The Journalist Who Came in From the Cold
The world of technology journalism is a dangerous, seamy place, full of threats and malice. Everywhere you turn, a new danger awaits: a dangling participle, a misquoted subject, and the ever-present threat of your competition.
Sure, a bunch of middle-aged men and women might not seem dangerous, but the media community still speaks in whispers when they recall the LinuxWorld Press Room Rumble of 2005. Vaughan-Nichols still won't talk about it, though he certainly dealt enough pain that day with his reporter's notebook.
So it was with great relief when I heard that one of us was getting out, freeing himself to enter the much saner world of commercial-community Linux relations. Because we know nothing controversial ever happens in a job like that.
Tongue-in-cheek? You betcha. In reality, when I heard my friend and colleague Joe Brockmeier was leaving this Editor in Chief gig at Linux Magazine and going to work for Novell as the openSUSE Community Manager, the opposite thought ran through my brain. Press jobs actually tend to be relatively calm. Dealing with the Linux and Open Source community while working for one of the least-liked corporations in the arena seemed a tad masochistic.
But off he goes, leaving the land o' media for the corporate life. When he told me the news late last week, I fired off some questions for him to find out what the new job is all about.
Up first: What is the title of your new position, and what will it entail?
I'd been aware that Novell was looking to fill some sort of "evangelist" position for quite some time, not realizing the title had been changed. Which explains the framing of the next couple of questions:
Is this is new position in Novell? If it is, why does a Linux company need an evangelist? Isn't evangelism implied in the choice of services and product offerings?
Well, it was originally called "Linux evangelist," but really, that didn't quite fit the bill, which is why the title was changed to openSUSE community manager, to better reflect what I'll be doing. Plus, I'm not crazy about the "evangelist" label. Too often, Linux advocates are derisively referred to as "zealots" and called
Is your evangelism focus going to be mostly outside the company, or will there be an internal need to spread the word more within Novell?
I think Novell is fully behind Linux and open source, but I'm not sure that Novell is as attuned to the needs of the community as it could be. Part of my job will definitely be to facilitate communication between Novell and the open source and Linux communities.
Of course, there's the elephant in the room: the Novell-Microsoft partnership...
A lot of people see Novell's relationship with Microsoft troubling (at best). What is your take on the Novell/Microsoft partnership, and where do you see it going from here?
Well, I remember when the deal was announced, and I remember being
Personally, knowing Joe for many years (disclaimer: I was a co-author on a chapter in his book Install, Configure, and Customize Slackware LINUX (Premier Press, 2000)), I think he's certainly a good fit for this position, and perhaps a strong indicator that Novell is making an strong show of taking its openSUSE community seriously.