[CLUG-chat] Summary of the CLUG Panel Discussion - 2009-08-11 - What can CLUG do for you?

Jonathan Hitchcock vhata at clug.org.za
Mon Aug 17 21:09:04 SAST 2009


This mail is the first of two that contain a summary of the
discussions we had at the last CLUG meeting.  It less a set of minutes
than an overview of the issues we discussed.

The meeting began with a brief presentation by Marc Welz, outlining
where we've come from and where we're going.  The contents of his
slides are as follows:

An Introduction to the Panel Discussion: What can CLUG do for you?
* Overview *
Digging  through my mail boxes: It seems we held the first CLUG
meeting on the 1st of June 1999. We have been going for over a decade.
A good time to reflect and replan
 =>   How we do things
 =>   What have we been doing
 =>   What we should be doing in the future

* The environment has changed *
Then: Linux was difficult to install, considered lunatic fringe and
bandwidth was really, really scarce. The internet was really cool.
Windows crashed a lot but didn't have DRM. Commercial unix was

Now: Many distributions are easy to install, Linux is almost
mainstream, anybody with ADSL can download a basic Linux ISO. The
internet is almost passe. Windows crashes less but has lots of DRM.
Commercial unix is almost gone.

* How Organisations Change *
Here Marc wanted to draw some comparisons of how organisations mature
- religions which turn from cults to institutions, revolutions which
turn to oppressive regimes, startups to monster bureaucracies. But
then he thought that maybe this is just pointless verbiage and he
should scrap it.

* The Mythical Committee *
 => From an outsiders perspective the central clug committee runs the show
 => In real life it is much less formal
 => Our plan isn't that being on the committee entitiles/enables you
to run projects and make decisions. We prefer to have the causality
reversed - by volunteering to run a project, giving a couple of talks,
you tend to end up on the committee.

* Committee Meetings *
 => In the first few years of CLUG existence, there were monthly
committee meetings on Tuesday between talks
 => Thesedays most planning happens on the mailing list or at the
weekly dinner - something like a smaller, informal and high frequency
 => Operationally that means that committee members end up going out
for dinner most Tuesday evenings. Now the volunteer universe seems to
be split into the Saturday crowd and the after work crowd, CLUG
doesn't really cater for the former - should we ?

* Past and Current Activities *
 => Mailing Lists
 => IRC Channel
 => Talks
 => Computer Faire
 => Install Fests
 => International Vistors
 => Infrastructure

* Mailing Lists *
 => CLUG announce - low volume announcements (including PERL Mongers,
CTPUG, Ruby Brigade, etc)
 => CLUG tech - intermediate level technical Q and A
 => CLUG work - job listings
 => CLUG chat - where to source hardware
 => CLUG noise - junk
 => What has worked ? What needs fixing ?

* IRC Channel *
 => Yielded some substantial bot development
 => Which network to migrate to ?

* Talks *
Twice a month outside Summer Vacations, at UCT
 => Level of Talks: Sometimes aimed at beginners, often rather technical
 => Speakers always needed
 => Topics not always easy to think of
 => Venue issues: Access getting harder, no cellphone coverage
 => Do we rethink venue ? Level of talks ? Frequency of meetings ?

* Computer Faire *
 => Financially: Expensive
 => Time consuming: Requires about a solid week of effort for one
person to organise and lots of volunteers
 => Exposure: Not as necessary as before (most IT people have heard
about Ubuntu (if not Linux) by now
 => Dedicated Free Software Conferences: Impressive effort at UWC a
while back - the Freedom Expo

* Install Fests *
A bring and install
 => CLUG had two or three
 => Modern Distributions actually easy to install
 => Issue: People end up bringing in obscure, underpowered or plain
flaky hardware
 => Suggestion of an installfest+lanparty may have legs, maybe even
with with some coding

* International Visitors *
CLUG has never brought Linux Personalities to SA, but others have
loaned us them for an evening
 => John Hall
 => Richard Stallmann
 => Eric Raymond

* Infrastructure *
CLUG mostly located at UCT and Frogfoot (thank you)
 => Bandwidth
 => Admin Effort
 => Freedom Toaster

* Alternative Directions *
 => Previous slides described what we have done and are doing
 => Next slides contain untested ideas - CLUG becomes more

* More Development Focused *
 => Actually write code (rumor has it that there is some bot under development)
 => Write real documentation (example: Howto set up ADSL to deal with
ZA specific bandwidth issues as done by Stefano)

* More Political *
Should CLUG take positions on draft legislation, sends in comments,
issues press releases on bills which have been passed. Examples
 => Recent cell phone registration requirements
 => ZA requirement that crypto providers be registered with government
 => Closer interaction with FTISA
But ...
 => Requires different skill sets
 => Presumes that political alignment of CLUG members align (pro
privacy ? anti software patents ? pro open standards ?)

* More Social *
 => CLUG has had after meeting dinners since the start
 => Topics too geeky for the geekdinner
 => But less organised than the geekdinner and lacked the important
ability to organise free wine
 => There used to be (still is ?) a Linuxbierwanderung. Should we
replicate it locally ?

* More Formal *
Does CLUG turn into an organisation which
 => has a formal membership and bronze, silver, gold sponsors
 => accredits professionals, vendors, hardware suppliers etc.
 => issues and signs keys
 => applies for lottery funding
 => has its books audited

* More Networked *
Over the years CLUG has sent out annoucements for a number of new
groups: Perl, python, ruby users groups, starcamp, geekdinners, etc.
 => Does clug actively seek out and connect with related organisations
such as free wireless networks, openstreetmap, etc
 => Should we make an effort to turn the clug wiki into an index of
related organisations and help promote them

* More of a Patron *
Should CLUG
 => issue prizes and awards for locally written software, best sysadmin, etc ?
 => help worthy causes, in the format of SLUG or some other way ?

* Open to the Panel/Floor *
 => But note that ideas are cheap, committing the time to make them
happen is the impressive part

More information about the clug-chat mailing list