Linux User Group HOWTO: Practical suggestions Next Previous Contents

6. Practical suggestions

Finally, I want to make some very practical, even mundane, suggestions for anyone wanting to found, maintain, or grow a LUG.

6.1 LUG support organizations

There are several organizations that offer assistance to local LUGs.

GLUE

Groups of Linux Users Everywhere is a user group coordination and support program started by SSC, the same people who publish Linux Journal. The GLUE program is an inexpensive way for a local LUG to provide some benefits to its membership.

Linux Systems Labs

LSL offers their Tri-Linux Disk set (Three Linux distributions on four CDs: Red Hat, Slackware, and Debian) to LUGs for resale at a considerable discount.

Linux Mall User Group Program

Sponsored by WorkGroup Solutions, the Linux Mall User Group Program offers a range of benefits for participating User Groups. LUGs are also free to participate in Linux Mall's Referral Program as well.

Cleveland Linux User's Group

Owns the Internet domain, lug.net. They will provide your LUG an Internet domain name at lug.net: your-LUG-name-or-citylug.net. More information may be found at LUG.NET or by e-mailing Jeff Garvas.

Red Hat Software's User Group Program

Assists LUGs to develop and grow. More information may be found at Red Hat Web site

6.2 Founding a LUG

  • Determine the nearest pre-existing LUG
  • Announce your intentions on comp.os.linux.announce and on an appropriate regional hierarchy
  • Announce your intention wherever computer users are in your area: bookstores, swap meets, cybercafes, colleges and universities, corporations, Internet service providers, etc.
  • Find Linux-friendly businesses or institutions in your area that may be willing to help you form the LUG
  • Form a mailing list or some means of communication between the people who express an interest in forming a LUG
  • Ask key people specifically for help in spreading the word about your intention to form a LUG
  • Solicit space on a Web server to put a few HTML pages together about the group
  • Begin looking for a meeting place
  • Schedule an initial meeting
  • Discuss at the initial meeting the goals for the LUG

6.3 Maintaining and growing a LUG

  • Make the barriers to LUG membership as low as possible
  • Make the LUG's Web site a priority: keep all information current, make it easy to find details about meetings (who, what, and where), and make contact information and feedback mechanisms prominent
  • Install Linux for anyone who wants it
  • Post flyers, messages, or handbills wherever computer users are in your area
  • Secure dedicated leadership
  • Follow Linus's benevolent dictator model of leadership
  • Take the big decisions to the members for a vote
  • Start a mailing list devoted to technical support and ask the ``gurus'' to participate on it
  • Schedule a mixture of advanced and basic, formal and informal, presentations
  • Support the software development efforts of your members
  • Find way to raise money without dues: for instance, selling Linux merchandise to your members and to others
  • Consider securing formal legal standing for the group, such as incorporation or tax-exempt status
  • Find out if your meeting place is restricting growth of the LUG
  • Meet in conjunction with swap meets, computer shows, or other community events where computer users---i.e., potential Linux converts---are likely to gather
  • Elect formal leadership for the LUG as soon as is practical: some helpful officers might include President, Treasurer, Secretary, Meeting Host (general announcements, speaker introductions, opening and closing remarks, etc.), Publicity Coordinator (handles Usenet and e-mail postings, local publicity), and Program Coordinator (organizes and schedules speakers at LUG meetings)
  • Provide ways for members and others to give feedback about the direction, goals, and strategies of the LUG
  • Support Linux and Free Software development efforts by donating Web space, a mailing list, or FTP site
  • Establish an FTP site for relevant software
  • Archive everything the LUG does for the Web site
  • Solicit ``door prizes'' from Linux vendors, VARs, etc. to give away at meetings
  • Give credit where credit is due
  • Join SSC's GLUE (Groups of Linux Users Everywhere) but be aware they charge a membership fee
  • Submit your LUG's information to all of the Lists of LUGs
  • Publicize your meetings on appropriate Usenet groups and in local computer publications and newspapers
  • Compose promotional materials, like Postscript files, for instance, that members can use to help publicize the LUG at workplaces, bookstores, computer stores, etc.
  • Make sure you know what LUG members want the LUG to do
  • Release press releases to local media outlets about any unusual LUG events like an Installation Fest, Net Day, etc.
  • Use LUG resources and members to help local non-profit organizations and schools with their Information Technology needs
  • Advocate the use of Linux zealously but responsibly
  • Play to the strengths of LUG members
  • Maintain good relations with Linux vendors, VARs, developers, etc.
  • Identify and contact Linux consultants in your area
  • Network with the leaders of other LUGs in your area, state, region, or country to share experiences, tricks, and resources
  • Keep LUG members advised on the state of Linux software---new kernels, bugs, fixes, patches, security advisories---and the state of the Linux world at large---new ports, trademark and licensing issues, where Linus is living and working, etc.
  • Notify the Linux Documentation Project---and other pertinent sources of Linux information---about the documentation that the LUG produces: technical presentations, tutorials, local HOWTOs, etc.


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