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There’s something on the Radar

2008 was a good year for Linux, and a good year for Linux Format. In a market where lots of magazines are reporting sales declines, I'm pleased to say that Linux Format's sales are rising steadily - we think that's partly because our tried and tested formula seems to work, but mainly because the Linux community is growing as more people discover the benefits of Free Software.

To thank you all for supporting us, we'd like to start giving back more to the community. After all, we can only exist because of the community, so we think it's fair that we start giving away some of our articles for the world to read and learn from. The question is, what should be released? And that's what I'd like you to answer in the comments below: what kind of articles should we be releasing to get maximum benefit for the Linux community?

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know we've given away lots of magazines to LUGs, we've given away coverdiscs to schools, we're about to start a Coding Academy to help people learn to code with Free Software, and now we want to take that evangelism even further by putting some of our magazine content online so everyone can benefit. And I don't mean content from a year ago that's long out of date - I want to start putting articles online as soon as the magazine hits the newsstands.

It won't be all the magazine, because if sales of the magazine plummet then this whole enterprise will fall to pieces. But I do want to put 15 or 20 pages online every month so that everyone can have something to read at their level.

So, what should we be putting online? Features? Tutorials? Roundups? Interviews? Let me know below - I want to get going with this as of LXF 116.

Your comments

I think the

I think the reviews/round-ups are useful. I'm not sure I know of another place to go for unbiased comparisons between free-software, showing people what is out there for music players etc. is a good way to get new users in to Linux.

The tutorials are good but there's lots of similar information on the web so maybe wouldn't fill as much of a hole as the reviews.

Definitely reviews. That

Definitely reviews. That would draw attention to yourselves too, which is a good bet for increasing the readership. Most of the rest of the stuff, though, is why I pay for a magazine instead of just trawling the Web. Oh, how about the Hot Picks? I discover loads of cool software thanks to that regular feature, and the rest of the Linux community would too.

The round-ups or reviews.

The round-ups or reviews. Finding out what a "professional" thinks is very valuable info to decide what software to try.

You could place reviews and

You could place reviews and hotpicks on the website before you publish the mag - then once you guys have editted it, etc. you then have the community contributing extra information, suggesting improvements or otherwise. The difference from usual copy is that others can use it in their own work (unless you use a creative commons license or similar?)

It shouldn't affect the rest of your mag - after all, we still like to read the cover features, tutorials and columns as well as use the cover discs. But by allowing readers to actively contribute to the content within the reviews/hotpicks (the best of which would then be cherry-picked for inclusion in the magazine itself) you would instill a sense of community loyalty to the printed copy by making readers feel a part of the process. You could even credit contributors - and by doing things in a traditionally FOSS way you carry on with the whole evangelism thing. :-) The only real issue would be how you could license it.

To me, the most useful parts

To me, the most useful parts of the magazine are tutorials, features and interviews.
Reviews are fine and dandy, but a quick search through distrowatch will produce any number of reviews for your distro of choice. The nature of open source software allows people to easily try out an application for themselves and so are less reliant on published or online reviews to explain the features and pitfalls of an application. The roundups are more useful (I particularly enjoyed the recent home banking software roundup), but that's still not the key attraction for me.

The magazine content that I most enjoy is the kind of stuff which is less readily available on the internet. The features and interviews spring to mind. I very much enjoyed the Arduino features and tutorials that LXF featured a little while ago, that's the kind of content I wouldn't otherwise have come across if it weren't for LXF.
Steve J suggests that tutorials are available on the internet, but in my experience they're either poorly written, too simple and only suitable for beginners or too complex and textbook like. Trawling through a man page is one thing, but a well written tutorial is infinitely more useful in real life. Looking at a MythTV hardware compatibility list is useful, but a feature on someone's experience of building their own MythTV box and the problems (and successes) they encountered makes for a much better read.

I'm not sure how all that helps you decide what content should be put online, but that's just my £0.02 worth :)

I think you should put up

I think you should put up old issues of the magazine. After 18 months or so, anybody who would have purchased the magazine has done so, but the interviews, perspectives, etc could still be useful to the community and the tutorials could become a helpful part of the documentation for the projects they're written to cover.

Also, please release the pages under CC-BY or a similar license so we can reuse your great work!


I think articles which

I think articles which repeat basic things that ex-Windows users need to know could be put out fairly regularly. There is an increasing stream and I notice on the forums to which I subscribe that many basic things which regular readers would know are being asked.

In other words, more than 'New users start here' but not assuming the basic knowledge of most readers.

Ryan: CC-BY could

Ryan: CC-BY could potentially be very dangerous for us, because it would mean our competitors could take anything we put online and sell it straight away.

And what about redesigning

And what about redesigning the LXF website? Frankly it feels like a '90s website. A more modern look would be a good improvement. Take a look of the Smashing Magazie for some ideas:

I think that a good thing to put in the web would be the Q&As that appear at the end of the magazine. If they were wel tagged, they would be a good knowledge database. I'm sure that a lot of people have the same questions.


Javier: a new website? Good

Javier: a new website? Good idea! I'll see what we can whip up...

Tutorials on how to get the

Tutorials on how to get the best out of packages such as OOo, Gimp etc. which will hopefully be just as applicable in 18 months time. The Answers section is definitely a good resource (as is the Forum). Some form of searchable knowledgebase perhaps?

General command-line "hints & tips" - again, the sort of thing that will prove useful over time. There have been times when I've Googled for a solution to a problem and followed various links only to find the information's been superceded.

Tutorials are definately a

Tutorials are definately a must. Things on the wiki appear to be out of date so i'd be nice for more up-to-date content. I also like your reviews on gadgets, netbooks, desktops and software (usually games :P). I'd say it might be worth releasing them a month late, for example, release January's articles in February to make sure that the magazine has reached it's protential sales.

Also, sorry for double post,

Also, sorry for double post, but the full issues of year old magazines might be nice!

I'd love to buy hard copies of the magazine from day 1 right to this month's issue, is that possible?
If not, then the pdf versions is a must! :P

The oldest issue of mine that I can find is from 2005 =/

Can I endorse the idea above

Can I endorse the idea above from Bob Moss on doing reviews differently, put the base of the review up the month before, and in the magazine. Then let the community comment, object add to that with other views and aspects. This would mean that a review didn't miss a crucial development area because the reviewer didn't know about.

Take for example your review of Mobile Broadband that didn't mention Network Manager or that Intel project (I forget the name)

The review articles would be easier to research (we do some of that for you) and you end up with a more authoritative article in the end. Perhaps hosting the article in a wiki so that it can continue to have a life after it is published.

I've bought Linux Format

I've bought Linux Format every month since 2004, love it. You people do it right, better than any American magazine.

I wold suggest providing some tutorials as movies.

For example, I wish to install OpenVZ but it's a daunting adventure for the 1st timer... so I watched some tutorials at:

Perfect, dry, boring, mundane to any one else that isn't setting up OpenVZ... but it was purrrfect
for me. I watched, learned, and now can get up and running in fractions of the time I would have spent sifting through incomplete and sloppy written 'Googled' results.

It would be great if you lads could muster up some screencast/movie types of tutorials for us in addition to your high standard magazine.

My 100 cents worth.

Thank you.

Extensions to content found

Extensions to content found in the magazine ... That is, articles that springboard directly from the magazine content, for which there simply isn't space in the hardcopy, taking things into more depth - More detail following the regular 'What on Earth' two pagers, for instance ... or more in depth tutorials

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