[Fsf-friends] Some feedback: LINUXForYou

FN fred@bytesforall.org
Sat, 15 Feb 2003 12:44:55 +0530 (IST)

SOME FEEDBACK to the recent first issue of India's first mag devoted wholly
to Free/Libre and Open Source Software, * LINUXForYou*:
o Get-up excellent, value-for-money real good. This was only to be
  expected from a ElectronicsForYou-stable publication.
o Depth of information, fair to good.
o Coverage of India-related issues: poor. Much of the focus was on
  the corporate world and its products. This may be a good policy
  to draw adverts. What about those idealistic youngsters slogging away
  unnoticed across the length and breadth of India. Except for Avneesh
  and Shivaas (Page 9) these go largely unnoticed.
o Clarity of vision: poor. Lot of focus on "Open Source". Free Software
  and the ideals that launched it (from the 'seventies and before,
  not just since 1998) seems to have got, in this magazine,
  intentionally or otherwise, overlooked. Again, this may be good
  for luring the business world; but certainly not helpful in 
  building up an ethical basis for sharing software (and ultimately,
  knowledge) among those who need it.
o Open Source and Free Software have common origins but now 
  different emphasis. It would be best if *both* are covered, rather
  than excluding one or the other. The term FLOSS (Free/Libre and
  Open Source Software), popularised by an Indian in Holland,
  Rishab Aiyer Ghosh, covers both adequately. As it has been argued,
  'Free Software' and 'Open Source' describe the same category of
  software "more or less" but say different things about the
  software and about values. The GNU Project continues to use the
  term "Free Software" to express the idea that freedom, not just
  (good) technology, is important.
o Illustrations: could be improved. Understandable for a new mag
o Participation by the GNU/Linux community (both Free Software and
  Open Source): marginal. Linux-India gets a low-down mention in a
  listing of websites.
o Focus on different distros: poor to fair. Seems to continue the
  trend of focussing mainly on the main (commercial) distros, e.g
  RedHat and Mandrake, as other Indian computer mags have done.
  The inclusion of Knoppix is a great decision though. Otherwise,
  distros like Debian get ignored or mentioned just in passing.
  As an Indian mag, products like Elx (the distro from Hyderabad)
  could merit a closer look.
o The editorial was particularly well written.
o Once again: do we need a CD with every issue? Won't this push
  up costs?  My favoured model is SPIDER, Pakistan's Internet magazine
  (Rs 35 rupees per issue, i.e. Pakistani rupees, which might be
  around Rs 30 or less INR. Printed on inexpensive newsprint,
  full colour, over 100 pages, packed with info, focus in large
  measure on local issues!)
o Can LFY put it's money where it's mouth is? Suresh 
  Ramasubramanian <mallet@efn.org> has already point out to
  Bharathi's posting on ilug-chennai that the LFY website
  uses ASP script, and has a website which is "designed
  primarily for (Microsoft's) Internet Explorer". If
  GNU/Linux is really so good technology, why not accept
  it before selling it to the rest of the globe?
o Some writers seem to be accepting Microsoft's logic
  and arguments quite willingly. 
o What's lacking in the mag:
  -Links to all LUGs around India (even LinuxMagazine from Europe
   has a listing of some Indian LUGs) with URLs, mailing list
  -Schedules of different LUG/GLUG meets planned in India
  -Profile of various GLUG/LUG websites and mailing lists
  -Greater focus on innovative GNU/Linux work from students
   and individuals within India
  -More reporting on the GNU/Linux scene in Asia, particularly
   South Asia
  -Possible reproduction of columns such as BraveGNUWorld
  -More interaction with GLUGs, FSUGs and LUGs across India.
o In conclusion: This mag is going to help spread awareness about
  GNU/Linux. But whether it also helps build the ethical base of
  Free Software (which started everything off, in a sense) is a
  big question. As of now, it's not showing any signs of doing so.
o To quote RMS: "The interest in the software is growing faster
  than awareness of the philosophy it is based on, and this
  leads to trouble. Our ability to meet the challenges and threats
  ... depends on the will to stand firm for freedom. To make 
  sure our community has this will, we need to spread the idea to
  the new users as they come into the community. But we are failing
  to do so; the effort to attract new users into our community
  are far outstripping the efforts to teach them the civics of our
  community. We need to do both, and we need to keep the two
  efforts in balance." LINUXForYou is going to be doing a great
  job on one aspect; on the other, there are not much signs that
  it plans to do anything significant yet... (FN)
 _____             _           _      _
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Frederick Noronha * Freelance Journalist * Goa * India 832.409490 / 409783
Writing with a difference... on what makes *the* difference