This past month, I received much more email than usual. The reason? The Microsoft ad and the Microsoft CD-ROM included with the August issue of Linux Magazine.
Some of you wrote to thank us for the lovely, new drink coaster; others wrote to simply complain; and still others demanded that we’d lost our minds, sold our souls, or worse, sold out.
Well, I appreciated all of the email, no matter how many times you compared me to Faust. Open Source is ultimately based on the unfettered exchange of information and ideas — and you certainly shared some colorful ideas about what I could do with my Microsoft CD-ROM. Thanks for the colorful drawings, too.
I responded personally to many of you, but I want to use this space to share my perspective with all of you.
Ultimately, the focus of Linux Magazine is to show how to put Linux to work. Month-over-month, our editorial tends to be hands-on and practical, aimed at the programmer, system administrator, and desktop user who wants to get work done with Linux and Open Source. Pragmatism is Linux Magazine’s niche, and it sets us apart from other Linux magazines, and even other technical magazines.
Now, with that charter in mind, I think it’s foolish to ignore the fact that most Linux systems coexist with other systems, including Unix boxes, Macintosh personal computers, and predominantly, “Wintel” PCs and servers. A very lucky system administrator might be able to build an all-Linux network and office, but for the rest of us, it’s a mad, mad, mad, heterogeneous world.
So, given our editorial philosophy and the realities of the world, taking Microsoft ads and distributing Microsoft CD-ROMs are not anathemas to our mission.
In fact, our practical philosophy is the reason Microsoft advertises with us in the first place: Microsoft feels like they’re reaching potential customers for their UNIX Services product. I highlight potential, because neither Linux Magazine nor Microsoft is forcing you to buy or do anything. Some of you will respond to the ad, otherwise Microsoft wouldn’t have placed the ad in the first place. After all, Microsoft doesn’t have to advertise with us.
Am I happy to accept Microsoft’s money? Sure. Is it damaging to the magazine? I don’t think so. We provide a service to Microsoft — the same service we provide to all of our other advertisers: access to a qualified audience.
Now, would we ever run an antagonistic Microsoft ad? No. Would I ever tell Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols or anyone else to change his or her editorial because Microsoft just paid us thousands of dollars? No. Absolutely not. Editorial and sales are separate for a reason — and never the twain shall meet.
As time goes on, I hope that Linux displaces Windows machines more and more — I think it’s certainly more than capable of replacing Windows, as it’s proven in many cases.
However, in the mean time, and for the foreseeable future, I don’t think Microsoft is going to go away. And in that world, I’m willing to take every opportunity to further Linux adoption — including interoperating with Microsoft. And my soul rests easy.
As always, my fellow penguins, thanks for reading, and for writing. Keep those cartoons and letters coming.
Martin Streicher, Editor
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