Linux.org on the comeback trail

Popular community site appears to be down for re-launch

It seems to be a bad time to be a Linux website. After a September 2011 breach on kernel.org and several other Linux Foundation web sites, it appears that community site Linux.org has been down for quite a while as well.

The reason for Linux.org's removal is not completely known, though it does not seem to be the result of an attack, but rather a planned renovation of the popular site. The renovation plans are not outlined publicly, nor is any timeline, but signs of life are indicating that Linux.org is about to come back to life eventually.

A new Twitter account for the Linux.org site, for instance, started tweeting on March 28, asking the Twitter-verse what features they might like to see on the relaunched site. But with only three tweets and 21 followers at the time of this writing, it is unlikely many people have seen these announcements yet.

A check on Netcraft for possible clues on the timing of the site's disappearance showed that as of today (March 30), the domain was now listed with a new ISP, IQnection Co. Prior to that, the site had been hosted by SoftLayer, a sponsor of LinuxCon events and host of such sites as Hacker News.

Anecdotal evidence from readers on various Linux forums seems to indicate that the site went dark unannounced in mid- to late-January, and that seems to coincide with changes in Netcraft's records of the domain.

According to whois records, the Linux.org domain is owned by Linux Online, Inc., and still administered by site founder Michael McLagen. The site was founded in May of 1994 by McLagen to "fulfill a need for information about the growing Linux movement," according to the site's About Us page, still available at the Wayback Machine site.

The Linux.org domain is sometimes mistakenly associated with the Linux Foundation, since the LF acquired the Linux.com domain from VA Software in 2008. But the two domains are completely unrelated.

McLagen was a somewhat controversial figure in the Linux community. In 1998 he attempted to launch the Linux Standards Association, which was met with strong opposition by the community (particularly Slashdot's readership, which took particular issue with McLagen's announced attempt to trademark the term "Standard Linux").

Ultimately, Linux International, which was at the the steward of the Linux trademark on behalf of its owner Linus Torvalds, would step in to reassert its ownership of the term "Linux" and the vendors and community sentiment would swing towards the then-nascent Linux Standard Base.

Despite this controversy--or, perhaps because of it--Linux.org has remained a popular site for the Linux community. And with good reason: the site was a treasure trove of information for new and experienced users of the Linux operating system.

As of press time, McLagen has not responded to requests for comment on what may be in the works for the new Linux.org. A quick check on the Wayback Machine only provides a tiny clue on the archived Linux.org home page: before the site went down, there was a notice seeking PHP and Perl programmers to maintain and expand the site. So, we know this won't be just a color change on the CSS theme.

Here's hoping for a fast return to the Linux.org site… an important asset of the Linux community.

(Author's Note: The time has come for a much-needed vacation with family and friends. Open for Discussion will return on April 9, much more rested and relaxed, but sadly not any wiser. Peace.)

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Zettatag and Open for Discussion blogs and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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