March 26, 2001

KDE community giving birth to a new print publication

Author: JT Smith

- by Tina Gasperson -
The KDE community, made up of developers and avid users, has a new project: the KDE Zine. Just a few short weeks ago, discussion about the possibilities of creating a magazine cropped up on the KDE-promo mailing list. Today, the discussion has spawned its own mailing list, the beginnings of a Web site located at zine.kde.org, and a small group of volunteers who are busy working out myriad details involved in bringing a print publication to life. (Note: the author of this article is a volunteer in the KDE Zine project.) For those of you who just hitched a ride down to earth on Mir, KDE is an Open Source graphical desktop environment for Unix and Linux workstations. The KDE environment supports a number of useful or just plain fun applications, including the Konqueror Web browser, the KMail email application, the KWord word-processing program, the KVIrc IRC chat program, and many more -- too many to list here.

Herve Lefebvre's March 12, 2001, post "what about a web-magazine?" on KDE-promo, a mailing list for those interesting in promoting the KDE desktop environment, started a chain reaction of brainstorming. It was such a popular topic of discussion they had to create a separate mailing list just for the zine idea. Most of the details of the project are still being debated: No official publication premier date has been set, and the exact methods of distribution are up in the air, but the first project team meeting date has been set for later this week and will take place on IRC.

At the meeting, those who have volunteered to be a part of the project will come with agendas for their "departments" and the team will make decisions and commit to dates, as well as work on filling gaps in the team. And that's where anyone interested in supporting KDE can get involved -- this project is most definitely not for coders only, and they need more volunteers to get the magazine off the ground.

Chris Molnar, a team member working on several aspects of production, says that content and reader suggestions are the two biggest needs right now. "We have designers, and translators will show up. We need writers, and we need input from users as well. Maybe a Web form asking, 'If you would like to see anything in a KDE print magazine, what would it be?' This may give us article ideas."

Christine "tink" Bastian, the lead designer for the KDE Zine project, says that articles written by developers would be a great boon to the publication. "It would be a shame if this project would
go down the drain because of lack of enthusiasm on their part. I
know how hard it is to get developers to write anything besides their
code -- I have to bug most of them for weeks to get them to submit
their interview answers for the series I do on 'The People Behind KDE.'"

Ideas for content being bandied about include interviews with people of interest to the KDE community, tips and tricks for users, and more technical development how-tos.

Molnar, a Linux and Open Source instructor and KDE user, thinks that the project will take off and gain momentum well, "if we can get enough together for our first issue -- then people will come out of the walls and want to write."

If all goes well with putting the first issue together, the next challenge will be to garner subscribers. Molnar is working on making the zine available on PDAs and through non-traditional Internet channels such as print-on-demand. The KDE Zine will also be available online at zine.kde.org.

The zine project also needs to line up distributors -- bookstores and others sales outlets willing to carry and sell the publication. The team is considering many ways of getting the KDE-zine in front of as many people as possible, and is open to suggestions from KDE supporters. The KDE zine project is important in furthering KDE's market share, because as Molnar aptly puts it, "People like printed documents; they provide a fixed reference point, and something to work from. Also, this sounds a little sick," he quips, "but a lot of people like having something to read in the restroom."

If you're interested in finding out more about the KDE zine project, there's a list of volunteers and contact information at promo.kde.org/zine.php. Email one of them working in the area in which you're interested. If you'd like to attend the IRC meeting, contact meeting coordinator Darian Lanx for the exact date, time, and location. Lanx has also offered to field comments and questions from those interested in sponsorships or helping out with distribution.

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