[CLUG-chat] Upcoming CLUG Talk: What can CLUG do for you?

A.J. Venter aj at outkastsolutions.co.za
Fri Aug 7 09:05:37 SAST 2009

On Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 7:37 AM, William Walter
Kinghorn<williamk at dut.ac.za> wrote:
> Hi Adrianna,
> Thank you, you put what I was trying to say so nicely.
> William

There has been some interesting discussion flowing here, from
different points and with different views, and interesting rift
appears to be between those who think that newbies really can get the
basic info  from google - and those who feel that offering a bit of
handholding there would be among the best things we can do.
I'm with Adrianna and William on that one - we need to do that, but I
would like to say that things to actually get the word out is a
crucial thing we can do to grow our member base.
Traditionally, that was installfests - whether this is still the best
approach is up for debate, I think they are an interesting approach
but not an ideal one and certainly not by themselves. Even if used it
should simply be standard practice that even as we set it up for the
user we subscribe him to the mailing list right away - so he's part of
the group with his new system from the start.

It was interesting to see the mention about some users feeling CLUG is
too Ubuntu centric and others saying that's just not true - really
though, I agree with that feeling (and being old debianites doesn't
really change it, many if not most old debianites run Ubuntu as their
desktops anyway and keep Debian on the servers). True we've had talks
about other distro's - but really pretty much every question and
answer almost implicitly assumes that the user is running ubuntu and
it's the only one we recommend for newbies.

That's, to me, the most destructive change in the history of GNU/Linux
! It used to be, if a user expressed interest we would ask him
questions about his real computing needs - and then recommend a distro
targeted to those needs. A great deal of what made it so attractive
was that your OS could in fact be targeted to your individual needs.
Now we always recommend the generic one that suits everybody some of
the time - but really isn't trying to be what you specifically need
most of the time (for any given "you")... not even Microsoft does
that, there's a reason they have up to six different editions of
windows (and those are still far too generic).
Now I also understand why this change happened - there is a lot to be
said for "make the transition easier by allowing more tricky choices
to be made later" - so I support it, I myself would not even recommend
the distro I founded  to newbies, Ubuntu is probably better for them -
but what is a problem (and what I think the previous poster was
complaining about) is an attitude among some members that since Ubuntu
is the best starting distro these days, it must be the only distro you
ever use. When somebody starts showing interest in exploring others we
don't encourage and advise them anymore - if you leave the Ubuntu
nest, you're on your own in dragon country...
Even when we launch exciting projects here, more often than not at
least one person will reply "why don't you just use Ubuntu" (or
whatever app is the default for this task on Ubuntu) - a question that
I would think any halfway decent developer will have asked himself
long before he came to announce his project and which is therefore
almost insulting to the announcer.

Not to mention, Ubuntu is really small on the enterprise server space
which is where a huge number of the GNU/Linux professionals in this
city work - I work in that space and I know a lot of people in it -
most of them have unsubscribed from CLUG, when I asked them why the
answer is usually "because my job is RHEL/CentOS - and there is just
too much focus on Ubuntu in CLUG".
I want GNU/Linux to be a major desktop force, but we can't do that but
alienating our loyal server users first....

Okay - I'm not trying to rant but we're talking about how to make CLUG
more useful to more people - and these are problem areas I see that we
could be better at (and I include myself in that statement).

To finish off, a nice practical suggestion: we need to do some more
visible things. We used to do the computer fair but I agree with the
poster who said it's an expensive waste of time now - but why is SULUG
planning for SFD while CLUG is ignoring it ?

CLUG should be planning some sort of event - somewhere public and
visible with a real celebration of what we stand for and a chance to
get that message out. GLUG,PLUG and TLUG team up every year to throw
huge events for SFD and it's become a very lovely part of the
GNU/Linux user's calendar up north, last year even the minister of
telecommunications keynoted and spoke about the value of open-source
to innovation (let's not get into a debate about discussing
open-source at a free software celebration... we don't expect South
African politicians to be informed speakers do we ? :D)
I think it's high time we learned from them - let's team up with SULUG
and make this years SFD in the western cape one to remember, we have
three huge universities in the area - with lovely campuses that most
of our memberships are alumnii or students off. UWC in particular has
been a major force for GNU/Linux in this area - I'm sure we can get at
least one on board to let us do something awesome on their campus ? A
fairground kind of feel - the kind that will attract passers-by and be
a chance to generate interest among the ignorant and be a place for
those who already have that interest to find link into the community
and overcome that fear-of-change that stops them going forward.

Of course, as always when I write more than one line, I expect some
critique of my ideas :D good - only through debate and discussion of
various points of view can greater understanding be reached all

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