Bellevue Linux Users Group (BELUG) was established in early 2004 for the purpose of promoting the study and use of Linux and other free software in Bellevue, WA and vicinity.
Free software, which is generally the same as open source software, is software that is free both in a monetary sense and in that anyone is permitted to use it for any desired purpose, including studying, modifying, extending, giving away and even selling.
The use of free software is growing much faster than that of commercial software, and its performance is likewise advancing more rapidly. Moreover, many computer experts are convinced that free software beginning to revolutionize the computer industry and that it will eventually become the dominant form of software. This revolution could be as massive and far reaching as the shift from standalone computers to the Internet that occurred in the latter half of the 1990s.
Among the benefits of free software are (1) dramatically lower costs of acquisition, (2) much greater ease of customization and localization (i.e., modification for specific human languages and cultures), (3) shorter development times for new and improved versions, (4) greatly enhanced security, (5) improved compliance with industry-wide standards and (6) a wider range of choices for users1.
The effects of the free software revolution will likely spread far beyond the software industry: they could have major repercussions not only for other industries (e.g., new ways of organizing product development and production) but also for entire regional and national economies and societies. As this revolution is still in its infancy, now is an excellent time to learn more about it -- and even participate in it.
Bellevue is one of the leading cities in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, and it is home to many high-tech companies and to a large number of software professionals. The future of Bellevue and its environs lies in advanced technology (as well as in its outstanding living environment), thus it is only natural that this city should have its own Linux Users Group (LUG)2.
The main goals of BELUG are to (1) promote the use of Linux and other free software and (2) provide information about such software both to BELUG members and to the world as a whole. These activities are conducted largely through regular monthly meetings and this website.
A focal point of BELUG's activities is the encouragement of its members to start creative and public service projects related to free software or to computers in general. In many cases BELUG can provide a variety of types of assistance for such projects.
BELUG's premier project is The Linux Information Project, which was launched in 2004 for the purposes of (1) making high quality, comprehensive and accessible information about Linux and other free software freely available worldwide and (2) studying how to best present large amounts of information about some specialized topic on the web.
Subsequently, on the basis of the success of LINFO, the LINMO (linked information modules) project was launched in May 2006. This project has developed a simple model that describes content-rich web sites that maximize usefulness for the largest possible audience and a set of largely intuitive guidelines for implementing the model.
1For a full listing of the benefits of Linux and other free software, see: 25 Reasons to Convert to Linux, The Linux Information Project, January 2006.
2Although most members live in Bellevue, BELUG meetings attract participants from throughout the greater Seattle metropolitan area.