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Jon Watson dishes on Linux World Net

Jon Watson dishes on Linux World Net

We sat down virtually this weekend with Jon Watson, the head of the Linux World Net blog network – focused on Linux. Here’s Jon’s dish:

Tell us a little bit about yourself and Linux World Net.

Well, Linux World Net is a new network of Linux-centric blogs. There are a lot of great Linux resources out there, but as far as I can see, there’s no single stopping point for a wide variety of Linux information. Hence, Linux World Net – a single resource for topics like gaming, security, new user tips, development, business, news, FUD removal, and whatever else the guys come up with each day. At any given time, the current network blogroll can be seen at any Linux World Net blog, but The Kernel is the main source of network information.

As for me, I think I’m best described as a Linux enthusiast. I’ve written articles for Linux Magazine, Linux Journal, Linux World, and Sitepoint; been interviewed (mostly about podcasting); and spoken at the recent Calgary Linux User’s Group Linuxfest. I keep a love-me page at about if anyone can stomach it.

Jon Watson Headshot

Where are you headed with Linux World Net this year?

All the way to Christmas, baby!

No, seriously…Originally, I wanted to launch with a dozen blogs and then build up to 20 by the end of the year. As it turned out, we launched with 6 blogs and have recently just launched our 10th which, upon reflection, makes perfect sense. The bulk of my network blogging experience comes from my work as Tech Channel Editor for b5 Media which is very broad in scope. It took me a few weeks to realize that Linux World Net is a different kettle of fish. Since we’re specifically Linux related, I needed bloggers who are not only willing and able to write, but also have a fair bit of technical experience in their fields. It’s easy to find people with technical skill and it’s easy to find people that can write. Finding people with a nice mix of that was the challenge.

I see Linux World Net maxxed out at about 20 blogs. I mean, how many distinct topics can you really make out of Linux? I’m always open to new ideas, but hitting the 20 blog mark by the end of the year is our goal at the moment.

Why a linux blog network?

As I alluded to earlier, nobody’s doing it. There are lots of people out there doing great work in the Linux space (guys like Jeremy over at Linux Questions and Mark Rais over at Really Linux are two that come to mind) but no single network providing a good range of Linux information.

At first I thought that it might be fun to try and join some of the existing sites under a single banner, but as I started the ball rolling it became apparent that there were potential Linux bloggers out there that were willing to start new blogs rather than bring in existing ones. That just fanned the fire even more by showing that there was excitement behind the idea of a Linux blog network and the momentum started rolling from there.

One of the things that I’m really enjoying that I didn’t see coming is our network-wide mega-feed. Each blog has their own feed, obviously, but we recently created a single network-wide feed as well. I’ve started reading that feed rather than the individual blog feeds recently and it’s quite enjoyable. Because the entries show up in the mega feed in chronological order rather than in blog order, each entry jumps into a different area of Linux. It’s a great way to get a quick fix.

Do you worry that focusing in such a niche area that you may be limiting your audience?

I hope so. Our audience is supposed to be limited.

Linux has many, many faces. In some areas like the enterprise service space, Linux does very well. In other areas such as home/desktop use, there are some challenges still. A Linux user isn’t your typical computer user. In general, Linux users are computer enthusiasts and many are also concerned with the freedoms that Free sofware brings with it. The vast majority of computer users aren’t concerned with their computing freedoms and don’t have the desire to tinker with their system. Therefore, the vast majority of computer users aren’t our target readers. Did that makes sense?

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I grew up a slackware fan, switched to Redhat on my desktop, and then moved on to Debian for my servers. What’s your favorite distribution?

First off, my condolences. You’re going to get killed for publicly stating that you left Slack. Rule number one: Nobody leaves Slack!!

I’ve always been partial to Debian-based distros. The first box I ever put together was a Debian 3.0 box in my basement to run an online BBS running MBSEBBS. It grew into my brutally TOS-violating web and mail server and ran happily for about a year. I then got ‘Boing Boinged’ one day and it became obvious that my ISP was going to notice this guy with 50,000 hits a day streaming through port 80. So I shut it down before they made me. That and the chewing gum that was holding the box together started to dry out.

During that time I had messed around with trying to get Linux running on my Inspiron 1000 laptop. I finally got Fedora Core 2 running on it and that’s what I started podcasting about Linux. I upgraded to FC 3 which broke my sound so I started shopping around for another distro. I settled on Kanotix (Debian-based) for quite a while and then eventually gave into the lure of Kubuntu with 5.10. I’m still running Kubuntu 6.06 on my Inspiron 9400 and am quite happy with it.

How do you feel about what some are calling the ‘Death of the Blog Networks’?

I think it’s rather dramatic. Blog networks are dying like email is
dying. Yawn…

Wake me up when the circle-jerk stops.

View Comments (8)
  • Email is dying Jon. It’s called Myspace. You laugh now but in 3 years people will be MySpacing it at work and it will be considered ok practice. Or Facebooking.

    You laugh now, but people laughed when my great great grandwhatever said the world was round.

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