Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Linux Journal losing focus

I've been a subscriber to Linux Journal for a few years now. The technical articles are still top notch: they focus on real tech. Reuven Lerner's articles on web development, Marcel Gagne's focussed articles about a wide variety of topics, Greg Kroah-Hartman and Robert Love's articles about the kernel, Dave Taylor's articles about shell scripting. All very good, and highly recommended.

Then there's all the fluff. I was shocked to see the first article Nick Petreley wrote when he took over as Editor in Chief. It was an article a 12 year old fanboy would write. He also wrote this fine article. And this nutter became the Editor in Chief! Holy Hormones! Since then, his articles have toned down, but they are still pointless. Nick has little or no background, doesn't write any code, and is a fanatic on the loose. According to the bio on his column, he is "a former programmer, teacher, analyst and consultant". Greg K-H and Robert Love know what they're talking about, since they actually do write kernel code. But even if you think of Marcel Gagne: at least his column adds value to the magazine. Nick's articles are nearly always pointless, if not scathing and acidic. This kind of irresponsible behavior gives Linux users a bad name. I can still tolerate Richard Stallman making some wild remarks, but he wrote some large programs. His opinion carries more weight. When complete nobodies start making crazy statements on behalf of the Linux user population, we all lose our credibility. Many of Nick's articles, if posted online, would get marked as 'flamebait' within seconds.

And this month, there's an article by Doc Searls about death threats to a blogger. Why something like this should be covered in Linux Journal is beyond me. Sure, he does say that blogging is like Open Source development, but then the article goes on, around and around. No point to make, no story to tell, no lesson for the reader. An abject waste of paper, and time for the reader. Doc used to have reasonable articles, but now his Linux Journal articles are beginning to look like his personal blog: covering whatever it is he wants to.

While I have renewed my subscription because the technical articles are still great, I'm sad to see a complete lack of a good editor at Linux Journal. Maybe all the good geeks are out writing code.