Gauteng Linux users to expand activities
More than 12 years after it first started, one of South Africa’s largest Linux user groups is regrouping to broaden and increase its advocacy activities. The Gauteng Linux Users Group (Glug) earlier this month elected a new committee and is already planning series of events over the coming months to promote both Glug and Linux and free software.
The newly-formed committee has a number of plans including regular meetings, more active FOSS advocacy events and a mentorship programme.
Historically a loose association of members, Glug has functioned largely as a mailing-list with only occasional meetings and promotional activities. But recently, says Ross Addis the newly-elected chairperson of Glug, members of the group have been asking for a more structured approach to meetings and activities. Following much discussion on the mailing lists and on its IRC channel, Glug members decided to hold a special meeting on March 20 at which a new committee was elected.
Addis says that there are many benefits in pursuing a more structured approach to running the user group. “With the constant influx of new and energetic members, it became desirable to meet the new members face-to-face,” he says. “Linux is still all about sharing, volunteering and community. Linux these days is very big business, and many … of the Linux promotion campaigns carry a very corporate sheen. There are a few exceptions, but most seem to miss the OSS hobbyists or emerging IT professionals.”
Having a more formalised community structure for Glug would also help in communicating with other organisations, such as government, says Addis. “There has been an expressed need by some in the public sector to engage with the South African FOSS community. While many FOSS professionals in government are also members of the LUGs, there is a need for community bodies to stand up and interact with the various bodies, committees and projects,” he says.
“There was much debate as to whether GLUG should be a mailing list only LUG, whether it needed a committee type structure or whether it may have outgrown it usefulness. The various debates and meetings culminated in a meeting on 20 March, where a committee was elected. This was done in the most transparent and democratic fashion possible, with voting facilities being provided to those member who where unable to attend, for various reasons.”
At that meeting a new Glug committee:
Ross Addis – Chairperson
Karl Fischer – Vice chairperson
Walter Leibbrandt – Secretary
JP Viljoen – Web master
Oskar Pearson – Mailing list owner
Jonathan Carter – LUG liaison
The new committee plans to publish a constitution for members comments on 22 May, as well as suggesting a legal structure for formalising Glug. The committee’s term will end at the AGM next year, where a new committee will be elected.
Addis says that the new Glug committee already has a number of key objectives and events in mind. Among these are plans to promote Glug and free software in general through events such as the Glug 12th birthday and Software Freedom Day in September. Regular meetings and social gatherings will also be arranged.
To promote skills development, Addis says that Glug is looking at the possibility of establishing a mentorship programme to sponsor young people that want to become Linux/FOSS professionals.
“We also want to create GLUG chapters. Due to members being spread across Gauteng, it is a challenge to have regular meetings where everyone can attend. What we intend to do is have everyone on the mailing lists, yet members in the far flung reaches of Gauteng can have their own meetings, with the content of the meeting being relevant to them. The chapter representatives will also be allowed a seat on the committee. There is already a chapter on the West Rand and Pretoria. There has been a request for a chapter to be formed in Rustenburg,” says Addis.