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Current HOWTO: Linux User Group HOWTO

Linux User Group HOWTO: LUG activities Next Previous Contents

5. LUG activities

In the previous section I focused exclusively on what LUGs do and should do. This section's focus shifts to practical strategies.

There are, despite permutations of form, two basic things LUGs do: First, members meet in physical space; second, they communicate in cyberspace. Nearly everything LUGs do can be seen in terms of meetings and online resources.

5.1 Meetings

As I said above, physical meetings are synonymous with LUGs (and most user groups). LUGs have these kinds of meetings:

  • social
  • technical presentations
  • informal discussion groups
  • user group business
  • Linux installation
  • configuration and bug-squashing

What do LUGs do at these meetings?

  • Install Linux for newcomers and strangers.
  • Teach members about Linux.
  • Compare Linux to other operating systems.
  • Teach members about software running on Linux.
  • Discuss Linux advocacy.
  • Discuss the free software / open-source movement.
  • Discuss user group business.
  • Eat, drink, and be merry.

5.2 Online resources

The commercial rise of the Internet coincided roughly with that of Linux; the latter owes something to the former. The 'Net has always been important to Linux development. LUGs are no different: Most have Web pages, if not whole Web sites. In fact, I'm not sure how else to find a LUG, but to check the Web.

It makes sense, then, for a LUG to make use of whatever Internet technologies they can: Web sites, mailing lists, wikis, ftp, e-mail, Web discussion forums, netnews, etc. As the world of commerce is discovering, the 'Net is an effective way to advertise, inform, educate, and even sell. The other reason LUGs make extensive use of Internet technology is that the very essence of Linux is to provide a stable and rich platform to deploy these technologies. So, not only do LUGs benefit from, say, establishment of a Web site, because it advertises their existence and helps organise members, but, in deploying these technologies, LUG members learn about them and see Linux at work.

Arguably, a well-maintained Web site is the one must-have, among those Internet resources. My essay Recipe for a Successful Linux User Group, for that reason, spends considerable time discussing Web issues. Quoting it (in outline form):

  • You need a Web page.
  • Your Web page needs a reasonable URL.
  • You need a regular meeting location.
  • You need a regular meeting time.
  • You need to avoid meeting-time conflicts.
  • You need to make sure that meetings happen as advertised, without fail.
  • You need a core of several Linux enthusiasts.
  • Your core volunteers need out-of-band methods of communication.
  • You need to get on the main lists of LUGs, and keep your entries accurate.
  • You must have login access to maintain your Web pages, as needed.
  • Design your Web page to be forgiving of deferred maintenance.
  • Always include the day of the week, when you cite event dates. Always check that day of the week, first, using gcal.
  • Place time-sensitive and key information prominently near the top of your main Web page.
  • Include maps and directions to your events.
  • Emphasise on your main page that your meeting will be free of charge and open to the public (if it is).
  • You'll want to include an RSVP "mailto" hyperlink, on some events.
  • Use referral pages.
  • Make sure every page has a revision date and maintainer link.
  • Check all links, at intervals.
  • You may want to consider establishing a LUG mailing list.
  • You don't need to be in the Internet Service Provider business.
  • Don't go into any other business, either.
  • Walk the walk. (Do the LUG's computing on Linux.)

That essay partly supplements (and partly overlaps) this HOWTO.

Some LUGs using the Internet effectively:

Please let me know if your LUG uses the Internet in an important or interesting way; I'd like this list to include your group.

Next Previous Contents

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