|This guide was published in the October '1999 issue of ComputerScope and is
© copyright ComputerScope. Permission to reproduce kindly granted by the
publisher, Mr. Frank Quinn.|
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The essential guide to Irish user
7. Irish Linux Users Group
What is the Irish Linux Users Group?
The Irish Linux Users group (ILUG) is a collection of individuals who share
something of an obsession with the Linux operating system. According to ILUG
PRO, Owen Kelly, the group is 'a gathering of highly motivated individuals who
are determined to prove themselves and others that Linux is capable of
standing tall with other commercial operating systems'.
Who set it up, when and why?
Richard Rowe and John 'Kate' Looney came up with the idea of forming an Irish
group for Linux users in November 1997. The actual user group was formed and a
Website set up in December that year, with the help of the University of
Limerick Skynet Computer Society. The main motivation behind establishing the
group came, apparently, from the fundamental methodology of Linux, which is 'to
share information freely and openly'.
What are it's main objectives?
The main objectives include recruiting new members, resolving Linux related
queries quickly, both for members and guests, and creating market awareness of
How many members and who are they typically?
At the moment, the group has around 300 very active members. According to Owen
Kelly, the range of membership is quite broad and includes people who can
answer just about any question on Linux, as well as new recruits with no
technical background at all. Most of the members treat Linux as something of a
religion. Linux user strongholds incklude Limerick, Galway, Cork, waterford and
Dublin. Most members are male, aged between 20 and 30, and either students or
ex-students from the likes of University of Limerick, Waterford IT, NUI Galway
and Cork IT. Members can recognise each other quite easily in a crowd as they
usually carry around toy replica Linux penguins.
What are the regular events?
Regular events include 'face to face' meetings where members discuss ideas for
changing and refining the direction ILUG is taking. The group also has regular
social events, including the spontaneous 'pub of the day', whereby members
e-mail each other to suggest meeting up that afternoon or evening. New members
venturing along to this kind event can easily identify their comrades by the
trademark bunch of little penguins amongst the pint glasses. The group has an
AGM and an annual showcase event, which is being held this year in november and
will hopefully be attended by the creators of Linux.
What are the benefits of membership?
One of the main benefits is a quick response to any technical queries users may
have on Linux. 'You are immediately to a network of volunteers who work in some
of Ireland's larger IT comapnies', says Owen Kelly. 'And should you wish to
acquire your own copy of Linux, it can be arranged in days, free of charge.'
There are, of course, social benefits as well.
Is there a social side to the group?
Very much so. A social mailing list is in place to inform subscribers of social
events as they happen. Events include the pub of the day (see above), go
karting days and the occasional meal out.
Is there a membership fee?
Is the group trying to increase membership and who should think about joining?
ILUG is actively trying to promote the use of Linux in Ireland and, as usage
increases, the level of interest in the user group should also grow. Anyone who
uses Linux is encouraged to join the group and to take advantage of the free
technical support provided by a knowledgeable and enthusiastic set of users.
How does the group communicate with its users?
ILUG has an active and regularly updated Website with product reviews, a
beginners guide to Linux, articles, tutorials, free downloads, list of Irish
mirror sites, Linux Web resources and archives of the group's mailing lists.
The mailing lists are also an important means of communicating for the group.
The lists follow different subject lines and subscribers are sent broadcast
emails as new questions or comments are posted to their lists of interest.
Has the group had to face any challenges so far?
How does it expect to develop over the coming months and years?
The main challenge for the group is promoting Linux and convincing people that
this is a reliable alternative to the other operating systems. 'It's hard to
convince a potential end user that a free product is reliable and that there is
a large degree of after-installation support,' says Owen Kelly. 'It's a case of
"if it's free there has to be a catch". Our task is to ensure that prospective
users know that there is no catch.' Kelly adds that is a viable alternative for
anyone who is getting tired of paying large amounts of money for operating
systems that don't work.
The group is expected to develop and grow over the coming months as the
popularity of Linux increases. According to Kelly, the Website is already one
of the busiest Linux help sites for new users on the Internet. `We have a
wealth of archived questions that have been answered over the last two years,'
he says, `As more companies choose Linux as a reliable and dependable product,
they will learn to recognise the ILUG as a depository of useful and
Does the group have affiliations with other Linus user groups around the
No official affiliations but Linux user groups around the world are based on
the concept of communicating openly and freely so they are all working towards
a common goal.
Does the group have its own SIGs?
No, but it does have local offshoots in Cork and in Galway.
What are the contact details?
The ILUG Website resides at www.Linux.ie. Anyone looking for further
information can contact Owen Kelly at email@example.com.