Color me surprised. Dana Blankenhorn, a well-known writer about Linux and open source recently asked for someone—anyone–to send him a loaner Linux laptop to replace his now dead Windows laptop. What, he didn’t already have one?
Now, you can write about stuff that you don’t actually do yourself. After all, how many sports writers could even stand in against, never mind hit, a Jonathan Papelbon 96MPH fastball? But, I just assumed he was already running Linux on a daily basis. After all, that’s what I do.
I should also mention that Blankenhorn is a journalist who came to Linux, while I’m a techie who came to journalism. It’s a very different journey.
I’ve been running Linux for over 10-years now, and running it on at least one PC at all times since 1999. Before Linux existed, I was running SCO Unix, Interactive Unix, NeXTStep and a host of other Unix systems.
Today, I’m writing this at the Dripolator coffee house in Asheville, NC on an IBM ThinkPad R61 running openSUSE 11. At my home office, I have openSUSE, Fedora 9, Kubuntu 8.04, and Mint 5 running on desktops and openSUSE and CentOS (http://www.centos.org/) on my servers. In short, I don’t just write about Linux, I live with it.
I don’t know if that improves my ability to write about Linux in general. I do think it does mean that when I write about the technical side of Linux I do know what I’m talking about.
Do I contribute to a distribution, as someone asked about me recently, no, no I don’t. I’m a ham-handed programmer. My skills lie in understanding enough about technology and business to translate what they mean for a general audience.
I do think I know enough to have an informed opinion about operating systems in general, and Linux and the rest of the Unix family, in particular. If nothing else, I can say this, I use Linux every day. So, when I have something to say, whether it’s about KDE 4.1, OpenSolaris, or Wi-Fi chips and Linux, do keep in mind even if you disagree with me that I have had vast experience with Linux and Unix. It’s possible I do know what I’m talking about. 🙂