Tuesday, March 25, 2008

There's a disturbance in the force!

Linuxville is a virtual city that crosses many borders via the internet but when ever physical bodies come together as a users group there is a confirmation to the joy of Linux. In the northeast Ohio sector of the world we've had a few such user groups. Apparently these groups have been fading away and I don't know the reason. The Cleveland Linux Users Group has dropped their web site, The Oberlin College Linux group is student focused and so is the Case Western Reserve Univ Linux group, basically a mailing list. The Northeast Ohio Linux Users Group's web site is functioning whacky. These are the ones just outside of convenient travel distance for me. I kind of prefer the interactive internet involvement, but must admit face to face is still good. My wonderful city, Lorain Ohio, has a Computer Users Group. It seems to be made up of older folks who are MS Windows users. I hear there is some interest in Linux among them. It seems that younger folk don't care to meet together the same way as older folks do. There are a number of VFW and ethnic type organizations that seem to suffer from the same kind of thing. The local college I went to doesn't support, teach, mention Linux in the normal course work. Most people I know from school, church or work are unaware that there is a Linux. I don't understand the dynamic but older folks gather to try to figure out the new stuff while the younger perhaps think they know it already, no need to meet to trade notes. It may be that older folks think community and the younger emphasize individuality. Maybe we will have to re-think the structure and appearance of Linux user groups so that interested people can be virtual and/or physical with greater ease. But I do have one criticism about Linux users groups. It is that knowledgeable Linux enthusiasts who have gathered thus far have been mostly server oriented users. Most of these folk do a lot of talk about servers, system administration and the like. These things are of little interest to folks wanting to use Linux on the desktop. I experienced this at a NASA work site. A few of us gathered to discuss Linux. Most wanted to setup web servers at home or do coding. There were some video and photo buffs. I was interested in the available desktop applications. If you want to setup, run and maintain a server, you have to know Linux pretty well, but after a server is done, you don't interact with it so much. It will run for days, weeks, years without intervention, that's the beauty of Linux. If you are a desktop user, you don't need to know that much Linux to use it. You can concentrate on the applications before you. So, I am purposing a shift and a split in emphasis. While the one Linux can do server and desktop stuff, we shouldn't press the skills required of one group on the other. It is the same with cars. You don't need to be a mechanic to drive, just a few necessary skills (change tire, add oil, etc). I think if we can remember this, Linux and Linux users will be much easier to deal with. Who am I, just a humble Linuxville rep who knows a naked emperor when he sees it and has the guff to say so. I hope your entrance and stay in Linuxville is a pleasant and rewarding one.

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