Interview with srlinuxx - owner and operator of Tuxmachines.org
Tuxmachines has been fundamental in getting me recognised because srlinuxx personally seeks out new and exciting content from sites who you've probably not heard of on the most part, while delivering news as it happens from the big-names. What follows is an interview I held with srlinuxx to uncover a little about the history of Tuxmachines and it's owner. From here on, bold text is me and normal text is her.
When and why did you decide to start Tuxmachines.org?
February 2005 in its present incarnation. The summer before with static html pages that no one knew about.
I started it as a hobby. I'd gotten a static ip with my dsl upgrade and my first thought was "hey, I can have a webserver now." So, I guess really it was just something to do. The learning process of how to install and setup linux and applications on the desktop was long over. I just wanted to play with something new - networking and serving.
After a while, as I was trying to update those static pages I became aware I wanted something like phpnuke that I could update easily and had a nice 3 column format with features like a poll and comments - like the old pclinuxonline.com site. So, for better or worse I chose drupal.
Drupal is a good tool, it's clearly doing you proud. Tuxmachines has become pretty popular I think it's fair to say, do you care to mention how much traffic you get on average?
Funny you mentioned that. I just started using Google Analytics as someone told me that webalizer might not be accurate. As it turns out a couple of the fields do seem to almost correspond. webalizer is domainwide, while Analytics is just for the main drupal site. Google Analytics reports for Monday the 23rd, an average day, I received 8,989 unique visitors with 16,959 pageviews.
I like seeing how many reads each item has - LinuxToday does that and I find it comforting, especially when my content is up there! So do you run the site full time?
Well, I guess you could say I work on it full time. More than full time. I can't even add up the hours I put into it, not to mention the articles I write. I update it quite often. I keep my eye open for articles every waking hour and actively hunt every coupla hours. I'm working from the time I get up 'til the time I go to bed on it. Even when I'm sleeping, I get up every few hours to update it.
You really are crazy! Just joking, that's some serious dedication to the cause. I've mentioned earlier that Tuxmachines pulls in content from other sites - where do you find all this content? How do you find sites like mine in the first place?
I have a loooong and ever-growing list of bookmarks. I used to visit each and every site several times every day looking for new articles. Then I got hip and started pulling in newsfeeds. That works out much better for me. So, now I have a much smaller list of sites that I have to actually visit looking for articles.
The power of RSS compells you... That's a much better use of time I'm sure you'll agree. So do you have any future goals for pushing the site forwards?
Content wise - just keep on keeping on. Original content - I'd like to branch out, but distro reviews are my thing. It's what I know. Interviews I do fairly well also, but I find it hard to find folks to interview - for me - or ideas on folks to interview. Howtos just turn into long complicated "if your system is this way, do this. if it's that way, do this " or "if you're running this..." I'm not good at howto. So, I guess I'll just keep on doing what I'm doing.
Well it seems to be working. What about more generally?
All the time, effort, and love I put into it, I'd like to be able to pull in a bit of revenue. Not just personally but also for the site. I'd like to move the site to a dedicated host for better performance, but until some substantial revenue starts coming in that's pretty much impossible. It's still a goal though. Someday...
I hope it happens, I visit Tuxmachines every day so if it disappears I'll only have one person to blame...
Srlinuxx and Linux
Ahh, time to get into the crucial questions now then. What was the first distro you ever used?
Mandrake. I started using mandrake in the fall of 2000. I'd tried other distros and even Mandrake previously, but always hit those "Windows user's" stumbling blocks. Finally when Mandrake 7.2 hit the market, I'd found a distro that installed and auto-configured well enough that I was encouraged to read documentation for the rest. So, the why is because it was the easiest and closest out-of-the-box experience at the time. From that point on, I never went back to windows.
Crucial question here... What is your favourite distro around at the moment?
It's so hard to pin down a favorite. I use Gentoo on my desktop daily. I guess one could say it's still my favorite. ...or perhaps it's just home. But when I first started using it in the fall of 2003 and for two or three years afterwards I was totally in love with it. I moved from Gentoo to Debian on my server and I'm so pleased with it. It's doing a fine job for me.
But other distros I like a whole lot (I think in order) include PCLOS, openSUSE, Slackware & derivatives (such as wolvix), SimplyMepis... and of course Mandriva. Mandriva has its problems, but one never gets over their first love. I like so many of them, it's hard to list really. ...as long as it's Linux.
No mention of Ubuntu - retro! It's nice to see a new-face such as PCLOS appearing in that list. So, srlinuxx, what is your personal viewpoint on the current state of Linux? Is it ready for jaded Windows users yet or does it need a bit more time in the oven?
Shoot, I thought it was ready 7 years ago! But yes, now it is so easy to install and use. For the most part, users don't even have to worry about setting up hardware anymore. There are a few glitches here and there, and there will always be folks that need to use windows, but if one wants to use Linux there's really no reason they can't now - especially with all the livecds available.
You heard it here first; there's no reason not to use Linux! So... While we're on an awkward topic, any comment on the whole Novell/Microsoft thing a while ago?
Well, I was shocked and disappointed. I still am disappointed when I think about it. I had been one of their strongest advocates ever since Novell began offering an open version and then that? Wham! Like a slap in the face. Novell bailed on us basically, but I know they have stock holders to answer to and I try not to hold it against openSUSE. The developers of openSUSE weren't in on the deal and aren't really reaping any benefits personally. So, I try not to dwell on it. But I'm more forgiving than some.
That's true, there were some very "militant" viewpoints expressed around the time. So in your opinion (with that aside) where do you think desktop Linux could be improved?
That's a toughy for me. I think it is pretty good now. With distros like PCLOS you get good looks, advanced features, and a wonderful out-of-the-box experience. Many equate improvement with fancy features, but that results in bloat and sometimes instablity. I think finding a good balance between needed functionality and luxury features is the challenge these days - from the kernel outward.
I absolutely agree, it's come a long way in recent times and it's becoming increasingly difficult to find obvious areas for improvement. Wireless support is the only answer I can ever give these days - I suppose that's a good thing though.
So in conclusion
I've been reading the fantastic content put out on Tuxmachines.org for some time now and I owe a lot of my site successes to srlinuxx directly, so I'll take this public opportunity to say thankyou. Srlinuxx is a very real person (with a cool username as it happens) who just cares about the community. If you're not already a reader of Tuxmachines then you should be ashamed. It's an excellent site that needs all the support it can get. Although it looks like having srlinuxx at the helm is a good thing; driving the site from February 2005's birth to today in style. The site is pulling in good traffic and hopefully will generate some good revenue soon. There's a tip jar on the site incase you're feeling generous. Visit Tuxmachines.org
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