Last night (Friday) I went to the monthly Sydney Linux Users’ Group (SLUG) meeting, after being prompted by Pia Waugh at CeBIT. Being my first LUG meeting, I didn’t know what to expect. It turned out to be great. The people there are interesting and friendly, and it felt good to be with people who share similar ideas about computing and software as I do.
The best thing about free software is the community. As Sean Neakums said, "I came for the quality. I stayed for the freedom." I have been an active member of the community for five or six years, but all interaction was made via the Internet. Meeting people face-to-face felt positively wondrous.
Nobody is excluded from LUG meetings. After the initial introduction and presentation, the LUG splits into a group for newbies ("SLUGlets") and another for more experienced users. Not being particularly interested in a presentation on statistical computing, I went with the SLUGlets. Aside from the presentations, the meeting was extremely informal. You were free to talk about just about anything.
Following the meeting, a bunch of us went to an Indian restaurant near Central Station. The food was ordinary (as far as Indian food goes), but it was fun getting to know people and having face-to-face geek-talk. When I talk to most people, I have to dumb-down what I’m saying so that they can follow. At SLUG, if anything it was the opposite. It felt good to be around people who truly knew what they were talking about and I know I can learn a lot from them.
So what is the moral of this story? If you like Linux and/or free software, join a LUG!