Q: Why was BELUG formed when there was already a Linux users group in nearby Seattle?

A: One reason is that Bellevue is a large and growing city, and it is one of the leading technology centers of the U.S. Pacific Northwest. With thousands of its residents and workers already using or interested in Linux, Bellevue can easily support a Linux users group (LUG) of its own. Moreover, some people living in the Bellevue area find it difficult or inconvenient to go Seattle because of the still rather primitive transportation system in this region.

Another reason is that BELUG (Bellevue Linux Users Group) has a somewhat different character than other groups in the region, and thus it increases the range of choices for people interested in joining a LUG.

Q: What are the benefits of attending BELUG or other LUG meetings?

A: Benefits of attending BELUG meetings include (1) learning more about Linux, (2) obtaining free technical assistance (including help on installation of Linux and other free software), (3) making friends, (4) networking, (5) getting career and job information, (6) acquiring software (and occasionally books and other items), (7) obtaining assistance on starting and developing a wide variety of projects and (8) having an opportunity to help others by sharing one's knowledge and skills.

Q: There are hundreds of LUGs throughout the world. Is there anything that is unique about BELUG?

A: As of mid-2006 there were roughly 670 LUGs worldwide. Each one of these groups is slightly different and has its own distinct personality.

Characteristics of BELUG include (1) being one of the newest LUGs in the Pacific Northwest, (2) being located right in the center of one of the world's greatest concentrations of software professionals (i.e., in the center of downtown Bellevue, WA), (3) being a very informal group, (4) having and encouraging a highly diversified membership (ranging from absolute beginners to highly experienced professionals) and (5) placing emphasis on (i.e., encouraging and assisting) the development of unique and potentially world class projects by members. Certainly one of the most distinctive things about BELUG is the fact that it is the home of the highly regarded The Linux Information Project.

Q: Does BELUG have a mailing list?

A: No.

Q: I suggest that we start a mailing list for BELUG.

A: Every few months some new participant makes this suggestion. The issue has, in fact, been carefully examined several times, including studying the mailing lists of other groups in the region. Although there can be advantages, there can also be disadvantages, and it is not clear that there would be any net benefit. Instead, BELUG's priority is to emphasize the creation of truly unique projects rather than doing something because most other LUGs do it.

Q: I suggest that we move the meetings to a new location, such as the library or some company.

A: Likewise, every few months some new participant makes this suggestion. It is probably because BELUG's meeting location is quite different from that of most LUGs (i.e., it is in a bookstore) and also because such new participants are not aware of how beneficial this location has been. No meeting location is perfect, but the current one has had some important advantages including (1) being very centrally located and easy for people to get to by any means including car, public transportation, bicycle and foot, (2) consistently available for every BELUG meeting, (3) no charge for use, (4) sufficient capacity for more than 40 participants, (5) free publicity, (6) generally quiet, (7) availability of electric power and wi-fi and (8) a very friendly and cooperative staff (who on several occasions have even provided free refreshments). Indeed, this location has undoubtedly been an important factor in the success of BELUG, including the strong and growing attendance at meetings.

Q: I am very interested in learning more about Linux, but I am not real great in social situations. Would this group be suitable for me?

A: Most computer geeks are not exactly the life of the party (although there are occasional exceptions). BELUG is a very friendly group that welcomes anyone who is interested in computers, no matter how shy they might be.

Q: How much does it cost to become a member or participate?

A: There are no dues or other charges. This is made possible largely through the kindness of BELUG's corporate sponsors.

Q: What are the requirements for becoming a member?

A: Basically, none. BELUG is a very informal group, and little attention is devoted to membership requirements or other formal rules. Just show up, be friendly, be prepared to learn or teach, and have a good time.

Q: I feel very strongly about free software and would like to volunteer to help BELUG. What could I do to help?

A: There are a number of things that can volunteers can do, depending upon their interests and abilities. They include (1) giving a talk about some specific topic or finding somebody from outside of BELUG who can give a such a presentation, (2) writing a technical or scholarly article for publication on this web site, (3) donating software or hardware, (4) making a financial contribution or finding additional sponsors, (5) recruiting new members and (6) proofreading articles for the web site.

Q: Could you explain about what types of talks are desired?

A: Topics should, of course, be related to Linux or other free software. They can be about (1) the software itself (such as the kernel, security, the X Window System, software installation and embedded systems), (2) the application of Linux to specific fields (such as biotechnology, ISPs, education or defense), (3) case studies, (4) careers or (5) legal aspects, to name just a few.

Ideally, a talk should be such that both the topic and its presentation make it both interesting and useful to the full range of BELUG participants -- from newbie to guru. Talks can be as short as just a few minutes or as long as about 20 minutes (or even longer in the case of obviously exceptional interest shown by everybody else in attendance).

Q: What do you mean by case studies?

A: Case studies are true stories about the adoption or use of Linux or other free software in specific companies, industries, government agencies or even countries. For example, an explanation could be why and how a company switched to Linux and any difficulties (technical, bureaucratic, etc.) it encountered along the way. Or the talk might be about the problems and successes of adapting Linux to the unique language and culture of a specific country or region.

Q: My company might be able to help sponsor BELUG. Would you be interested?

A: Yes, definitely. Please contact BELUG at bellevuelinux at

Q: I have an MCSE certification and only do Windows. Could BELUG be of any use to me?

A: Yes. The reason is that MCSEs (Microsoft Certified System Engineer) and other computer specialists are operating in a world of heterogeneous computer hardware and operating systems. That is, it is frequently necessary to share data between different types of systems, both within organizations and externally. This diversity of operating systems will continue to increase as the use of Linux proliferates. Thus, it would be very wise for a Microsoft Windows specialist to both understand and become proficient in other operating systems, particularly Unix-like systems. It is likewise a good idea for Linux experts to acquire some experience with the Microsoft Windows family of operating systems.

Q: This might sound like a very practical question, but can BELUG help me get a job?

A: Yes, it does and it could. For example, it could result in meeting someone who is looking for a person with a specific combination of skills -- or in meeting someone who knows of someone who is. Also, some BELUG members might be able to provide useful suggestions regarding studying, job search techniques and resumes.

Q: Our company might be looking for a Linux systems administrator in the near future. Would you be able to announce this to your members?

A: As BELUG does not have a mailing list, there is no convenient way to inform all members. The best approach is to attend the next meeting and make an announcement.

Q: Why does BELUG dislike Microsoft?

A: That is a complete misunderstanding. BELUG does not dislike Microsoft. Microsoft is our neighbor, and many of our friends and relatives work there. Both Microsoft's headquarters and Bill Gates' house are located just minutes away, and Microsoft's world sales headquarters is currently under construction nearly adjacent to BELUG's meeting location. BELUG merely believes in friendly competition and that competition can benefit everyone, including Microsoft. This is what a free market economy and the American system is (supposed to be) all about, and this is what has helped make the U.S. a great country.

For FAQ (frequently asked questions) about this site, see BELUG Website FAQ.

Created February 26, 2004. Last updated August 9, 2006.
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