Goodbye AUUG, hello phoenix

Greg Lehey has proposed the dissolution of AUUG. As an interested spectator of AUUG over a number of years, an active participant in the Australian Open Source and Free Software community, and a member of Linux Australia, I’m in agreement with his proposal.

I know that some AUUG members have been sensitive about Linux Australia in the past. I do not want my membership of Linux Australia to imply that I am organisationally opposed to AUUG or its goals.

In fact, I’ve been waiting for the right moment to raise a few controversial proposals for Linux Australia! It turns out that these ideas might just be a fitting response to the dissolution of AUUG.

  • Rename Linux Australia: “Linux” does not even remotely represent the depth of the organisation’s membership or their interests. Linux Australia strives to be representative of the Open Source and Free Software community here, and while in many cases it manages to do so very well, the name is hideously exclusive.

    Linux Australia already owns opensource.org.au — let’s say what we mean by changing the name of the organisation to better reflect our aims. It could be “Open Source Australia”, or “Open Source Community Australia” (OSCA!) to denote our partnership with Open Source Industry Australia.

    As a response to the dissolution of AUUG, this change would better represent some of their membership “refugees”, who love Open Source and Free Software, but don’t necessarily use the Linux kernel to do their loving. 😉

  • Rename linux.conf.au: One of the Seven team’s tenets is, “linux.conf.au is about the magic of freedom, technology and community”. None of our tenets refer to Linux, the kernel.

    Our conference is loved by dedicated attendees and speakers around the world for its eclectic mix of people and projects. In 2001, our goal was to create “the OLS of the southern hemisphere” — I think we achieved and eclipsed that goal, particularly now that OLS is basically just a Linux kernel conference. 😉

    Again, let’s say what we mean by changing the name to better reflect our aims.

    That said, I do not believe “Open Source” sufficiently describes the awesomeness of linux.conf.au — it’s appropriate for the organising body, but the tone of the conference leans very strongly towards “Software Freedom” and the intersection of technology and “Free Culture”.

    A fresh name ought to reflect that, without distancing the growing number of professionals attending the event. I’m sure we have a very clever person in our midst who will come up with a rocking new name for linux.conf.au.

    We can do this for linux.conf.au 2007. We have the technology.

The potential dissolution of AUUG is an opportunity to further unify and strengthen the voice of Open Source and Free Software in Australia — an opportunity that stands in stark contrast to the UNIX wars of previous decades.

I encourage current AUUG members to pursue this opportunity for the benefit of the entire Open Source and Free Software community, and I hope the leadership and membership of Linux Australia can rise to the occasion in response.

Let’s rock some boats, and get Open Source and Free Software high on Australia’s technology agenda in the process.

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20 Responses to Goodbye AUUG, hello phoenix

  1. Greg Lehey says:

    As you know (or as Pia can tell you :-), I’ve been pursuing the possibility of a successor organization to both AUUG and Linux Australia for some years. The big problem, and the one that’s going to be difficult to handle, is what to do with AUUG members who represent proprietary UNIX? They’re welcome in AUUG; they’re not in LA. Can anybody come up with a modus operandi where a successor organization (that IMO should be called neither LA nor AUUG) could accept such people as members?

    Greg

  2. Ben Leslie says:

    The one thing your proposal misses is the people from AUUG using proprietary UNIX-es (UNICES?). Now I really don’t know the demographic there. Also with opensolaris, and opendarwin there aren’t that many proprietary UNIX-es around anymore, so maybe it isn’t actually a big issue.

  3. jdub says:

    My answer to that concern is precisely what Ben raises in his comment: How many proprietary UNIX systems remain relevant? Is there a need for a technical organisation to represent this niche? Why conflate the Open Source and Free Software message with an incompatible use case?

    I tend to think it’s fine to let that audience solve this problem for themselves. Let’s concentrate on the future.

  4. Marcus says:

    Sounds good.
    Sounds like natural evolution to me.

  5. Craig Box says:

    In NZ, we considered emulating .au’s success with a “Linux NZ” road, and ended up joining forces with the New Zealand Open Source Society. You could take the reverse path and become the Australian Open Source Society! 🙂

  6. Ben Leslie says:

    Jeff, I wasn’t trying to conflate open source with an incompatible use case. I was pointing out that currently within AUUG there are members that are just interested in proprietary UNIX and not FOSS. So, if LA and AUUG merged into OSCA, there is going to be some people in AUUG left that have no interest in OSCA.

    Of course I don’t know how big that number is, and if they saw value in AUUG, then AUUG would probably be active and we wouldn’t be discussing this.

  7. jdub says:

    Ben, my response was directed to Greg, and (I believe) demonstrated an understanding of your point — I wasn’t putting words in your mouth, I was raising related questions in order to answer them (specifically regarding the proprietary UNIX refugees).

  8. Ben Leslie says:

    My bad, I misread your comment.

  9. James says:

    As an outsider, I can see those who are still using proprietory unices (HP-UX, Tru64 and IRIX) can go join SAGE-AU, since who would still be developing for dead OSen?

    The others can come to LA, with as you point out open{solaris,darwin} providing a basis for the solaris and OS X users.

    As for renaming, there might be some benefit in renaming LA, but I’d be strongly against renaming LCA. Firstly because LCA has an excellent brand, and is already known as a “more than just linux” conference, secondly because there’s already the Open Source Developers Conference that it could easily be confused with.

  10. I know it’s a little premature et al, but can we suggest new names here?

    I’m just going to throw some out anyway. How about linux.conf.au become…

    conFOSS.au

    Need a reasoning? It just came to me as I was reading. Want something a little deeper. My deepest apologies 😉

  11. John Steele Scott says:

    If there is to be a new organisation, I also hope its name can express the concept of freedom.

    Hard to think of a zinger which encompasses both software and the DRM stuff which LA is getting into at the moment though.

    Another approach is to choose a fairly broad name which doesn’t include “freedom”, “open” or “nix” . . . there’s not reason why the “Australian Technology Users Association” couldn’t promote all these things, without promoting unfriendly technologies.

  12. I find your enthusiasm for renaming kinda surprising in light of your attitude towards renaming the GNU Network Object Model Environment…

    – Chris

  13. jdub says:

    Chris: I think you’ve misunderstood my point of view on the ‘GNOME’ brand. I’m actually more supportive of completely changing the project’s name — and I have spent quite some time pursuing this idea, by the way — than I am of softening the brand to ‘Gnome’.

  14. James says:

    My comment seems to have gone missing …

    Basically, the proprietory unix people from AUUG could find a home in SAGE-AU, with the free-er unices like OS X and Solaris in a larger, possibly renamed LA.

    I’d be very cautious about renaming LCA, since among other reasons you’ve already dismissed (losing the brand, “Linux” being better than open, free, floss), it’s already known as a conference that spans more than just the kernel.

  15. Mary says:

    James: known to whom? I move largely in communities where it has limited exposure, and the first response on hearing about it is always “oh I don’t do Linux… I do free culture/desktop development/legal hacks…” Education is possible, but tiring after a while.

    Likewise with LA. I think that part of the reason (only part) that the grant proposal scheme has comparatively few applicants is that people’s first reaction is “but my event/project isn’t Linux it’s free culture/desktop development/legal hacks…”

  16. ajax says:

    I suspect more people mentally spell it “LCA” than “linux.conf.au”, so if you do decide to change the name, may I suggest the acronym-preserving libre.conf.au.

  17. wildpossum says:

    I think OSS will still be of interest to users of proprietary Unices. They might not be able to do anything about the kernel and related system software, but they can certainly install GNU and other libre software.

    The vendor should organise their own conferences for the proprietary part. What would a HP/UX user have in common with an AIX user when it comes to the proprietary part anyway?

  18. jdub says:

    wildpossum: Oddly, what they’ve usually got in common is “how to install all that GNU stuff which makes proprietary UNIX usable”. Trollicious! 😉

    But seriously, there’s the usual stuff like Apache, Oracle and so on — but SAGE-AU totally fits for those use cases. It doesn’t have a FLOSS agenda, doesn’t care which OS you run (*nix, Windows, whatever), and is an elite tribe of (rightfully) grumpy sysadmins. Perfect!

  19. I like the idea of keeping LCA, but changing the L, but I’m not so sold on libre… And I can’t come up with a better L-word… liberatedcomputing.conf.au is too long.

    So how about “Conference of Linux, IT, Opensource, and other Really Interesting Stuff”? I think that encompasses what exactly we’re trying to do, with the minor downside of making the website http://clitoris.conf.au/

  20. Terry Dawson says:

    It is very true that Linux Australia does not limit itself to the Linux kernel specifically, and it’s a rational suggestion that if any of the existing AUUG members who are users of FOSS OS’s were looking for some representation that Linux Australia welcome them to its ranks.

    I believe though, that renaming Linux Australia, in particular losing the ‘Linux’ would result in an overall weakening of the recognition that the organisation has outside of the Free and Open Source Software community.

    It may well be true that inside the FOSS community Linux is well known as just a kernel amongst a flood of software, but I believe that outside the FOSS community and particularly in the Real World(cf. Jargon File) that Linux is by far the strongest of the FOSS brands.

    There will be a time where it makes sense to do this, but I believe it’s too early now.

    Terry

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