Requiem for Linux Journal

I loved Linux Journal. I spent too much money buying import editions at the newsagent. I loved its enthusiasm, its positivity, and its hackerly enjoyment of everything we do in the world of Free Software. I loved the numbers and quotes in upFRONT. I loved the smart articles. I recommended Linux Journal as wholeheartedly as I recommend LWN. It was eclectic. It was great.

The Linux Journal I loved was undeniably Don Marti‘s Linux Journal. In a final interview with Don, Doc Searls gave his editorship a glowing review:

“I’ve been around Linux Journal from the beginning — and this is not a knock at any editors — but as far as I am concerned, you’re the best editor we’ve ever had and it’s been an honor to work with you.”

Linux Journal has a new Editor in Chief, Nicholas Petreley, who brings an altogether different character to the magazine. As of February’s edition, Petreley has contributed a new back page article called “/etc/rant”. This space was previously reserved for visionary (or just outright cool) articles from trusted names in Free Software. Now it’s gutter talk. A soapbox for himself alone. He has adopted a rant-mode-on closing line: “Yeah, but what do I really think?” Petreley has a knack for this kind of writing, and a lot of history doing it, but it is not what I’ve come to expect from Linux Journal.

This appears to be Petreley’s first significant change to the magazine. It does not bode well for the future.

Update: The Don actually wrote a Secret Linux Journal Editor’s Guide before he left. It’s well worth reading — “for every dumb conflict story there’s a real story”.

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15 Responses to Requiem for Linux Journal

  1. Peter says:

    I actually just last week cancelled my subscription to LJ purely based on Petreley’s last page rants, and I made sure they knew that was the one and only reason I cancelled.

  2. Matthew says:

    Well said! My subscription is up and I was not going to renew for exactly the same reasons.

  3. Chris Parker says:

    I read the article. Kind of sad, really. I was thinking about renewing my subscription, but I think that I will wait. The article seems a bit like a slashdot comment.

    Dr Dobbs is still great, though getting thinner every month it seems.

  4. Wondering why you folks didn’t complain about the new format yet. that really is the most annoying part.

  5. Trond Danielsen says:

    I couldn’t agree more! My subscription will not expire in a while, but if this is direction that Linux Journal is heading, then I will think long and hard before renewing it…

  6. James Susanka says:

    I totally agree with you – I have over a year left of subscription and after that who knows

    It was a class act magazine and it looks like it is going to lose that reputation.

    If I wanted gutter rants I would go browse slashdot all day. But I wanted my magazine to be uplifting and positive and have some cool technical stuff.

    But now I think we will see at the grocery check out line soon.

  7. Alain Delon says:

    There are alternatives. Go for Linux Magazine or one of the other mags. Vive la difference!

  8. Jon Dowland says:

    I finally got my LJ subscription sorted this year, after years of buying odd issues. I subbed in oct ’05 but there was an error so it was delayed until this year… and started with Petreley’s first issue as editor.

    I have found the tone of the last two (or three?) issues worrying. Apart from /etc/rant, the choice of reader’s letters I have found poor (case in point. Someone writes “ubuntu is great. For me, ubuntu IS linux”. What’s the point in a letter like that?)

    It seems that the general content is moving more towards end-user and away from what made LJ stand out in the first place. The last issue had a 6 PAGE ARTICLE on installing mediawiki!

  9. David L Norris says:

    Sadly, I feel the same way. The /etc/rant article about GNOME sickens me. It sickens me that he’d waste my money publishing such a negative article about anything. Linux Journal is no longer a happy place.

  10. I just got back from the bookstore where I was contemplating buying the new Linux Journal. Then I read the back page where that slob of an editor rants and raves, he makes himself sound like a real bastard. Needless to say, I did not buy the magazine.

  11. Andy Balaam says:

    Just sent this email to Linux Journal:

    _Really_ gutted about my favourite magazine becoming Slashdot.

  12. Segedunum says:

    As much as I think Nicholas just goes a bit too far without explaining himself properly, he brings up a legitimate point. Is an open source community going to do something different, or is it always designed to copy i.e. Mono?

  13. jdub says:

    Segendium: I think the FLOSS community has overwhelmingly proven that it does innovate, it does take different approaches and it is not always just a bad clone of something else. Much to Petreley’s chagrin, GNOME is a brilliant example of this.

  14. Jon Dowland says:

    I’ve written my own letter to the editor and published it online:

  15. TH says:

    LJ was great under Don Marti. Now, its Petreley on every page. [Can’t resist interjecting. -Ed.] Where did all the interesting articles go? I don’t like the tone anymore either. It seems like all the effort is going into graphic design these days.

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