June 24, 2002

Glen Burnie LUG organized, first meeting is Wednesday

In what may become a turning point in the evolution of Linux User
Groups, a LUG is organizing that promises to be a radical departure from
tradition, and redefines the role of the LUG in the Linux community at large.
The GBLUG's organizational meeting is scheduled for for Wednesday night, June
26th at 7:30. It will be held at the North County Public Library, which is located at 1010 Eastway in Glen Burnie, across from the Harundale Plaza Shopping Center.

The Glen Burnie Linux User Group website (http://gblug.linuxorbit.com)
proclaims that 'If Linux is to experience an explosion of popularity, then an
explosion of 'grass-roots' advocacy must precede it. This advocacy includes
community activities designed to aid in recruitment, fundraising and
establishing a local identity for Linux. Growing the Linux user base in the
LUG area should take precedence over all other objectives."

This new, aggressive attitude is markedly different from the typical LUG,
which tends to focus almost exclusively on educating its membership in the
finer points of Linux usage, administration and programming. The Glen Burnie
LUG will operate more like a social club, with light, entertaining meetings
targeted at new or casual Linux users, and participation in community
activities designed to garner new members and increase Linux's exposure.
According to the group's founder, Jamie Harrison, the change in focus is
necessary "if Linux is to move from being a popular niche operating system to
being a popular desktop operating system."

"We keep talking about what programmers and companies should do to make Linux
more of a desktop force. I've heard people say that because there's not a
huge demand for the (Linux) software, the developers won't allocate
resources, and then others say that until the software is developed, ther
won't be any demand. It's a 'Catch-22,'" Harrison said.

"I say that Linux develops from the ground up. One person shows it to another
person, who shows it to another person, and so on. As more Windows users
become Linux users, the landscape changes. Software development companies
take notice, hardware distributors get on board, employers start to hear
about Linux from their workforce, and we see progress. But it all starts with
us.

"The way that most LUGs operate now, only the most avid 'techno geeks' could
possibly enjoy themselves, and as a result, a great opportunity to take Tux
to the masses is lost. I propose using the LUG organization as a vehicle for
the expansion of Linux usage among average computer users" Harrison said.

When asked about his expectations for the immediate future, Harrison was
realistic. "I suspect that, in the beginning, it will be slow, lonely going.
Many counties in America have only a few dozen Linux users total, and how
many of them are going to be willing to become Linux advocates? I don't know.
But I'm in this for the long haul.

"One day we'll get over the hump, and all of the sudden, instead of pushing
the revolution up the hill, we'll find ourselves trying to keep up with it as
it rolls down. Who knows? Maybe as it rolls down that hill it'll be crushing
Windows as it goes. That when it'll really be fun."

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