The first LWN.net Weekly Edition
was posted on
January 22, 1998. We didn't really hit our stride until the following week
, but the fact remains: LWN is now
five years old.
LWN was originally intended to be an attention-getting mechanism for a
startup Linux support and consulting business. The whole plan was based on
a number of misconceptions, beginning with the idea that demonstrating our
expertise in an online newsletter would show the world that we could help
them deploy Linux in their companies; somehow it never quite worked that
way. We also thought that Red Hat was serious about its ill-fated "support
partner" program, and that we might actually make some money with it.
Perhaps worst of all, we were under the impression that helping people with
their system administration problems would not drive us completely crazy.
All told, it's not entirely surprising that things did not go the way we
thought they would.
But, it appears that was maybe for the best.
From the beginning, it can be argued that our heart was really in the
LWN effort, rather than in the "money making" activities it was meant to
publicize. Even so, we could never have imagined that LWN would still be
around in five years - or that it would be such a wild ride.
At this point in its history, LWN is in as good a place as it has ever
been. It's easy to miss the funner aspects of the Bubble Days - indeed,
the money coming in is still not what it needs to be for the long term -
but LWN is now sustaining itself by selling a service directly to almost
2500 individuals (and 30 companies - thanks to Zope Corporation for being the most recent
subscriber) who find it worth paying for. Our
success depends directly on keeping our readers happy, rather than trying
to sell our readers' attention to a small number of big advertisers. We
can, thus, concentrate on making our content the best it can be with no
need to worry about conflicts of interest. Advertising will remain part of
our income stream, but it's relatively small.
Looking forward, we'll soon be deploying a new version of our text ad code
- there will be a separate announcement when that happens. Then, with
luck, we can direct some effort away from site coding and toward content
creation. We have been experimenting with content from external authors
with some luck; we hope to be able to expand that program in the future.
We are also working with the folks at Progeny as they expand
their Programmers Toolkit offering; that partnership should help us to
expand LWN's reader base. And, of course, we'll be looking for other ways
to expand our list of subscribers; we'll tell you more about what we're
doing when we figure it out ourselves.
In any case, it is our plan to be part of the Linux and free software
community for the next five years; we expect them to be at least as
interesting as the previous five. Many thanks to all of you for half a
decade of support.
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