Remember the day that Linux Journal died, back in December 2017? All across the Linuxverse, there was great sadness as we marked the passing of this Open Source torchbearer. Tears were shed and the faithful reminisced as we marked this historic passing. And then, in January 2018, Linux Journal rose from the ashes in an amazing feat of resurrection after having found a financial saviour. Just like that, a mere month later, the original magazine of the Linux community was back! The bells rang out and the banners flew! The good times rolled again!
Cue the old calendar page effect with pages being torn quickly, cast into the wind as we scream headlong into the future.
On this August day in 2019, the publishing angel of death once again rode into the offices of Linux Journal, without warning, its blade sharp and uncaring. Suddenly, the entire staff found themselves without their home of 25 years, the entire staff laid off, while the Linux and Open Source world looked on with a kind of resolved sadness.
I’m not completely sure as to when I first encountered Linux Journal but I suspect it was at the “World’s Biggest Bookstore” in Toronto, so many years ago. I had discovered Linux in 1992 and started playing with it where I worked but probably read my first issue of Linux Journal five years after that. I subscribed, because that’s what you did in those days, and eagerly anticipated each issue in the monthly mail. Then, sometimes in 1999, I discovered a cool little gizmo built by Corel, a company in Ottawa. It was called the Netwinder and I somehow managed to get my hands on a pre-release model. I reached out to Marjorie Richardson, then Editor in Chief at Linux Journal, and pitched the idea to her. She was a little shocked that I had somehow managed to get my hands on this ‘network appliance’ but decided to let this unknown dude write a review for her.
Spoiler alert! The review was unlike your typical review because, well, I wrote it. She liked it. People liked it. She had me write another column or two. Then, at the end of that year, I wrote a column in which I impersonated a French Chef at a restaurant that served up free and open source software running on Linux. The famous (infamous?) “Cooking With Linux” was born and I would write that column every month for the next 10 years. During that time, Linux Journal truly became a part of my life and, in a weird sort of way, it still is.
I wasn’t an employee of the magazine, but I was part of it. We, Linux Journal and I, were in a relationship. But it was, as the kids say, an open relationship.
Writing for the magazine, I found the courage to approach other magazines. I wrote for SysAdmin Magazine, Unix Review, Linux Magazine, Ubuntu User Magazine, and several others, but every month, I put on my French Chef’s hat, and returned to the pages of Linux Journal where I opened the doors to my virtual restaurant. I started writing a regular column for the Linux Journal Website as well. I wrote a lot.
Eventually, all this writing caught the attention of Pearson and Addison Wesley where I wrote six books on Linux and open source software. I did radio shows about Linux and Open Source and appeared on Leo Laporte’s “Call For Help” to talk about (you got it) Linux. I spoke at conferences, universities, and user groups. To say that my relationship with Linux Journal started me down a fascinating road might be a bit of an understatement.
Along the way, I met some amazing people whose friendship and knowledge I cherish to this day. I learned at least as much as I taught people in my columns. I made friends at the magazine, and I made friends in the community of people who found it exciting that this Linux and Open Source thing was changing the world. Truly changing the world. We were part of something big and we knew it. How big was this? Linux and Open Source software is now the heart of the Internet. It powers Google and Amazon and Facebook and the World Wide Web. How could you not get excited about this?
But, as the saying goes, “this too shall pass” and it looks like this might really be it for Linux Journal. How many resurrections do publications get?
Before I close that virtual back cover, I want to thank everyone I’ve worked with over the years and tell you how much I love you guys. Many have come and gone in and out of those pages. Special shout-out to Carlie Fairchild, the publisher of Linux Journal, and Doc Searls, the current Editor in Chief but always a guiding force at the magazine. Going way back, I have to think of all the people I got drunk with in San Francisco; James Gray, Heather Mead, and again, Carlie Fairchild. We had a blast, and I do, in fact, remember everything, regardless of how many flavored Martinis I had that night. Others who have appeared in Linux Journal’s pages for nearly as long as I remember include, Kyle Rankin, Reuven Lerner, Mick Bauer, Shawn Powers, and some of the biggest names in Linux and Open Source. Finally, special thanks to Jill Franklin, my long-suffering editor who has demonstrated supernatural powers of patience for this writer who always turned in his column a day or two late. Jill, if anyone qualifies for sainthood in this business, it’s you. How did you put up with me all these years?
Yes, there are people I haven’t mentioned, but over the course of 20 years, I could fill a column with just names.
All this to say that you, the people of Linux Journal, did real good in this world. As the years pass and people inevitably forget, make sure you remember that for one brief shining moment, there was a Linux Journal, and it mattered.
Until next time . . .
A votre santé! Bon appétit!