Facebook Community Shutting Down

I wanted to write up a quick blog post to let everyone know that the Facebook community will be shutting down. The group will be frozen as of February 26th.

Why did I make this decision? The first thought most people might have is that it’s a political reason, which it’s not. A lot of people are hating on social media sites nowadays, and this isn’t about that at all. LearnLinuxTV is not a political platform, and never will be. It’s a technology platform. That’s it.

On a personal level, I don’t like Facebook much. Mainly because of how rude everyone seems to be, and I’ve always felt that online platforms should be places you go to further your creativity, hobbies, or personal interests. On my end, I’ve been a member of not only several Linux communities on Facebook, but also other subjects such as Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, retro-gaming, and other stuff I’m into. But nowadays, Facebook has become a place of bickering and it’s just annoying.

When you use a social media platform, you have an important choice to make. Since your free account is only free because YOU become the product, then you have to decide if that social media platform is worth the tradeoff. If you feel the value you get from that platform is worth your personal data, then go ahead and sign up and use that platform. If you aren’t okay with tracking and having your data harvested, then don’t sign up. As an individual, that’s your choice to make. And I respect both sides, and don’t encourage your decision to use or not use a platform one way or another. That’s the social contract – it’s your choice and your choice alone.

Personally, I’m not okay with the way Facebook handles this in particular. Initially, as a user I decided that the value I get from Facebook outweighs its cons. So I made the decision to sign up. And while this news isn’t new and I’m late to find this out, I recently became aware of the fact that Facebook tracks people that don’t even have an account (as reported by Newsweek and some other sites) – and to me that breaks the social contract it has with users. It’s gone too far, whether to be tracked or not isn’t even choice at this point. But again, maybe this isn’t a problem for you. And that’s totally fine. I am not writing this blog post to convince people to stop using Facebook, LearnLinuxTV is not a platform to encourage or discourage what sites and platforms you decide to use. That decision is yours alone. I’m merely explaining my thought process, since I’ll no-doubt be asked if I don’t mention it. For me, I’m not able to quit Facebook completely, I have friends and family that use it and I intend to stay in contact with them. But I am limiting my use of that platform.

Okay, so at this point, you’re probably confused. If LearnLinuxTV is not making an anti-Facebook stance, and doesn’t aim to make a political stance at all, then why is the Facebook group for this channel closing down?

Due to the fact that I’m planning on using Facebook less often, that also means I won’t be able to admin the group as much either. With no admin watching the page, it becomes a free-for-all. And to be fair, I could just limit my use of Facebook to everything else outside of the group for LearnLinuxTV, but the other problem is that I haven’t done a good job of maintaining the Facebook group either. For some reason, notifications of new topics in the group don’t always reach me, so I may not know that there are new posts. By the time I find out that people are posting things, it’s already weeks later. Even if notifications do happen, they get buried underneath all the other notifications that Facebook spews out. Given that I work multiple jobs, notifications of new messages need to be reliable, and maintaining a Facebook group can be tedious as a result.

TLDR; Since I’m limiting my own use of Facebook due to the reasons above, and I barely have time to watch the Facebook group anyway, it just makes sense to close it down.

It’s possible I could reverse this decision, and who knows, maybe one or more awesome people will volunteer to admin the page. And while that would be great, I have community forums at community.learnlinux.tv, which I intend to be more active in. I think the official community on that site is a much better system anyway. And that’s exactly what I’m going to recommend everyone use going forward. Splitting the community among multiple sites is just a hard thing to keep track of for someone that wears multiple hats. I’m also looking into creating a Discord server (for very specific reasons) so it would be even harder to continue to maintain a Facebook group with both the community and Discord to maintain.

So if you haven’t already done so, head on over to community.learnlinux.tv. There aren’t that many posts right now, so start a topic and initiate a conversation. Hopefully it becomes an awesome place to have a discussion.

Linux Learning Evolved: Announcing the upcoming “Version 3.0” of LearnLinux.tv

If you were to tell me in April of 2012 that my YouTube channel would grow to over 133,000 subscribers and gain beyond 13 million lifetime views, I’d assume that “April Fools” would be the next thing out of your mouth. Yet, here we are – the channel has reached exactly the metrics I’ve just mentioned. Now, it’s time to push this channel to the next level. I’m dubbing the upcoming new iteration of the channel “Version 3.0”. This new version will be designed to give you more of of what you love, and re-align the content to what the Linux community wants most. And you can help shape it.

But wait a minute, “version 3.0”? What ever happened to “version 2.0”? Or even “1.0” for that matter? Well, I’ve never been too vocal about the changes behind the scenes, so you’re not missing anything. I intend to be much more public about design changes going forward. But here’s a quick history lesson.

Version 0
The account for the YouTube channel opened around June of 2011, but the first video was uploaded around April 1st of 2012. This is the same year that everyone thought the Mayans predicted would be the end of the world. And considering my first ever video was uploaded around April Fools Day, it seems like I’d be bound for bad luck, doesn’t it? Well, the channel has had tremendous success, and to think it all started with a video where I showed off a custom-built emulator PC (the early videos were really bad in quality). After that, I slowly gravitated into tutorials and Linux distro reviews, even though they were recorded on a $15 microphone plugged into a used Dell Latitude D630 I purchased from a local flea market for $150. Poor video and audio quality aside, this was version 0.

Version 1.0
The low-quality videos continued for six years. And oddly enough, the channel saw some decent views and subscribers. Nothing amazing, but still somewhat impressive. At the end of 2018, I felt as though the channel had amazing potential, and I decided to put some serious work into it, for the first time. That’s not to say that I didn’t work hard on it before, but I wanted to build some structure. I wanted to try to get the audio quality and video quality up to somewhat decent levels. My goal was also to have different camera angles, and to start editing videos to make them more professional. All previous videos were done in a single take! Version 1.0, the first version where I put serious time and attention into the overall quality resulted in some very serious gains in metrics:

In the metrics, you can see immediately the result of the “version 1.0” effort

Version 2.0
The second iteration of the channel was less about metrics, and more about solidifying the branding while also achieving decent (and consistent) audio and video quality. There were some wins (as well as missteps) along the way, but after more than a year my goal was achieved. The audio and video quality are now decent, and branding from an actual graphic designer was introduced. at the end of version 2.0, the audio quality was upgraded again, and the entire channel moved to 4K. Although the branding and quality improvements were welcome, this iteration did not see as massive of a boost in metrics, and that’s okay – it wasn’t intended to. It was intended solely to build a more solid foundation onto which to build the future.

The icon for the “version 2.0” branding

Version 3.0
Now that brings us to Version 3.0. The third iteration of LearnLinux.tv isn’t final yet, but is being built right now. It’s expected to debut in December 2020/January 2021, though the exact timing hasn’t been decided. It will again see new branding, and the format of the videos will change as well. The new branding will be an immediate change, and the remaining changes will happen over the course of 2021. Most of the changes will happen during the first half of 2021, with ongoing refinements. There will be a sizable difference within the first month of launch, you’ll definitely notice it.

So, what should you expect in the newest iteration? I can’t reveal everything yet, since much is still being worked out. But I can reveal some things now, which I’ll do in this post. There’s actually a HUGE change coming, that will be somewhat of a shocker. Probably the biggest improvement and change the channel has ever seen in its entire history. That aspect of version 3.0 will likely happen around Spring, and I’ll reveal more about it when the idea is far enough along. But for now, here’s some changes to expect in the short term:

Greater focus on learning
When the channel was re-branded “LearnLinux.tv”, there was a very specific reason for that – I want to help everyone Learn Linux. There’s been a mix of video types beyond tutorials, including (but not limited to) hardware reviews, distribution reviews, opinion videos, how to’s, and more. And while I expect those types of videos will continue (at least for now), the channel will transition more toward education. This means more tutorials and sharing of knowledge. As long as the other video types continue to see strong views, I’ll consider keeping them around. But the focus will be on teaching you the skills you need to be a productive member of the Linux community, whether you are a hobbyist using a distribution on your laptop, or a member of a DevOps team that uses Linux professionally.

Consistent Video Format
For each type of video I do, the goal of version 3.0 is to have a consistent layout. If you’re watching tutorials, they’ll all be structured the same or will at least follow some rules about how the content will be structured. All tutorials up until now were done completely ad-hoc, but the goal now is to have more structure. That’s not to say that a structure will be forced on videos even when it doesn’t make sense, but there are some definite rules that should be followed in each. For example, tutorials will show you how to install a tool on Linux, Windows, and macOS – to ensure you can get started learning regardless of which operating system you’re coming from. The first video in a tutorial series will go over the outline for the entire series, so you’ll know what’s coming before it arrives. Time codes in each video (where applicable) to get you to the section that pertains to where you want to start learning, so you can get right to the section you want quickly.

Complete channel branding
The entire channel is going to be re-branded, new logo, intro, assets, you name it. It will all be refined. This will give each video a more professional look than ever before. Although the logo below is most likely not the final branding that will be used, it will give you an idea what direction the branding is going. The brand will attempt to capture the “education” aspect of the channel, that was not represented before.

Possible new branding idea for LearnLinux.tv (not final)

Additional focus on Enterprise Linux
Although non-enterprise Linux will still be covered and won’t go away, I plan on covering the enterprise side more than before. That way, regardless of whether you’re a home user or work at a big company, there will be content for you. The enterprise Linux side of the industry hasn’t been covered as well, and I hope to change that with the new version.

More Content Types
Expect interviews, fun (and sometimes surprising) content ideas, and exciting topics to try to keep you entertained. Viewer feedback will help determine the direction this takes, but I have a lot of great ideas and I can’t wait until you see some of the things that are coming.

More to come!
There will be more updates coming, as plans are finalized. This is very much a work in progress, and the input of viewers will shape what’s to come. In fact, I have a survey available that you can fill out, which will give me an idea of the types of changes you’d like to see. After all, the success of this channel is due to my viewers, and your input is valuable as I navigate the process of reinventing LearnLinux.tv. I can’t wait to read your feedback, and to share with you more news when the final outline is decided.

Site Redesign in Progress

I just wanted to let everyone know that a site redesign is in progress. It’s not going to look extremely different, and some may not notice any difference at all. I’m just adding small improvements and changes, so nothing Earth-shattering. The biggest change is that there is a different menu structure, that makes it easy to get back to the content. More smaller and incremental changes are incoming, so pardon any dust.