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Ask Slashdot: How To Start and Manage a University LUG?

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the you'll-need-a-lug-wrench dept.

Education 66

New submitter ckugblenu writes "I'm an undergrad computer engineering student in Ghana with some Linux knowledge under my belt. How do I start a Linux users group at my university and what kind of activities should occur? The engineering department is willing to provide meeting space, but that's about it. The other computer groups are into mobile web and not as specialized as I would like. How do I successfully achieve it and build a following, since it will be the first in the university?"

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An undergrad? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893263)

How does it feel to be babied, university intellectual? How comical! How comical!

Re:An undergrad? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893291)

If you spoke that out loud, I am quite certain that people in your vicinity would detect a fair amount of ridicule in your voice.

Shall we begin? Should I start? When should I begin? When do you think I should start? Perhaps we should begin. Let's start. I think it's time to begin. My hand is cramped, so I can't start!

Re: An undergrad? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893739)

Ghana has been a British colony untill more recent times so people have remained familiar with more polite and proper English sprinkled with culture as opposed to some places that managed to break away faster and henced dived into a more simple gun touiting "culture" where politness is something to laugh at. We all understand how you feel about it.

Re:An undergrad? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893387)

How does it feel to swallow your own tongue? How comical indeed.

Re:An undergrad? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893427)

Wow, I've seen a lot of people with pitiful insecurities because they couldn't handle college, but you take it to a new level of sad.

Re:An undergrad? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893467)

You must have numerous insecurities to assume such things about someone you know nothing about, Slashdot intellectual.

Re:An undergrad? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893605)

What's the matter? Is self-education too difficult because you lack the intellectual prowess and willpower to succeed? You might as well just vanish; you're an eyesore.

Why are you concentrating on this? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893279)

Why are you concentrating on unimportant things at a time like this?

Why are you only paying attention to trivial things when . . . BENGHAZI??????

Re:Why are you concentrating on this? (0)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about a year and a half ago | (#43893335)

Hey, look, if you're an undergraduate in an engineering school, and what few women you have are LUGs, it's a big deal to you, OK?

#1 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893311)

start using windows.

Activities in Linux user group? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893349)

Anal sex and segway party.

Re:Activities in Linux user group? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893375)

don't forget writing gay love letters to rms

Re: Activities in Linux user group? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893393)

While eating fungus from your toes...

Re:Activities in Linux user group? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893413)

It's well documented [trollaxor.com] that ESR is the 'ringleader' of depravity in the F/OSS community and Hacker tribe.

Re:Activities in Linux user group? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893545)

Don't forget to bring the deodorant!

I went to a LUG once when I was still retarded and thought Linux on the desktop was a good idea. I'll never forget the stench emanated from the greasy fat neckbeards there.

Look at the comments so far... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893351)

I think Slashdot is drunk.

Re:Look at the comments so far... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893445)

You must be new here

Re:Look at the comments so far... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893655)

Wrong! I'm high.

Free as in beer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893357)

They'll come for the beer, but stay for the FOSS

What we did (4, Informative)

armanox (826486) | about a year and a half ago | (#43893379)

At my college, we first found an interested professor to sponsor the group. Got some people together. Got a lab space (they gave us a corner in the old telecommunications lab to use), had our first meeting. We decided on some things we wanted to do (Collect some hardware, setup a usable lab, make resources available for students, etc) and set out from there.

Some of the things we did:
Set up a Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu, and OpenBSD mirror.
Helped students install, configure, and troubleshoot *NIX
Did some Solaris work for the college
Provided a free print server for active group members
Hosted game servers (FEAR Combat, Neverwinter Nights, Half-Life 2 DM, CS)
Did demos during College open houses
Played with some really awesome hardware (I personally got Gentoo running on SGI O2s and Octanes)
Malware cleansing for Windows boxes

Just to throw some ideas your way. Sadly, the group died due to lack of student interest ~2010, so I can't link the website for you to get ideas from. But I'd be happy to contribute any that I can.

Re:What we did (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43894481)

That's crazy talk!

capcha: dilate

Not sure if I'm the best to answer this (4, Informative)

ModernGeek (601932) | about a year and a half ago | (#43893389)

While the Linux User Group itself is not as popular today as it was ten years ago, I can speak from experience in managing a LUG. We used to have a joint Linux User Group here between people at the local University and people living in the local area. Most experienced Linux Users are over 40 or 50, and have been using UNIX-like systems longer than most of college kids have been alive; a lot of them didn't even attend college. A City-University Joint Linux Users group is the best way to tap into the local knowledge of Linux users while embracing academia. We ran a group with this layout, and the University end would meet on it's side independently, and the non-University guys would host a larger meeting for everybody once a week.

If I had to give any suggestion in the organization of any group, it would be to not limit yourself to only the University (this ended up being the demise of our group), and to not allow elitism (that happened to us, too). If someone wants to talk about something that isn't open source, or wants to host a LAN party so that people can play a video game on the local network, the leadership shouldn't be so elitist as to attempt to impede. At the groups height, we had about 50 members; all of which were from different walks of life. We had the young casual and curious user all the way to the systems engineer that used Open Source in a large company.

I was a member of the LUG before starting University, and it helped me make the transition from High School to University. I ultimately became President of the group and watched it fade away over time, and watched other groups such as Women in Computing emerge. The focus of the University's Computer Science department became more about attempting to prepare the graduates for .NET jobs, and less about Computer Science. I did not graduate, and long for the days when there was a real sense of Open Source Community in the area. I wish that academia was not so disconnected to reality, a phenomena that some even hold with pride.

Re:Not sure if I'm the best to answer this (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43893873)

The focus of the University's Computer Science department became more about attempting to prepare the graduates for .NET jobs, and less about Computer Science.... I wish that academia was not so disconnected to reality

Ironically, they probably consider themselves especially connected to reality, since they are preparing their students for .NET jobs now.

Re:Not sure if I'm the best to answer this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43894043)

Are there really people using .net?

Re:Not sure if I'm the best to answer this (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about a year and a half ago | (#43895759)

As an experiences python and java programmer, I can tell you that there's almost NO demand for .net progammers, and, because of this, they tend to be the worst payed.

Re:Not sure if I'm the best to answer this (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43896923)

There's definitely demand for .NET programmers. Just not in startups and places where you work.

Re:Not sure if I'm the best to answer this (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about a year and a half ago | (#43906149)

There's definitely demand for .NET programmers. Just not in startups and places where you work.

Places where I worked, or places ex-coworkers work at, or places know by any acquaintance, or mayor corporations, or university colleagues (I'm both teacher AND student), or friends, or anyone else for that matter.

Seriously, the market share for .NET is TINY, while first year students can get job in java because the demand for programmers is so ridiculously huge that there's no way to find enough people.
I've even seen a few job postings for python, but for .net? Not yet. Not in my lifetime.

Re:Not sure if I'm the best to answer this (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43910219)

I've been getting hits from recruiters on .NET jobs and my .NET experience isn't very prominent on my resume at all. If you're not seeing demand, it's because you're not looking.

Here are some suggestions... (5, Informative)

webtron (1124453) | about a year and a half ago | (#43893397)

You will need to set regular meetups, most convenient if following a course that would have interested people come straight from class to the meetup. The location should be somewhere students can get to easily.

If you do have a class you can align with, ask the professor to allow you to do a 1minute promo at the start to ask people join you.

Write an email announcing the first meetup. Ask the department to send it out to students.

Get some sort of mailing list or groupware setup so people can join. If email lists, an "organizers" list and an "announcements" list.

Put up some posters with the date(s) of the meetups where your students are.

Announce your meetups 2-3 weeks in advance so people can schedule it in.

Try to do an event monthly to keep momentum. Skip December and some/all of the summer.

Ask people to suggest a talk in the advertisement.

Some meetups I've done are single-presenter, while others prefer the general conversation type of structure (5 minute talks, many people, etc). You will have to make a call on that until you have a few collaborators.

Ask for contributors/volunteers. You're going to want at least a president/spokesperson/announcer (probably you, for now), a vice president that knows all the rules and can step in as needed, and a person to take notes and manage bookkeeping when money gets involved. Three or more people involved make it easier to manage.

Your student union can probably get you beer money as a "student group", but you may need to invite professors to make it fundable by your university's rules.

Re:Here are some suggestions... (5, Informative)

idunham (2852899) | about a year and a half ago | (#43893577)

+1 Informative--if I didn't want to comment, I'd mod you up.
All the following is based on my own minimal involvement with CSLUG (now dormant).

Step #1 is talk to professors and potentially interested students.
Get a schedule that works for as many interested students as possible, and preferably one that allows at least one professor to attend.

Don't say "Tuesday June 11" in your posters, say "Second Tuesday every month"--you want them to know that it will be happening same place and time.

Arrange at least one installfest (where someone who doesn't know Linux can walk away with a fully configured Linux install, all hardware working) per semester; I would consider a university LUG that can't manage that to be dormant or dying. If you aren't getting more Linux users, how do you expect more members?

For fun, LAN parties may be appropriate.
Announcing non-school approved activities should be permitted but only after the meeting is adjourned.

LUG meetings should provide something interesting for Linux users. Of course, this means asking. Some examples I'm aware of are presentations like these:
-Walk through installing and configuring a server (eg, Apache + PHP)
-Hardening a server
-Cross-compiling (eg, PC to Raspberry Pi = Lintel to armv6)
-Less well-known features of popular software (at Chico, vi/vim was essentially something you could not avoid; a presentation on semi-advanced Vim commands was the most popular one there).
-if someone finds something relatively unknown, they should be able to present on it as long as enough people (4-5 minimum) are interested.

Try to get a relatively well-known speaker there occasionally.
If you can find something that you could collaborate with another club on, by all means do so.
And if there happens to be an event involving multiple LUGs, go.

How about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893403)

Inviting rms [wikia.com] over?

Re:How about (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year and a half ago | (#43898169)

For starters, he'd demand that such a group calls itself GLUG, or GNU+/&Linux Users Group. But it's a bad idea - if he turns up, everybody will flee at his stench. Not to mention all the idiocyncracies that he'll demand that you put up w/

Be active and committed (5, Insightful)

multiben (1916126) | about a year and a half ago | (#43893431)

If there is one rule to running a successful group of any kind it is to be committed to running it on schedule, without fail. In the early days, you may get 2 people to turn up. You may get none. Don't stop, keep hosting it. Just sit there and read a magazine or write a cool script. Getting past the early discouragement you may encounter can be hard, so be ready for it. Give yourself at least a year.

As for activities, ask the early joining members what they want to do. If you engage people and include their input in the direction of your group then they will remain members for a long time to come and they will be inspired to recruit others because they will be proud of the group.

Good luck!

Re:Be active and committed (1)

darkfeline (1890882) | about a year and a half ago | (#43893701)

I'd mod up, but I used all my points. This is sound advice that should go in those myriad self-help books.

A few things to keep in mind ... (4, Insightful)

MacTO (1161105) | about a year and a half ago | (#43893437)

University culture, resources, and policies varies from place to place. This means that the best place to seek advice is from other student groups in your university.

Once you know where you fit into the university, build an executive to manage the club. They will manage relations with the university and department, recruit new memebers, and organize events. The executive should include students at all stages of the program simply to prevent the thing from dying off when a group of key members graduate.

Remember to keep things simple. Big events and projects can be fun to plan, but members will burn out if you do it too often. Also, keep the jobs small. If your members are giving talks, make them lightning talks. If you're doing an installfest, promote it in your department (rather than university-wide).

Meetings to attract members need to have a focus (installfest, programming with gcc, introduction to blender). Meetings that are focussed on existing membership can be a free-for-all (bring your computer, a project, and some food).

Re:A few things to keep in mind ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43894253)

The executive should include students at all stages of the program simply to prevent the thing from dying off when a group of key members graduate.

This is a really important point if you want to create somethng that will last after the first years. I might suggest some yearly traditional events that are well documented and "easy" to organize. That kind of keeps things running over the years when there is nobody enthustiastic enough to keep inventing new things to do. It doesn't have to be an event type of thing, just running something like email forwaring or something that needs active maintainance would work. MAke sure there is new blood recruited every year, and that responsibilities also move on to these new people. Some people find it really hard to pass on the "power".

It's All About the People (5, Informative)

ticklejw (453382) | about a year and a half ago | (#43893525)

I was elected President of our LUG before my Sophomore year. It was already somewhat established but that doesn't change the fact that I had no idea what I was doing, I just happened to be the biggest zealot at the time. You have to go find people who do know what they are doing, and who have ideas. Then you have to filter out the bad ideas, which is an exercise I continuously failed at and will leave to the student. Also remember you're starting a university club, which means you can not count on anyone for anything. If someone promises to be somewhere, just assume that it's not going to happen and be pleasantly surprised if it does. But if you find a couple few people that you CAN actually count on - they are your inner circle and should probably be officers.

I'm sure you're looking in your Engineering department for faculty and students that are interested. But some of my most interesting experiences came from outside the CS school. We had a Philosophy and Religion professor that would come by meetings from time to time and basically was an old hippie who got into computing early, and just preferred command line interfaces for checking email and did all of his publishing using LaTeX. Several University Staff were interested and regularly helped out. (Go over to the IT department and ask around - this is the most likely source of people that have been involved in LUGs before.)

Also look for interested students outside your Engineering school. There are lots of different reasons to like Linux and Free Software, very few of which require the math education that Engineering requires. You will find the best zealots in the most surprising places. One of our members that stands out in my mind graduated with a degree in Broadcasting, but due in part to his time in the LUG was hired on at Red Hat for tech support and has moved up quite a bit in the company.

If you can find a passionate Business school student who also enjoys Linux, this person is your best friend. Let them deal with organization and getting people together and such while you focus on technical aspects.

Beyond that just get the word out there and have interesting events. Make sure you have meetings at regular intervals, not so often that people get sick of it and not so rarely that people think it's defunct. Once a month is probably a good bet, and at that meeting you can announce other events happening during the month. Installfests and LANs are always fun. Keep in mind that if you hold a LAN party and successfully get the word out there, you will end up with Windows PC Gamers all over the place, and not a few consoles as well. It's not a bad thing - think about it like raising awareness. The regular meetings should be accompanied by some kind of presentation. Get your VIM expert to talk about cool VIM stuff like good ideas for your .vimrc file. Get your Emacs expert to do the same. Find someone who can talk about how to use Autotools effectively in your new open source project or something like that. Always be ready to fill in with your own material because as I said earlier, people are unreliable. Allow plenty of time afterwards for hanging out, after all this is all about being social.

I guess if I have one point to make it's just that you shouldn't let your perceptions limit who all might be interested in this club. You're probably not going to fill your meeting space with sorority girls that are really interested in Free Software, but don't assume that they're all completely disinterested.

Oh yeah. On the topic of girls at a LUG meeting, be alert and aware. There tends to be a "boys' club" mentality that will scare the ladies right off. Just make sure that the meetings are welcoming of everyone and if you have some male members that are being creepy or causing a problem, discreetly nip it in the bud when you notice it and have a private chat with them later. It's possible to have a relatively diverse LUG if you do it right.

Offer goal divided skill groups (2)

Nikker (749551) | about a year and a half ago | (#43893547)

Try to organize a group set that allows for specific goals but incourage inter-communication. For example encouraging people from all aspects of education you will get awide range of interraction, add in a few people of high / advanced Linux skill sets to educate on different Linux skills.

Sofware Skills
  1. Installation and maintenence
  2. LFH (Linux FS structures) and working with devices (block and character)
  3. Scripting / editing / debugging

Hardware Skills

  1. Serial and parralell communications
  2. PCI(X)/MSI/USB/I2C/GPIO
  3. Hardware modding and reverse engineering*
  4. Electronics(capacitance resistance, voltage, current, amplification, ICs)*

* Whle these skills don't necessarily pertain to Linux/GNU directly, in many cases LUGs will lead to custom solutions to intresting problems, even more so if you include people across the educational spectrum.

Development Skills

  1. Compilers / Interpreters
  2. Kernel / Low level programming
  3. Libraries

Make sure you have lots of terminals, work bench, a are parts, a few soldering irons, a dremmel and a drill.

I was an ACM President, here is my advice (5, Informative)

Angrywhiteshoes (2440876) | about a year and a half ago | (#43893553)

This is my experience, I know your club will be slightly more topic focused than an ACM club but these are some issues I had as a leader and member of several computing clubs in my time. I hope it helps.

Scheduling
You have to find a balance in your schedules. One of the main things clubs will suffer from is either having too many meetings and not having enough content to fill them up or having not enough meetings and people forgetting about it, either way, you will lose members because of these two things. This is not just ACM but in the hackerspace I attend in my town that had "organized meetings" that ended up being nothing and sometimes just me sitting there alone wondering if anyone was going to show up for the talk on the calendar, and even the speaker doesn't show up.

Don't get discouraged
You're going to have people showing up looking for answers to homework problems or with general class problems and are looking for some magical device to help them pass their courses. You will also have people showing up looking for free refreshments. You will get people who think joining your club is going to somehow lead to an internship somewhere or that you'll help them in their career. They will all eventually stop coming, you must not take it personal and keep going.

Content
Keep your content on track and don't write checks you can't cash. Working in a group where people are bogged down by coursework already and have little to no time to commit will often bullshit with you and say they're up for a task then not deliver when it matters. So what I mean by this is don't promise anything to the group or outside groups (we had a president do this before and it made us look bad), don't promise help with web pages or anything like that. These things happen like "hey can you help me with [thing]?" then you feeling like a good chance for outreach are like "sure" and you're in trouble and looking like a total jackass now.

Make sure you can get guest speakers to come and talk about something related to projects you're working on. It will be exciting to hear about how maybe someone implements [thing] in the real world and what to look out for when doing real world implementations. You can learn a lot about things like hardening servers and so on by asking a working engineer about dos-and-don'ts in the work force.

Keeping content on track can be hard, you start forgetting what the point of the club is as it turns into a more social event (which isn't bad) but you will lose members and focus very easily and eventually your club will die. So maybe set aside social time after the main meeting content is done, this will allow people to mingle and get some good technical information from your meetings.

Your core will eventually disappear
College is a revolving door and the 5 core members who really tied the group together will graduate and you will be left with people who don't care as much. I saw this happen to ACM while I was at my school before I got involved with some friends forming the "new core," then we graduated and my dept chair emailed me saying "ACM is now dead." So you need to ALWAYS be advertising and finding people who are interested, or you'll have a huge hole in your group. You'll also be trying to find a way to make things go back to how they were and recapture that magic, it won't happen. Don't get discouraged.

Leadership
You are just some guy who likes linux. People are going to look to you as a leader and expect you to have answers. Don't bullshit. My first experience at ACM involved a "Linux seminar" where the president was giving the talk. He didn't know anything about linux. He somehow became the Fedora ambassador at the school (probably because no one else knew about the position) so he decided to try to get us all to install fedora and was trying to show us how to configure it. He never used linux before. He made a real ass of himself and a few friends of mine and myself ended up finishing the talk for him from the audience by taking over the A part of the Q&A that erupted. Long story short, if you don't know, don't pretend. That meeting I described really killed the clubs image to the CS department students.

Ambassadors
Take ownership of these positions in the school if you can and throw release parties. You can often get the parent company to sponsor the event. I know for sure Google, Fedora and Microsoft (I know... but it has perks for the club) have ambassador programs and will provide funding and raffle prizes that can be used for fundraising to keep the club going.

Pressure
Do not pressure your new members to wipe out their existing Windows OS for linux, they will be fearful of this. They are curious and want to learn, but still want to play League of Legends and whatever. The best thing I found was using virtualbox to install VMs that they can mess around in. You will gain new members a lot easier if you have a "noob meeting" where you do an intro to setting up a VM and getting them going with linux and easing them in. Then, they will become very active members.

Also, at times you will feel some pressure. Drink a beer and play some league of legends, it's not worth worrying about, it should be fun.

Re:I was an ACM President, here is my advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893771)

I know for sure Google, Fedora and Microsoft (I know... but it has perks for the club) have ambassador programs and will provide funding and raffle prizes that can be used for fundraising to keep the club going.

It may be my lack of Google skills, but I can't find any evidence of a Red Hat corporate presence in Ghana. (and both surprised and slightly disappointed to find very few pictures of Ghaneans wearing fedoras instead but I digress...)

Re:I was an ACM President, here is my advice (1)

Angrywhiteshoes (2440876) | about a year and a half ago | (#43897067)

I know for sure Google, Fedora and Microsoft (I know... but it has perks for the club) have ambassador programs and will provide funding and raffle prizes that can be used for fundraising to keep the club going.

It may be my lack of Google skills, but I can't find any evidence of a Red Hat corporate presence in Ghana. (and both surprised and slightly disappointed to find very few pictures of Ghaneans wearing fedoras instead but I digress...)

I will bite on this.

Something I found in the past is, if there is no presence where you live, contact the company and create the presence there. They will often work with you for loads of promotion that will cost them almost nothing.

Ambassador Programs
http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Ambassadors [fedoraproject.org]
http://www.google.com/intl/en/jobs/students/proscho/programs/uscanada/ambassador/ [google.com] (find your region)
http://www.microsoft.com/de-ch/students/en/getInTouch/MicrosoftOnCampus/Ambassadors/default.aspx#fbid=6Weg8o4CBmr [microsoft.com]
http://www.apple.com/education/campusreps/ [apple.com]

Don't forget to contact other major distros and see if they have anything similar or would donate some shirts, dvds, usbs, keychains or ANYTHING to your group to help promote Linux.

Sign your team up for Dreamspark and get Microsoft OSs running as VMs on top of linux so you can know about the issues involved with running MS services in VMs. They also have something like "Microsoft Services for Unix." It's always good to know your "enemy."

Re:I was an ACM President, here is my advice (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43894293)

Your core will eventually disappear

College is a revolving door and the 5 core members who really tied the group together will graduate and you will be left with people who don't care as much. I saw this happen to ACM while I was at my school before I got involved with some friends forming the "new core," then we graduated and my dept chair emailed me saying "ACM is now dead." So you need to ALWAYS be advertising and finding people who are interested, or you'll have a huge hole in your group. You'll also be trying to find a way to make things go back to how they were and recapture that magic, it won't happen. Don't get discouraged.

You have to include any possible new active people in your "core" as soon as possible. Then you intentionally leave them the room to operate. Creating a culture that passes on this model of passing on responsibilities and power is the single hardest thing. Create traditions. Create expectation that some thing _must_ be done (one of these should be finding a new "core" to keep on going). If you don't do that the group will die. Other option is to not care about it, and just do as you feel like. If the group dies when you leave then it dies. The people coming after yuo can then find their own groups or whatever.

Re:I was an ACM President, here is my advice (1)

Angrywhiteshoes (2440876) | about a year and a half ago | (#43897103)

Your core will eventually disappear

College is a revolving door and the 5 core members who really tied the group together will graduate and you will be left with people who don't care as much. I saw this happen to ACM while I was at my school before I got involved with some friends forming the "new core," then we graduated and my dept chair emailed me saying "ACM is now dead." So you need to ALWAYS be advertising and finding people who are interested, or you'll have a huge hole in your group. You'll also be trying to find a way to make things go back to how they were and recapture that magic, it won't happen. Don't get discouraged.

You have to include any possible new active people in your "core" as soon as possible. Then you intentionally leave them the room to operate. Creating a culture that passes on this model of passing on responsibilities and power is the single hardest thing. Create traditions. Create expectation that some thing _must_ be done (one of these should be finding a new "core" to keep on going). If you don't do that the group will die. Other option is to not care about it, and just do as you feel like. If the group dies when you leave then it dies. The people coming after yuo can then find their own groups or whatever.

Exactly, my standpoint was that ACM is a professional group and should live on, without having to be resurrected every few years. But cores are important and will be replaced, it's just that while you're a part of the core, and everyone else leaves you will feel like you're the only one who cares and it will get very discouraging to the point where you'll think "what's the point?" If it dies after HE leaves, no big deal, if it dies while he's still there, it can be disheartening.

Why limit yourself to linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893773)

There's so much more interesting things out there.

What, no obvious answer? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893835)

It's easy, just
$ su -
# emerge linux-user-group

Seriously, though, you're approaching it from the wrong end. First find people who are interested in Linux, get a channel for them to talk - get a web host with forum, a room on IRC or whatever IM is popular in Ghana, announce it, preferably not just inside the university. If you'll get significant following, then you'll have to think about official meetings and activities. LUGs are primarily about having someone with a face for help and discussions, no need to get painfully formal from the get go. Find people, talk to people, meet people, then decide what you all'd like to do - if there're enough Windows emmigrants, have an installfest; or borrow a projector and have a few lessons on administration/programming/whatever your community's interested in.

Re:What, no obvious answer? (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about a year and a half ago | (#43893967)

That only works in Gentoo. Here's how I'd do it in Fedora:

$ su -c 'yum group install linux-user'

When prompted, give the root password and Bob's your uncle.

Set up a separate network (1)

turboke (524314) | about a year and a half ago | (#43893933)

Set up your own LAN that isn't connected to the university network. A LUG at the college I went to managed to knock out the entire college's network by setting up their own DHCP server.

Re:Set up a separate network (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43898313)

Set up your own LAN that isn't connected to the university network. A LUG at the college I went to managed to knock out the entire college's network by setting up their own DHCP server.

You must have gone to a shit college. The IT department at your shit college was probably ran by freetards that couldn't tell you the difference between DHCP and ICMP.

IT department freetards (1)

turboke (524314) | about a year and a half ago | (#43902851)

They IT department was "inventive". To facilite the lookup of lost student passwords, they stored them in the job description field of the user—in plain text!

We had to use Citrix clients for internet access on campus. There was a limited number of applications we could run and a network share where we could store our files. So a friend and I came up with this:

  1. Upload mirc.exe to some free webspace from home.
  2. Enter URL to the uploaded executable in Internet Explorer and run it.
  3. Open the Microsoft Management Console with /run mmc.
  4. Load the user list and customize the view to show username and job description.
  5. Export to CSV.
  6. Send to self via webmail.

Yes indeed, a student could access all user information in Active Directory (but not edit it though).

This worked for at least four years to get all student usernames and passwords. Those credentials were used to make reservations for the Citrix terminals and log in to them. They were also used to access our college mailbox. You know, the one we had to use for all official communication with teachers and board.

We never did the latter. However, we have used it to reserve extra time on the terminals because there was a 2 hour per day and 8 hour per week limit. That is until we found out that you could delete a reservation, even if it was in the past, and that it got subtracted from your total usage, even if you had used up the time.

Actual Advise to Ckugblenu (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43893939)

As an undergraduate student studying computer engineering the primary organizational goals for the Linux User Group should be: (1) attracting a core group of students who will form the nucleus of the LUG, and (2) soliciting the engineering department for a server running Debian GNU/Linux operating system (64-bit) and Oracle VirtualBox virtualisation software. The host operating system should offer SSH access to a command-line only environment. Provide instructions for the procedure to use Oracle VirtualBox from the command-line to create virtual machine containers and to install Debian GNU/Linux within the virtual machines containers. This way each member builds their own virtual environment where the material covered during the LUG meetings can be practised and further exploration can be undertaken individually or collectively. Focus on the command-line environment and do not install any GUI desktop environments nor applications. Above all keep the LUG meetings interesting and have an agenda distributed via email prior to the next meeting; seek feedback and ideas from the membership.

Back in the day... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43894213)

Back in the day what it took to build a LUG was to build an ISP. I did that. It meant buying a T1 (15K install, ~2K/month). Then putting 10K out for (386) servers and inviting every geek you could to come play (and some others for entertainment). 16 dialup lines, advertising in the local lists and papers. You had to charge a few bucks a month for folks to have access to the Internet directly, or one or two for email, but most of the time I didn't have to suck up too much of the monthlies. Every now and then we turned a profit - and spent it on liquor for a GT, back when IRL was a thing. More often we got a member to liquor us up. This was all "chumming".

Those parties were wild. Serving Citron shots across a bar that had naked twin nymphs testing toys on it and trying to be casual about it as if it were an every day thing. This was "bait".

And then the Linux nerds came because we were the Internet and social nexus. They didn't know it but they were the whole point of the thing. Most of them never got over their awkwardness. The few who did have gone on to greatness. The actual objective was to synergize with them but we failed that, and eventually pursued a different path. After a time the whole operation closed down with nothing but pleasant memories.

Some products came out, but they are lost to time.

LUG = LEGO Users Group (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43894231)

Disappointed! I thought it was a LEGO Users Group!

an idea for a start event (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43894337)

At my university we had once a "Distro Bash" event. The idea was to speak about several Linux distros. So multiple ppl spoke about their favourite disto and about the andvantages. We didn't bash that much about other distros to keep it peacefull. But it gave an idea about what else exists, and why others like it. Just find some ppl who are willing to present...

Ask Slashdot (2)

Fnord666 (889225) | about a year and a half ago | (#43894753)

Timothy,
I know you know how to post "ask slashdot" stories to the Ask Slashdot section. I see other articles in that section that have been posted by you. If the submission is an "Ask Slashdot", then it belongs in that section. Otherwise what is the point in having sections and the ability to set a filter?

Different story 17 years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43894923)

Back in the old days, a small but fierce group petitioned the university to allow us to use 2 PCs as servers. Only 4 people signed the petition. But we vowed we would change university if we weren't allowed to do so.
We got permission.

We started out with email service, nannymud, webspace and mailinglists. In these days of gmail, WOW and facebook groups, things might be different.
The value proposition and root access might be less important. Yet a fixed IP on the internet might still be useful for LAMP servers for fellow students.

It might be interesting to combine it into a MAKE-approach to: build a 3D printer and add some embedded linux toys in the mix.
Make sure you do some novel and that you're having fun. 'Just for fun', remember?

Good luck, times are different now, but surely not less exciting :)
Jasper Nuyens, currently CEO; long time ago the founder of the Linux User Group: LUMUMBA: 'Linux User Movement Underground Mad Belgian Aliens'.

Instead of "Linux", try "Open Source" (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about a year and a half ago | (#43895719)

Try not to publish this as "Linux", but rather "Open Source". You'll probably get fans of other FLOSS software how may in future be interested in moving to linux, but would me somewhat intimidated by what "LUG" sounds like.
You'll also get participation from BSD users. (As a BSD user at the time, I never felt comfortable with being a member of a "LINUX user group" at my former university.

Re:Instead of "Linux", try "Open Source" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43896327)

How about you brand it as a FOSS/UNIX group, and you could potentially grab some Mac-users as well.

Re:Instead of "Linux", try "Open Source" (1)

armanox (826486) | about a year and a half ago | (#43911021)

For a while, we were the "Open Capitol College Unix and Linux Team" - OCCULT (school said the college name had to be included, so we found a way).

Go to your community (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#43896387)

You'll want as big a membership as you can get and there are at least as many linux enthusiasts in your community as there are on campus. Find them and invite them. Ask them to help run it - they'll be here after you graduate. You'll learn from each other and the campus has good facilities. LUG folks don't discriminate at all based on age; it's a real meritocracy.

You need to have a regularly scheduled meeting. Have a speaker for each one but do not cancel if you have no speaker - have a show-and-tell instead. A regular meeting is essential for every group.

Don't get too hung up on officers or titles - have a go-to person and if you can delegate facilities, refreshments, sponsorships, etc. do that.

Schedule speakers in advance. 1-4 months is ideal. You should announce your next meeting's topic at the present meeting, so get your people lined up. It's the same work now or later so do it now.

Advertise on bulletin boards (the real ones) and any electronic outlets you have. Make a logo with Tux in it. Don't stop advertising. Register a .org site (or your relevant local .tld) and keep it updated. Delegate maintenance of the website.

Set up two mailmans - one for discussion and one for announcements. Some people want both but many do not.

Make a succession plan. You'll be graduated, and you need to identify your successor well before then and train him so the group keeps running well. Tell him to do the same. If you've been graduated, call him six months later out of the blue and check in.

Source: I started a university-based LUG in 2004 and handed over the reigns two years ago. I'm going to the next meeting this Thursday.

LUGs Suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43898231)

Don't even pretend you want to be a part of one. LUGs are filled with the most pretentious, freetarded losers on the planet. They are faux-programmers who think just by using Linux they are programming / computing Gods, when most of them actually couldn't tell you what ICMP is (actually happened at the LUG at my University, and the CS department at my university is in the top 20 in the US. I know, sad).

Food/Snacks/Quick Business/Freedom/OpenSpace (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43899355)

Hey, So put up a lot of posters.
Get a mailing list setup from your IT department.
when people show up, add them to the list.

Just have social time.
Meet every week. Make it easy for people to get to.

Perhaps have a topic or theme for each meeting.
As people get comfortable, they can run their meetings.

Have general announcemnts as a part of each meeting.

Don't waste time on constitution and stuff like that in general meetings,
elect officers dig thru that stuff... If you have an idea of how it should be done, just do it, and be considerate of others, Invite others to talk to you if they want to change something.

Have food!
snacks pull people in.
Just buy a bag of chips and a 2liter. Don't worry about bureaucracy of having the school pay for it, unless you have a willing treasurer.
You should be able accept donations for your food.

I almost killed our LUG when I went off on my elaborate uber cool modular constitution.
Make the constitution really easy to get business done. Make the groups and consensus as small as the school allows.

If people want to talk about other topics, do OpenSpace, let them be free to go to another portion of the room to talk about what they want to talk about.

-AP

Just make a LUG (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43900719)

Think Big.
Ghana needs Linux.
Take responsibility for all of Ghana (and maybe more).
A Transnational LUG does exist. (SSLUG :-)
http://linuxghana.blogspot.no/
https://plus.google.com/108529895735063044204/posts
https://twitter.com/LUGGhana
http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=7012
http://ghanalinux.blogspot.no/2012/01/packet-crafters.html
Make a poster and put it up somewhere visible/suitable on The University.
Make the poster available on Internet so that others can print it and put it up.
Start with an install-fest where people can bring their computers and install Linux.
See if there is a place to eat where you can meet before/after meetings.
Pizza places seems to work fine in most countries
Keep in mind that you might meet people you will know the rest of your life.
You got to start somewhere and a place to meet is a great start.
Cooperate with the other groups.
Might be suitable as a project to put affordable computers in Schools:
http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEdu
Just works :-)

Examine Prior Successeful Examples (1)

Lev Lafayette (625897) | about a year and a half ago | (#43901055)

By way of introduction, I am the current President of Linux Users of Victoria (Australia). We have two meetings a month, a main meeting with two talks (nominally intermediate and advanced) and a beginners workshop. We usually organise Software Freedom Day (do this!), and install-fests and miniconferences in regional areas - so far we have chapters in Ballarat, Geelong, Shepparton, and more coming. We've been around since the early 90s and have around 1500 members.

From my experience in LUV and many other community groups there are two key things that keep a group going.

a) Leadership.

Somebody has to be a leader. Better still you can have multiple leaders and distribute tasks between them. Leaders are the people who will ensure that the meetings happen, that events are advertised and so forth. They are the public face of the organisation and they must work to improve the organisation every day. Leaders also must be very, very attentive to their membership. A leader cannot exist without followers. Always listen to what others want to see happen. If someone has an enthusiastic proposal, delegate authority and action to them and help achieve their goal. Also, leaders don't give up.

b) Community

A society survives because it generates a culture at a community locale (real, virtual, or both). What is the core ethos of your society? From what you've described, you need to need to both interest and differentiate from the existing computing groups. If they other computing groups are into mobile web there's not much to be gained on replicating that. I would suggest a key feature of Linux that has broad popular and technical appeal is the notion of software freedom. Make that your driving and motivating force. Even if it is three people sitting around a coffee table discussing the latest version of Firefox, the fact that they have come together in the name of the LUG to discuss a matter of common interest means that you have a group.

Provide leadership and ensure you have a community and everything else is detail. Also, feel free to contact me lev at levlafayette dot com for any further advice.

Be professional (1)

jotaeleemeese (303437) | about a year and a half ago | (#43913493)

I recently attended a meetup about another topic in which the organizers were trying to stablish a new group.

The intention was to show cool toys and then show a work flow to obtain results. They had 4 working prototypes of the gadgets, one area with 2 big screens, a chill out area (with drinks and sandwiches) and 4 people that could have provided a guided tour through the topic of interest (we were supposed to leave with a present built there and then, which would have been a nice touch).

First of all they could not control who was assisting.

Then they just said "oh well, just follow one of us and we will make four groups" without making sure all the groups were about the same size.

They didn't have a plan of action, which meant people began to wander from one group to the next until they felt comfortable, this meant one guy, perceived as more informed, had way too many people (and because he was better looking, all the women stayed with him) while another guy, far more knowledgeable but a bit shy, ended standing almost on his own.

One of the guys supposed to organize things was hysterical because he knew it was all a mess and made everybody else moody.

They haven't tested that they could use the screens for a presentation,they didn't work which mean they resorted to sit with their laptops (Apple ones of course) on their knees "showing" others how things are done (how many people can stand close by and see anything at all?)

You see, some basic planning (dividing groups, assigning them leaders, sketching a plan for the meeting, testing equipment) would have made a success of the meeting.

As it is I am pretty sure they will be lucky to have half of the people back (several of them were actually investors interested in the technology, talk about wasted opportunities, I saw several of those people shaking their heads in disbelief).

We techies forget about these things, but they are important, this fashion of "unconferences" and doing things in the spur of the moment are great in paper, but frankly only scream "our group is lazy and disorganized", if you are organizing a LUG, do it properly, it will take lots of time and effort, but if you can't put this then you shouldn't bother at all, but if you do it properly you will make friends for life and connections for the future who will remember you as the organized guy that kept things going.

offer /show how to use live linux and dual boot. (1)

eionmac (949755) | about a year and a half ago | (#43986819)

Offer to all academic folk and city folk, be open to all, remember academic folk will fade away every 4 years or so.

Try to teach and show first of all:

1, Use of a Live Linux (puppy, Knoppix, OpenSuse, Mint)
It will save a lot of things including those who do not back up their thesis work, as recovery from a dead MS Windows machine by Knoppix use is al ive saver.

2. Then discuss show how to dual boot machines

Then folk will take to Linux

3. The saving stuff from non booting MS Windows machines is a very good introduction to Linux for students, staff and others as it gives great confidence in use of Linux systems ,even if unable to code or develop for systems.

Best wishes for your group, keep it happy and both physical and also by email or blog.

Re:offer /show how to use live linux and dual boot (1)

eionmac (949755) | about a year and a half ago | (#43986843)

Knoppix use is a LIFE saver. (sorry, my typing)

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