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"Linux Gazette...making Linux just a little more fun!"

Interview with Linux Today's Marty Pitts

By Fernando Ribeiro Correa and Marcos Martins Manhães
Originally published at OLinux

Enjoy this interview with Marty Pitts, Managing Editor at Linux Today. He talks about Linux Today's evolution and the growth of its main subject, Linux operating systems.

OLinux: Please introduce yourself. (career, education, hobbies, personal and professional achievements).

Marty Pitts: My name is Marty Pitts.I worked in the nuclear industry for 13 years before joining Linux Today, in jobs ranging from Purchasing Agent to Network Admin. I like to ski in the winter, hike and camp in the summer and read SciFi in between.I also like to play around with the latest Linux distros.

OLinux: How long have you been working and what are your responsibilities at Linux Today?

Marty Pitts: When I became interested in using Linux at work, I started looking for a information about Linux online.One of the resources I came across was Linux Today. I liked that it was updated hourly. When I found news that they did not have, I started using their contrib form.After several months, the site owners: Dave and Dwight, asked if I would be interested in working as a volunteer on the site. Having become a Linux news junkie, I jumped at the chance.

In the summer of 1999, Dave sent me an email asking what my employment situation was.It just so happened that at my current job, my boss of several year had just turned in his notice to quit.It was a good opportunity to think about a career change.How many people actually get a chance to work at what they love?

I started working for Dave and Dwight in September of 1999 full time as the Managing Editor.About a month later, Dave and Dwight sold the Linux Today web properties, which included, to I have been as a full time employee of ever since.

OLinux: How's the site organized? Give us an idea of how the Linux Today works. How many people are involved?

Marty Pitts: For the whole channel, which includes 14 web sites, there are approximately 9 full time editors and programmers.

Right now there are two full time people who work on Linux Today, myself and Michael Hall.We also take care of LinuxPR and a couple of other sites in the Linux/Open Source channel.

Michael lives on the east coast of the US, and I live in Washington state on the west coast.So naturally we break up the day, with Michael covering the first part of the day and then I come online later with a couple hours of overlap.

OLinux: Can you describe Linux Today evolution since it began?

Marty Pitts: Dave and Dwight were the ones that came up with the idea for Linux Today and they are the ones who successfully executed that idea.They were successful enough to attract the attention of

It started as a labor of love for Dave and Dwight.They wanted to provide a resource that people could use to find out what was going in the Linux/Open Source world.They started the site on September 30, 1998. A year later, they had both quit their daytime jobs to work full time on the site, they had been able to hire a full time editor, and they had posted over 10,000 stories. Currently we are right at 34,000 stories posted, just on Linux Today.

After the sale of the site to, somethings changed and others remained surprisingly the same.Dave chose to leave and pursue other goals, Dwight stayed on and we worked to keep the site going. To replace Dave, who had done most of the site programming, Paul Ferris was hired.

Paul, a great guy, started working on the programming side but still found time to write his column: Rant Mode Equals One.Currently we are using the second iteration of the site code, which Paul wrote, and we are about to roll out the third iteration of the code.It will provide increased flexibility so that the code will be able to be used across a variety of different sites, each with its own unique requirements.

What stayed the same, during the transition, was the direction and focus of Linux Today. We were told to keep doing what we had been doing that had made Linux Today a popular site, which was a relief.

Today we have a lot more original content than we used to. In addition, our focus is on making the whole Linux/Open Source channel work together well.

OLinux: Are there companies sponsoring or maintaining Linux Today?

Marty Pitts: Since Linux Today is owned by, they are the ones who pay for the maintenance of this and the other sites.

OLinux: Is there any central control to avoid redundancy and improve editorial efforts?

Marty Pitts: Yes. We have, as part of the backend to Linux Today, an Editorial Board that keeps track of who is working on what stories. In addition, we use email extensively, plus we have an IRC channel for quick communication.

In spite of that, we occasionally will have a duplicate story go up.Which is why, sometimes you will see a message that says, 'This story has been unposted.'

OLinux: How difficult is to present good content day by day? Besides the users' contribution, do you have any other content resource (agencies like Reuters, etc.)?

Marty Pitts: Early in the week, Monday and Tuesday, it is usually very easy to find content to post.As the week progresses though, it can be a struggle to find good content and resist posting something that is just a rehash of a story that has already been covered.Weekends are more difficult since there is usually no news from the traditional sources. Since we like to have time off as well, we break up the weekend between the editors and we also future post some items so that they show up over a regular period of time.This way, we are able to take a break and our readers can find some fresh content.

Our readers are a very valuable source of content.Without them providing links and suggestions, Linux Today would not be were it is today.

We are able to find some relevant content elsewhere within the properties, which we use when available.

OLinux: How do you see Linux Today in the Open Source world? What's the best contribution Linux Today has been giving to the Linux community during its existence?

Marty Pitts: We see Linux Today as the place to stop if you want to know what is going on in the Linux/Open Source community today. We search out the events and news and bring it to one place so that our readers don't have to spend the time doing that search for themselves.

Through the forums and story talkbacks, we help to facilitate discussions within the community and give our readers a place to react to the news of the day.

I believe that Linux Today's greatest contribution is that we are able to raise the awareness of our readers about the events, good and bad, that are happening within and to the Linux/Open Source community.

OLinux: What are the new features being developed for Linux Today? Can you detail the main currently projects?

Marty Pitts: We are about to roll out redesigned site software that will provide a greater flexibility and robustness to all the sites on the channel.

OLinux: What is your opinion about the growth of Linux in the enterprises? What about desktops, do you have a projection for the future?

Marty Pitts: From my experience, Linux is infused into the enterprise deeper than anyone suspects. When a problem can be solved without having to ask for a new budget item, the guys/gals on the front lines will use what works. I see the projections by companies like Gartner and IDC and I have to laugh. They don't know how to properly measure the revolution that is taking place under their noses. Their methodology can't account for stealth deployments.

The desktop is there already. Ease of use and graphical tools have come a long way in just the past year or two. I use Linux as my work environment, and for many like myself, Linux is already there.Just look at what we have available to us, DVD decoding and playback capability, the latest video, sound and networking hardware. The environments available are amazing as well. Even though I don't use KDE or GNOME (I use a pure 'Enlightenment' desktop), I have both of them on my system and use their apps.

Copyright © 2001, Fernando Ribeiro Correa.
Copying license
Published in Issue 65 of Linux Gazette, April 2001

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