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! 

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