On a Monday last October, Tennessee based publisher and writer Susan Linton decided her plate was too full and put the website Tux Machines up for sale. That Friday, October 28, she announced that she’d found a buyer in Roy Schestowitz, known in FOSS circles as the publisher of TechRights, a site which focuses on the political side of free tech.
For nine years, Tux Machines had been a place to read about Linux and FOSS, mainly from links to what others were writing on other sites. But it was also just a cool place to hang out and meet up with other Linux users. Certainly there were and are other sites doing almost the same thing — but Linton’s Tux Machines was different. It was kick-your-shoes-off-and-visit-a-spell homey. It was comfortable.
It wasn’t a big surprise when Linton announced her intention to sell the site. For a while it had been obvious she wasn’t putting the time into it she once had. Since the site had started in 2004, it had been constantly maintained, with links to other sites being posted daily, if not more often. Recently, it had lost that dependability. Days, sometimes weeks, would go by without the site being updated.
“I’m just getting too old and tired to keep the site up the way it and its loyal visitors deserve,” she wrote. “It may get better next spring, but this fall I’ll end up losing all my visitors I’m afraid.”
So she sold the site for a thousand bucks to keep it up and running.
There was no doubt that the site would change under its new ownership. It was inevitable. Tux Machines was infused with its founders down home Tennessee personality. Schestowitz hails from Manchester, England, where he and his wife, Rianne (who also helps run Tux Machines), work in the tech business from their home.
“The company we work for is based around London and offers FOSS integration solutions,” he explained recently in an email. “We have some big government clients, so I happen to technically manage some bits of important public sites.”
From the start, Schestowitz promised to make as few changes as possible to the site and called for community input. If I do something you don’t like, let me know and we’ll fix it, he said. Almost immediately, he had to make good on that promise when the site’s regulars began to complain about what they perceived as a political slant being introduced to the site’s content.
“For a day or two I tried putting articles from TechRights on the front page of Tux Machines,” he explained. “Right now there’s little more than just an occasional ‘Today in TechRights’ with some links, which those who don’t like TechRights for its views can easily skip.”
There have been some changes since the Linton days, most notably with the site’s look and feel. All advertising has been removed and the site has been migrated to a more modern platform, Drupal, on a new server, which necessitated something of a design change. Other than that, the Schestowitz’s seem to be doing their best to carry on with the tradition that Sue Linton started all those years ago. The site may have lost a bit of its original homeyness, but it’s updated more frequently with more links to FOSS articles than ever.
The site’s fans, who were initially concerned that the change in ownership would mean an end to something that had become an important part of their daily lives, seem to be happy. They’re sticking around. Indeed, the site’s traffic seems to be growing. In other words, it seems as if Tux Machines is with us to stay — and that’s a good thing.