February 2006 - From the Editor: Nick Gets His Wish

Introducing Nicholas Petreley as the new Editor in Chief of Linux Journal.

I often bump into writer's block, but it's easy to start my first and probably only From the Editor column for Linux Journal. All I have to do is start by talking about how I often bump into writer's block, which allows me to segue into just about any topic at all.

When I first started the Webzine LinuxWorld, I remember Linux Journal publisher Phil Hughes gave me a dirty look at a convention in Atlanta, Georgia. Apparently he thought we were out to crush Linux Journal with a well-funded magazine. Wrong on all accounts. LinuxWorld was not well funded, and it could never crush Linux Journal. When Phil showed some discomfort about LinuxWorld, I told him how much I preferred Linux Journal. He gave me a puzzled look and moved on.

Here it is, many years later, and I finally got my wish to join the marvelous Linux Journal team. Executive Editor Jill Franklin is a dream, and by far the best editor I've ever had the pleasure to work with. Garrick Antikajian is Linux Journal's extraordinary artist. Subscribe and download a PDF copy of TUX magazine (www.tuxmagazine.com) if you want to see how Garrick can turn anything into a work of art. VP of Sales and Marketing Carlie Fairchild is unspeakably kind and helpful. And I can't wait to work more closely with one of my heros, Doc Searls. I could go on, but I'd run out of space.

I can't sum up where I want to take Linux Journal in 25 words or less. So suffice it to say I want to keep all the good stuff, make some things more fun, add more articles of practical value and tune others to have more practical value. Stay tuned.

Oh, why is this probably the only From the Editor column you'll see from me? I prefer to do something I enjoy a lot more. Rant. Look for my monthly rant at the end of each magazine, including this one. Okay, I'm perfectly aware that some of you don't like reading rants. For $20, I'll let you folks skip that page. (I can't do that? Sorry.) But I also know some of you not only need to rant, yourselves, you have some of the same pet peeves I have. Some of you have pet peeves totally opposite of mine. But I have a feeling I'll hit a nerve one way or another, and that's a good thing.

Last but definitely not least, send us e-mail at ljeditor@linuxjournal.com. I'll fess up right now: I'm overwhelmed with the task of coming up to speed on Linux Journal. That, and I'm a full-time single dad of two young kids. The combo ain't easy, so I won't always get to your e-mail in a timely manner. But I want your input. Always. That's how to keep Linux Journal the magazine you want it to be. So give me some time to adjust, but drop us a line and let us know what you're thinking. We love it.

Nicholas Petreley is Editor in Chief of Linux Journal and a former programmer, teacher, analyst and consultant who has been working with and writing about Linux for more than ten years.



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Pay no attention to the FUD

Anonymous's picture

Pay no attention to the FUD man behind the Linux Journal!

I'm surprised by Linux Journal's new editor as well. I've never been a writer or journalist and already I think I could do a better job. I was tempted to let my subscritpion expire as well, but I think I'll ride it out for a little while longer. If things get to bad (like more FUD in all the other articles, or articles only focusing on certain desktops or distributions), I'll dump the subscription and just go with my SysAdmin subscription. For now, I'll just ignore the ignorant flame war editior and read the articles that I truly care about. I will dump my free Tux subscription though as his overall misguided influence has spilled into it as well.


Anonymous's picture

Perhaps the editor should end all his rants with these three letters: "QED".

Originally Latin meaning "quod erat demonstrandum" or "which was to be
shown or proven", now used mainly by logic students to insult someone
when something is proven wrong or false. ;-)

this is ridiculous

Ryan Ferguson's picture

i wish to give you and the rant column a fair chance on my coffee table. i have now read two rant sections and i am utterly amazed at the lack of "real" information coming from the column. i too like to rant. as i am now. but the serious jaded attitude towards your personal opinions on the different open source softwares available is not backed by any "real" information. these aggressive acts towards your fellow open source community members may stream linux journal to the top with the likes of maximum pc and other so called power user magazines, but the last time i picked up a maximum pc ..... well i think it was called boot. "FUD" as i understand it, is the practice of instilling opinions as facts in the attempt to overcome the lack of real facts to support your opinons. perhaps you could post some links(or any info) supporting your rants and theories. is kde vs. gnome really necessary without any facts. i'm very positive in "my opinion" that both of the developement teams work very hard to release and offer their programming works of art. i doubt either of them wishes to bash each others software. how about some constructive rants, the developers just might be inclined to offer a feature/fix that your "opinion" had a problem with. or heck maybe you might even spawn a new constructive reader to contribute instead of complain.

thanks for listening to my rant.

Ryan Ferguson
oh yeah, and as a systems administrator, developer, technical support rep, and end user, i like both kde and gnome depending upon what i am trying to accomplish.

after all this is "FREE OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE" we are using.


Ryan Ferguson's picture

also this makes me wonder about the rest of the information being produced by this magazine. if the editor practices "FUD" in "HIS" opionated columns, what else may be "FUD" throughout the magazine. after all he is the editor.


Ryan Ferguson's picture

what's next some Microsoft advertisements. ha

Nicholas Petreley

KHess's picture

I am feeling a bit funny about the turnover in the main chair but am for anyone who wants to further spark some informative dialogue about Linux. There has only been one editor that I have had problems with over the last 10 years or so, but he wasn't all that bad either, I guess.
I think that Linux Journal should be an advocate for all things Linux and not about bashing (pardon the pun) Gnome, KDE, mono, Microsoft or anything else. We need to rise above the mud-slinging and focus on what is important: Linux.
Everyone has his/her own vision for something like this but I think if I were to guide the ship, I would focus on the main areas (in my mind) of Linux development: Linux Education, Desktop Linux, Server Linux and Data Center Linux. I would keep the magazine practical and readable and steer away from the 'geeky' stuff that only 10 people care about. If we want Linux in the mainstream, we will have to make an effort not to alienate new users and those who want to make the switch to something different/better.
I have no prejudices for or against Nicholas and I think we should all keep an open mind. The glue that holds a magazine together is not the Editor-in-Chief, it is the reader and contributor community that supports it.
Give him a chance.
Hire me for it if/when it doesn't work out.

Letting my subscription laps

Andrew's picture

I'll post this here since apparently you can only see comments for the /etc/rant article if you search for them:

I got my latest issue with my final renewel notice in the mail last night. I read this article and From the Editor and have decided that I won't be renewing my subscription. I don't know what was behind the decision to hire this yahoo but from the Editor's column where he proceeded to kiss everyone working at Linux Journal's butt to the last article where he launches a weakly veiled attack on Mono, Evolution, Ximian, et al. I'm really burned.

It's pretty obvious from googleing Petreley's name that he's less of an advocate and more of a detractor of linux. The top articles to pop up are all about how this is terrible and that is no good.

It's also apparent that he really has issues with Gnome and Mono - I don't even want to know what he thinks of Ubuntu. It's ironic that in this same issue there's an article about embeding db40 with C#/Mono.

All and all I don't think he's a good addition to the team. And while I really enjoy the articles - especially Marcel Gagne's - I'm going to "Vote with my pocket book" as it were and not renew the subscription.

Hopefully Petreley will get his act together - not likely since he's been ranting for so long - or the "dream" Executive Editor realizes the mistake and let's this guy go.

The glimmer of hope is that old grumpy dinosaurs eventually pass on - often times eaten by the faster "Evolved" ones - hint, hint.

Me too...

Tim's picture

I'm "voting with my pocketbook" as well.

As an aside, congratulations to Nicholas Petreley who irritated me enough with his first two "Rants" that I'm actually cancelling a magazine subscription for the first time in my life.

Very disappointed.


How about going the competition one better...

ROC's picture

and include coverage of the BSD's? FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD (and their derivatives) are important members of the OSS community, and do not get nearly the coverage they deserve. They are viable alternatives to Linux for servers for sure, and possibly for the desktop (a number of BSD'ers seem to manage quite well with BSD-based desktops), and share ports of a huge number of OSS apps that run on Linux. I see LinuxFormat (or is that LinuxUser? I like both of those UK mags for another perspective on OSS) has a regular column devoted to BSD unices, and I don't think it has cost them any readership.

Just a thought ...


I hope you last longer

Fred Arnold's picture

than the last editor! Welcome, and best wishes for your success.

Kevin Bedell

Anonymous's picture

Didn't Kevin Bedell just become editor last month?
Is he still around?


Anonymous's picture

> I prefer to do something I enjoy a lot more. Rant.

I'm guessing that LJ won't be most Gnome developers Linux site of choice. ;-)


Anonymous's picture

I stopped reading Tux Magazine because I got disgusted with the anti-GNOME rhetoric. Mr. Petreley's Tux rants and the one included in the latest issue of Linux Journal sound like an ignorant child in the middle of a temper tantrum.

In his first LJ rant, he condemns Linux programmers that prefer Mono rather than Java. Maybe we like Mono better because it is an open source development platform based on a real open standard. Java is far more proprietary, and far less conducive to rapid development of robust desktop applications.

The criticisms of gconf are equally vapid and incomprehensible. Comparing gconf and the Windows registry doesn't make a lot of sense, since gconf uses flat xml files stored within the home directory of the user. A process transparent API for manipulating flat XML files is a good idea, and just because the graphical interface provided for interacting with it looks like the graphical interface used to interact with the Windows registry doesn't mean that gconf suffers from the same problems. I fail to see what is wrong with using a consistent XML file nomenclature to store local configuration data. The purpose of gconf is not to be like Windows, but to provide a reliable and effective way for developers to manage configuration information.

He goes on to suggest that developers who contribute to projects he doesn't understand should be flung into space, an argument that can only be characterized as childish. I think that SSC is losing its edge, and I'll be turning to superior web based venues for my Linux news.

I don't "get" Mono

Carla Schroder's picture

I'm not a developer, just a tired old sysadmin who is curious about what exactly is Mono? You say "development platform." Can you name some apps that are built with it? I understand things like GTK and Qt, but Mono sounds it's trying to be a .Net clone, and nobody can explain what .Net does either, aside from installing itself even when you don't want it to, because it comes in windoze service packs. I uninstall it, and winduz still works.

So wot the heck is Mono actually used for?


Anonymous's picture

You can find a list of applications that use Mono here:


it's not as obfuscated as it all sounds

Anonymous's picture

.NET is just fancy marketingspeak that refers to a collection of technologies: the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI), the C# compiler, and a couple of other relevant components. The CLI and C# language are defined in published ECMA standards, and Mono is more or less just an open source implementation of those standards. In form and structure, it is a bit like J2EE, in that it includes an interpreter layer that executes platform-agnostic bytecode.

C# is a very powerful language that kind of picks up where Java left off. It builds on the same concepts and provides something significantly better. The Mono developers have also provided extensive GNOME/GTK bindings, so it is possible to build extrodinarily sophisticated GNOME applications with C# in a fraction of the time it would take to build them with C. One of the most popular Mono-based applications on the Linux platform is Beagle, the desktop search and indexing system that brings the functionality of Apple's spotlight to the Linux platform.

One of the other benefits of Mono is that it is language neutral, there are already a ton of languages that target the .NET framework, and many of these languages work perfectly with Mono. So essentially you can build your application components with any of over a hundred different programming languages, and it will interoperate perfectly with components built with virtually every other .NET language. You can write some classes in Boo (a .NET language that imitates Python syntax) and then you can use those classes in your C# code. It all integrates seamlessly.

The problem that some people have with it is that even though it is a completely open standard, M$ has patented certain aspects. ECMA requires them to license those patents under "reasonable and non-discriminatory" terms, but ECMA doesn't clearly define what that means, so some people are worried that Microsoft will take advantage of that. Most of those concerns are overstated though, because the patent encumbered stuff isn't really critical to Mono on Linux, it mostly relates to Windows GUI stuff, and ASP.NET. Novell is doing an independent patent review to make sure that everything is cool, and Microsoft is pushing its stuff through ISO standardization which would provide much greater assurances than ECMA standardization. Red Hat is really the only force still opposed to Mono in Linux, and that is primarily because they invested so much into Java technology.

Mono in Red Hat

Anonymous's picture

> Red Hat is really the only force still opposed to Mono in Linux

That has recently changed. See http://lwn.net/Articles/166987/


npetreley's picture

Hey, so I don't like GNOME, and I may indeed rant about GNOME once in a great while (certainly not often, that would bore the pants off me as well as my readers).

But rest assured I do NOT intend to set Linux Journal on an anti-GNOME agenda. Quite the contrary, I've already started digging for good GNOME content, including mono-related content.

Linux Journal is for everyone, including GNOME fans. My opinions about GNOME are my own.


Anonymous's picture

> I've already started digging for good GNOME content, [snip]

Well if you find any, let us know.

I shouldn't provoke a flame war. Some Gnome apps are quite good, sometimes better than their KDE counterparts. But I'm fed up with both of them.

You'd think there was some kind of bounty on bloat the way they go at it. My current system has a CPU that's clocked ten times faster than the system I was using in 1998. It has 8 times as much RAM. Yet there is still visible latency running Gnome, and to a lesser extent, KDE.

either the computer does the work, or the user

Anonymous's picture

I prefer that the computer do the work. More features = more code.

Now if anyone can make a case that KDE, Gnome, the linux kernel, whatever, are bloated because of ineffecient code, that would be interesting.

GNOME Latency

Steve George's picture

All the environments have added more load as they've added more features. This is not your old UNIX, as it were. In GNOME this is particularly the case as the developers try and make the environment easy to use for those beyond the Linux early adopters.

I don't think we can turn the clock back - the drive from users is for more features. Although there is extensive work on optimising as much as possible.

I do have sympathy - I need to upgrade my development system again. But on the other hand I'm enjoying Tomboy, Muine, F-Spot and I'm sure there will be more to come.

Wikipedia has good information or check out monologue blogs.


Software doesn't have to suck

Anonymous's picture

> I don't think we can turn the clock back - the drive from users is for more features.

I'm sure that some users do want more features. This is human nature. But other people just want their computer to work right. (By which they probably mean their application programs and system software most of the time.) I mean, a *lot* of people just want their computers to work right.

A lot of people don't realize that computers (software, really) *can* be made to work right, because it's outside their experience. A few of use are fortunate enough to have used systems that do work right (at least most of the time), and it's a wonderful thing. You get used to it. But no-one will complain much about software that sucks if they think that it's part of the essential nature of software to suck. If all the software that one has ever used has sucked, it would be easy to arrive at this erroneous conclusion. And no-one will *ask* for software that doesn't suck if they think that all software sucks by nature.

That doesn't mean that KDE and Gnome will not be successful. They both suck, but they suck a lot less than Windows, which is an improvement for most people. But they both suck more than they used to, which it unfortunate.

oh good, another empty 'everything sucks' rant

Carla Schroder's picture

So how do KDE and Gnome suck? Any ignoramus can blanket-slam something- how about some specifics? I don't care for Gnome, but it runs circles around winduz, and I don't think people who like it are inferior. I work 50+ hours per week on a computer, primarily in KDE. From my one little KDE workstation I do these things:

- write books and articles, and deliver them to editors and reviewers all over the globe
- communicate and collaborate with people all over the world
- remotely administer a number of servers in various US locations
- do my own accounting and bookkeeping, including invoicing and reporting, plus the same for a couple of friends
- organize, edit, and print large digital photo archives
- play games

with KDE, like any Linux desktop or window manager, I can use up to 20 virtual desktops; run with X or without X; do remote graphical sessions; do live tech-support where I take control of the user's desktop; admin winduz servers; have both console and X at the same time; and so on and on.

I can decorate, organize, and customize my Linux desktop just about any way I want to. KDE and Gnome are not quite as modular as some folks would like, and different distributions package them differently, but I still have a high degree of control over what is installed.

So tell us please which parts suck?


Anonymous's picture

> Any ignoramus can blanket-slam something- how about some specifics?

So, if I don't share your opinions, then I'm an ignoramus? And you don't even know me? You don't know what software I've written (despite the fact that you may be using some of it), yet you are able to judge my intelligence by one post that you don't happen to agree with? I think perhaps you hold your own opinions in too high esteem.

If you're going to post inflammatory comments, perhaps you should go to slashdot instead.

basis for opinions?

Anonymous's picture

You still haven't provided any specifics. What is the basis for your opinions? So far, nothing at all. Which makes your opinions worth what they are based on.

previous post

Anonymous's picture

> You still haven't provided any specifics.

From a previous post:

"My current system has a CPU that's clocked ten times faster than the system I was using in 1998. It has 8 times as much RAM. Yet there is still visible latency running Gnome, and to a lesser extent, KDE."

If you want me to be more specific than that, then I will.

The system I was using in 1998 had an Intel Pentium 2-300 processor and 128 MB RAM. It ran KDE 1.0 with less visible latency than my current system - which has a Pentium 4-3.0 and 1 Gb RAM - runs Gnome 1.12. It ran KDE 1.0 with about the same amount of visible latency that my current system runs KDE 3.5.

I was using Caldera OpenLinux 1.3 on the old system, and I am currently using Ubuntu "Breezy Badger" on the new system.

So you want to do just what

Anonymous's picture

So you want to do just what you did 6 years ago? Fine, run the software you used from 6 years ago. Run KDE 1.0 on your system and let us know how much "latency" you see.

Also bear in mind that CPU speed ain't the end-all-be-all of computing. There are tricky little things like Disk and memory I/O, video cards, etc..


Anonymous's picture

ha, not to mention running a processor created many years after software was created. hmmm.

instruction sets

Anonymous's picture

a guestimate that probably 20% of the processor instruction sets hadn't even been created yet. i guess i could blindly say that kde must be worse because it can apparently run faster in this situation. i could blindly say the reason is that kde must have unoptimized code in it then if it will outperform gnome with an under-utilized processor.