Linux User Group
Computer user groups are not new. In fact, they were central to the personal computer's history: Microcomputers arose in large part to satisfy demand for affordable, personal access to computing resources from electronics, ham radio, and other hobbyist user groups. Giants like IBM eventually discovered the PC to be a good and profitable thing, but initial impetus came from the grassroots.
In the USA, user groups have changed -- many for the worse -- with the times. The financial woes and dissolution of the largest user group ever, the Boston Computer Society, were well-reported; but, all over the USA, most PC user groups have seen memberships decline. American user groups in their heyday produced newsletters, maintained shareware and diskette libraries, held meetings and social events, and, sometimes, even ran electronic bulletin board systems (BBSes). With the advent of the Internet, however, many services that user groups once provided migrated to things like CompuServe and the Web.
Linux's rise, however, coincided with and was intensified by the general public "discovering" the Internet. As the Internet grew more popular, so did Linux: The Internet brought to Linux new users, developers, and vendors. So, the same force that sent traditional user groups into decline propelled Linux forward and inspired new groups concerned exclusively with it.
To give just one indication of how LUGs or Linux User Groups differ from traditional user groups: Traditional groups must closely monitor what software users redistribute at meetings. While illegal copying of restricted proprietary software certainly occurred, it was officially discouraged -- for good reason. At LUG meetings, however, that entire mindset simply does not apply: Far from being forbidden, unrestricted copying of Linux should be among a LUG's primary goals. In fact, there is anecdotal evidence of traditional user groups having difficulty adapting to Linux's ability to be lawfully copied at will.
(Caveat: A few Linux distributions bundle Linux with proprietary software packages whose terms don't permit public redistribution. Check licence terms, if in doubt. Offers or requests to copy distribution-restricted proprietary software of any sort is heavily discouraged anywhere in Taclug, and declared off-topic for all Linux user group on-line forums, for legal reasons.)