Linux Journal Goes 100% Digital

Introducing Linux Journal 2.0

We're going all-digital. That's the news. Starting with our next issue, #209, we're going off-rack and off-mailbox, but staying on-email and on-Web, where we can grow and improve. It's the only path open to us, but it's also a good one. Hang with me as I explain why. (See also Experience the New Linux Journal for details about the new format.)

Linux Journal was the brainchild of Phil Hughes in 1993. That's when he got it in his head that a free software magazine would be a good idea, and pulled together an email list of friends—including me—to talk about it. Then one day, out of the blue, Phil halted the proceedings and announced that he now saw The Future, and it was Linux.

At the time, Linux was invisible in the trade press. None of the magazines put out by the big three computer-industry publishers--Ziff-Davis, IDG and CMP--paid any attention to it. All their eyes were on name-brand computer and network companies, plus startups in spaces those companies (all of which were advertisers) defined. UNIX was still a war between variants sold by Novell, Silicon Graphics, IBM, Sun and others, plus the BSDs. Linux was at version 0.x, and of relatively little interest outside the kernel mailing list.

Phil saw UNIX for the mess it was, and he knew how Linux was going to solve it. So, when Linux 1.0 was released in March 1994, Linux Journal promptly followed. During the 17+ years since, Linux has proven Phil right, and it is now the standard operating system for everything from picture frames to set-top boxes, plus most of the Web. (Fun fact: even Microsoft's Bing search engine is mostly hosted on Linux, through Akamai.)

But while Linux continues to win at operating systems, print magazines are losing to other media—especially digital—and have been for a long time. In fact, lately it's been getting worse.

Just this month, ABC reported that newsstand magazine sales fell 9% in the first six months of this year. The Wall Street Journal reported a drop of 9.2% for consumer magazines, with double-digit drops for celebrity weeklies like People and Star. Women's Wear Daily reported similar drops for all but one fashion magazine: Vogue, thanks to one Lady Gaga cover.

The big computer-industry trade magazines from the '90s have either disappeared or gone digital. Of the big three publishers, only IDG is still intact, and still putting out most of its original magazines in print.

We survived while others failed by getting lean and staying focused. But the costs of printing and distributing continue to go up. We could keep publishing in print if we could raise the number of advertiser pages, but we don't see that happening.

What we do see is a core readership that has stuck with us, along with Linux, for a generation. You, our readers, are at the heart of Linux, and always have been. We want to keep that heart beating.

That heart will beat with much more strength if the blood flows entirely through bits and pixels. It also will be better aligned with the world we helped create. (We were online and helping ISPs grow even before the first graphical browsers showed up.) The opportunities online are as wide as the digital horizons. And we won't be confined by the physical and cost limits of paper and ink.

Those limits include space. We can name many examples of articles, columns and regular features that have been cut to fit the limited spaces of our print pages. We also can name many examples of digital pieces that have been very successful, outside the confines of print. Working in two media has always pulled us in different directions. Now we can move forward in the winning direction, without the drag.

But we can't do it if you're not with us. For that we need two things.

The first is for you to keep subscribing. Our first all-digital edition of Linux Journal--#209--will go out on schedule, directly to all print subscribers. It will be the same magazine it always has been. It also will be searchable, interactive, printable and, therefore, also green (a small bonus, but one we do care about).

The second is to get your input and participation in making Linux Journal the magazine you want it to be. We are setting a forum for conversation with subscribers, plus a forum for  conversation with non-paying readers. I also invite you to write us directly at For more help, visit our FAQ.

Linux Journal is your magazine. You're the ones who pay for it, and you're the ones whose help we need and appreciate the most. Linux always has been a construction project, and the same is true for this magazine. Please help us keep building it in ways that work best for you—and for everybody out in user space too.

See also:



Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal


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Format details

Carlie Fairchild's picture

All good questions -- we've answered them in this article titled, Experience the New Linux Journal,

In addition, we have an FAQ set up for subscribers

Carlie Fairchild is the publisher of Linux Journal.

Thank you for going for a

Linux_Kelley's picture

Thank you for going for a digital format that is usable.

I was a subscriber to PC Magazine for decades and when they went digital you had to have Windows to read it. I dropped that subscription.

Looking forward to the future

Bill Childers's picture

As a Linux Journal contributor, I'm going to miss the print edition, but I'm glad to see the magazine continue. I know the decision to do this was a difficult one, but I'm confident that the Linux Journal team will make the new all-digital edition even better than the print one. There's lots of cool things that can be done with an all-digital format once you liberate yourself from the older media.

At any rate, I'm looking forward to the future, and I plan on being a contributor and subscriber for a long long time. You're not getting rid of me anytime soon. :)

Bill Childers is the Virtual Editor for Linux Journal. No one really knows what that means.

I don't like it.

Linux_Kelley's picture

As a subscriber for years I don't like this.

I don't like it

Doc Searls's picture

As a Linux Journal writer for fifteen years, I don't like it either. I also don't like not being able to write for all the magazines i once wrote for that no longer exist. (Starting with OMNI.)

For magazines, printing and mailing are now a luxury more than a necessity. Wish it weren't so, but it is.

Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal


Linux_Kelley's picture

I still have the 1st issue on Omni around here somewhere.
Now you're making me feel old.....

Lady Gaga cover

Jeremy's picture

Have you tried putting Lady Gaga on your cover?

Lady Gaga cover

Doc Searls's picture

Have her people contact our people. We'll see what we can do. :-)

Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal

How Sad

Joshua Rubin's picture

As an observant Jew, I do not use electronics (among other many other activities) on Shabbos. This is a prime time for my Linux Journal reading. I am not sure I can warrant my continued subscription now.

On the other hand...

Ephraim's picture

Hmm, some would argue that observant Jews should not be reading non-Kodosh things on Shabbos ;-) Unless, of course, one plans to use Linux directly to increase his/her connection to Hashem ;-)

Shouldn't that be 3.0?

David Lane's picture


Wasn't 2.0 when the Journal converted from a newsletter to a proper magazine? Wouldn't this be version 3.0?

Regardless, here is to another long run of success.

David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack


Doc Searls's picture

At first I thought 3.0 would align better with Linux version 3.0 that Linux announced in July. So maybe we should have stuck with that. In any case. thanks for the support.

Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal