|FROM ||Jay Sulzberger
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [hangout] GBLUG Follows NYLXS Lead (fwd)
Subject: NewsForge: The Online Newspaper of Record for Linux and Open Source
NewsForge - The Online Newspaper of Record for Linux and Open Source
July 2nd, 2002
GBLUG already working on Linux converts
Tuesday July 02, 2002 - [ 04:05 PM GMT ]
Topic - Advocacy - -By Grant Gross -
The Glen Burnie Linux Users Group, billed as a different kind of LUG
focused solely on evangelizing Linux to new users, started working on
its first convert at its first meeting.
During an organizational meeting last Wednesday, a retired man who
said he knew little about Linux showed up, and GBLUG organizer Jamie
Harrison sent him away with a Mandrake 8.2 disk set and hooked him up
with a more experienced Linux user from the audience to serve as a
Even before the GBLUG's first meeting, the group was generating
attention and some controversy. In differentiating GBLUG from others
-- including a half dozen between Baltimore, Maryland, and northern
Virginia -- Harrison has suggested many LUGs are too techno-geeky
focused for most new users.
"You're the person we're trying to reach out to," Harrison told the
retiree. "Often LUGs are too technical for new users, and somebody has
to sell Linux to the world, since there's no marketing arm of Linux
like there is a marketing arm of Microsoft."
Harrison even encountered a bit of debate at the meeting when he
suggested that Linux is an operating system for people who like
computers, while people who think of their computers the same way they
think of their blenders should probably stick to Windows. One audience
member suggested that would limit the rate of Linux adoption.
But Harrison said Linux will turn people who think of computers as
just another appliance into computer zealots. "Linux changes
everything," he said. "Linux changes people's attitudes about the
hardware. We will make computer lovers where there were computer
Ten people showed up to the GBLUG kick off, most looking like typical
geeks -- all male in T-shirts, jeans and one or two long, gray beards.
Harrison, a former local Jaycees president, looked more business
casual in Tux polo and khakis, even though he's a PC technician by
day. His spiel did have the flavor of a chamber of commerce veteran
pitching his city to a prospective membership.
Harrison told those attending the first meeting that he's received
more than a dozen emails from across the country expressing interest
in this new approach to a LUG. "They want to see if this little
experiment works," he said. "If it works, we can start a fire across
Several of the people attending the first meeting said the idea of
evangelizing Linux appealed more to them than the themes for other
LUGs they'd attended. One said another area LUG seemed more about
bickering than learning about Linux. "It was more an excuse for some
type of match people wanted," he said. "This sounded a lot more
Others said they were interested in teaching new users and working
with organizations like schools.
Harrison said later he was quite happy with the turnout for the first
meeting. He figured there were about 60 avid Linux users in the
immediate Glen Burnie area. "I thought to myself, 'if I get one, I
won't be embarrassed -- I won't be talking to myself in an empty room.
If I get five, I'll be real happy, and if I get 10, I'll be ecstatic.'
I realized it was going to be slow and lonely at first, but it turns
out it isn't going to be as lonely as I thought."
Harrison's first order of business is to schedule booths at a handful
of festivals and community activities this summer or fall. He brought
a handful of Linux-related software on disks to the first meeting,
including a couple of games and the current versions of Mandrake and
While Harrison's immediate goal for the group is to convert regular
computer users to Linux and support them so they won't get confused
and backslide, he's also interested in preaching Linux to people in
power. "We're uniquely postured geographically," he told the audience.
"I think part of Linux advocacy in the future will be to take our case
to the people in D.C."
GBLUG's next meeting is July 31 at 7:30 p.m. at the North County
Public Library, 1010 Eastway in Glen Burnie.
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