So, pretty much anyone who knows me, knows that I’m into Linux. And by Into Linux, I mean I’m pretty much obsessed with it. Well, not necessaries just Linux, but free/libre/open-source software(FLOSS) and hardware for that matter. My journey started back in 1996 when I got my hands on a book called “Running Linux” which was packaged with a CD pack that contained a few Linux distributions and a whole bunch of software. A friend and I messed around with it for a while but it wasn’t until we bumped into the guys from the Linux Enthusiast’s Association of Durban(LEAD) at the local computer expo, that things really got going for us. We attended our first install fest where experienced guys helped us get our computers setup and working properly with Linux. We started attending the monthly meetings and learned loads of stuff and made some great friends. That was all around 1998/1999.
I the years that followed I attended every meeting that I could, even if the topic wasn’t something that interested me at the moment. I partly did this so that I would know who to ask later if I needed help, partly so I could point people at the right person if they asked me for help and largely because it meant that I got to socialize with a lot of people who were just as passionate and geeky as I was. As time went on, my skills grew and I was able to help people with questions on the mailing list. I even started doing presentations to the group which was scary at first, but also loads of fun. Over the years at least 2 really great jobs came from my involvement with the group. Sadly, around the end of October 2009, the LEAD mailing list ceased to function. I don’t know all the details, but from what I hear, the free hosting that was being used, became no longer free and a suitable new host was not found in time. Meetings had not happened for some time at that point due to a lack of speakers and subject requests from the community.
Anyway, fast forward to March of this year(2011). My girlfriend and I were in the car driving somewhere, when I started complaining about the lack of Linux community in Durban. Having been a community organizer for many years, her response to me was “if the community you want doesn’t exist, create it yourself”. I took this to heart, and by the end of the weekend I had created a Google Groups mailing list and invited a bunch of the people who I still kept in contact with from the old LEAD days. Moderation duties were and still are being performed by Andrea Foster, Edrich de Lange and myself. Initially I had thought to just keep it a mailing list and let others arrange meetings/events if they wanted to as I didn’t want to end up in a situation where everything was lumped on me, I burn out, and the community goes away. In May a number of people mentioned that they would really like meetings to start again, so we organised a meeting to discuss it. This took place on 29 May 2011 at Europa in Florida Road. About 10 or 11 people attended and it was decided that we would start meetings again, but that a committee would be formed to spread the workload. 5 committee members volunteered, Edrich de Lange, Ralfe Poisson, David Bisschoff, Vincent Swart and myself. Meetings were scheduled for the first Thursday of the month and our first official meeting was held on 7 July 2011. I was really happy with the turnout of about 12-13 people, especially since the venue had to be changed the day before the event. What really made me hopeful for the group’s future was that at least half of those in attendance were new faces to me.
When I started the mailing list, I called it DBNLUG, short for Durban Linux User Group. This was partly because I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes from the previous group, and partly to show that it is a new group, under new “management”. Those of us on the committee and moderation staff, hold no ill will towards the LEAD organizers, in fact I still have the utmost respect for them and their hard work for so many years. It’s just that DBN-Lug is sort of the next generation of the LUG if that makes any sense.
Over the past almost 2 months, the committee have been hard at work getting this organised for the group. We now have a hosted server where we will be moving the mailing list to since the Google Groups system seems to have some nasty glitches from time to time. The new mailing list is not yet active, but it will be soon. We also have a basic website up at http://durbanlinux.org.za which has links to places where you can find us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. There are placeholder links that will link to a Blog, Wiki and Planet page as soon as we can get those setup. And lastly there are links to the current mailing list and a link to mail the committee.
All in all, I think the LUG is coming together nicely with quite a few very enthusiastic users. An LPI study group mailing list has already been spawned by one of our members and there are whispers of the possible resurrection of BarCampDurban at some point in the future. It’s an exciting time to be part of the Linux community in Durban and I’m glad I get to be a part of it.