Cover V06, I07


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Hi Ralph,
This letter is in response to your editorial in the May 1997 issue. It is also a response to the issue itself, and the disturbing trend of your magazine.

For years, I have read your magazine with the feeling that it was the one place I could go to find serious writing on multi-platform Unix that was directed specifically at System Administrators. I never had to worry about seeing articles on Windows or Windows NT. That's what I wanted, and that's what I got. Pure Unix. Ever since you have taken over as editor, it seems that more and more coverage of NT has slipped into the pages of an otherwise excellent publication. Then I get the latest issue DEVOTED to NT, under the guise of "Integration." And what a sweet little editorial to start things off. I have no way of knowing how your other readers are responding to this, but I have no need for your condescending cuteness, nor your patronization, while trying to defend your addition of NT to the subject matter of your magazine. Specific passages that offended me are:

"...UNIX roots(pun intended)..."

"...(until they pry the man pages from my cold, dead fingers)."

"... occasional Redmond-chiding on the editorial side to remind our friends in the Northwest..."

"...(#include uncle_sam_pointing_finger.h)."

I found none of these comments even the slightest bit funny. It sounds like a very chummy, wink-wink, nudge-nudge attitude toward Microsoft. May I remind you that NT was a typical Bill Gates response to the success of Unix, and another example of Microsoft re-inventing the wheel and putting a new name on it. Every time I turn around, Microsoft and their vendors are trying to make NT more Unix-like, since it is lacking in the most basic features that make Unix so appealing. I remember when NT was touted as the "Unix-killer" before it was released. Fat chance.

I use NT at home and understand that it is a valuable tool, and I have no problem with it as an operating system. But if I want to read about NT, I'll buy another magazine. When I wanted to read about Unix, I used to buy Sys Admin. Not any more.

It's obvious to me that you want to "...keep [your] NT coverage on track..." but I refuse to be a willing participant. If Bill Gates has you in his back pocket, too bad for you. I won't support your actions. I've never before felt compelled to write a letter like this, or to cancel a subscription, but I guess there's a first time for everything.

By the way, the cover still says, "The Journal For UNIX Systems Administrators." You might want to consider changing that so you don't mislead people with false advertising.

Chris Medaglia, Pepperell, MA

Mr. Barker,
I am a 31-year-old LAN/WAN administrator. I pride myself in my multi-platform skills. DOS, 95, NT are all old hat to me. I depend on Sys Admin to help me improve my UNIX skills. I have been root on SCO, AIX, Linux, and FreeBSD.

I am very sad to see all the so-called UNIX mags continuing to put articles on basic NT stuff in their pages. I thought I could count on Sys Admin to leave that stuff to other magazines that have the audience AND the info. I get all of my technical magazines free except for BYTE and Sys Admin. I have decided not to renew BYTE because it is becoming too much like PC magazine. I hope that I will not have to abandon Sys Admin also.

I would rather see more UNIX articles for admins at all levels of experience. The Free UNIX world is more and more important, and I would like to see more on that subject. I would at least hope to see you, or somebody, really compare NT and UNIX. I use both, and know more about NT. They really cannot be compared. A few examples: DOS prompt? (vs. sh?), Drive letters on a server?, NTFS? (make sure you got a good old FAT boot partition), Security?, performance (put a heavy load on an NT server and when the cache runs out watch the performance plummet). Those are just the easy ones. Are you going to start dealing with the fifteen versions of exchange, ms mail, SMS, etc.? Before you commit to covering NT, give it some thought.

I would like to answer some of the questions you posed in your forum. At the last site I was responsible for, NT 3.51 was for file and print, and AIX 4.1 was for the business critical app. (My predecessor decided to put an NT machine instead of adding IBM's SAMBA equivalent to AIX.) I see NT replacing a lot of Netware and not much UNIX. Almost no NT desktops. I have to support all versions of DOS, Windows 3.x, Windows 95 (both versions), NT 3.51, and 4.0.

Thank you,
Aaron C. Springer

Thank you for writing to Sys Admin. We appreciate your frank remarks in response to our NT coverage in May and regret the loss of any subscriptions due to this facet of our editorial content.

Sys Admin's editorial content has always been, and will remain, reader driven. When sizeable numbers of our readers request coverage of integrating NT with their UNIX systems, we respond. Our most recent reader surveys have indicated that more than half of our readers are administering UNIX systems connected to NT networks. Our goal is to provide working UNIX sys admins with the information they need to do their jobs. When that job requires connections to other operating systems, such as NT, we consider those topics to be within our editorial purview. While personally we may lament the success of inferior technologies, ignoring the information needs of our readership would be doing them a grave disservice.

We hope that our continued coverage and focus on UNIX will help convince you that our commitment to UNIX is real. We also hope that you will find our coverage of NT, written by working UNIX sys admins, more insightful than the often over-enthusiastic presentation in other publications. If Sys Admin does not provide the balance, who will?

Ralph Barker, Senior Editor
Amber Ankerholz, Managing Editor
Edwin Rothrock, Publisher