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Andrew Pollock


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Sunday, 01 October 2006

On Linux Australia futures

I've been a bit busy lately, so I've only now skimmed through my linux-aus backlog, as well has had time to put some thoughts together on the whole AUUG/LA thing.

I will point out that I had a similar rant back in July last year, and a lot of what I said then still holds true.

So one of the problems is we seem to have too many organisations. OSIA, AUUG, LA, SAGE-AU, ACS, to name a few. They've all got a bit of overlap. They've all got different names (well duh) that imply different things.

So AUUG, as the Australian Unix Users Group, is losing is relevance. So much so, that the "About AUUG" page doesn't even discuss what the hell the acronym stands for. Somewhere along the line, they've adopting the tag line of "the Organisation for Unix, Linux and Open Source professionals". So they're clearly still trying to remain a "professional" body.

As is SAGE-AU. Clearly with a name like the System Administrator's Guild of Australia, it's obvious what demographic this organisation is for. Now of course a lot this organisation's members are going to be administering Linux. You could also argue they're using it as well. SAGE-AU is operating-system agnostic though, and doesn't really get all community about the operating systems its members administer.

Which leads us to Linux Australia. An organisation that (at least in my opinion) that is more about the community around the operating system than anything else. And in this case, by operating system, I'm talking about a lot more than just the kernel.

OSIA, on the other hand, is an organisation I haven't heard a lot about, and know even less about. The name though, pretty clearly suggests what they're on about. If OSIA didn't look like it was more about corporate members than individuals, I'd be saying that this is where a large chunk of AUUG members should go, if AUUG were to fold. It does leave a certain demographic out in the cold: ISVs that make closed-source software for Unix and Linux. Since, for example, CheckPoint seem to be sponsoring the AUUG conference, they obviously feel that they have some sort of affinity with the organisation.

Finally, there's ACS. Another organisation I don't know a lot about. I would think that maybe this could be another potential destination for AUUG members if it were to fold.

Back to Linux Australia, and whether that name is the best thing for the organisation. I personally think it is not. Linux Australia is way more about F/LOSS evangelisation and the community that exists around that, than anything else. To a lesser degree, it tries to act as the "mother LUG" of all the Linux User Groups around the country, but given the loose structure of the LUGs, this is more of an assumed position than anything else.

So what to call LA instead? Steal AUUG's tag line? "The Australian Linux and Open Source Community Group (ALOSCG)"? "The Australian Linux and Free Software Community Organisation (ALFSCO)"? Hmm, the second one could be mutated in "Alfresco". Cute.

Funnily enough, the same arguments apply to renaming linux.conf.au, however I'm not in favour of that. I agree with what Maddog said on the linux-aus list, about it being easier for sponsors to identify with something more specific like "Linux" than something more amorphous like "Free and Open Source software". I also think linux.conf.au has a pretty strong brand associated with it.

Finally, I want to bang the drum for organisational change.

There was some discussion about membership tiers. I think this is a good idea. I think having paid members (and some member services) would be good. It would provide Linux Australia with an additional revenue stream, and it would allow it to provide something to its members.

If there was a membership structure like "student" (which would be free), "associate" (paid, but cheap) and "professional" (paid, but slightly more expensive), you could allow all categories to vote, but give the paid members some additional services like a sticky email address, dynamic DNS hostname, maybe if LA got direct sponsors, the sponsor organisations could provide discounts to members like what SAGE-AU does.

I also think that if LA were to employ a full or part-time administrative person (like SAGE-AU did until recently) would also be beneficial. This person could do heaps of administrative stuff and coordination for the organisation, as well as be a resource for the linux.conf.au organisers, and be cheaper than having to pay an Executive President or something like that. it would allow for the organisation to go to the next level, and be a little less amorphous and have a tangible existence.

[22:30] [opinion] [permalink]

Would a pain killer by another name kill pain as well?

I don't get sick very often, so I'm not a big consumer of off-the-shelf drugs. I had noticed that Panadol equivalents (i.e. pain killers containing paracetamol) didn't seem to exist in the US, until Sarah said that Tylenol's active ingredient (acetaminophen) was what they call paracetamol in the US. Sure enough, Wikipedia confirmed this.

It's funny how the same thing can have different names depending on what country you're in.

Paracetamol is certainly a damn sight easier to pronounce than acetaminophen.

[13:06] [life/americania] [permalink]