26 Jan 2012

Katherine Noyes: I'm a Linux fan, and I enjoy helping to bring Linux to the forefront

If you have enjoyed two interviews I made with women in Linux world before, I am sure you will love this one too. I'll not talk too much in the beginning. Let me introduce my today's guest: Katherine Noyes.

DarkDuck: Hello, Katherine. I am sure most of readers of my blog know who you are. But anyway, could you please introduce yourself.

Katherine Noyes: Yes, of course. I'm Katherine Noyes, and I'm a writer specializing in Linux and open source software. I write for PCWorld and LinuxInsider as well as Springwise, though the latter doesn't relate specifically to software.

DD: How long are you working with computers in general, and with open source software in general?
KN: Well I sort of grew up on computers, particularly since I had a stepfather who was always tinkering with them for his business. Some of my earliest PC-related memories are of playing on an old TRS-80, particularly the old text-based games like “Pyramid of Doom.” It wasn't long after that that I started learning some BASIC, too. As for open source software, that started much later, when I began writing about it for LinuxInsider in 2007. I was intrigued by the premise and by the freedom from vendor restrictions, which I had always found irksome on other platforms.

DD: How did you come to the OSS world? What were the trigger and the first step?
KN: It was actually purely as a writer at first, as I mentioned above. The freedom and flexibility of open source software really appealed to me, and it wasn't long before I started trying it out for myself. First it was alternatives to proprietary applications like OpenOffice.org and Thunderbird, and then it was Ubuntu and other Linux distros. I liked what I found.

DD: You are a writer and columnist in worldwide-known magazine PCWorld.com. How did you become one?
KN: That's a long story! I was an English major in college, and one of my first jobs afterwards was as a copy editor for PC Week, which has now gone on to become eWeek. After working in tech publishing for a while I decided to get my MBA and even to do some PhD work in MIS after that. That launched me into teaching college courses for a while, but eventually I realized I really missed journalism. I started back as a reporter at TechNewsWorld and LinuxInsider in 2007, and then I joined PCWorld as well in 2010. TechNewsWorld and LinuxInsider are both online-only publications, but PCWorld has a print version, too.

DD: So much work to do! How do you find time for everything?
KN: Ha! Yes, that's the million-dollar question that I struggle with every day. The short answer is, lots of coffee, and not nearly as much sleep as I'd like. ;)

DD: Do I correctly understand that you’re not the only writer in the PCWorld magazine. What is your area of responsibility?
KN: PCWorld actually has a lot of writers and reviewers, but my focus is the “Linux Line” blog in the PCWorld Business Center. I generally write a story every day for PCWorld. The majority of the stories I write are about Linux and open source software, but sometimes I'll cover other things too, depending on what's needed.

DD: Talking about the open source, what is your choice of favourite Linux distribution, desktop environment, applications? Why?
KN: I've played around with several Linux distributions, but for my daily computing I'm still on Ubuntu 10.10, or Maverick Meerkat. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that, since it's several versions back, but somehow I just haven't gotten comfortable enough with Unity yet to go with it on my main PC, which I have set up in a dual-boot scenario with Windows 7. I also like Linux Mint a lot, though, and have that running on a laptop. As for applications, I use LibreOffice exclusively for my writing and related stuff, as well as GIMP for when I have to work with images. I'm on the latest Firefox for Web stuff, though I also have Chrome and my son (also a budding geek) is trying to get me to try out Opera. Thunderbird is my e-mail package.

DD: You are one of those rare cases when women take serious roles in Linux community. And you are actually a high-profile figure. Can you name yourself a Linux girl?
KN: Well I'm not exactly sure what you mean by “a Linux girl,” but I do use a persona named “Linux Girl” when I write my twice-weekly “Linux Blog Safari” columns for LinuxInsider. In those columns I survey the hot conversations going on in the Linux blogosphere and gather comments from other bloggers about them. I picked the “Linux Girl” name when we first launched the column back in 2007, and I chose it because I was imagining something like a comic-book figure for myself as the trusty Linux-land reporter - a bit like a cross between Lois Lane and Wonder Woman, with a superhero-like cape with a large “L” or Tux image emblazoned on it. I still get a kick out of that character, but I'm also not entirely comfortable with calling myself a “girl,” since I'm actually all grown up. ;) I'm a Linux fan, to be sure, and I enjoy helping to bring Linux to the forefront of mainstream attention.

DD: Internet is a place where you can keep your privacy, if you wish to. Have you ever written under name other than Katherine Noyes? Or maybe had any temptations about this?
KN: Not really, though since I started blogging I have been amazed at how personally readers can sometimes take the topics I write about. Having studied a fair bit of psychology way back when, I'm forever fascinated by how closely people identify with the technology they use. There's definitely a PhD thesis or two in there somewhere.

DD: But you could avoid this by going under “Linux Girl” cover without the real name?
KN: I guess I could do that at LinuxInsider, where the “Linux Girl” character resides, but I'm not sure there would be any point. It really hasn't been a problem.

DD: Are you involved in any women Linux communities out there, like linuxchix.org, for example?
KN: Not in any serious way, and I guess that's primarily because I came to this field as a writer rather than as a programmer myself. I have an extremely high opinion of the women in this field, though, because it's not an easy path. Women are still such a minority in open source, and there's still a lot of harassment. That's why efforts like the Ada Initiative are so important.

DD: When you are not at your computer, what are your interests and hobbies?
KN: Well besides spending time with my husband and three kids, I'm also an animal advocate. We've taken in more animals than I care to admit, and I also write about animal welfare issues for Volunteer Guide in the hopes of helping improve animals' lives in what can be a very cruel world for them.

DD: Do you read the Linux notes from DarkDuck blog? If you do, what would be your advice? What should be added, removed, improved or changed from your point of view?
KN: Yes, your blog is one of the ones I scan regularly, and I enjoy it a lot. No real suggestions to make, though, I'm afraid! :)

DD: Thank you for coming, Katherine. Hope this is not the last time when you pop into this blog, and maybe we can have another interview later. But for now, what would be your wishes to my readers?
KN: Thank you, Dmitry. I wish everyone continued success working with Linux and FOSS. Open source software is part of a larger trend toward more openness in our world as a whole, I believe, and it's going to make life better for everyone. Cheers!


  1. If you not happy with Unity then try Mints new Cinnamon desktop


    There is a PPA for Ubuntu 11.10 here


    Once you use this you will not be going back to Gnome2/Unity.

  2. i remember her writing fangirlish ubuntu/canonical posts, but not anymore.
    what happened, katherine :D

  3. Katherine Noise. The one who removes credibility from the community with every twice-weekly article she posts.

    1. Ann, I would not trust much to negative comments from people who are too "shy" to open their name and hide under Anonymous.

    2. He's right. It boggles my mind how this lady is employed and tons of people can't get work. I read one of her articles on Linux.com and I almost puked. She has absolutely no bloody clue what she's even saying. For example she named a Linux distribution which was not designed to be installed to disk, only runs in single user mode as UID 0 aka ROOT and comes loaded with over 4 gigs of software as "the best security enhanced distribution of the year." How can someone this clueless even be employed and be given a platform to publish her drivel to any audience is beyond me. Literally angering. Whatever editor or outlet publishers her work loses all credibility. There are adolescents and teenagers who have a deeper understanding of technology than this women.

  4. I read some of her articles and felt my brain melt. Here is one:


    Here's a post I made on a forum taking that article apart. I was also venting, hence the language used there:


    Ofc, some people there agreed with me, some did not. While I told people about real experiences with some Linux distro, K. Noyes is all about creating traffic for PcW and hype.