Brian Proffitt Joins Linux Foundation as LDN Community Manager

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 11, 2008

After a long search, the Linux Foundation has found its community manager for its LSB Developer Network. The Linux Foundation has tapped Brian Proffitt, longtime managing editor of Linux Today, Enterprise Linux Today, AllLinuxDevices, LinuxPR, and JustLinux.

OStatic: For readers who aren't familiar with Linux Today, could you give a bit of background on the site and yourself?

Brian Proffitt: Wait, who's not familiar with Linux Today? Are you kidding me? Have you been talking to those people at SourceForge again? Boy, what characters...

Linux Today is a news and information aggregate site that runs a 24/7 news feed of links to stories about Linux, free, and open source software. In addition to LT, I am also the managing editor of LinuxPlanet, Enterprise Linux Today, AllLinuxDevices, LinuxPR, and JustLinux. So, I have depth. And no social life at all.

OStatic: What will your duties be with the Linux Foundation?

Brian Proffitt: My title is Community Manager of the Linux Developer Network, and my primary responsibility will be to direct that site to manage its content and overall direction. To do that, I'll be writing some content, figuring out what the overall content will be, and talking to Foundation members, outside vendors, and individual developers to see what kind of documentation and support they need to write apps for Linux. Then making sure they get it.

OStatic: What is the Linux Foundation trying to achieve with LDN?

Brian Proffitt: The idea of LDN is to provide a living, breathing front to the Linux Standard Base (LSB). The LSB is something the entire community needs... a set of standardized specs that will give private and commercial developers a target to which to write their apps. But it's one thing to say, "hey, here's this really cool LSB, code to this" and actually getting people to understand why they should use the LSB and then understand how to use the LSB. That's where the LDN comes in.

And that's not just "howto" from the 20,000-foot level. The LDN will provide detailed tutorials and guidelines for developers (new and veteran) to start coding their applications, appliances, drivers. That's just the start, too. As Linux grows into areas like cloud computing, embedded, the site will grow to accommodate those areas.

OStatic: Microsoft's Developer Network is often held up as one of its reasons for success with developers. Given the disparity of resources, how can LDN "compete" with MSDN?

Brian Proffitt: Disparity? What disparity? How many thousands of developers work with free and open source software? And how much excellent documentation is out there now? I look at the efforts of the volunteers on JustLinux, or Jeremy Garcia and his team on LinuxQuestions, and I think just the answers they provide end-users are great. Now imagine the same energy from volunteers for developer-oriented content, all channeling their efforts into a centralized LDN site. Then there's the Foundation itself--they've been putting out some solid content, white papers, reports, so they will be a great content resource. I don't think my problem is going to be finding content. I think my problem is going to be finding enough hours in the day to edit and post what comes in, as well as the stuff I'll be writing.

But I also understand the subtext of your question, too. Microsoft has the moolah and the staff to really go to town with MSDN, so how can LDN top that? The answer, for me, is simple: LDN isn't here to beat MSDN, its here to provide Linux developers with the best content they need to get their work done. With the talent that we have in the community, it's going to be easy to deliver such a site.

OStatic: Do you think you'll miss publishing?

Brian Proffitt: In a lot of ways, yes. I have been working in some kind of publishing since I graduated college. From newspapers to books to the Internet, the medium changes, but the charge I get providing information to people or facilitating news-gathering is something I will miss. In some respects, I'm still going to be publishing... I just won't be a journalist anymore.

OStatic: What are the highlights of your tenure with LinuxToday? Biggest stories, weirdest stories, etc.?

Brian Proffitt: Being able to watch the SCO story unfold from beginning to end ('cause really, people, it's over) was something I glad to cover. I think one of the biggest stories we broke was when Dee-Ann LeBlanc interviewed the Congressman Villanueva from Peru. That was back in 2002, about two months after I took the reins of LT, and we went all out setting up the call and getting a translator. It was worth it, though.

The weirdest story had to be when we linked to the LXer call to boycott our own site. Having been in journalism for over 15 years, I thought the whole thing was overblown--the line between advertising and editorial is sacrosanct for me, and I frankly didn't even know the Microsoft ads were on LT until the complaints came in, since I am on the administrative part of the site all day. Since Dave Whitinger used to work for Jupitermedia, too, I figure he knew how Jupitermedia worked, too. But, I felt it was good to be honest and get the discussion out there to let people make up their own minds. Which they did. I really felt honored that people supported our work here.

OStatic: Thanks, Brian, for taking the time to answer some questions, and good luck with the Linux Foundation!

Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier works for Novell as the openSUSE Community Manager.