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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