Linux Australia name debate sours

The community debate around Linux Australia possibly changing its name has soured this week, with some community members badmouthing a key conference associated with the peak Linux organisation.
Written by Luke Hopewell, Contributor

The community debate around Linux Australia possibly changing its name has soured this week, with some community members badmouthing a key conference associated with the peak Linux organisation.

Sad Tux

(Credit: CBSi)

The debate kicked off on Sunday night, when Linux Australia president John Ferlito asked the community to consider possibly changing the name to "more accurately represent the focus of our community".

Since the first email went out on the issue, over 100 responses have been lodged, many in favour of a name change.

Linux Australia community member Chris Neugebauer emailed the rest of the community to clarify his desire for a name change, saying that he is struggling to garner sponsorship for the annual Python Conference, or PyCon, under the Linux Australia umbrella.

"I'm convener of PyCon Australia, which is most definitely not a Linux conference. But the conference is run under the legal framework of [Linux Australia]. The name 'Linux Australia' does not reflect the role the organisation has with our conference, and the name 'Linux Australia' has actively detracted from my ability to explain the purpose of the conference to sponsors.

"By being a conference run by 'Linux Australia', I have to go through extra effort to explain to sponsors that we aren't a 'Python on Linux' conference. At that point, I naturally have to explain the purpose of Linux Australia to my contacts. It would make my job a lot easier if I could say: 'PyCon Australia is run by 'Open Source Communities Australia', which is the peak body for open-source users and developers in Australia'," he said.

Neugebauer added that with a name like Open Source Communities Australia, communities and conferences, including PyCon Australia and Drupal Down Under, would be better represented. This statement drew the ire of one community member, however, who lashed out at Neugebauer and, by extension, PyCon Australia.

"If the Python community are put out by our unashamed attachment to our Linux roots, might we not be better to cut them loose and use our energies (and finances) to support a more grateful and less embarrassed group? Might sound harsh, but give it fair thought," said David Newall.

Neugebauer invited Newall to follow the official channels to make it happen if he felt so strongly about the issue, while others expressed their dismay at the comments.

"I am very embarrassed about this statement, and want to apologise to all the communities that have found themselves at home under the Linux Australia umbrella. None of you are exploiting our energies and finances — on the contrary, you are providing your energies and the financial returns of your events to contribute to the Linux Australia community," said Silvia Pfeiffer.

These ructions between community members have led for some to call for a decisive vote on the name-change issue as soon as possible.

"Call a special general meeting to change the organisation's name? You lot seem to want it, quit talking the talk and just walk the walk," said community member David Lloyd.

Lloyd's call was backed up by Ferlito, who feels that the community has spoken on the issue of a name change, and, despite the PyCon Australia ructions, the debate has been mostly positive so far.

"There's a couple of people who have very strong ties to the Linux Australia name. There's a few advocating for not changing [the name]. There are always some negative members of the community that will pipe up, and sometimes their voices are louder than others, but the general communications are fairly positive," he told ZDNet Australia today.

The Linux Australia president added that changing the name may prove more difficult under the current Linux Australia constitution, however, and would require it to first be changed for the largely decentralised Linux Australia community to have a vote on the issue.

"What we may end up doing is hold [a special general meeting] to change our constitution to allow having [special general meetings] online. Then assuming that passes, we would hold a [special general meeting] for the name change online so that everyone can more easily have their say," Ferlito told the community.

Ferlito said that he will likely continue the discussions over the weekend before putting plans for the name change into action in the coming weeks.

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