Ageing AUUG faces call to disband

Aussie Unix group faces call to disband

update The Australian Unix and Open Systems Users Group (AUUG) today faced a call from past president Greg Lehey to dismantle the 31-year-old organisation.

AUUG was formed in 1975 and focuses on building an Australian community of professionals interested in Unix-based interoperable systems. However, the group has suffered a dwindling membership over the years, leading to a discussion kicked off in mid-2004 about finally closing its doors.

AUUG past president Greg Lehey re-opened that discussion today with a lengthy e-mail to the organisation's online discussion list and board of directors. The letter was entitled "AUUG: Time to pull the plug?"

"I think that it's time to disband AUUG. Am I the only one?" Lehey wrote.

Highlighting a lack of communication about AUUG's pending annual general meeting and conference, in addition to ongoing maintenance issues, Lehey called for discussion on AUUG's future.

When contacted, AUUG vice president Steve Landers pointed to a post he made this afternoon to the group's e-mail discussion list.

"Re the question of whether AUUG should merge or fold -- that's something we constantly ask ourselves," Landers wrote.

However, he added, the ability for AUUG to attract diverse technical papers to its annual conference "gives us confidence that there is a role for AUUG, complementary with the other computing groups, and albeit in quite a different form than in the past".

"In many ways, we see AUUG going back to its roots -- focusing on the technical content and less on the "show" (so to speak)," he said.

Landers said AUUG's new committee was still coming "up to speed" on the group's operations, with some old hands leaving. He added the short amount of time between electing a new board and having to organise the annual conference had proved a problem this year. This could result in a change of timing in future.

Pooling resources
One possibility Lehey raised would be for the group to merge with Linux Australia, the nation's peak Linux body. Much of the declining interest in traditional Unix systems can be put down to the rise of Linux, an open source operating system itself based on Unix.

Linux Australia member and prominent member of the local open source community Jeff Waugh was quick to support the idea of a merger.

"Greg Lehey has proposed the dissolution of AUUG. As an interested spectator of AUUG over a number of years, an active participant in the Australian open source and free software community, and a member of Linux Australia, I'm in agreement with his proposal," wrote Waugh on his blog this afternoon.

Waugh immediately proposed changing Linux Australia's name to better reflect the group's expanding areas of responsibility -- for example, to "Open Source Australia".

Such a move could potentially attract refugee members of AUUG in the event the group disbanded.

"'Linux' does not even remotely represent the depth of the organisation's membership or their interests. Linux Australia strives to be representative of the open source and free software community here, and while in many cases it manages to do so very well, the name is hideously exclusive," wrote Waugh.

The proposal would also see the nation's annual Linux.conf.au conference re-named.

"The potential dissolution of AUUG is an opportunity to further unify and strengthen the voice of open source and free software in Australia -- an opportunity that stands in stark contrast to the UNIX wars of previous decades," Waugh wrote.

However Lehey and others have already raised issues with Waugh's proposal in the comments field of his blog.

It was pointed out that users of proprietary Unix systems still existed and would not come under the open source umbrella organisation proposed by Waugh.