Print isn’t dead, it’s just changing despite the best efforts of the titans of industry to resist and foil all change. Here is a roundup of excellent Linux print publications, and for no extra charge a bold prediction of the future of print.
The glossy print magazine is alive and well, and this is good because a lot of us old fossils still hang out in bookstores and newsstands, and like reading the printed page. It’s nice not having to plug something in to read it, and it’s a good outreach to people who are not familiar with Linux. Most magazines now have online editions with extra content, so we can have it all.
There is one more benefit of a print publication that you have to actually pay some money for, and that is that advertisers do not completely rule the roost. Remember the Golden Rule? The one with the gold makes the rules. Many Web publications have capitulated to advertisers and publish “web content” rather than genuine journalism, because their only revenues are from advertising. Independent voices are dwindling. Paying subscribers help keep the independent voices alive.
Linux Journal is the grandaddy of them all, founded in 1994 by Phil Hughes. Now it is published by Belltown Media, owner Carlie Fairchild, who acquired Linux Journal in 2006. Over the years Linux Journal has been home to regular writers like Marcel Gagne and his “Cooking With Linux” column, which was the most controversial LJ feature. Why? Not because he used bad language, or flamed anyone, but because of his Chez Marcel and French-waiter-serving-wine schtick. It was both a regular Reader’s Choice winner, and the recipient of the most hate mail.
LJ has always covered a wide range of topics, such kernel programming, system and network administration, security, desktop, multimedia, games, and industry news.
Linux Pro Magazine is called Linux Magazine outside of the US and Canada; in the US there is another Linux Magazine. There is no relation between the two except a confusing similarity of names. Linux Pro Magazine covers all the usual topics, plus extensive Linux conference coverage. Their Event Calendar is comprehensive, and they provide live and archived videos of many conferences. Linux Pro Magazine is distributed in several countries and languages, such as Poland, Spain, Germany, and Brazil.
There is a new sister publication to Linux Pro, Ubuntu User. Ubuntu User features good tech articles, and informative pieces from Ubuntu insiders such as Jono Bacon and Amber Graner.
This is the Not-Linux Pro Magazine, just plain old Linux Magazine. They no longer have a print edition, which ceased publication in 2008. I’m mentioning them here to (hopefully) clear up the confusion between the two Linux Magazines. It’s an excellent publication even if they don’t sell nice glossy printed pages anymore.
Linux Format is based in the UK. Every issue includes a DVD full of distros, software, and tutorials. Linux Format has PDF archives, podcasts, and boatloads of great content.
Is Print Doomed?
Science fiction stories from decades ago predicted a future where print publications were all print-on-demand. You could download and print your own favorite publications, or buy them at newsstands that were also print-on-demand. If you didn’t want to pile up hard copies, recycling was free and accessible. This put the whole world at any individual’s fingertips.
Sadly, we are rather far from that pretty scenario. Digital Rights Management insanity and personal color printers that are also DRM-infested and crazily expensive to use are just two of the hurdles. Recyling is pretty commonplace, so we have one out of three. It’s pretty amazing to me that the content industry’s frenzy and fear over digital distribution is so extreme. Don’t ever assume that big business people are smart or farsighted. Mainly they’re ruthless and connected.
I don’t believe print is doomed, it’s just going to be done differently, and by individuals rather than conglomerates. Someday. Meanwhile, please enjoy your pretty print Linux magazines!