Create an Ubuntu LoCo Team and grow Ubuntu adoption in your local area

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Higyou, 123RF

Higyou, 123RF

Go Team LoCo!

Community. This innocent little word is the lifeblood of Open Source. Barely a day goes by without hearing some mention of community – whether it's in a magazine, a local book club, your closest group of friends, or any one of a million other places.

In an age when anyone over 45 seems to have a story about the end of local community and how "everyone used to leave their doors unlocked," community has never thrived so much in the Open Source world.

Although it is true that Open Source and Free Software fundamentally revolve around the rather technical and programming-oriented concept of freely available software, there is a phenomenal amount of diversity of contributions in the Open Source community.

We don't just have one huge blob of people called "the Open Source community," but instead thousands of smaller groups, each interested in a specific portion of the community – whether it's documentation, translations, local advocacy, mapping, testing, gaming, or indeed programming. Although each group focuses in on their particular area, the global network of groups fits together like a jigsaw puzzle to form the wider Open Source movement that we all know and love.

For some people getting started in Open Source, it feels like other people set up communities. You install Linux, you play with it, you realize you want to contribute to it, you figure out what kind of contributions interest you (documentation, advocacy, coding, etc.), and you look for a community to fit in to.

In many cases, you can find a home to make your contribution, but sometimes you reach a dead end or worse: a community that exists but is doing nothing. One that's merely kept on life support by a few interested yet busy members.

In this article, I am going to discuss how to build a community, more specifically an Ubuntu LoCo team (Figure 1). Whether you want to help get an existing team on its feet or create an entirely new team, everything in this article is designed for you.

Figure 1: A LoCo Team booth from the Ubuntu California team.

Not only that, but everything here can be applied to both online and offline communities – from technical software communities to quaint local book clubs.

Alrighty then, grab that cup of coffee, sneak away a cookie, and get ready to build an empire…

Picking Your Mission

I will use an Ubuntu LoCo Team as an example of a local community group to create. LoCo teams are locally based collections of enthusiastic Ubuntu fans who get together to talk about Ubuntu and Open Source, get technical support from each other, and often spread the word about Linux in their local area.

When I first got involved in Open Source, the very first community I created was a Linux User Group (Wolverhampton LUG) and setting it up was a hugely fun and rewarding experience.

So, in the interests of my future Oscar nomination, for which I will naturally thank the academy, I will assume the role of Jono Bacon who lives in Hill Valley, a sleepy little town devoid of a LoCo Team, which I am about to set up in the interests of rocking the worlds of local Linux fans. And, I will describe the necessary steps.

Setting up a team involves three primary tasks:

*1. Set Up Resources – You first need to set up some important tools and resources that your group will need to function, such as methods of communication, a website, and some other requirements.

*2. Plan Projects – The greatest communities do good work and do it well, so I will describe how to plan and run projects successfully.

*3. Build Buzz – With a home set up and some projects in place, you then need to then tell the world about your group and get people pumped up about joining you.

Although each of these elements will be discussed within the context of setting up the Hill Valley Linux LoCo Team (HVLT), the approaches outlined here can be applied to any community you want to set up (Figure 2).

Figure 2: The Ubuntu Nebraska team meeting.

Home Sweet Home

When you have decided what you want your team to do (e.g., providing support and advocacy in the case of the Hill Valley LoCo Team), you need to first figure out what resources you need to get the group up and running.

All communities need a home, they need a place to communicate, and they need certain tools to do their work, so this is the very first order of business. Obviously, because of space constraints, I won't delve into all the technical details of how to get these resources set up but will instead point out the major tools your community is likely to need and some pointers and pitfalls in getting them up and running.

For the majority of communities, you need to satisfy the following requirements:

  • A place to communicate – Your group will consist of more than one person, so you need to ensure that everyone can communicate together in a way that is simple, free, and convenient.
  • A place to collaborate – Most groups, and most certainly the new LoCo Team, will need a place where the group can create content together.
  • A place to present the group online – This is typically a home page, preferably updated with current news and details about what the group does and how to get involved.

With these different elements brought together, you have everything you need to communicate together, work on projects as a group, and have a public presence so that others can find your group and get involved. I'll take a quick spin through each of these elements now.

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