LUGs and Mailing lists

Today is software freedom day.
FSFTN and VillupuramGLUG celebrated with live events. is a Bigbluebutton Instance hosted by team. Villupuram GLUG used this to host several sessions like Wikipedia, Inkscape, GIMP, Linux distros, Stellarium, Blender, Android alternates, Free Software philosophy etc.

Each session had a separate link to join that room. We can enter any room. The team members invite us and explain their topic, just like we do in the physical stalls at any Software freedom day celebrations.

FSFTN had live talks and discussions at

GDPR, Understanding Privacy in the Digital Era, Knowledge Freedom – Hardware & Software Perspective, FSFTN Works & Community Contributions, A Discussion on Gender & Technology were few topics discussed.

Hope also used BigBlueButton. This seems a good alternative to zoom, Google meet etc. Though we have JitSI, we should explore BigBlueButton also to host meetings and online training.

Tons of thanks for both the communities for the great events.

There is only one issue I found. Most of the speakers used windows for presentations and demos. I cant resist this. Being part of  Free Software Communities, we should believe what we preach. If we dont believe free software as the base OS, who will listen to us?

What is the main use of these demo stalls, talk on such events?
The participants can see all these talks, shows on YouTube itself. These events are not for the audience. They are majorly for the stall owners, speakers only. By giving a talk, by giving a demo, the speaker only learns much. If the speaker dont know how to use linux, then it is the first task to teach her/him to use linux.

I am from the very old school. Indian Linux Users Group, Chennai.
There are few rules in our group.

1. Mailing list the only primary mode of communication. IRC is there for cool hangout chats.
2. All speakers should use only GNU/Linux for all the talks. Why? We are Linux users group. The name has the answer. There is no place for OS like Windows or Mac in our meetings. People are very rigid on this rule. I have seen they have asked to stop the talks, when the speaker shows Windows OS. They can be little empathetic. But that would lead to the events like we had today.

What is the use of a free software community, if we can not use Linux as the OS for our main activities? We can have excuses on office laptops. We should as for linux even in office laptops.

Atleast for the public events like SFD, we should be very rigid on showing only Linux OS. We should live what we speak. Otherwise, we will be preaching fake things only.

Ignoring the mailing list/blog is another issue I face in both the communities. All the planning, event organizing are happening only on whatsapp and telegram. Though FSFTN has a matrix channel,  I dont see any major communications happening there. (This was a few months ago. Nowadays, I am not using matrix. Only IRC) They can be in all the social media, like facebook, instagram, telegram, whatsapp etc. But When they have time to post in all such social media, I am not sure why they ignore to post in mailing list.

If we can not teach people how to use mail and mailing list, how can we teach them to use free software and how can we create more contributors?

“Nowadays, people are not using mails”. This is a silly reason to ignore mailing lists. “Go to people, where they are”. This may be a reason. But, it should be “Go to people, where they are and bring them to good place”. As free software communities, we should not go and settle with private, gated walls.

Oh yes. Over the decades, all the LUGs mailing lists are dying, all over India. Nobody seems using it. Everybody are using only Social media like facebook and Instagram. So what? Are we going to promote Windows and Pirated Software, telling that all of our friends are using the same? We wont do that as Free Software Community. Right? Use the same for using mailing lists too. check here. A non tech, trekking community uses a mailing list as primary communication channel. this is the mailing list with 27 thousand members. If it can do so, why can a GLUG use a mailing list?

FSFTN is making more GLUGs in many colleges. I can not find the mailing lists/blogs/websites for the GLUGS. Why so? What is preventing them to say some hard rules on using mailing lists?

If we dont follow open communications, how can we say as “we are working on building communities for open culture, open source, open data” etc?

In Tamil, there is a old saying. ‘படிப்பது மகாபாரதம். இடிப்பது பெருமாள் கோயில்’. It means as “Preach God on public and destroy temples in the background”. I feel the same when the free software communities, not using public mailing lists and showing windows on the demos/talks.

I may be a seems like a old school nut. But, remember the basics always. Free software communities are not measured by numbers. The quality they give the people’s life is more important than the number games.

My humble request is

1. Come back to mailing lists
2. Make mailing lists as primary channel
3. Whatever you discuss in other media, leave notes or minutes to the mailing lists
4. Put a strong rule as “Show only linux on public demos”
5. Make Linux as primary os that you use daily. Live what you say.

Why do I care so much on these? Linux is not only a OS. I see Linux as a LifeStyle.  I was a closed minded person till I was using Windows.  Linux changed my life. It not only opened the source code. It opens people’s mind and heart.

Linux gave me loads of knowledge, job, fun, tech/non-tech skills. Linux Users Groups are the reason for it. A LUG can change many people lives. ILUGC gave me more than my Engineering college/degree gave. I want the same sprint to be alive in all LUGs we have. The taste of software freedom should reach all the LUG members. It can happen only when we live a open source way, in all possible ways.

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