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Linux Voice – A new Linux magazine that gives back (indiegogo.com)
104 points by m0a0t0 on Nov 11, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 53 comments

I was an avid Linux Format reader for some time and had a print subscription for a heady couple of years. However, the content seemed to have dumbed down recently, and the ratio of advertising to content seems to have grown. Also, I'd go for more tutorials and less reviews, or if you're going to do reviews - more detailed reviews, I hated seeing one-paragraph reviews.

Best of luck, I look forward to seeing my pdfs :)

One of the founders here if you've got any questions.

My only suggestion is to provide free subscriptions to Universities, especially if you can address them to Computer Science departments.

While I attended Uni, we signed up for a ton of free trials to various magazines -- Linux Format, Linux Journal, EE Times, InfoSecurity, etc. We got pretty lucky in that most of the free trials never ended. And if they did, we'd pool together money and buy a year's subscription. The department even bought a couple for us.

I can't stress how influential these magazines were to our participation. We were in an academic environment surrounded by geniuses in their field. We could read an article and nobody would understand it -- bring that topic up at the end of a lecture and talk about it for 20-30 minutes with the prof afterwards. Abstract concepts began to tie in with lecture materials. We were able to validate our courses of study and how it can relate to the real world. While this could've been just as likely by printing out articles or emailing the prof articles and asking his opinion, it was much easier because everyone (mostly) had thumbed through the communal magazines and had some rudimentary understanding of what's being talked about. We were able to actively participate in the discussion. That comfort in asking questions and talking in front of peers led to some great lectures -- many of which probably wouldn't have existed without the magazines.

Thanks for the info. This is something we're keen to do.

I've got a few librarians, particularly research librarians, in the family. University libraries pay lots of money for whole-school access to online journals and other publications. If you can make your sales process friendly for university libraries you can increase visibility to people who aren't necessarily in the CS department and probably get paid too. Handling that sort of thing is one of the primary functions of a modern university library, they aren't afraid to pay a reasonable fee because they recognize that good publications need income in order to exist.

Your presentation looks great. I do have a few questions:

1) Will the digital version be DRM-free? Even if you're not opposed to the concept of DRM, I'm sure you understand the logistical issues around consuming DRM crippled content on Linux.

2) You say you "aim to use an open source/Creative Commons licence." How firmly are you committed to this? I really like the ideal of content going free after 9 months.

3) What percentage of pages do you anticipate will include advertisements/sponsorship? It seems most magazines in our industry are cramming in as many adverts as possible, and worse - disguising them as real content (yes, I'm looking directly at you, Wired/Conde Naste). It's bad enough feeling like "the product" in the context of the unrelenting waves of ad-sponsored and metric-selling web-apps, it's a lot worse when you're paying for the privilege (via subscriptions to magazines with more ads than articles).

DRM free -- absolutely where possible (i.e. we can't on google play, etc, but yes where we can i.e. digital subs from our own site). DRM is horrible and we want as little part in it as possible. For your other questions, I'm just answering them elsewhere in the thread.

I have several O'Reilly epubs that I bought on Google Play that are not crippled with DRM. They are sold as individual apps and include an epub reader.

We hope to be on the Google Play Magazine store, that means DRM.

We hope to publish as an app where we can go without DRM (personally, I'd like that app to be available for Cyanogenmod as well). However, this may be a little further down the line.

Just to reiterate, if we can make it DRM-free in a particular store-front, we will.

How would you compare the theme of your magazine to something like Phoronix - which tends to be somewhere between Engadget and LWN in its "hardcore-ness". Possibly they are the Linux version of Anandtech (e.g. their efforts to bisect the linux power regression [1] as well as the Phoronix test suite [2] for benchmarks )

Are you addressing a more casual audience ?

[1] http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTA0MTM [2] http://www.phoronix-test-suite.com/

Phoronix is first and foremost a hardware and benchmarking site. Probably the best Linux hardware and bechmarking site. We're not going to compete with them on that.

We're going to covering a wider area. We'll feature some stuff on programming (though this will never get too hardcore -- we're a Linux mag, not a programming mag), we'll feature desktop Linux as well. We'll feature Linux gadgets where they're relavent, but we're not going to be a big gadget review mag. Some stuff on servers. Some stuff on hardware hacking. Basically, if you can do it on Linux, it'll have a place in Linux Voice.

In terms of "hardcore-ness", we'll aim to strike a balance so there's something for everyone.

We'll be addressing a casual audience insofar as it'll be written with humour and will be easy to read.

Will you be clarifying the content license before the campaign finishes? I'd love to see all tutorials with a CC-BY-SA license.

So would we! There is a slight issue that in general, freelancers retain copyright over their own work, so we as a magazine can publish it, but we can't release it under a free licence. Where freelancers are happy with this (and we hope most of them will be), then we'll endeavour to do this.

Why is that? Maybe I'm misunderstanding something but why can't you make including content in your magazine predicated on the author agreeing to release it under a free license?

Releasing something under a free license is orthogonal to the authors retaining copyright over their work.

You're right, and this is exactly what we want to do but (why is there always a but?) this is highly unusual clause and while we're confident most of our contributors will accept it, we may have to waive it for some (though we really hope we don't have to). As a new magazine we're not confident to make a 100% promise at this stage.

Personally, I reckon you could do it; what's the going rate for a free lancer? Given the size and complexity of coding snippets, do they really have any value in and of themselves?

Just to be clear -- any code from the mag will be released under an open source licence. There's no question about that. This thread's about releasing the actual articles themselves (which we plan on doing after nine months -- more info on the campaign page).

My mistake; thanks for the clarification.

What happened with Linux Format? Are they changing/closing/something?

It's not closing. We felt that the company (Future Publishing) was pushing us into a position where we couldn't make a quality magazine any more. We've launched this because we think it can not only be a quality mag, but also help support the free software community.

Do you have any plans to bring out the digital edition in .mobi or .epub, for e-readers?

We certainly hope to, although our initial work has been looking at PDF, and digital news stand editions.

Just wanted to say that I am a huge fan of your magazine and your podcast. Always entertaining, fresh and engaging, and I hope your newest venture keeps that same edge. I wish you guys the best of luck.


A bit unhappy about Indiegogo, insisting on "Shipping Address Line Two can't be blank"; when my regular postal address really is fully covered by Name, Country, Address Line 1, City and ZIP Code.

Sure, I could probably fill in some kind of apartment number or so. Yet, it's not something I usually have on in my postal address, and it's definitely not something getting a line of its own.

Also, that seemingly broken requirement bugs me.

How much advertising do you expect to run in each issue?

Basically, as little as possible. We'd much rather run more editorial content. However, we can't ignore a potential revenue stream. We hope to make it viable at around five pages of ads. We'll also do everything we can to make them on relevant and interesting products.

Five pages is very little for a magazine with 40 pages of content - you could double that and still be firmly in the "very advertising light" category.

How are you going to be better than LWN or even HN? Obviously, apart from paper quality.

Well our paper quality will be awesome :). We'll have a different focus than either of those sites. While we will have a news section, it won't dominate the mag (around 10% or so). The majority will be features (such as interviews and in depth reports on particular projects), and tutorials (with a mix for all abilities).

American magazines typically have a much higher proportion of advertising to editorial, with a lower cover price. Linux Voice will have more editorial copy, paid for by the purchase price, not advertising. Ethically, I don't think you can justify charging good money, then loading the thing with ads; that's just taking the piss out of your readers. Of course, if Red Hat or someone wants to buy 16 pages of advertising, we'll take their money, but we'll print extra pages so that the number of editorial pages doesn't fall.

I don't mind a certain amount of advertising in Linux magazines because it lets me know that the company caters to the market in the first place (which isn't always apparent).

This is the UK, people pay 50 quid a month for Sky and that is ~25% advertising per hour.

Done! I would have given you guys more money if you had the corresponding digital subscriptions for the £50, £80 and £90 options. Best of luck!

"In this issue we're celebrating the crowdfunding revolution. We asked our contributors what project they'd like to see on Indiegogo or Kickstarter...

     - Linux Format Xmas 2013"
"A. Gregory: For consistency I'm going to say a Linux port of Elite Dangerous"

"M. Saunders: After writing my own x86 operating system, I'd like to fund a new version written in Forth"

"B. Everard: Having written a wooden scooter across Africa, I'd simply ask for an off-road map"


I have been a happy subscriber to The Previous Magazine for a while now; I'd like to see a little more for profession software engineers, but otherwise always on the ball.

Thanks for the feedback.

I second that - some more highly technical articles would be great. Heck, even an analysis of an IOCCC entry or something crazy like that. I know it may not appeal to most buyers, but it will appeal to some, and I think the magazine should have a little something for everyone.

Print is dead. Most publications have migrated to digital only. Why waste money on physical magazines, when digital versions are inexpensive and very easy to distribute?

We're offering digital subscriptions as well, so take which ever one you like :). However, Linux Format (or the Previous Magazine as it's called elsewhere on the thread) actually increased its print circulation last year. Print's still got some life in it yet.

I only buy digital subscriptions. Hold on, wait. That's not true, since whenever I'm at an airport I buy a magazine such as this. Please make sure that airports will carry Linux Voice!

Well, Linux Format GREW in sales last year, and could sell over 20,000 print magazines, so that's far from dead!

What about the trees, the plastic packaging, the waste of fuel distributing them? Honestly, reduce scope, drop the physical issue and provide more of an MVP. Being English it's sometimes hard to tell, but actually 90,000GBP is a crap-ton of money to make a bunch of PDFs.

Some people want hard-copy magazines. Many thousands of them, in fact! And as for "a crap-ton of money to make a bunch of PDFs", it's far more involved than that. See the FAQ on the Indiegogo page.

When you take into account editorial contributors (£100 per page, or £4,400 per issue), design and art help (£2,900 per issue), hardware, bills, app store charges etc., it all adds up.

So it's not just a "bunch of PDFs" -- it's a complicated collaboration between writers, artists and stores. We want to make it good value, but we're not just reproducing some HOWTOs. We're making new, original, creative content.

My point was that it's not environmentally desirable to produce magazines.

Seeing as you have a uniquely digitally inclined audience, a shortage of funds and a global market, PDFs do make a lot more sense.

I didn't mean to devalue any potential content.

Your costs are very high. There's no reason you need London overheads for an English magazine on technical content. For example, I know many first language, highly literate, technical English speakers who with extensive writing experience would be happy to edit such content at much cheaper rates than 100GBP per page. For example, 10 GBP per page. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_inequality

People can buy digital subscriptions if they don't want to use paper. But some people want hard-copy magazines, and it's not wrong for us to offer them. We will do our best to use sustainable paper sources and responsible printers.

As for the costs, those are normal in the publishing world. Many magazines have tried slashing the contribution per-page cost, and ended up with poor quality content as a result. We want the best contributors, and they're worth paying for.

100GBP per page may seem like a lot, but that's for 800 words of highly technical content, that has to be correct, well-written, informative and entertaining. A single page can take many hours of work when you're dealing with advanced subjects. You get what you pay for.

Thought experiment. Consider the possibility that you are an anachronism, extending itself until it runs out of resources to feed on, and that your grandchildren will fail to understand your insensitivity to the now obvious issue of vanishing forests and biodiversity. Any chance that's true?

If we succeed, and promote free software, it will mean a lot fewer obsolete Windows PCs going into landfill sites. Our grandchildren will cherish our memory.

I used to be an avid Linux Journal reader/subscriber, but I ended up with a bitter taste in my mouth because they sold my mailing address to a third party (without ever asking).

I've not picked up a copy of Linux Journal for the last couple of years.

I'm backing this in the hope it becomes something amazing, that I can use to replace Linux Journal.

Thanks a lot! Rest assured, we're doing this differently. We've split off from a big company that could do stunts like that, and we're focused on our readers. The entire team will be doing one thing: making a great Linux mag.

Does that "play" program, with the "anythingby" option, really exist ?

I supose it would be possible (indexing metadata). And it would be awesome!

Well yes, but only insofar as it's a script created for the video that only plays that one song!


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