GNHLUG Summer Summit 2005

This was held at Bruce and Carole's farmhouse in Loudon, NH on 20 Aug 2005 between 9:30am and 5:30pm (more or less). It was the response to several gnhlug-org messages dated Tue Jun 14 19:40:01 2005


Notes from MadDog.

These are the minutes I took at the organizational meeting yesterday. (19 August 2005) ... Finally, I think we need to figure out how this meeting is going to be a "Quantum Leap", bringing the groups further along then they have been before, "righting what once went wrong", instead of just going being another small blip along the way.

md ===========================================================================

Round of Introductions: Who are you, and what do you want to get out of this meeting?

Who are We?

  • "only a user"
    • likes to use it
    • needs "household support"
    • "come for dinner anyway"
    • "something to gather every month"
    • good at organizing
    • only found out by meeting thursday night
  • group and user base has changed
  • "No time anymore, but keep running meetings"
  • typical meeting chair complaint

  • No joint meetings
    • bouncing meetings between locations bad
    • late notices bad
    • not a lot of students coming to UNH meetings
    • core group of six or seven people, mostly older
    • not aligned on topic
    • always meet - consistency huge..core group "just comes"
  • How to advertise to tech people
    • almost impossible

Different Groups

  • What should an ideal user group should be?
    • end users, developers, sysadmins, all?
  • Dartmouth group
    • What was successful, what has not been
  • Software Freedom Day
    • Software Freedom International - Matt
    • September 10th - 200 registered teams
    • 80-90 teams to receive CDs
    • Windows apps plus Ubuntu Live!

More Intros

  • Attributions for who does what in group are needed...connection information
  • GNHLUG produce its own license plate?
  • "Cash in Gate's environment"
    • Rather pay money than downloads
    • * Wants to see Linux grow
    • * Wants cross-platform software
  • Ring or star topology to groups?
  • Too much on organizer's plates

More Summits

  • Frustration of leadership
    • "volunteers will always let us down" [Ed. Note: perception rather than fact]
  • Paul Lussier - wanted to come
  • Paul's thoughts - see below
    • Can you define "working better"?
    • Many people feel it is fine
    • Those who have grand schemes
      • Most others have no time or desire for visions
    • Work with them for years
    • "Leisure computer users"

Different ones

  • Various attendees:
    • Desire but no technical skills
    • Skills, but want to drink beer
  • Memphis - Djs
  • Address and directions for meeting on wiki pages

What Are We When We Grow Up

  • Sysadmins meeting after work and having beer
    • "Do you have the answer to this?"
  • Fraternal organization?
    • Where do we go for beer?
  • Support group
    • Answers in email
    • RTFM or "Have you ever heard of Google"?
  • World Domination is great...
    • but I am busy this week

What Are We?

  • Changing
  • GNHLUG - was all of NH and....
    • Norther Mass
    • Vermont
    • Maine
    • Littleton
  • Geographical and SIG pieces of puzzle

Geographical vs Interest

  • Python meeting
    • reach out to windows users?
    • need publicity coordinator
    • 22 people show up
  • Other SIGs?
  • Should we be a "complete schitzophrenic"?
  • Less kernel stuff, less installation now
  • Troubleshooting fest

Installation - Fringe Elements

  • General Installation becoming "ho-hum", but:
    • Raid/LVM
    • Beowulf systems
      • What happens when it is done
      • Could be done in a computer lab

We Are A Free Software Group

  • Essentially based around Linux
    • BSD?
  • Bring them down from Dartmouth
    • Really good speakers
  • Video or audio - Publish slides and audio as part of web site
    • Podcast
    • Slides
    • Searchable
  • Open course plan

Past Events Page

  • Presentations
    • Tell speakers ahead of time it is going to happen
    • Get copies of slides at end of talk
    • Get microphone to record their talk
  • Always "GNHLUG should" - not "We"
    • "Yup, we agree, so when are you going to do it?"
    • "Let's think about what works"
  • Mailing lists
    • Awaiting moderator approval - announce list


  • Updated twiki to find mailing lists easier
  • Should we update Wiki
  • Ben should head up Wiki
  • Approach MV for 1u Cabinet

Identity- GNHLUG

  • Manadnoc - Am I GNHLUG?
  • Need Chapter identity?
    • Automating input into Wiki site - email based?
    • Afterward putting meeting stuff into Wiki site
  • Australian site that says: "Is answer here, if not come back and put it in"
  • Ben and Bruce to look into co-locating own box

What Do We Want to Be?

  • GNHLUG is all groups
    • Quarterly ("GNHLUG") meetings are all together
    • When do we want them
    • A goal
    • "Unified group"
    • "A really good speaker"
  • Too many quarterly meetings?
    • Concord
    • Nashua too far south
  • One announcement list

Needs for Meetings

  • Place
  • Time
  • Projector
  • Speaker
  • Moderated


  • Ben volunteering to lead overall group
  • GNHLUG - infrastructure and framework for FOSS
    • Fraternal org - drinking beer
    • Support organization
    • Educational aspect
      • learn
      • teach
    • Advocacy
      • Schools

What Does GNHLUG Add?

  • Intersection of New Hampshire and Linux
  • We supply:
    • communications
    • centralization
    • speakers
  • Allow this to happen
    • create infrastructure to pull stuff together
    • New user nights
    • Don't re-invent the wheel
  • SIGs

What Do We Want To Be?

  • Types
    • Suits
    • Geeks
    • Hobbyists
  • Levels
    • Beginner
    • Experts
  • More on Wiki

Business Cards on Wiki

  • Organizational - BrochureWare
  • glabels FOSS program
  • Carry them everywhere - Org Structure

  • No one can steal money because we have no money
  • Register as non-for-profit
    • Neighborhood associations
    • Expenses paid, not salaries
  • Have to have formal structure
  • Have to have officers
  • Have to do auditing

Money Flow

  • Services that we get
    • Out of pocket
    • Process money in some way, shape or form
  • Small group become formal?
  • Running afoul of law
  • Get BLU's bylaws
  • Novell bought Tally systems
  • Tax ID number - Secretary of State
    • Non-interest bearing

Money Flow - Continued

  • Bank Account
  • Moved to form a committee to look into incorporation
    • bylaws
    • articles
  • Mail that we voted to form a committee to look at forming the committee

How To Mess Up A Group - What Can We Do Better?

  • Lots of un-coordinate mailing lists
  • Org, Announce, Discuss, Jobs
  • Updating Twiki is disruptive
  • Audience Targeting of Web Site
    • Newbie
    • Programmer
    • Systems Admin
  • Content oriented editors - Newbie
    • Angels?

How To Work A Group

  • Face Time
    • Angels for other things
  • Contingency Plans
    • Are we prepared to put on things
  • Strive to put things two weeks in advance
    • Heather
  • Publicity out
    • Greg Rundlett
  • Someone from each of chapters to be accountable

How to Make a Group Work

  • Primary and Alternate for each chapter
    • Greet Speaker
    • Have a room
  • Whole group help in finding speakers
  • 268 subscribed members on mailing list
  • One thursday in the month is a floating meeting
  • Chair responsible for getting speakers, room, etc. to Heather

Attracting New Users

  • Business cards, put them out
    • Wear Penguins
  • Places to list:
    • Radio Shack, Best Buys
  • New meeting places:
  • Framework for advertising
    • Non-Linux users
    • List of user groups
    • Linux Journal
  • Add good respondents to Wiki


  • O'Reilly
  • Guidelines for mailing lists
    • Don't re-invent the wheel (unless necessary)(TM)
  • Heather needs:
    • Two names from each group and contact information


  • MS Project but on Web
  • Calendar - more automated?
  • Other Tools (Video or Audio conferencing)

Goals, Directions and Visions

  • One day Linux events
  • Chapter Chairs get together once per quarter
    • Before or after quarterly meetings
    • Face time important
  • TWiki be updated before October 9th
  • Need abstracts and minutes on front page of web site from speakers
  • Training for new leaders - Once per year
  • Speaker notes

We Will Be Glad to Help

  • "Talk to"
  • "We have done in past..."
  • An enabling
  • A place to hang stuff - history
  • Write stuff down - help other groups
    • "How to run a user group"
  • "I would like this topic to be discussed at the next meeting"

Comments from Bill Sconce

Very cool.  Including especially the picture (which reminds one of "Our
highly skilled and intelligent personnel are eagerly waiting to serve
you"...   :) 

Thanks, Bruce and Carole, for graciously hosting.

My comments:

1.  The purpose of the group is:  meetings.

1a.  There's nothing wrong with mailing lists.
1b.  There's nothing wrong FAQs and Wikis.

2.  Meetings are useful because they just happen.

2a.  People may or may not come to a given meeting.
2b.  It's not EASY to make them "just happen", but
     it's not that hard, either.
3.  To have successful meetings they have to not
    only just happen, they have to happen on schedule.
4.  We've shown that our geographically disparate
    groups offer _something_ to our geographically
    dispersed membership.  Some people do come to
    all of these meetings.
5.  Making all this happend could be a LOT easier if
    the disparate groups share some of the administration.

5a.  Coordinate the keeping of the schedule.
5b.  Coordinate speaker lists (and maybe combine some
     of the meetings).  We've done these things in the
5c.  Submit ourselves to the discipline of making
     deadlines, and cooperating in keeping up the
     calendar, e-mail announcements, etc. which let
     the membership treat the meetings as reliable
     phenomena which "just happen".  (Read: support
Who once again can't log in to the wiki, and needs to
get on with the voter registration work he has to get
done before tomorrow morning.

P.S.  Thanks again to Bruce and Carole, and to Ted for
ramrodding the idea, and to everyone who took the time 
to attend yesterday. It may be a good idea for the
Executive Committee (heh, I mean Wood Badge candidates)
to get together for face time once a month for a while
as we get this New Era launched.

P.P.S.  To echo md, anyone who want to have a Linux
group can do so, no strings.  If they want to be part
of whatever GNHLUG represents they have to play by a
few rules, discussed yesterday...  "not too much to

P.P.P.S.  Thanks for provisionally allowing PySIG to
join the umbrella.

Email from Paul Lussier, 14-July-2005 Reproduced with permission from Paul

Below are some thoughts provoked by your
comments.  The proper place for these thoughts is likely the Summer
Summit, but, being a reactionary type, I'm thinking about it here and
now.  Feel free to share these thoughts with whomever.  I've voiced
them all before I'm sure :)

Ted Roche  writes:

> My primary motivation for organizing the group is to try to get the
> disparate volunteers to talk with each other and see if cooperation
> can get the group working better.

Can you define "working better" ?  Many people seem to think things
are fine the way they are (I'm not saying they are, but this has been
the main source of contention within the group for years).

> So, I'd like to [..] let them decide if there's more they want to do
> or ways they can cooperate.

Again, this is part of the problem.  There are those who have "grand
visions" of what they think GNHLUG can or should be, and they are very
motivated individuals.  However, most of the "membership" of GNHLUG
either has no time or interest in these visions.  This was a huge
source of frustration for Rob Lembree, and, to a slightly lesser
degree, Jerry Kubeck...

Another problem I've noticed is this: The membership seems to be
somewhat polarized with respect to experience.  GNHLUG has a very high
percentage of sysadmin/programmer types at one end of the spectrum,
and at the other are a group of relative neophytes who are both new to
Linux, and in many cases, not even computer professionals.

The former group has been working with computers generally, and
UNIX/Linux specifically in most cases for more than a decade.  The
latter group sees computers (imo) essentially as thing of leisure.
IOW, they don't use them, deal with them, fix them, work with them all
day long at work.  They come home, and as a leisure activity, fiddle
with Linux.

What this mix of people results in is on one hand, a group of people
who, at the end of the day, usually don't want to have to do their job
again until tomorrow when they go back to work; and on the other hand,
a group who is a newly converted, excited, and ready-to-convert-the-world.

The former group wants to sit back and schmooze, tell war stories, and
drink beer, the latter wants to evangelize and spread the word.  The
former group has the technical skills to do what the latter group
desires but not the interest, the latter group has the desire and
motivation the former lacks, but not the technical skills.

So, the real crux of the problem is not, "What do we, as a group want
to do?", and not even is it "How do we get these two groups
together?", but rather, how do get the technically proficient group,
who lacks desire, motivation, and in many cases time, to get more
actively involved? (by the way, I categorize myself in to this group :)

> For example, with around 50 active members, why do we have 5
> webmasters and a dozen mailing lists? Could we simplify? Does that
> make sense? Centralization and decentralization both have their
> advantages and disadvantages.

I think a) we ought to have more than 50 active members, b) we should
cut down on the number of mailing lists and websites, and c) have a
more centralized management of GNHLUG as a whole, but
decentralized/delegated responsibility for the chapters.

> We used to have quarterly meetings - should we try to restart them?

I think we should, however, the primary problem with these was lack of
interest from anyone outside of the Nashua group to do anything.  We
tried roving quarterly meetings, but never attracted nearly as large a
crowd as when we held them in Nashua.  Getting speakers was always
difficult as well.  At the time I was the FearlessLeader, I was both
running the GNHLUG quarterlies as well as mostly managing the Nashua
group.  It was a lot of work, and not a lot reward.

> I'd like the chapter coordinators (and former leaders, like yourself)
> to talk about what works and what doesn't.

I think it would be helpful for the summit to perhaps compile a couple
of lists for the purposes of discussion among these people:

 - things we've tried
 - things we've talked about but never done
 - things which were successful
 - things which failed

Then have people comment on the contents of these lists.  Why haven't
we ever done X, which has been suggested or listed on the wiki/mailing
list ?  Why did Y fail?  Was it a good idea and poor execution, just a
bad idea? etc. 

> Attendance at trade shows, local advocacy efforts, PR in the local
> media, getting stuff from vendors, finding speakers, maintaining a
> library, all that kind of stuff.

It would be interesting to discuss *why* we might *want* to do this.
What do we as a group gain from doing any of these, and what amount of
effort will be required to accomplish this stuff.  Is the return worth
the reward?

*** End of Paul's email

Group Photos

See bottom of page for links to attachments.

Topic attachments
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JPEGjpg GNHLUGSS2005.jpg r1 manage 1116.9 K 2005-08-21 - 12:01 BruceDawson Summer Summit 2005 Group Photo - from Ted's camera
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