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What Is SVLUG?
The Silicon Valley Linux User Group (SVLUG) is the oldest and one of the
largest Linux user groups in the world. It's a group of Linux hobbyists,
professionals, and enthusiasts in the vicinity of San Jose, California, which is
also internationally known as Silicon Valley. Our members share interests in
Linux and free or low-cost implementations of Unix, as well as other open source software. The group was
originally formed in 1988, as the PC-Unix Special Interest Group of the Silicon
Valley Computer Society.
SVLUG celebrated its 10th anniversary at the March 4, 1998 meeting, where Linus Torvalds addressed an audience of 500 people.
SVLUG general meetings are held the first Wednesday of the month,
installfests / workshops the 3rd Saturday of the month, and Hacking Society
dinners/meetings the 3rd Tuesday of the month. General meetings
are either technical presentations, product demonstrations, or general
question and answer meetings. The Saturday installfests / workshops are your chance to
bring in your computer and install the basic system, or work on more advanced
features. The Tuesday evening Hacking Society meetings are "an experiment in
collective open source hacking". All meetings are free and open to the public. Sign up for one of our
to learn about local events and discuss Linux with local enthusiasts, or
join ongoing real-time discussion on the
irc.libera.chat "#svlug" IRC channel.
The People of SVLUG
History and Origins of SVLUG
The Silicon Valley Linux User Group (SVLUG) originated as a special interest
group (SIG) of the Silicon Valley Computer Society (SVCS).
- 1988: The PC-Unix SIG is Born.
- The first meeting of the SVCS Linux SIG was in March of 1988, long before
Linux was invented. At that time, it was the SVCS PC Unix SIG, and we covered
all Unix systems for PCs. We met at the AT&T Training Center in Sunnyvale. Our first presentation was a talk by Frank Shultz on Minix.
Our first big meeting was in June of 1988, where we had a panel of 6 Unix
companies comparing their systems. At this point, 80286 support was very important, but some companies were starting to require an 80386. The most popular Unix was Xenix, but Microport was starting to take over.
1989 seemed to be the year that AT&T convinced everyone to resell their generic System V Rel 3.2, and the fight was to see who could make it cheaper. Everything would soon be COFF compatible, so every program would run on every Unix version. We had a several companies in to show us their products, but the price winner was Esix from Everex.
From 1989 through 1991, the group was popular because of the number of general Unix topics we had. We had industry experts give us interesting technical presentations on X, C++, networking, and other topics.
- 1992: Linux Emerges.
- Early in 1992, AT&T closed down their Training Center, and we lost our
meeting location. We moved to the Cupertino library. The meetings became more
informal, with much fewer presentations. It looked like it could be the end of
the SIG, but a new trend had started, and it looked like we could soon have a
free alternative to Unix SVR4.
The first step in this new direction was a
presentation in March of 1991 by Bill Jolitz, on his port of Berkeley Unix to
the 80386. This was not the free version of 386BSD; it was based on some
proprietary code that had to be re-ported later. Linus was working on Linux at
the same time, but it was months before Bill and Linus found out about each
other. Linux started getting out in late 1991, and, in March 1992, 386BSD was
first distributed at an SVNet meeting (where most of us were also members). In
April 1992, we had the first of a few big meetings comparing Linux and 386BSD. 1992 was the most exciting year for the group, with members deciding which free system they were going to take.
The fight for which system was best continued through 1993. In December, we
had a combined meeting with SVNet, where we had speakers comparing Linux,
NetBSD, and Coherent. By then, 386BSD itself was drifting away, because of lack
of updates, and 2 groups, NetBSD and FreeBSD, were fighting for control. At the
same time, there were many happy users of Coherent who were willing to spend $99
for a system that had a number you could call for support. 1993 was also the
year Linux on CD-ROM became popular. Linux won over *BSD because of the "fear,
uncertainty and doubt" about putting Net/2 on a CD-ROM and getting sued. In
1993, we lost the Cupertino library, and moved to the meeting room attached to
the Carl's Jr. restaurant at First and Trimble, in north San Jose.
In February 1994, we had a meeting discussing the newly released NetBSD.
- 1995: Renamed the Linux SIG.
- In 1995, we had mostly general question / answer meetings, with a few
technical presentations by members of the group, and with people from the
SoftCraft and Yggdrasil distributions. We evolved into the Linux SIG. About 30
people come to a typical meeting. The Web site was set up in July 1995, and has all the current info on the group.
- 1997: Renamed Again — The Silicon Valley Linux User Group.
- In 1997, we continued growing with the growth of Linux. By the latter half of the year, every meeting packed the room with about 50 people.
A group of Linux users at Cisco Systems, who were mostly also attendees of the SVCS Linux SIG, set up a mail list called "SVLUG". They set up the first SVLUG "installfest" at a meeting room at Cisco. There was some discussion about whether this should be the same group or independent from SVCS. Eventually the decision was that they were the same group, and the "SVLUG" name was promptly used to rename the Linux SIG with a more current title. This also led to establishment of the svlug.org domain. The new Web site was on a small Linux server donated to SVLUG and hosted on the network at VA Research, many of whose employees were and are SVLUG members. The SVLUG mailing list was also moved from Cisco to SVLUG's new domain.
Toward the end of 1997, there was an ironic twist of events, as SVCS found itself in need of a new location to host its Web site. SVLUG was now in the position of rescuing its parent organization, and hosting it at the svlug.org server.
Also at the close of 1997, SVLUG held its first elections for President and
Vice-President. Dan Kionka, who had founded the group as the PC-Unix SIG in
1988, stepped down after 10 years at the helm to give someone else a turn, and
take a well-deserved break. In his place, the newly-elected president was Ben
Spade, and the VP was Chris di Bona.
- 1998: Explosive Growth When Linux Finds Its Public.
- 1998 has proven to be a year of explosive growth for Linux, and SVLUG along
with it. The newly-appointed speaker coordinator, Sam Ockman, took what was
expected to be only a short departure from the tradition of having members speak
each month about various interesting Linux projects. Instead, he lined up some
prominent names from the Linux community. January's speaker was Linux pioneer
H. Peter Anvin, talking about his "autofs" automounter for Linux.
February was the beginning of a transition period for the group. The
originally scheduled speaker was Bruce Perens, coordinator of the Debian
GNU/Linux project. Also, at the last minute, Eric Raymond was added to the
list, since his paper "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" had been identified as the inspiration behind Netscape's just-announced decision to release its browser source code. To accommodate the expected crowds, some of the members from Cisco (in particular Ben Woodard) arranged to use the largest classroom at Cisco's Baypointe Training Facility in north San Jose. The room was maxed out to its capacity of 100 people, doubling SVLUG's previous attendance record.
That attendance record didn't stand long. In March, which was also the 10th
anniversary of the founding of the PC-Unix SIG that became SVLUG, the speaker
was Linus Torvalds, author of the original Linux kernel. Again, a bigger
meeting room was needed, and the Cisco people came through again. With approval
of Cisco's Chief Information Officer (CIO) this time, SVLUG was able to meet at
the Gateway Conference Center at Cisco's headquarters in north San Jose, with
seating capacity for 350. Even with the vast extra space, it was standing room
only, as 500 people showed up to see Linus. (Chris di Bona wrote an article
about the meeting in the June 1998 issue of Linux Journal and the April 1998
issue of Linux Gazette.)
That attendance opened the doors for more big speakers...
||Netscape founder/VP and 1996 Time Man of the Year
||Founder and President of O'Reilly & Associates
||Creator of Perl
||Maintainer of XEmacs
- 2002: SVLUG Re-affiliates.
- In 2002, there were problems reaching our corporate parent, SVCS,
to discuss pressing issues, and that group was believed defunct (which
turned out later to not be the case). Consensus was that SVLUG should
affiliate with new umbrella group SBAY.ORG (South Bay Community Network),
which would seek corporate status and become an umbrella for various
ham-radio, open source, and kindred groups.
- 2005: New General Meeting and Installfest Venues, and Hacking
- After sudden loss of both our meeting space at Cisco Systems
(which needed to reserve the Conference Center to internal users, after
March) and of the installfest venue at Accent Technology (which went out
of business in February), SVLUG leadership were obliged to scramble
to find replacements. Thanks to generous funding by some individual
Cisco employees, we were able to bridge the general-meetings gap with
an April meeting at Santa Clara Convention Center, then found a new
long-term home, starting May, at Veritas Software Corporation in
Mountain View, later acquired by Symantec.
At nearly the same time, we were able to resume installfests at
a Google classroom facility in Mountain View in April, thanks largely
to the help and sponsorship of Google employee Mark Nielsen.
In June, we inaugurated the third of our ongoing regular monthly
events, the Hacking Society dinners/meetings at a pleasant and relatively
quiet pizza restaurant with wireless Internet access in North San Jose.
Billed as "an experiment in collective open source hacking", they are
opportuntities for coders and others to gather and work on open source
projects in pleasant surroundings.
- 2006: SVLUG Goes Independent.
- In the first quarter of 2006, SVLUG reviewed its SIG status with SBAY.ORG.
SVLUG members voted at the March 1st meeting to not renew that status.
See the SVLUG Meeting History for more details.
SVLUG remains an informal organization, of which you may claim to be a
member simply by attending a meeting or subscribing to a mailing list.
There are no membership dues for SVLUG
membership, and all are welcome.
The original author of this document was Dan Kionka.
Details for 1997 and 1998 were added by Ian Kluft.
Edits to reflect 2002-2006 organisational changes were made by Rick Moen.
Feedback to SVLUG webmasters.