Presentation: Linux User Groups and 'Linux Community'
Rubric Free Software
Event data: Nov, 3rd / 10:00 / 2 hrs. / Track C
Contributors: Jussi Silvonen
Abstract: What is interesting in Linux is the social way in which the community has organized itself. Linux is a collaborative enterprise that would not exist without virtual communities, without large-scale collaboration on the Net. The participants of the open-source movement have a strong feeling too, of belonging to a community of their own. The open-development model has been possible owing to the openness of the Net. A new kind of global community of developers and end-users has emerged. The concept of community seems to be essential to people participating in this open-source movement. Little is known, however, how this “community” actually works, who the participants are, and what their practices and motives are. The total number of Linux User Groups was 493 in May 2002. Without these locally based, voluntary end-user groups the diffusion of Linux would probably not have been possible. The practices of a local Linux user community will be analyzed by using the Finnish Linux User Group as an example. The role of the Internet in the practices of this group will be examined as well the group’s relations to other Linux communities (local and global). The focus of the analysis is in the processes by which the user group defines its relation to the principle of open diffusion of Linux and pressures to commercialize this diffusion. Based on this analysis of one particular Linux community, some basic theoretical assumptions of the nature of virtual communities will be discussed. 
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