President's and Secretary's Combined Report to the Linux Users of Victoria, Inc, Annual General Meeting, 2012
To begin with it is necessary to say that circumstances has meant that this will be a report that combines the duties of President and Secretary, a matter that will be discussed further. Overall however, looking back over the past year, it can said that this has been another successful for Linux Users of Victoria. Starting from September last year, we hosted a very successful Software Freedom Day, which was extremely well-attended by relevant members of the community, providing an excellent opportunity for networking and planning. It is an activity which will repeat again this year with a more general audience in under two weeks on the 15th, in East Melbourne. In addition, LUV made a very impressive impact at Linux Conference AU. It is worthy of note that it was less than five years prior that LUV helped set up a small chapter in Ballarat.
It is in that spirit in late September last year, we held a miniconference, held an install-fest, and established a chapter in Shepparton, led by the capable Barrie Halliday, and with continuation in Geelong by Kathy Reid. Despite some promising beginnings, it must be acknowledged that none of our regional chapters are particularly active at the moment. But of course, the Ballarat chapter remained relatively quiet for some years, until the need arose and active individuals took the lead. Indeed, merely having a point of contact in regional areas is sufficient for such chapters to survive. There was also hopes during the year of chapters being established in Frankston and Werribee. Unfortunately these have not eventuated either, meaning that the hopeful objective set last year of three additional chapters this year has not been successful.
LUV has, with the occasional bumps along the journey, delivered its core activities, being its monthly main meetings, typically with two speakers, and beginner's workshops, with one. These invariably have been of a very high standard and without going into each of them, some of the major meetings included Tim Connors, speaking on Linux at the Australian Astronomical Observatory, Donna Benjamin's introduction to Inkscape, Alex Garber's introductions to OpenShot, Alex Clew's introduction to programming using Python, the double-feature of the importance of computers science and the importance of scientific computing by Professor Alistair Moffat and Thomas Conway, and Avi Miller's review of BTRFS. It can be only hoped that in the coming year that speakers of equal quality and subjects of equivalent interest can be brought to LUV. There can not be enough praise for all those members who have contributed to giving up their time to present to LUV.
In addition, LUV has continued to provide its ancillary activities as well. This includes the library of LUV, the website, the wiki, the mailing lists, Russel Coker's initiative of a 'hardware library', our campaign against UEFI, and media reports in ITWire and the Shepparton News. These are not always the easiest of creatures to manage, as we discovered late last year when our main server decided to go belly-up on us. Our long-standing sysadmin, Peter Lieverdink, came to the rescue quickly and the opportunity was taken to transfer the lists from Sympa to Mailman. The opportunity is taken here to mention how the message of "be friendly and be helpful" seems to have made it through list conversations, which remain vigorous, but of a higher standard. It doesn't bring much pleasure to note that one member had to be banned from the list for their grossly racist commentary.
The administrative side of things must be mentioned as well; we had to move, for example, from The Hub at the Docklands, when the room hire was tripled. We shifted initially to the Unitarian Church hall in East Melbourne, and then to the VPAC training room in Carlton. These were not the easiest of moves. The opportunity is taken here to thank our hard working committee of management. Daniel Jitnah has contributed enormously as Vice-President both this year and in preceding years. Jiri Baum, after many years of extraordinary service as Secretary, moved to Sydney, leaving a big gap in the organisation. We were fortunate enough to have Alex Garber step in those shoes for several months, before his study commitments required him to drop out of that role. Wen Lin, our tireless treasurer, has always ensured that our finances in order, as well as presenting, and now looking after the library of LUV. The anything but ordinary committee members, Les Kitchen, Deb Henry, Andrew Pam, and Ben Sturmfels have also also assisted enormously to the functioning of the organisation, as has our public officer, Donna Benjamin.
It cannot be said that LUV has experienced rapid growth in membership or attendance at meetings in the past years. Our membership, slightly culled after the change from Sympa to Mailman, sits currently at 1356. Main meeting attendance has been anywhere between a variable 25 and 50. It is hoped in the coming year that we can have modest increases in both those figures - perhaps a mere improvement of 10%, sourced primarily from a younger university students who are being introduced to what is the primary free and open source operating system in the world. For it must be remembers, how Linux has over the past two decades changed the world. We took on the largest corporations, with their multi-billion dollar closed and proprietary operating systems, and we beat them, and we continue to beat them. Let us continue with that success.
Finally, we must thank, with the greatest gratitude, those organisations that have sponsored us throughout the year. This includes Red Hat, who have kindly provided the funds for our main meeting room, Benk Open Systems who contribute towards the cost of our Beginner's Workshops, and VPAC, who hosts the workshops and our servers.
September 4, 2012