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[SLUG-ANNOUNCE] President's Report 2002-2003

                          Sydney Linux Users Group
                        President's Report 2002-2003
                               March 28, 2003

The 2002-2003 President's Report was presented at the March 2003 Sydney
Linux Users Group AGM. This summary has been updated to include further
information that did not fit into the original presentation.

SLUG has had a very successful year, and continues to meet its goal to be a
casual, friendly group with a strong community ethos. We have greatly
improved our own resources and 'internal' activities (such as meetings and
SIGs), held a number of outreach and special interest events, and built a
solid foundation for further outreach work in the next year. We have
celebrated the efforts and successes of Open Source developers, and
contributed back to the community as a vibrant, approachable user group.

Executive Summary: We did a lot of cool stuff, made a number of important
changes to the organisation and its operation, had heaps of help from active
SLUGgers, and would like to thank everyone for their contributions. But you
really should read the full report. ;-)


We started our initially controversial 'split' meetings in June, 2002 after
a couple of false starts. Intended to satisfy the needs of new SLUGgers and
Linux users as well as our (often somewhat intimidating) advanced crowd, we
were aiming for:

  - One general interest talk for everyone, generally fun and practical

  - One in-depth talk covering special interest topics or advanced

  - A question & answer, short presentation and discussion room as an
    alternative to the in-depth talk. We finally found a worthy name for
    this section... "SLUGlets".

This has worked very well in practice, once everyone realised they didn't
have to see everything at every meeting! The audience at the AGM were very
supportive of this new format.

Thanks very much to everyone who contributed talks this year, including:

  Andrew Bennetts - Python
  Adrian Chadd - Writing Long Lived Network Servers
  Bill Dixon - Sony PlayStation Linux Developer Kit
  Adrian van den Dries - Zope
  Mary Gardiner - Contributing to OSS/FS Projects
  Stuart Guthrie - Java & Linux
  Angus Lees - Perl, linux.conf.au RDP Report
  Peter Miller - Aegis
  Conrad Parker - Sweep
  Jan Schmidt - Open Source Video Manipulation Software
  Jeff Waugh - GNOME 2.0 Desktop, The SLUG Project
  Michelle Wibisono - Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre

Plus many impromptu talks by various SLUGgers, and everyone who participated
in the two SLUG Forums we held: 'Free Software Desktop - Where Is It Going?'
and 'Package Management Comparison'. We will definitely do more of these in
the future.

SLUGlets kicked off pretty well, with some great presentations, especially
those from Mark Bell (icewm on his P120), Paul Copeland (Libranet and
OEOne), Tony Green (who risked his life to entertain us with his Nigerian
scam spammer exploits), and Anthony Rumble (Unix File Permissions).

A couple of stand out performances during the year include Ken Foskey's
impromptu but thoroughly insightful OpenOffice.org question and answer
session in January - lots of interest from everyone - and Tony Green's
timely and very welcome rant about the occasional discussion, arguments and
general silliness we see during SLUG talks. A few SLUGgers have been put off
by this sort of behaviour, but it is now largely a thing of the past.

Thanks very much to Jan Schmidt, who co-ordinated our meeting agendas and
speakers this year!

Mailing Lists

The main "slug" list continues to be the life of the organisation, with over
630 subscribers at times during the past year (currently just under 600).
This year, we've greatly reduced the amount of spam on the list thanks to
James Henstridge's SpamAssassin Mailman plugin, and lots of weeding out by
the list administration team: Peter Hardy, Mary Gardiner, Craige McWhirter,
Tony Green and Tom Burkart.

Our mailing list of choice for alter-egos and randomness, "slug-chat", is as
zany and off-topic as ever. With just under 200 subscribers, it represents
the most dedicated troops from SLUG's military wing. ;-) It was created to
keep off-topic threads and "noise" off the main list, and continues to be a
great success this year.

We have a new list for local jobs, thanks to Tony Green. Whilst it has only
received 27 mails since its creation, there have been quite a number of
successful link-ups made. For everyone searching for Linux and Open Source
oriented jobs (or employees!), make sure you also check out the Linux
Australia jobs page: http://www.linux.org.au/jobs/

Special Interest Groups

Debian SIG

  Still the best place to play pool, drink beer, and share your knowledge
  about Debian! Thanks to Craige, Peter, Anand and Matt for running it this
  year, and the many speakers who have attended.

LinuxChix Sydney

  A new SIG, started early in the SLUG year (around May 2002). The Sydney
  LinuxChix chapter holds regular meetings for women interested in IT, Linux
  and Open Source. Thanks to Mary for kicking it off and keeping it up.

Python SIG

  Another new SIG, started early in the SLUG year (around May 2002). Thanks
  to Mary for kicking it off and keeping it up, and the many speakers who
  have attended. In particular, thanks to Andrew Bennetts, who has been a
  very popular speaker, often helping out at the last minute.


Documentation Fest

  Workshop about Free Software documentation tools, covering LaTeX, Docbook,
  troff, etc. Thanks to Jaq, Mike, Gus and Geoffrey for contributing talks.
  Many thanks to Gus for organising the fest!

SLUG Workshop

  Held at the University of Sydney, over 200 people attended, with around
  150 installs! Huge thanks to Tony for organising the event, expecting the
  unexpected, and handling just about everything with his usual grace and
  style. Thanks also to many others who participated as installers,
  speakers, helpers and installees!

Sony PlayStation Meeting

  Bill Dixon and a Linux engineer from Sony Computer Entertainment provided
  an in-depth and practical look at Sony's hobbyist developer kits for the
  PlayStation 2. Not only was it an intriguing insight into the hardware,
  but we got to play with it too.

CodeFest: XScreensaver Style

  Around 20 people all up hacked on their own code, and paid some thought
  about coding screensavers. ;-) Honourable mentions: Jaq and Andrew for
  making glsnake even cooler, Peter Aylett for his tetra-5 hack. Many thanks
  to the UNSW COMPSOC dudes, particularly Dave C. for help with the network
  and venue. Thanks to Jaq, Andrew, Conrad and Raster for giving cool talks.

Other Interesting Stuff


  Lots of SLUGgers were there in Perth as delegates or speakers this year
  (around 20 hands up when this report was given at the AGM). Many thanks to
  the organisers, especially James and Tony - an incredible job!

linux.conf.au Regional Delegate Program

  Sun Microsystems offered one person from every state the opportunity to
  attend linux.conf.au, with flight and accommodation provided. SLUG was
  asked to choose for NSW, so we based our decision on need, and
  contribution to Free Software projects. Angus Lees was selected, and
  returned with a great report at January's meeting.

New SLUG Website

  Angus Lees built a new website for us, which was finalised and shifted to
  www.slug.org.au early in the SLUG year. Its main feature is an easy to
  update events calendar (now with RSS and iCal feeds!), and it uses HTML
  and CSS for standards-based, elegant layout. Thanks very much to Angus for
  his work on the site, Peter and Jan for further maintenance, and the SLUG
  committee for keeping it up to date.

Constitutional Changes & SGM

  Designed to bring the constitution in line with what we do in practice,
  mostly allowing us to run the organisation electronically, and passed
  unanimously after some confusion with the requirements for quorum. :-)
  Thanks go to Mary for doing much of the work to get this through.

NOIE Open Source Seminar for Government

  We provided a community point of reference to NOIE as the event was
  organised, with quite a few SLUGgers attending and contributing to
  discussion on the day. The seminar has been hailed as a huge success for
  promoting the use of Open Source software in government, and whilst the
  event was aimed at federal goverment, it has inspired some new initiatives
  at the state level too.

Digital Video Camera

  Committee agreed to spend ~$2500 (a very rare large expenditure) on a
  digital video camera to record SLUG talks and events. Everyone has seen
  Jan behind the camera at our meetings, it also came in handy in Perth for
  linux.conf.au. ;-) Thanks to Jan for doing the research, keeping it safe,
  and being SLUG's head cameraman!

New Hardware for maddog (the SLUG server)

  Our "six million dollar machine" was getting rickety, with a hard disk
  failure, not enough space, and not enough memory - lots of OOM-killed
  processes! An anonymous donor provided a significantly better replacement
  machine: 1GHz CPU, 1GB RAM, two 10GB disks for RAID-1 mirroring, etc. We
  won't have to worry about upgrades for a while!

Phew - a very busy year for SLUG! Thanks to everyone who contributed to our
success this year... Here's to an even bigger and brighter 2003-2004!


- Jeff Waugh
  President, Sydney Linux Users Group

linux.conf.au 2004: Adelaide, Australia         http://lca2004.linux.org.au/
   "When you're running, you want to run as far as you can, and you can't
                 run further than Australia." - Jacek Koman