GoLUG was formed February 21, 2004. In January 2005 two more Orlando
LUGs formed -- the Forensic LUG and the UCF LUG. Orlando's LUGs are
listed below, in order of age:
The UCF LUG could be considered the oldest, preexisting all Orlando
LUGs, including the now defunct ELUG, but in fact it has had a several
year interruption, and therefore is most accurately considered to be
- Linux Enthusiasts and Professionals (LEAP), formed in 1999
- Greater Orlando Linux User Group (GoLUG), formed 2/21/2004
- The UCF LUG, formed approximately January 2005
- The Forensic LUG, formed approximately 2005
Why did this happen? Until 2004, conventional wisdom held that an area
so geographically small and technologically unsophisticated as Orlando
could sustain only one LUG. Indeed, when ELUG split into ELUG and LEAP
in 1999, ELUG died in 2000.
What has changed is barrier to entry. A LUG can now be formed at zero
cost by anyone with a commercial website and the required level of
leadership skill, because modern web hosts
allow multiple domains. Even for those without commercial websites, a
web/email host can be found for less than $10.00 per month.
Additionally, more locations than ever are willing to host LUG meetings.
In hindsight, it was expected. Years ago there were only a few
magazines serving the entire population. Now we've entered an age of
specialization, with magazines serving a narrow niche. Now you not only
have sports magazines, but magazines for each sport, and within each
sport different niches. Same with television. The 1 indy and 3 network
stations of the 1950's has been replaced by hundreds of cable channels.
In larger cities such as Los Angeles, there are many more LUGs than
could be justified by geography or drive time. This has been a
nationwide trend that is now coming to Orlando.
Geographically Orlando might be able to support two LUGs. Geography has
little to do with the proliferation of LUGs in OTown. Instead, the LUGs
distinquish themselves in issues of focus, culture, dues, audience and
With the barrier to entry being almost zero, I predict even more LUGs
to come. Newer LUGs will be small enough to meet in small offices or
even homes. As they grow larger, their members will have enough ties to
the community to get larger meeting places.
This does not bode well for corporate LUGs, which by law must maintain
a bank account, file taxes, and file a yearly report. Bank accounts
cost between $5.00 and $15.00 per month. Taxes are miniscule, but
completing them typically requires the services of an accountant, which
isn't cheap. The yearly corporate report for a not for profit in
Florida is $61.25. All of this money must be paid for by member
dues. Collecting dues isn't difficult in a one LUG town, but in an
environment where several LUGs cost nothing, it could prove difficult.
LUG cooperation presents an opportunity and challenge. The opportunity
is the ability to bring big name Linux people to town in conjunction
with trade shows. The challenge is working within the framework of the
culture differentiation that caused multiple LUGs in the first place.
Only the future will tell how this all shakes out.
In the last couple decades there's been a trend away from
generality and toward specificity, in television, magazines, and
websites. As barrier to entry became cheaper (Internet, on-demand
publishing, cable TV), specialty media emerged for the simplest
possible reason -- because they could.
We've seen the same trend in LUGs. Forming a LUG in 1998, back when web
hosting a single domain cost $40.00 per month, was an expensive affair.
Starting and maintaining a LUG was difficult.
Today, if one looks hard enough, one can get such hosting for $6.00 per
month. Moreover, most web hosting now offers multiple domains and
mailing lists, meaning that someone with an existing hosting account
can host a LUG's website and mailing list free of charge. Anyone can
form a LUG. Keeping that LUG vital and active requires only leadership
-- a quality very prevalent in the Linux community.
I believe there will be even more Orlando LUGs in the future,
super-serving smaller memberships than today's megaLUGs. Hopefully the
LUGs will cooperate to bring in big names and events.