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ZDNet: If desktop Linux is viable, thank some unlikely spokespeople

Jun 14, 2001, 23:53 (31 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Henry Kingman)

O.k. Some of this is an invitation to walk down memory lane with some of the columns that have infuriated Linux advocates most in the past few weeks, plus Bruce Perens' response. The bulk of the column, though, maintains that without mainstream media support in the form of professional, mainstream Linux journalists, the desktop is doomed.

He's also very positive regarding the media presence of some open source/Free Software notables such as Eric Raymond, Richard Stallman, and Linus Torvalds. In the end, though, this column maintains that the machinations of big media may well seal Linux's fate.

One final note on this item, before handing you off to the customary summary and link:

The "dead Linux desktop meme" the national tech punditry has been getting so much mileage out of most definitely predates the item Mr. Kingman mentions in his column. We peg it as getting its start closer to Andrew Leonard's gloomy farewell to Eazel, Tim O'Reilly's watery and obscure surrender in the name of capturing the webtop, or Kevin Reichard's brazen declaration of outright death.

"Publishers create magazines not just to provide information to readers, but primarily to make money by selling advertising. Publishers at this point in history view Linux as a technology with a limited number of potential advertisers. They don't believe they can create financially viable magazines that focus solely on Linux because the advertiser base isn't there. And without dedicated Linux titles, the opportunities for dedicated Linux writers (and supporters, because who doesn't support what they know?) are few.

Look at the track record of Linux publications. Linux Journal has published with moderate success for many years, but it isn't exactly mainstream, with its high geek-jargon quotient. A few independent publishers have brought forth modest titles like the very competent Linux Magazine and the controlled circulation (read "free") Open. So far, the mainstream publishers have stayed away though.

On the Web, where the barrier to entry is lower, the outlook is no rosier. IDG's LinuxWorld recently shut its doors. Internet.com has scaled back its leading Linux site, LinuxToday, and mothballed others."

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