Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog
Yesterday evening I went to a Linux user group meeting in Guadalajara, Mexico. The name of the group was “Linux Cabal”.
The meeting was held in a very large warehouse-like room with a shelf and seats placed around the wall, and convenient electric outlets and Ethernet hookups. On the walls were mounted T-shirts of many past events, as well as posters and banners from various past Linux events and diagrams of how code goes together.
The organizer and host of this group was a man named Richard Couture. An expatriate from the United States, he wears colorful clothes and several earrings in each ear (who doesn't?), is helping a hawk recuperate (he has a permit from the government) as well as a pet pig (who ran around the meeting visiting people) and various other animals.
Richard also has some ancient computer equipment that are used as tables and seats for people who do not want to use the worn, but comfy, chairs.
Richard actually co-founded a “Linux Cabal” when he was living in the San Francisco area in 1996. It was a “not-for-profit” cooperative that supported Free and Open Source Software by hosting web servers and by offering collocation services. In 2005 Richard moved to Guadalajara and re-formed the group there.
In Guadalajara people chipped in for refreshments, which included muffins, beer, soda, coffee and spring water. The meeting this night was “special”, since I was “the guest of honor”, but as I talked to the various attendees I found that they would often meet to talk about various types of Free Software, sometimes would work on projects and other things that the typical Linux User Group would do.
There is a LOT of activity at this "Cabal", as several different groups meet there, each with their own agendas. Some days it is PHP, other days “special presentations” and every week they have an installation fest where you can “feel the energy”.
It is really great that a Linux User Group has a place like this to meet. A permanent place where they can have some projects, and perhaps continue the projects over several days and weeks.
I got to talk with a lot of the members directly, and answer questions, which is one of the things I really enjoy doing.
One issue that came up was FOSS advocacy and how it was difficult to get companies to use FOSS in Mexico.
I suggested the use of “case studies”. I suggested that people go to the sites of companies like Red Hat, IBM, HP and other “Linux Friendly” companies to and find their case studies area. Build a database of case studies in various areas, such as “banking”, “retail”, “manufacturing”, “government”. Make special note on how the use of Free Software either saved money or made the solution much better than could be done with Legacy, closed source software. Memorize some of these case studies, and develop each into a short verbal presentation of 30 seconds or less. These short presentations are known as an “elevator pitch”, since they are intended to be so short that you can get the point across while riding with someone up the elevator in a building. If the person shows interest you can then expand on the example. Then when you talk to someone about FOSS and you find out what business they are in, you can mention how FOSS helped a company or group like theirs to save money, be more flexible, or make money.
I would like to thank Richard and the rest of the “Cabal” members. If this is what Mexican “cabals” are like, then “bring them on”.
Thank you for the mention!It was very nice of you to mention us and make this article about LinuxCabal, A.C.
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Nice meeting you, Mr. Hall!
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