I It's been an interesting month or two, receiving feedback from both the Tassie and the National community since we won the bid for LCA 2009. In particular, Chris Neugebauer and his recent post caught my attention.
Many of the most successful Australian LUGs seem to be centred out of the surrounding Universities; this provides a number of opportunities for growth, publicity, and funding in the form of access to facilities, societal membership funding, and resources.
In contrast, TasLUG has formed, reformed and grown from a base of avid users, many of whom have not been involved in the University Computing communities. We have many members from very varied backgrounds, of many different levels of skill and focus. All the same, TasLUG has been growing soundly over the past 5 years, with the group's website now about to hit 100 topics, 500 posts, and 130 members within the next few months. Our LUG has had many posts praising our providing prompt, accurate, and friendly support to the community. We advertise on local ABC radio, where I have a regular spot, whenever the opportunity arises, we give away Ubuntu and Open CDs, we run a number of Software Freedom Day events across the state each September which attract 200+ people statewide, and now, as January 2009 fast approaches, we're about to host one of the biggest Linux events on the Australian conf calendar (and ooh boy, are we excited!).
And still, the feedback is coming in that there are people who are somehow missing out on the great community we have down here.
It is becoming apparent that without a growing support for Linux and Open Source within the University communities, LUGs face an uphill battle to bring their communities to those who might champion the cause, and pass the message on. Bringing an event of the magnitude of Linux.conf.au to the University of Tasmania can only help to achieve this goal.
Over the coming 12 months, we will be working to foster a new community of Linux and Open Source users within our community; and to cement our position in the Tasmanian community in such a way that no-one will call TasLUG's existence into question again ;-).