The Linux Gazette has been a fixture of the Linux community since its
beginnings in 1995. The first
, published entirely by John Fisk, introduced itself in this way:
Hopefully, what it will do is make running Linux a bit more fun,
enjoyable, or easier. This is a compilation of ideas I've
shamelessly plagerized [sic] from so many sources that, quite frankly,
I'm not sure where some of them came from, let alone being able to
give due credit to the originator.
The Gazette grew quickly, attracting new readers and new authors. By the fifth
issue, mirrors were necessary; these were contributed by Phil Hughes
(of SSC, the publisher of the Linux Journal) and Alan Cox. Putting out the
Linux Gazette took
time, however, and the project lapsed for some months in early 1996. When
came out in August of that year, it carried the following announcement:
As of the next LG issue the Linux Gazette will officially come
under the auspices of the Linux Journal . The 'ol Linux Gazette has
grown over the past year -- this is actually its First Birthday
this month -- and it is probably fitting that after a year it's
ready to come under the watch care of the folks at Linux
Journal. Phil Hughes has very graciously offered to take over the
day-to-day management of the Linux Gazette while continuing its
tradition as a free and freely available WWW publication.
Once it came under the Linux Journal's wing, the Linux Gazette thrived.
Over 80 issues were produced, on an approximately monthly basis, and the
range of authors and topics seemed to increase every month. The Linux
Gazette carried early articles by a number of well known community authors,
including Joe Barr, Miguel de Icaza Chris DiBona, Jon 'maddog' Hall,
Michael J. Hammel, Dwight Johnson, Evan Leibovitch, Dave Phillips,
Alessandro Rubini, Doc Searls, Jamie Zawinski, and many others. And, of
course, the infamous "Answer Gang" - though the Gang started small with Jim
Dennis as the Answer Guy. Over the years, the Linux Gazette has remained
true to its roots, providing high-quality, noncommercial information aimed
at making Linux more fun.
The Linux Gazette has reached a fork in the road, however, which threatens
to make things somewhat less fun for a while. The volunteer core which
puts together the Gazette has announced that
the publication is leaving SSC's embrace, and is striking out on its own.
This group has put out an Issue 96 which
includes a fairly strongly-worded editorial:
During the past month, the Linux Gazette, as we and our readers
have known it for a number of years, has come to an end. SSC, the
company who had been hosting - and, to some degree, supporting -
our efforts since shortly after the inception of the Gazette has
decided that it somehow belongs to them, to change, adapt - or to
destroy - at their pleasure. We - the people who have volunteered
our efforts to write for it, assemble it, produce it, and publish
it - disagree... and the wind of the desert howls over all, blowing
away what once was, leaving nothing but the pure idea that still
lives, independent of hardware, software, and corporate
manipulation, and existing only in the minds of those who believe
The dissidents have set up shop at LinuxGazette.net. Meanwhile, SSC
continues to operate LinuxGazette.com, which
has published an Issue
96 of its own. There are, in other words, two competing publications
using the same name and even the same issue numbering scheme.
The core of the dispute is a decision by SSC to move the Linux Gazette to a
modern content management system with reader forums, a constant stream of
articles, etc. Phil Hughes explained the reasoning for this change to us:
I had received complaints that it felt like you had to be in a
"special club" to contribute to Linux Gazette. This detracted from
the community spirit of the publication. We also saw that good
content was being held for weeks before publication because there
was only a monthly edition.... Finally, going to a CMS makes it
possible to easily add new capabilities. We already have forums
and article comments in place but there is more to come. For
example, we have had one person recently point out that he is
vision impaired. Having everything in a database means
text-to-speech, for example, could be added.
To many in the Linux Gazette organization, the changes to the site went
against everything the Gazette had always been: a high-quality, edited,
carefully-selected, monthly publication which can be mirrored worldwide.
Rather than be part of a publication which, from their point of view, has
been thoroughly compromised, these people decided to leave SSC - and to
take the Linux Gazette with them.
What will happen now is unclear. Having two publications each claiming to
be the "real" Linux Gazette seems unlikely to be good for either one of
them. The departing contributors have asked that the LinuxGazette.com
domain name be transferred to them, but that seems unlikely to happen.
According to Phil Hughes, "SSC will continue to run Linux Gazette and
it will continue to appear at www.linuxgazette.com." SSC does own
that domain name, and it has a seven-year history of publishing the Linux
Gazette (and employing its editor for most of that time); it could be hard to
find anybody with a stronger legal claim to the
right to use that name if it came down to a fight.
There have been signs that this disagreement could turn nasty, and some
accusations have started to fly. These include stripped copyrights (since
fixed, apparently) and censorship issues: the LinuxGazette.net Issue
95 mailbag contains a couple of letters which are missing from the
LinuxGazette.com version. SSC has, by its own admission,
been deleting posts on LinuxGazette.com that reference LinuxGazette.net,
and has started making noises about trademark violations. Even so, most of
the people involved seem to understand that neither the Linux community nor
the Linux Gazette (either version) needs an ugly public feud. One can only
hope that the relevant parties are able to keep that idea in mind as they
carry their respective projects forward.
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