Whether to renew my subscription or not.

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Whether to renew my subscription or not.

Postby Erin » Sat Jul 02, 2005 6:12 pm

I am torn between renewing or not. It is not the ammount of money but whether what I am spending it on is what I originally subscribed too.

Early LXF was nichie, informative and worth reading from cover to cover. Now it seems we get articles such as CLI vs GUI and MDK vs SuSE, a constant barrage of the latest revision of the three biggest distros, how to develop KDE and I am sorry to say, more and more pages get skipped each month. Some of the articles even seem to be written by non-specialist journalists.

Now this is not to say there is not good in LXF for there is, just this good seems to becoming thinner on the ground. Some of the articles are wonderful and I learn, am drawn too and encourage me to expand my horizons. From LXF69, PERL and PhP tuts, marvelous, the retro games, read the first series but enjoyed it, Alan Cox's interview, different but what a portfolio.

However, the hot picks are constantly "you need Qt or GTK...", why do we need Gnome/KDE? How about more low depenadancy software? The letters/problems published seem to be very similar month on month (that may be just the choice LXF has) and the magazine is becoming, from my humble opinion, ever more like M$ press I am sorry to say.

Niche writing is fantastic. Please review more non Qt software. Endless articles on KDE/Gnome/SuSE/RH-Fedora/Mandriva or Linux being ready for the desktop is not so good. Once you reigned supreme and somewhere, from where I sit, the good has started to slip. Hence my problem, should I support the ever decreasing circle and hope it comes back or cut my losses after 69 editions?

Comments on a postcard please.

Regards and thanks to the LXF staff, I am trying to be honest and not slate what you are trying to achieve, just offer a view.

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RE: Whether to renew my subscription or not.

Postby Rhakios » Sat Jul 02, 2005 7:43 pm

One small quibble Erin, "you need QT or GTK..." does not mean you need a full KDE or Gnome desktop. Many of the the light, fast and customisable window managers/desktop environments use gtk, but that doen't make them mainstream.

Some of your criticisms could stem from the fact that you have become much more knowledgeable about Linux over the years and so much of the material is not new to you. That's a problem all magazines that strive to educate their readers face, perhaps it's time to move on to "Linux Expert", if anyone ever publishes such a magazine.

I am inclined to think that the concentration on the major distros is due to Linux itself becoming more mainstream. Most new users will want to settle on something that works and is well supported and about which they can share information with a large number of other users, which means one of the big distros. I think LXF is following the trend in that regard.

I have tried not to pick any petty holes in your post, such as by pointing to particular articles, because, as you mention, you still find some of the articles of interest.
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RE: Whether to renew my subscription or not.

Postby Erin » Sat Jul 02, 2005 9:32 pm

You know Rhakios, there is so much more than the big three distros. I guess Ubuntu is steping up, Debian and Slackware, the *oppix clan. The Linux world is so much wider and my concern is that we can become blinkered to thinking Linux is KDE/Gnome on one of the big three.

To be honest, I learn continually. I am the eternal newbie with experience. The educational ones, except for the ones I avoid, educate me even now with my increased experience. Most of the articles I flick past are the KDE ones, I don't do KDE/Qt, the clone articles and incessant reviews of the same but next rev products. Occassionally, other articles such as the audio roundup this month simply because I don't do audio but I would keep that specific article. Simply because I don't do audio isn't a reason not to cover it.

To retort a little to your mainstream comment, Fedora is an eternal beta, Madrake/Mandriva is described as flaky by LXF, SuSE is SuSE and Red Hat is higher end now. I do understand your point though.

I suppose my main point is the blinkered vision the magazine can portray at times. As I said, nichie is good and coverage of the little desktops, quieter projects, different distros, recovery disks is phenominal. Just the core seems to be becoming repetative and blinkered. Maybe it is just me but it would be interesting to hear the staff's opinion.

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RE: Whether to renew my subscription or not.

Postby guy » Sat Jul 02, 2005 11:39 pm

So much choice, so little time...

Personally, I'd agree that long-running series on developing for KDE are not really the stuff of newsagents' magazine shelves. A decent book or website would be a lot less traumatic to work through. But there, what do I know? I don't develop for KDE.

Is it my imagination, or are there a few people around nowadays selling boxen with linux preinstalled?
Do LXF hunt these folk down and ruthlessly beg for review hardware? We should be told...
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Re: Whether to renew my subscription or not.

Postby M-Saunders » Sun Jul 03, 2005 8:52 am

Erin wrote:However, the hot picks are constantly "you need Qt or GTK...", why do we need Gnome/KDE? How about more low depenadancy software?


The fact here is, there are fewer and fewer apps like that around. If we chose only non-Qt/GTK apps for HotPicks, we'd run out of programs to cover pretty swiftly -- and the ones we DID feature would tend to be very undeveloped.

I do appreciate the hassles of dependencies (after all, I build all the HotPicks myself, sometimes with horribly laborious dependency hunting!) but it wouldn't be right to ignore great apps just because they're not completely toolkit/desktop independent. And all the users running GNOME and/or KDE want to see apps for their favorite desktops -- so it's all about balance.

If you come across some great non-Qt/GTK apps then please do let me know, and I'll look at covering them in HotPicks! But the fact remains, a lot of users are running the big desktops, most of the significant new apps are built around them or their toolkits, so they deserve coverage as much as anything else.

Thanks for the feedback!

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Re: RE: Whether to renew my subscription or not.

Postby Rhakios » Sun Jul 03, 2005 12:59 pm

Erin wrote:You know Rhakios, there is so much more than the big three distros.
Erin


Oh, I know, I'm having fun messing with Puppy Linux atm. It's a bit difficult to swallow that and old 800MHz duron I have cobbled together out of spare parts running Puppy can run faster than my 64-bit box with SuSE :lol:
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RE: Re: RE: Whether to renew my subscription or not.

Postby Erin » Sun Jul 03, 2005 5:53 pm

Let me quantify, by GTK I should have written Gnome but then there seems to be a glut of Gnome apps/reviews anyway. Personally I use Gnome and/or Fluxbox. Still would prefer very portable apps or choices of the major toolkits rather than this is a K app and there is no alternative. This is coming out wrong but I hope some sense can be made from all this. Am still looking for a decent ACDSee clone (quick viewer and recursive directory slideshow option) and a lightweight Nautilus clone that behaves more like Windows Explorer. Oh, ideally a drop in mIRC clone that can deal with mIRC scipts (don't think there is a lot of chance here).

I appreciate your reply Mike. Obviously commercial pressures are hard but how did LXF get to where it has got?

Rhakios, you are so right. My Debian box on dual 550s is faster than my other 1800MHz box formerly running SuSE. It is amazing the difference a change of distro can actually make.

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Re: RE: Re: RE: Whether to renew my subscription or not.

Postby Rhakios » Sun Jul 03, 2005 7:18 pm

Erin wrote:and a lightweight Nautilus clone that behaves more like Windows Explorer.


Wouldn't XFE meet your requirements to a large extent. I admit it can be a bit of a bugger to compile, but I believe there are some rpms and debs floating about.

I find gqview to be a fast and flexible image viewer, but I haven't noticed anything that would allow sldeshows to work recursively through directories by default.
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RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: Whether to renew my subscription or not.

Postby Erin » Mon Jul 04, 2005 8:57 pm

Have XFE but it is a bit of a nightmare and freezes randomly. However, chopping to Ubuntu currently, from Sarge, and will play again. Closest thing I have found for the slideshow tool is XnView.

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RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: Whether to renew my subscription or not.

Postby Hudzilla » Tue Jul 05, 2005 10:31 pm

Hi Erin,

I'm very sad to hear you're disappointed with the current state of the magazine. You're one of the people we take particular notice of in the forums - sort of like a compass, as it were, as you're generally in tune with what we consider readers are after. So if you're unhappy, it means we have serious problems!

Would it be possible for me to talk this matter of with you by email? I should very much like to be able to canvass your opinions and see where we're going wrong. If this is OK, drop me a line at paul.hudson@futurenet.co.uk and I'll write back.

Anyway... regarding what you've said so far:

<<
Early LXF was nichie, informative and worth reading from cover to cover. Now it seems we get articles such as CLI vs GUI and MDK vs SuSE, a constant barrage of the latest revision of the three biggest distros, how to develop KDE and I am sorry to say, more and more pages get skipped each month. Some of the articles even seem to be written by non-specialist journalists.
>>

I think it's safe to say that everyone agrees LXF has become less niche, but equally it's safe to say that Linux has become less niche also! But that's not to say we should abandon our original aims: we still want to get all the niche information we can, and if we're not doing that then we really need some re-adjustment (hence why I'd love to email you directly).

It's my personal opinion that the versus features have been a success - some issues go by when we only get a handful of letters in, of which many just say that LXF is great and we should keep up the good work. While every letter is valued, we generally know when we hit the right mark because we get a flood of letters - and the versus features are just that. People are re-evaluating why they have always used KDE, and I think that's a great thing.

KDE development isn't for everyone, but again we try to cover something for everyone. LXF70 has a Beagle howto, LXF71 will have a database tutorial, etc... we just keep trying new things, along with our regulars (*cough* PHP *cough* ;)

In 128 page magazine, I'd like to think we could get readers enjoying 50 or more. That might sound low, but when you think about it 50 pages of reading is quite a lot - our reader survey showed LXF readers spent more time going through their mag than every other magazine we knew of. That either means the general page readership is high, or our writing is dreadful :)

Articles from non-specialist journalists... well, we do try to keep that to a minimum. Often the writers are specialists, just in a very unusual field - such as backups.

<<
Now this is not to say there is not good in LXF for there is, just this good seems to becoming thinner on the ground. Some of the articles are wonderful and I learn, am drawn too and encourage me to expand my horizons. From LXF69, PERL and PhP tuts, marvelous, the retro games, read the first series but enjoyed it, Alan Cox's interview, different but what a portfolio.
>>

Well, that means from LXF69 you read and enjoyed about 25 pages - not a lot! That's something we need to work on. We have been looking to retarget our reviews: I picked up on a forum post where people were asking for an Arch Linux feature, and acted on it - we now have a revised list of distros we should be covering. That's totally my fault: I've handled the reviews on LXF for a long time, and our distro review system changed a lot - and not in a good way. We're going back to basics there... I sent out a list of the 15 distros we should be reviewing to all our contributors, and hopefully we'll be able to keep that up. Watch this space - but the moral is that posting to the forum (thanks, VLegacy and co!) works.

<< However, the hot picks are constantly "you need Qt or GTK...", why do we need Gnome/KDE? How about more low depenadancy software? >>

It's interesting you say this - Mike is one of our most talented writers, and he is usually has his finger on the pulse of what people want. Here's an idea (posted here so that I don't forget to tell Mike tomorrow!): how about a Qt/GTK-free HotPicks issue? That is, one issue where all the HotPicks don't need those toolkits? It's tricky to do long-term, though: we already have a box for HotPicks Revisited, and we recently added the Games box... not sure there's enough room to add a "Low Dependency" box, but if enough people want it we can certainly try. Mike?

<< The letters/problems published seem to be very similar month on month (that may be just the choice LXF has) >>

Sadly we don't have control over our readers. That said, our mind control device is nearing completion. And you thought the orange website colouring was just bad style......

<< and the magazine is becoming, from my humble opinion, ever more like M$ press I am sorry to say. >>

Eek!

<< Niche writing is fantastic. Please review more non Qt software. Endless articles on KDE/Gnome/SuSE/RH-Fedora/Mandriva or Linux being ready for the desktop is not so good. >>

Well, this is all very helpful criticism, and I promise we'll look into it. LXF is "premium priced" (ie: it causes new readers to a double take at the checkout ;), which means we need to do all we can to justify your expenditure. I know you say money isn't an issue, but I think it is: we shouldn't rest on our laurels.

So, what I'm understanding so far is:

i) Less "Look, shiny new SUSE release!", more upcoming distros.
ii) Less long series on programming, more relevant, niche, and new pieces.
iii) More interesting letters.

You may need to write in to help out with #3 ;)

Thanks for taking the time to write in - I guess you could have just cancelled your subscription and said nothing, so it's very nice of you to give us some guidance. You'll have to trust me: it isn't easy getting the balance right!

We're currently putting the finishing touches to LXF70, and I think it's a particularly good issue. LXF71 is already virtually set in stone also, which means the first chance we'll have to really put your comments into action will be LXF72, but I hope to be in touch with you (Erin) soon to talk over what you've said to make sure I understand you right.

<< Regards and thanks to the LXF staff, I am trying to be honest and not slate what you are trying to achieve, just offer a view. >>

Thanks again - it really does help when we receive honest feedback with specific points.


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RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: Whether to renew my subscription or not.

Postby A-Wing » Tue Jul 05, 2005 10:50 pm

Hmm....Maybe some CLI hotpicks for those that only have ssh access to a linux box (like most of my customers)?
Although most of my Linux work is server based and most of the development work I do is for daemons or open source php code (such as mambo-phpshop) so I am probably bias to CLI?
Is there are time in the future of having an LXF without coverdisks? I have a several very very fast internet connections here so I usually have the contents if the DVD within hours after release. Although my 3 year old likes playing with the discs.
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RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: Whether to renew my subscription or not.

Postby nelz » Tue Jul 05, 2005 10:59 pm

Surely the fact that you are advertising a site selling distro discs shows there is a need for cover discs. I find it difficult to believe you have the entire contents of a cover DVD within hours of release, considering that it takes days just to track them down.
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RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: Whether to renew my subscription or not.

Postby A-Wing » Tue Jul 05, 2005 11:10 pm

Well, I had Fedora Core 4 DVD ISO downloaded 28 minutes after it was released to a server. Most ISOs come down in a matter of a few minutes.
That site was mainly setup to support my LUG (North Wales) which doesn't have a high penetration of broadband yet. If the link offends I can remove it or change it to another site.
My thinking was that a lot of people now have uncapped or high capped 1M or 2M connections now and can download CDs quite easily. That way there may be a way for a cheaper 'disc free' edition.
Or I may just be rambling as its gone midnight and I can see perl code when I close my eyes :)
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RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: Whether to renew my subscription or not.

Postby nelz » Tue Jul 05, 2005 11:14 pm

Linux Format don't just download a distro ISO and dump it on a DVD, you are confusing them with another magazine :)

There is more to each month's DVD than a single distro.
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RE: Re: RE: Re: RE: Whether to renew my subscription or not.

Postby A-Wing » Tue Jul 05, 2005 11:20 pm

Very true, and I am impressed with the content and workmanship behind the discs. I just never find time to use them :)
I just give tend to let my kids play with them while I read the mag :)
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