He writes the "Cooking with Linux" column for Linux Journal, the online series, "Sysadmin's Corner," and is a regular columnist for other publications such as UNIX Review and Sys Admin Magazine. In addition, Marcel is a pilot, as well as an editor and published author of science fiction and fantasy short stories. Last, but certainly not least, he's the author of the acclaimed book Linux System Administration - A User's Guide. For more in-depth information about Marcel Gagné visit his homepage.
Free Thinker at Large, what exactly does that mean to you?
This one goes back quite a while, really. In fact, I've been using the "Free Thinker at Large" tagline on emails for many years now. In started out as a bit of an inside joke, as in "Free thinker on the loose! Better watch out!" or "Careful what you say because I will think for myself" -- variations on that theme. A free thinker, however, is what I believe every person should be. When I started writing in a big way, I just prefixed my tagline with "Writer and" -- what you wind up with, "Writer and Free Thinker at Large" is what I am and my philosophy wrapped up in one neat handle.
Out of all of your writing ideas how do you decide which ones to develop further?
As you imply, lack of ideas have never been the problem. I have more ideas and subjects than I will ever have time to write about. Deciding what becomes an article and what gets put off for another day depends on many things. From time to time, I will have been asked to write about a certain topic and that does tend to narrow the field a bit. For the vast majority of what I write, the decision starts and ends with me. If it is strictly a sysadmin topic, I tend to pick things that I can discuss over the course of a few articles -- I think it is interesting to get somewhat in depth with a topic. In my "Cooking with Linux" series on Linux Journal, I try to come up with a small handful of packages or programs that fit the issue's theme for that month. Mostly I try to make it fun as well as providing useful information. In the end it is still my decision. I should probably point out that I try absolutely everything I write about before hand. I have to have been there myself (successfully) or I won't write about it.
What was it like writing Linux System Administration - A User's Guide?