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Thread: Where have all the users gone?

  1. #1
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    Where have all the users gone?

    10 years ago, this place was jumping. Tons of posts and community activity. LoCos and LUG's were the hotness. The community was active both online and offline.

    So, what happened? When I go all over the internet or try to find active groups offline, I find hardly anything. LoCo's are defunct. LUG's don't seem to even exist anymore. LoCos I helped set up haven't had anything happening to them in 5 or 6 years (I moved away so hadn't kept up). I know I took a little bit of a break from online stuff for a while, but I still noticed a steady decline and am now curious of how people who stayed more involved view this and maybe what people know.

    I miss it. I liked the community aspect even if I didn't always agree with the community. It's disappointing that the idea of meeting up with a bunch of Linux users and tech enthusiasts is now gone. What happened, Linux? We used to be built on the community. Now, the community seems to just stay quiet.

    Or, did they all move on to a different medium and I just need to find that? I want to be active in the community again, but not sure how. Please tell me the community still exists and Linux hasn't gone the road of being big impersonal companies and no community.

  2. #2
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    Re: Where have all the users gone?

    Linux is mainstream. LUGs are less active because it is 1000x easier to get a Linux system up and working than it was. No more hand-holding necessary for many people. Youtube.

    I'm a LUG organizer in a fairly large metro area. We have 1200 members. We have 2 physical meetings weekly (Sundays and Tuesdays) in different outside areas of town and 1 monthly "central" meeting. These meetings usually have 5-10 attendees. Everyone complains about traffic, so they don't/won't come. We've had Saturday morning Beginning Linux sessions at a local University which were well attended for 3 weeks, then attendance drops to 3-5 people.

    There are other groups that are linux centric, but not about Linux itself in the area which have more members. The OpenStack meetup is huge. Same for F/LOSS-DBMS and DevOps groups. Historically, these would be part of a Linux group, just as a BOF internal group. People feel the specialization is good - so do I. I've attended and spoke at different LUGs around the world. Usually, they have a slant. None that I've found are about desktop Linux, but that could be my personal bias, since I care very little about desktops.

    There are also Data Security meetups, which are related to Linux/Unix, and very well attended here. These usually follow the DefCon model ... DC{insert areacode}. I've attended DC events around the world. In London, it was standing room only with 3 speakers and about 150 attendees. My local area has 2 DC groups (equally inconvenient to my location).

    Using google to find your local LUG shouldn't be that hard. "Linux + Town" or "Linux + University" usually work, but it just depends on the local people. If you want a LUG, START ONE!!! Either get a meetup page ($16/month) or setup a website($4/month) and announce your intentions. Visit other similar meetings and ask their organizers if you could announce your group to them.

    BTW "Linux" isn't a company.

  3. #3
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    Re: Where have all the users gone?

    Quote Originally Posted by VChief View Post
    10 years ago, this place was jumping. Tons of posts and community activity. LoCos and LUG's were the hotness. The community was active both online and offline.
    I joined these forums eight years ago last week and I recall the same. There was much more activity in the development forums, i.e. those testing the next Ubuntu release, which is how I became as involved as I have been over the years.
    Quote Originally Posted by VChief View Post
    Please tell me the community still exists and Linux hasn't gone the road of being big impersonal companies and no community.
    Some long term users, some of whom were also Canonical employees, have moved on. May be their replacements have different views on how they want to participate? Also of note is that there have been very few applications for Ubuntu Membership of late and some of the Ubuntu flavour development teams seem to be existing on fewer active members than previously. We've also lost our weekly Ubuntu On-Air broadcasts which did a lot in answering questions raised by the community.

    Although not a support site, the Ubuntu Community Hub seems to be a venue for the exchange of ideas, calls for discussion, and updates for a small number of projects that involve both Canonical employees and the Ubuntu community. The Hub seems to have been accepted in a way that these forums never have been.

    The Ubuntu community has changed but it's still there.
    Last edited by PaulW2U; May 25th, 2018 at 03:08 PM.
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  4. #4
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    Re: Where have all the users gone?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheFu View Post
    Linux is mainstream. LUGs are less active because it is 1000x easier to get a Linux system up and working than it was. No more hand-holding necessary for many people. Youtube.

    I'm a LUG organizer in a fairly large metro area. We have 1200 members. We have 2 physical meetings weekly (Sundays and Tuesdays) in different outside areas of town and 1 monthly "central" meeting. These meetings usually have 5-10 attendees. Everyone complains about traffic, so they don't/won't come. We've had Saturday morning Beginning Linux sessions at a local University which were well attended for 3 weeks, then attendance drops to 3-5 people.

    There are other groups that are linux centric, but not about Linux itself in the area which have more members. The OpenStack meetup is huge. Same for F/LOSS-DBMS and DevOps groups. Historically, these would be part of a Linux group, just as a BOF internal group. People feel the specialization is good - so do I. I've attended and spoke at different LUGs around the world. Usually, they have a slant. None that I've found are about desktop Linux, but that could be my personal bias, since I care very little about desktops.

    There are also Data Security meetups, which are related to Linux/Unix, and very well attended here. These usually follow the DefCon model ... DC{insert areacode}. I've attended DC events around the world. In London, it was standing room only with 3 speakers and about 150 attendees. My local area has 2 DC groups (equally inconvenient to my location).
    So, you're seeing that it has more or less become more specific vs. a general "Linux group". That makes sense.

    Using google to find your local LUG shouldn't be that hard. "Linux + Town" or "Linux + University" usually work, but it just depends on the local people. If you want a LUG, START ONE!!! Either get a meetup page ($16/month) or setup a website($4/month) and announce your intentions. Visit other similar meetings and ask their organizers if you could announce your group to them.
    I've thought about it but the question I had is...do people still want it. No sense in spending money for something nobody wants.

    BTW "Linux" isn't a company.

    I never said it was. I've been using Linux since the mid 90's. Been around the block a time or two. I didn't say that Linux itself is literally a company (seriously, what is it with everyone taking everything literally...and that's not a literal statement). What I was asking was if it went "the way of" companies. In other words, nobody really thinks of Windows or Mac as a community in the same sense that Linux was seen as. It was seen as a product of a company. Linux was seen as a product of a community. I'm asking if the view is now that it's a product of companies (i.e. Canonical, Red Hat, IBM, etc.).

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulW2U View Post
    I joined these forums eight years ago last week and I recall the same. There was much more activity in the development forums, i.e. those testing the next Ubuntu release, which is how I became as involved as I have been over the years.
    I noticed that Launchpad announcements for Ubuntu are all but gone. There was an announcement for 18.04 but the last announcement was for 14.10. To me, that's sad and unnerving. Canonical already makes me nervous as sometimes it seems that theire concern for the community is near nonexistent. Linux was built on community. I have no issue with corporate interests, but that shouldn't be the foundation.

    Some long term users, some of whom were also Canonical employees, have moved on. May be their replacements have different views on how they want to participate? Also of note is that there have been very few applications for Ubuntu Membership of late and some of the Ubuntu flavour development teams seem to be existing on fewer active members than previously. We've also lost our weekly Ubuntu On-Air broadcasts which did a lot in answering questions raised by the community.
    Very disappointing and, really sad. I noticed the Ubuntu Membership applications. I've been thinking of years about going for a membership by jumping into Kubuntu (I love KDE...what can I say) work. Not a big fan of Canonical, but overall I like the projects. Maybe I'll finally jump in and help somewhere and get that memberships. Been looking for a Linux project to get involved in for a while. Didn't want to initially go for a "big one" but at the same time seeing one of the biggest communities dwindle is concerning.

    Although not a support site, the Ubuntu Community Hub seems to be a venue for the exchange of ideas, calls for discussion, and updates for a small number of projects that involve both Canonical employees and the Ubuntu community. The Hub seems to have been accepted in a way that these forums never have been.

    The Ubuntu community has changed but it's still there.
    Cool. I'll check it out. I don't have the most addictive personality or I'd try to revive some local stuff myself (like the LoCo here which is active enough that someone approved me joining on launchpad but otherwise seems dead).

  5. #5
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    Re: Where have all the users gone?

    Quote Originally Posted by VChief View Post
    I've thought about it but the question I had is...do people still want it. No sense in spending money for something nobody wants.
    That's the problem with all advertising. Until you do it, you'll never know. If you are helpful and provide information the local users want, they will come.

    Quote Originally Posted by VChief View Post
    I never said it was. I've been using Linux since the mid 90's. Been around the block a time or two. I didn't say that Linux itself is literally a company (seriously, what is it with everyone taking everything literally...and that's not a literal statement). What I was asking was if it went "the way of" companies. In other words, nobody really thinks of Windows or Mac as a community in the same sense that Linux was seen as. It was seen as a product of a company. Linux was seen as a product of a community. I'm asking if the view is now that it's a product of companies (i.e. Canonical, Red Hat, IBM, etc.).
    Sorry you took it that way. I should have added a <sarcasm> tag. But many uninformed people DO THINK that Linux is a company and that they can demand features from it even if they aren't paying a dime. Most people in the world don't know anything about how Linux is build or how a distro happens. They believe that 'good will' is what the Linux "company" is seeking, since they don't charge and that the "linux company" is making a profit somehow. We've all come across people like that.

    There was something about Ubuntu Membership that turned me off. Same for getting a Launchpad account or being a CoLo contact. Entering into voluntary contracts that don't feel right me isn't something I'll do. Just because something isn't right for me, doesn't mean it isn't great for everyone else. That is a common theme in my world.

  6. #6
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    Re: Where have all the users gone?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheFu View Post
    That's the problem with all advertising. Until you do it, you'll never know. If you are helpful and provide information the local users want, they will come.
    Fair enough

    Sorry you took it that way. I should have added a <sarcasm> tag. But many uninformed people DO THINK that Linux is a company and that they can demand features from it even if they aren't paying a dime. Most people in the world don't know anything about how Linux is build or how a distro happens. They believe that 'good will' is what the Linux "company" is seeking, since they don't charge and that the "linux company" is making a profit somehow. We've all come across people like that.
    Well, that was also the reason I was afraid you thought that I thought that.

    There was something about Ubuntu Membership that turned me off. Same for getting a Launchpad account or being a CoLo contact. Entering into voluntary contracts that don't feel right me isn't something I'll do. Just because something isn't right for me, doesn't mean it isn't great for everyone else. That is a common theme in my world.
    I don't recall anything in the contracts/ToS that bugged me and I signed the CoC back in 2007 apparently. But,hey, that's the point: you should only sign if you agree. Out of curiosity, what didn't you like about it? If not, that's fine. I will admit that a relationship with Ubuntu has always been a little iffy with me just because of the Canonical angle and some of the corporate stuff they pulled. I love the community foundation of Linux so I will admit that's always made me uneasy.

  7. #7
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    Re: Where have all the users gone?

    My guess is that the proliferation of support venues and social media have simply caused dispersion. There are many more places to go now and no one place has such a large population of users any more.
    Last edited by QIII; September 12th, 2018 at 05:31 PM.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Where have all the users gone?

    Users have become better at finding solutions for technical problems that don't require joining a user community. Some questions comes to mind , do I want a solution to a problem , do I want to be part of an on-line community or both. Ubuntu bug #1 has now been closed and this too has an impact on the community.

    There is a social element to this bug report as well, of course. It served for many as a sort of declaration of intent.
    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/1/comments/1834
    Last edited by Frogs Hair; May 25th, 2018 at 06:50 PM.
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  9. #9
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    Re: Where have all the users gone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frogs Hair View Post
    Users have become better at finding solutions for technical problems that don't require joining a user community. Some questions comes to mind , do I want a solution to a problem , do I want to be part of an on-line community or both. Ubuntu bug #1 has now been closed and this too has an impact on the community.


    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/1/comments/1834
    I suppose you're right on that. It's just disappointing because the community was something that I always liked about Linux and FOSS. I mean, I didn't *always* like the community and the way it acted, but I did like that it existed. And it seems to be a dying breed.

    I also want to see Linux stay "owned" by the community, not "owned" by companies.

  10. #10
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    Re: Where have all the users gone?

    I remember the days when the forums were bustling with users. I agree with what TheFu is saying. I've seen a lot of groups on Facebook for Linux. I even joined 40-50 of them and quickly left because people weren't willing to do any research and the trolls made it impossible to have a decent conversation.

    I have also noticed that many of the people who're drawn to Linux as part of their education and profession are knee deep in Cybersecurity groups and events. Linux has become so easy to install and use that these guys are able to Google any questions they have and find their answers without needing to create an account.

    Personally, I slowed down my Linux community activity because I can find the fixes to my problems so easily and most of the problems I see when skimming the forums haven't been seen on my systems. My graphics cards aren't high end, I don't dual boot with Windows, and I generally have no problems getting things done. I have also grown tired of the high number of internet trolls. Back when I was the most active, was when I was in college and had a dream that I would land a real IT job.

    Nowadays I spend most of my time starting my own business. My business has nothing to do with IT. The network security engineering and the cyber forensic degrees were very entertaining, but useless. I refuse to take another call center job.

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