaliy (782601) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958117)

Yes, we have a BSD group in NYC (http://www.nycbug.org/) that has active meetings every month.

LUGs not just for information (5, Insightful)

auroran (10711) | more than 7 years ago | (#19955993)

Installing Linux is easier and there's lots of online help. LUGs also have the use for a social community and can let people meet face to face and discuss things. I find that real life is a much higher data rate and can save me hours of time online.

It also never hurts to brush up on inter-personal skills at the same time.

Re:LUGs not just for information (4, Funny)

doombringerltx (1109389) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956203)

Learning interpersonal skills from linux users is like having Bill from sales help you with an computer problem

Re:LUGs not just for information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19956917)

Heh. So true.

Re:LUGs not just for information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19956437)

But that's why we have gaybuntu [gaybuntu.com] !

Re:LUGs not just for information (1)

DataBroker (964208) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956499)

brush up on inter-personal skills

Only on /. do people admit to using interpersonal skills so infrequently that they have to brush up on them.

Re:LUGs not just for information (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956989)

Installing Linux is easier and there's lots of online help.
So what should people who need help getting to the online help (e.g. can't get an IP address) do?

LUGs are useful still (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957121)

Try going online to ask about how to fix your broken X11 settings.

What a horrible mess. I was on #linuxhelp on freenode.net and those guys just ignored this noob who waited and asked twice about this in several minutes, he had all kinds of details on what was going wrong. I told him to use the "system-config-display" command and voila, problem solved. Everyone else sent him on a wild goose chase.

I've not seen that kind of incompetence or snobbery in a local LUG.

Instead of LUGS we need... (4, Funny)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956011)

...consultants. Time for Ubuntu to move into the enterprise.

Yes, indeed! (2, Insightful)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956023)

User groups are made by users, that is people.
And people still need to meet each other for brinstorming, experience exchanges and, of course, a good cup of your favourite beverage!
Try doing this on a mailing list!

Re:Yes, indeed! (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956993)

Wait, I get why you can't share beverages over email lists, but brainstorming and experience exchanges? That's almost exactly what they were designed to do.

Brainstorming: Pose a problem and everyone can (after thinking a bit) post a possible attack on the problem. Unlike in-person brainstorming sessions, not everyone has to be there at the same time and everyone can have time to think a bit before screaming answers.

Experience exchanges: As with brainstorming, there's time to think and answer, and no requirement for physical presence. As a bonus, the wisdom is generally cached by the mailing list for future users to benefit from, unlike a LUG which only remembers it if individual members accurately recall it.

The beverage thing is, sadly, insurmountable at this time.

Re:Yes, indeed! (1)

cyclop (780354) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957099)

Added value of mailing lists: They are usually archived. In searchable text.
Try to find instantaneously what someone said last Wednesday at the LUG while chewing that pizza, instead.

The user group as a community service organization (2, Informative)

mw13068 (834804) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958005)

In Ithaca New York we have what we call the "Ithaca Free Software Association," which is a computer user's group which is focused on promoting and supporting free software in general, rather than any particular operating system. We welcome anyone who wants to use free software, whether they run GNU/Linux, *BSD, Windows, or MacOS. Meeting face-to-face each month is a great way to meet new members, though most of our communication is done over the email list.

Meeting face-to-face is also how conduct our events in the local community. GNU/Linux installfests, "Vendor" booths at local technology events (we have three higher-ed institutions in the area, as well as numerous K-12 schools), as well as Software Freedom Day, and a few other events we stage each year.

So, essentially, we're a group of folks who like computers, software, etc. But we're also a community service organization, intent on helping people solve technological problems with free software. Whether that's someone's grandma, or a local school district.

I'd post the URL, but I don't want to break my Web server... :)

Cliche (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19956025)

Netcraft confirms: Linux (user groups) are dying?

I left when I got married. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19956031)

My wife didn't want me going anymore because of all the babes that were there.

College Intern (2, Insightful)

Dareth (47614) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957153)

We had a college intern who worked for the same company I did each summer. Every year he seemed to get better and better at IT/Tech. Then he got a gf, and all his progress calm to a halt.

Once you get a gf, your tech progress stops, and you will be at that level for the rest of your life. Just make sure it is high enough to earn a living. Yeah, I could have been an uber-geek, but I traded it all away for some sex. *wink*

Yes. (5, Interesting)

bjornnlc (533548) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956033)

Yes. The majority of LUGs I know disappeared in 2004, only leaving the larger ones behind. The quality on the remaining LUGs are top notch, so I guess this is a natural phenomenon that occurs after every hype.

Re:Yes. (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956373)

There are less people just hanging out saying Linux is cool. There are more groups of people with specific issues. Ubuntu LoCo's are picking up. Just natural evolution based on need. (And anyone who has attended one knows,/b. it is not intelligent design!)

Re:Yes. (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956695)

only leaving the larger ones behind.

I live in a small town (10,000) with very rural surroundings, the group I go to consists of about 10 people that show up at any given meeting. It's a small group, but of a high quality, we usually pass around ideas for projects, things we're doing at work etc. For me, it's kinda like having a computer club after getting out of school, I think windows users are missing out.

We need LUGs (2, Insightful)

b1ufox (987621) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956047)

We do need LUGs !!!
LUG is not only about solving or troubleshooting other user's Linux problems, but also about knowing and meeting with people who share the same mindset(mostly). Email is good but effectively in person conversation prevails over emails.

Definitely its not the end of LUGs, but we need more awareness among people and students alike about LUGs. The FOSS /Linux bug has just started in a true sense, therefore this calls fore enthusiastic people to common under single roof.

Re:We need LUGs (2, Insightful)

DataBroker (964208) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956617)

Speaking personally, I have less of a reason to go to a LUG than "back-in-the-day". Before I was so new to it, that any help was great. At that time, I was hacking together leftover, unsupported, often-broken hardware.

Now though, I can afford to buy normal hardware, and the stuff I have is all standardized enough that I'm not looking for help guessing the right X config settings for my particular vid card.

Attendance at LUGs being down may actually be indicative of less hand-holding being needed for installation and configuration. I would rather go to a geek-gathering where we can discuss some sort of RPG and debate dwarves vs. elves than to go to a LUG where we all rally around and cheer how well some package installed without error.

And if all that's left at a LUG is debating distros, I'd probably have more fun debating religions. I'll opt to take the kids out for some fun any time over that.

Re:We need LUGs (1)

electricalen (623623) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957005)

Another reason why LUGs are necessary is because coordinated groups have much more power than single individuals. In my company, the IT department is ALWAYS trying to clamp down on what we can do.

First it was no AIM, then no SSH, then no FTP, then no POP3, then lots of websites blocked including blogs, Linux helpsites, etc. The only thing that prevents them from mandating that everyone has to run Windows is our LUG. They have enough people who go out of their way to work with their managers to make sure we Linux users are important.

Without an organization, it's divide and conquer, on the part of management and IT of companies.

LUGS? Only until graduation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19956071)

...at least at Wellesley.

The Linux kernel isn't everything (0, Offtopic)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956091)

Besides, trademark issues and politics by "vested interests" - namely, agents from proprietary s/w firms who poison these groups and get them dissolved.

It's now "foss.in" in India, and numerous JUGs (JBoss User Groups), PHP Programmers Group and even Ruby on Rails Groups have sprung up recently in cities like Pune.

Besides, it is questionable whether even Linus is interested in the ideals which made the Linux kernel successful - and I for one, welcome the declining use of this trademarked name in Free Software and Open Source forums.

Re:The Linux kernel isn't everything (1)

byolinux (535260) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956455)

Quite.

Just yesterday I formed Manchester Free Software [fsuk.org] for the people of Manchester, UK.

Linux kernel really isn't it all, but sadly, certainly individuals in the local 'LUG', are unwilling to discuss issues of software freedom, so a new group seemed useful.

Re:The Linux kernel isn't everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19957155)

Who the hell modded parent post offtopic? Every single line in that post is bang on topic, viz: the decline of Linux User Groups.

The mods seem ot be on crack these days.

It depends on what you get from LUG meetings (4, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956197)

Some people use it as a reason to get out on the weekend. They do barbecues and cookouts, they play network games and otherwise just hang out... and occasionally address a Linux issue or two.

If you go there to pick up chicks... uh no.

Some people, I have seen, take their LUGs very seriously... they attend them as if they were attending church! For those people, it's a traditionally religious experience... in the most literal sense possible. (inside joke)

I find most of these LUGs to be rather annoying. The ones that are little more than an excuse to get out of the house on a Saturday are pretty good though... burgers 'n beer are always good and a LUG is as good a reason as any.

Re:It depends on what you get from LUG meetings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19957977)

Please tell me, what the hell is the point of putting that something is an inside joke on the Internet? Do you all expect us to be your best friend with whom this joke was created... or that we even give a shit?

I don't use LUGs anymore... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19956229)

...I get my fill of "STFU n00B!!!1" on Barrens chat these days...

Do we still need automobile associations? (0)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956243)

"Are automobile associations dying out? Leaders report that attendance is down but mailing list and show traffic is still good. Do we still need automobile associations, given the ease of driving and ubiquitousness of online information about automobiles? Lots of people say, yes, we still need automobile associations (and some disagree)."

Re:Do we still need automobile associations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19956279)

no, actually.

Re:Do we still need automobile associations? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957123)

What the hell is an automobile association, and why did we need them?

That sounds like a joke, but it's not really. At first I thought you meant insurance or something, but now I realize that's not the case. I can only assume you mean it's like a fanclub for... automobiles.

I've driven a car for half my life and never heard of such a thing. I mean, there's the people that have classic cars and travel to different 'shows' to show them off, but I've always heard them called clubs, not associations, and I've never ever considered joining one.

It's like User Groups... There's generic PC User Groups (well, used to be anyhow) but no Windows User Groups... Why? Because it's mainstream. As Linux becomes more mainstream, available, and easy to use, specific groups become less useful.

The internet is another nail in the coffin, of course. If I'm having trouble configuring Sendmail, I'm not gonna wait for the next meeting and hope someone is there that knows what I need. I'm going to search the net and have the answer in minutes, or join a forum and have it in hours. days is just not an option.

This is the year of Desktop Linux right? (2, Funny)

pete.com (741064) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956289)

Of course we still need LUG's

LUG... (5, Funny)

holmedog (1130941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956307)

I always thought LUG was an acronym for Lesbians Until Graduation, one of the best forms of birth control in high school/college I've ever seen.

Re:LUG... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19956359)

I think they just told you that because they didn't want to sleep with you.

Re:LUG... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19956667)

or to let him into the LUG.... ;)

Re:LUG... (1)

holmedog (1130941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957695)

Damnit, now it all makes sense!

No specialization, LUGs are too general (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19956365)

Most of the LUG's I've attended are too general and needed to specialize if they were to move into more advanced material.
'How to use the command line' or 'how to use VI' or 'how to compile the kernel'. It's been done already for the past 15 years.
How to install distros? This isn't 1995 and you're trying to get Slackware to run from stuff dl'ed from usenet.

Move into programming topics? (Gnome, Java, Lisp) Many won't be interested in that. And there are many existing groups, especially for Java.
Move into administration/IT topics? (Security, Web) That's also an entirely different topic from programming.

I think we've evolved beyond the need for general purpose LUGs

LUGs, Before the Advent of Wiki and Cheap Server (3, Informative)

EXTomar (78739) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956395)

I would have to say "Yes, LUGs are dying out". They served a purpose before the days of cheap, high reliability servers, which lead to "Wiki technology". Before this happened the way to get "how to" tips was to go to LUGs or take a chance on a number of uncollected sources like boards and Usenet. I suspect LUGs will still be popular in academic settings but will go away for the public in general.

Hell no, but needs broader focus (1)

athloi (1075845) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956415)

The UG is not a thing of the past. The problem with a LUG is that it's balkanized. Make it a cross between a Windows User Group, a Linux User Group, a general computer hobbyist club and a programmer's hobbyist group, like 2600 or PerlMongers, and you'll be able to draw in anyone who wants to use a computer. This in turn will benefit Linux as it will show it as a competitive and viable option that is easy to install and use. The specific UG is dead; long live the generalized UG.

Re:Hell no, but needs broader focus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19958093)

PC user groups have existed for donkey's years, they're called computer clubs. They do little more than offer a place to exchange pirate software, and where weeny nerds get to hide away from real life.

How about UG's in general? (1)

ZeldorBlat (107799) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956423)

Do we really need any of them anymore?

LUG's are definitely still important! (2, Interesting)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956529)

Yeah, it's not 1997 anymore and practially anybody can install Linux on their chosen piece of hardware. However, there are so many facets to linux and so many people are focused on doing different things with linux, it's great to interact with other Linux enthusiests and broaden your horizons.

One of the things that our LUG has been doing forever is inviting our members to do presentations on things their working on or give talks in areas of their interest/expertise. These presentations have run the gambit from WiFi Security to modeling objects with PovRay to FUSE. We've have distribution comparisions (with proponents for each distribution explaining the pros/cons).

What's cool about a LUG is that your likely to have people who are experts in extremely diverse areas who are all Linux nerds getting together and hanging out.

It's not everyday you get to see a hardware engineer, an English teacher, a chiropractor and a pharamcologist comparing notes on what's the best window manager!

Lugs are good (4, Informative)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956539)

I am in a nice sized LUG. Would guess over 200 people if not a lot more. Yet I admit I never go to meetings. The mailing lists is really where all of the action is. Need an answer quick? Email the list, rather than wait till the once a month meeting. Also a lot of us tech types are stereotypically introverted, so we dont need to attend a meeting and are more likely to participate via an online method (mailing list, irc, etc).

LUG as social group (1)

cojsl (694820) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956541)

Our LUG [nclug.org] works well because we foster several associated social activities, including dinner before or after meetings, bowling gatherings, dinner parties, an adjunct weekly Hacking Society [hackingsociety.org] where we network and help each other with each other's issues, and even a regular geek camping trip! [bazcamp.org]

The real question is are UGs a thing of the past? (1)

Photonic Shadow (1119225) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956547)

Back in the 'golden age' of personal computing there were UGs galore. MacUGs, Commodore UGs, Atari UGs, and just plain ol' UGs.

Being a Mac kind of a guy, I was very active in the local Mac UG here in East Texas TAMU. The death of UGs can be directly traced to the advent of the internet, especially broadband. Two of the main attractions of UGs were BBS, which the internet just flat out killed, and file swapping, which the internet also killed, especially broadband.

PS

They can be helpful, but... (1)

Captain Sarcastic (109765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956611)

...sometimes they run into the issue that crops up with many clubs - keeping new people engaged.

I speak from bitter experience. When I first encountered our local LUG, they were willing and able to help me get Mandrake loaded on an old laptop machine... and one of them was willing to let me -- some nobody that they'd just met that night -- take home a PCMCIA-connected portable CD-ROM drive, because once things were finally set up, it was closing time at the library.

Unfortunately, my schedule was such that I was unable to stay active with this group.

A few years later, I went back to one of the group meetings. There I discovered that, although most of the same people were there, all of them were involved in running the call-in net-radio show (ironically enough, it was designed to help new people use Linux). There was nobody there to help any newbies, nobody there to find out if there were new people... the latest shiny toy was the net-radio broadcast.

After about half an hour, when I found that there were, indeed, other new members who were also seeking help, and not getting any, we pretty much decided it was time to leave. I haven't been back since.

User groups, as long as the members don't lose sight of their purpose, can be invaluable. When they turn into the equivalent of a stereotypical fraternity, then they run the risk of running off potential new users.

Yeah I'd say so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19956657)

Most of the LUGS in my area are pretty piss poor tbh.

The one for our area is run by some company owner who requires payments to go to the lug, in advance, and the activities are to welcome new users and install linux several times in one session, interesting enough, only the linux distro his company makes and is trying to sell. What's funny is it's based off the 2.2 kernel.

Yeah, having "install fests" yeah, exciting, I'd pay $26 a session to do that! OH BOY.

I'd rather just have something like a get together where people discuss stuff, order pizza, have drinks, etc. might not sound productive, but it would be more fun than installing an OS over and over again for the sake of doing it.

BaltoLUG vs BaltoMSDN my observations (1)

Tronster (25566) | more than 7 years ago | (#19956777)

I've been an attendee of both BaltoLUG [baltolug.org] and BaltoMSDN [baltomsdn.com] ; two technology groups based North of Baltimore in the Towson and Hunt Valley areas respectively. While I subscribe to both mailing lists, I only regularly attend BaltoMSDN.

The BaltoLUG community has been great for helping me figure out newbie questions regarding Linux, but more often than not the topics were not applicable to my job or even hobby interest. It almost seemed as if there was too much diversity in interests; and overall very little emphasis on programming. The people who attended to learn more about being an effective system administrator seemed to get the most out of the meetings. (At least back when I attended.)

Ironically, I know of 4 people (besides myself) who began regularly attending BaltoMSDN (the Baltimore Microsoft Developer's Network group). These meetings are highly developer centric, both from individuals sharing from work experience and from outside experts coming in to educate us on the latest MS technologies. Most surprising between the two though, is that I have witnessed a strong community of friends existing outside of the meetings which has directly resulted in informal coffee gatherings, jobs, and social events. The same sense of "community" doesn't seem to exist at BaltoLUG.

So from my perspective I'd say that LUGs are still relevant, but ones that have a model similar to Baltimore may not be relevant to developers. (Both groups seem to consistently pull about a dozen+ participants a month.)

Re:BaltoLUG vs BaltoMSDN my observations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19957325)

IMHO, BaltoLUG drew fanatics. There were a few bright stars amongst the group, but what stands out in my memory is the old bearded guys talking about VAXen and making anti-Windows jokes while being awed by an army of guys looking like the Comic Book Geek from The Simpsons. They had no perspective on the computer world in general and could not relate to outsiders. It was not good for people who are Windows users who want to learn Linux. I can't think of a worse way to welcome people who might be interested in your community.

I also noticed that the group had no actual applied use for their computers. They weren't artists, musicians, or programmers. Nor writers wanting a good office suite or sales people trying to make a presentation. They didn't use their computers to catalog magazines, store recipes, or manage their finances. They only knew about setting up networks, copying files efficiently, or what distro was best. But none of them seemed like they ever did anything productive with their PCs. It was like interviewing a cook who is an expert on buying mixing bowls, but has never actually used one to mix anything.

No, they aren't... (1)

AndyCR (1091663) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957003)

I still like LUGs and attend regularly, if for no other reason than talking with like-minded people... Get a great dinner (it's always at a restaurant), walk into a room, and discuss the most elegant way to set up a backup cron job over a Chai latte. No, LUGs aren't dead at all.

The history of our local linux user group (1)

wlandman (964814) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957097)

The linux user group in my area (Sioux City, IA) changed its name to something more general in hopes of raising attendance. Even with a more general name and audience, I think the group is all but dead now. Some people tried to get meetings back to monthly, but it never quite worked out. I did enjoy the few meetings I did go to though.

Beers! (1)

ndb (536827) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957213)

And how could we go for beers after a LUG meeting, if it's all on-line?

Ubiquitousness? (2)

qualidafial (967876) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957329)

<pedant>I think the word you're looking for is "ubiquity."</pedant>

Link doesn't work! (1)

Kludge (13653) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957339)

Hey, the link to the story doesn't work.
Apparently that didn't stop all the above people
from posting...

LUGs (2, Interesting)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957351)

It's interesting.. Our local LUG (FLUX in S. Florida) has been wrestling with declining (still respectable, but declining) attendance for a couple years. We've batted around ideas, but I guess part of the reason is that the novelty of Linux has worn out. It's somewhat pedestrian now, considering how many suits use it without even knowing.

The interesting thing is that I see a lot more Linux usage in corporate environments than ever before. There are lots of requests for administration and setup from SMBs, and in my 9-to-5 corporate IT employer, there are Linux servers running production loads.

Running Linux is no big deal anymore, so has lost some of its attraction. But I noticed the Mac groups have had a resurgence.. Maybe it's in cycles.. I was in a Mac user group a long time ago (about the time of the Centris and Quadra machines), and they faded for a while, but came back. With the Dell offerings, more corporate deployments, "good enough" improvements of Linux in corporate loads, etc.., I think the groups will grow again. The demographics will be different, but people will come.

Plus the Internet has made the community a lot larger. Before it was hard to find like-minded folks.

i think they should (1)

darth_linux (778182) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957361)

they should (in addition to general linux advocacy) help train people in the ways of linux development. we always respond to 'linux doesn't have X' with 'well then you should make X'. A LUG should openly help train people in some of those areas. A lot of LUGs i know are all about how to configure some service or the new features of the latest release of a distro. We (the community) need some meat - not just installfests and meet-and-greets.

LUGs in Ohio (1)

tguyton (1001081) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957413)

I can only speak from personal experience, but I definitely think that LUGs are still relevant. There's a great group that gets together weekly in Ohio on an IRC channel, and this coming school year we're starting a LUG on campus (University of Cincinnati). Aside from putting you in touch with more people who may be able to help you solve a problem, LUGs are great for general discussion about FOSS and and all kinds of things. It's a great venue for people to share new discoveries and have active dialogue about current topics in the field.

huh? (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957423)

In school LUGs were Lesbians Until Graduation

The reasons to keep it around are gone. (2, Insightful)

sircastor (1051070) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957455)

As a mac user, I remember the days of the MUG, the Mac User Group. We were a strange collection of people all with the fiery zeal for the Macintosh. We met together because it wasn't uncommon to be the only Mac user at school, at work, sometimes at home. There wasn't anyone to associate with who felt how we felt. We were the advocates for the Mac, we supported each other, we traded software, we helped each other out.

The internet came along, and for a brief time, the MUGs represented themselves online. It was a great way to distribute software, arrange meetings, etc. The MUGs didn't seem to make it though. It just made more sense to people that they all come together of their own accord. And several Mac sites made that possible.

Sometime around 2000 or 2001, people who were part of the online Mac Advocacy group received a letter from Guy Kawasaki who led the group, saying that Advocacy of the Mac wasn't really necessary, that the mac had made it and wasn't going to die away. I think that was really the end of the MUG. No longer was the Mac a dying machine, nor Apple a dying company. The need to group together was gone, and over the past 5 years or so the platform has become robust enough that you're not hard pressed to find a Mac user around.

If you've read this far, you likely wonder what my point is. I didn't even know there were LUGs to be honest. I imagine they were as invisible to me as MUGs were to the populace back in the day. The internet, in it's current form solves all the problems that UGs were used for. Support, both technical and social, and demonstration.

It's a little bit like the World Fair, back in the 19th and 20th centuries. Everyone got together to show off inventions, ideas, and concepts. When telecommunications took off, there stopped being a reason to hold the Fair.

Starting a LUG (1)

dokhebi (89124) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957467)

No only do I think LUGs are useful, I want to start one. If anyone in the San Fernando Valley (CA) is interested, please stop by the LASFS [lasfs.org] clubhouse on Thursday Night (07/26/07) and ask for Ed Hooper.

As always, just my $0.02 worth.

We need more types of LUG's (1)

adameros (851468) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957499)

I would like to see more variety of LUGs. Most seem to be home enthusiasts with more desktop type things discussed. What I'm looking for is more a sysadmin oriented LUG where more obscure topics are discussed.

UCLALUG alive and well (1)

mpeg4codec (581587) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957649)

The UCLALUG is alive and well, with a large number of active members. Most of us use it as a place to hang out between or after class, but it can be a great resource. Some of the most talented programmers and Linux users I've ever met hang out there, so it's a great place to bounce around ideas and see where they go.

We hold talks about topics such as writing Firefox extensions and building simple web applications. We also get plenty of people stopping by with Linux questions, from hardware issues to ``what Linux software does XYZ?'' I don't even have to mention the quarterly install-fest, which is having a greater turn out than ever.

Recently, it's becoming more of a Unix user's group, anyway, as I've managed to turn some of the members on to *BSD and even OpenSolaris [we have piles of Sun hardware dragged out from the trash]. Where else can you go with an esoteric question about NetBSD?

In short, the LUG has evolved into a great resource. Sure, most people can get their hands on a Linux install CD these days, but I'm sure many people feel more comfortable knowing there's a room in the engineering building filled with guys more than willing to help out with any of their problems.

Who cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19957769)

how does it even matter? Linux can hardly gain, say more that 10% market share ever!!!

Re:Who cares (1)

mini me (132455) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957965)

Linux can hardly gain, say more that 10% market share ever!!!

What market are you talking about? Linux has significantly more than 10% in quite a few of them.

Networking is important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19957795)

LUGs, though superficially about technology and not people, provide a great source for professionals to network and get to know each other. Here on Long Island, LILUG's Security/Infrastructure SIG has more or less turned into an unofficial recruiting venue for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and I'm sure numerous other professional (SAGE, etc.) and non-professional user groups are the same way around the world.

Besides, it's a bunch of nerds who finally get out of their parents' basements. How often do you see that happening?

Sole Exception (1)

t_ban (875088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19957847)

So you don't need a LUG -- you can get all help you need online.

It follows that there is at least one technical situation where you'd need help from a LUG -- when you can't set up your net connection on Linux :-)

Seriously, though, technical utility isn't the only reason for the existence of LUGs.

My LUG gives me a sense of community and belonging. Nowadays I go there more to chat with like-minded folks and to exchange anecdotes over coffee than to get any real technical help. It's a form of socialising that I can't get elsewhere.

But I may be an exception in that I'm a Linux enthusiast (not in the sense of being a fanatic), and not a professional. Computer professionals may have no use for LUGs because they can get all the Linux help they need (if any) in their professional environment or online, and they have so much talk about it at work that they don't want to talk about it at other times. But how many LUG members are Linux professionals? Or even computer professionals?

I don't know. Seems to me that in my area (Kolkata, India) at least, LUGgers are a pretty heterogeneous cross section of society, most of them not in computer-centred professions. And yes, we have a need for LUGs. It gives us a warm, fuzzy feeling to be part of a community oriented around a (relatively) obscure operating system. Of course, it isn't as warm or as fuzzy any more as it was in 1995, when very few people had even heard of Linux. But it's still a good feeling.

I predict that the LUG will truly vanish when (if ever) GNU/Linux becomes mainstream on the desktop.

A better question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19957903)

Are fat bearded BSD admins a thing of the past?

Re:A better question. (2, Funny)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958053)

I'm still here!

Less Advertising, More Helping (1)

RGRistroph (86936) | more than 7 years ago | (#19958037)

It used to be that a big part of what a LUG did was let people know that Linux existed, and correct misconceptions. We would put up flyers in coffeehouses and around campus to let people know that Linux even existed, we would get booths at tradeshows with computers running linux at the table, to correct the "it's text command line only" people, etc. At meetings a lot of the conversation would always revolve around the same things -- you don't need to get two harddisks to dual boot, yes there is a picture editor kind of like photoshop, yes you can access a shared windows drive, etc etc. Other big activities included letter writing and lobbying related to open source use in government, and Microsoft's yearly law buying activities.



Essentially, LUGs were often a grassroots advertising and lobbying campaign.



I think the population LUGs are trying to reach no longer needs to be told that Linux exists and that you can browse the web on it. Lobbying never was an activity of face-to-face meetings, because we didn't have much need to lobby each other.



Now, most of the people who should be using linux and who aren't are being held back because they can't figure out something technical, or they have no time to figure it out, not because they don't know what linux is or that it can do what they need. They need actual help, the kind where they can bring their computer to a meeting and have someone look at it or someone to come to their home or business.



The LUG I am most active in, ALE (not to be confused with the Atlanta group with the same initials), is an all hands on workshop type format. We meet at a place where we have power and internet, courtesy of TekRepublik [tekrepublik.com] , and attendance has been growing. There are no scheduled presentations, people just bring their stuff and work on it. Sometimes someone brings something cool as show-and-tell, for example recently someone brought in one of the Dell Ubuntu machines and we examined it pretty thoroughly.



The other linux group (the first and larger one -- ALG) in Austin is also very active, but I attend it less regularly.



One thing LUGs often did and sometimes still do, that I always thought was totally pointless, was the vendor presentation. I guess it isn't totally useless, when the MySQL guys came to the ALE group, probably the only such event we ever had, it was definitely interesting converstation. However, most of the time that is a complete waste of both the vendor's and the group's time.



The university and college LUGs are often run by someone ambitious who is just networking and resume-building. The vendors come essentially because they are shopping for fresh employees.



In the non-academic LUGs, there is often a cadre of older fellows who cut their teeth during times when large corporations were much more socially dominant, and they remember the format of groups such as the Homebrew Computer Club and HAL-PC in Houston.



These guys seem to believe that large corporations should be lobbied to use linux, and that we have to work to make sure that HR departments know what linux means on a resume, that managers know that their organization alreay uses linux in some places, etc etc. This is largely unnecessary, because careers and the direction of technology just doesn't depend as much on large corporations any more.



HAL-PC and the Homebrew Club and similar groups were features of a time when it cost a lot to have computing as a hobby, and the members of those clubs spent lots of money. It made sense for a vendor to court them, and it made sense for those guys to comparison shop and examine all the options and debate PC versus Clone or whatever as they prepared to spend the price of a new car on something they would use as a glorified typewriter. It's not like that any more though. Computing and Linux is one of the cheapest hobbies you can have. Everytime the city garbage collection has a large-item-disposal day, people come to the LUG with their curbside finds, and help each other scavange parts, or amazingly in many cases, just boot the fully working machine and start installing something. Few people spend more on computer parts than they do on the fuel to get to Fry's.

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