Linux User Groups and the 'Linux Community'

Jussi SilvonenMail link

University of Helsinki

Center for Activity Theory and Developmental Work Research

Original version at link

General ideas: contradiction, history, and every day practices

Three aspects

Technical and Social in Linux?

A Code / Program A License
UNIX like operating system GPL licensed free / open source software
invented by Linus Torvalds in 1991 FSF founded in 1984 by Richard Stallman.
Mode of development Mode of production

How do they relate?

Dimensions of `free' and `open'

Radical localism

Fundamental societal contradictions of the given socio-economic formation are present in local activity of that society. Impersonal societal structures can be seen as consisting of local activities carried out by concrete human beings with the help of mediating artefacts. Look at society more as a multi-layered network of interconnected activity systems and less as pyramid of rigid structures dependent on a single centre of power.

(Engeström 1999, 36)

Expansion of the `Linux Community'

Linux kernel hackers

Kernel developers in Credits files

CODES 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Totals
*SUB Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 2
*SUB Asia 3 8 13 13 18 18 23 20 116
*SUB Europa 38 58 92 97 135 144 175 191 930
*SUB North America 33 51 69 73 90 93 126 137 672
*SUB South America 0 0 2 2 3 4 8 12 31
Totals 74 117 176 185 246 259 333 361 1751


Linux User Groups

495 user groups in 69 countries link (August 2002).

LUGs by Continent (members)

In total:

LUGs by Language

LUG inside the Community

The `Community'?

The case: Finnish Linux User Group

FLUG - Finnish Linux User Group


Steps in analysis

Discussion topics by month

Young hackers vs. old gentlemen

Opening (ap1)

P2486 + *Date*: Sat, 9 Dec 2000 22:16:53

Has anybody noticed the portal link, it seems to be quite promising. I recommend everybody to visit.

P2487 + *Date*: Sun, 10 Dec 2000 18:07:45

I have been there and even sometimes produced a few pieces of news but the site is so amateurish and the language skills of the editor is so weak that it does not impress as a portal.

Young Hackers (ap 3)

P2493 + *Date*: Mon, 11 Dec 2000 11:51:39

Tell me, old gentlemen, is Linux itself created by profs or by amateurs? So many times have we noticed how much better the programs written by amateurs are, compared with proprietary ones. So, a little bit amateurship should be accepted, at least in our circles.

P2522 + *Date*: Tue, 12 Dec 2000 14:38:35

In these circles only so called amateurs are professionals, and professionals are bunglers. You can't learn these things at school, at all.

Old gentlemen

P2533 + *Date*: Wed, 13 Dec 2000 12:56:18

> I'm 17 (---) and I have to go to imho totally futile high

> school.

Don't dress yourself in the sack. High school math and physics are a real good base for programming.

P2534 + *Date*: Wed, 13 Dec 2000 13:03:09

> I'm 17 (---) and I have to go to imho totally futile high

> school.

High school is for general education. Coding of a program is not separated from the real life. On the contrary.

Tensions in the thread

Amateur vs. professional
Skilled vs. wage labour
Young vs. old
Open vs. closed
Freedom vs. control
Self-learning vs. formal education

Discussion themes by subgroup

Local practices

Ulvila Install Fest 1999

Otaniemi 1999

LDD at "Vanha" 1999

LDD 2001 in Lahti


Some functions of FLUG

Some conclusions