My thoughts on making linux-hacker.(com/org/netnet) profitable...
Keep the domains, Ken.
As Linux adoption grows stronger on the Server front, companies are going to want a starting place to find talent. By spending some time reading posts in "Linux-Hacker" forums, a company's in in-house recruiter could quickly identify someone who meets their Linux needs. (Hardware, Software, Drivers, BIOS, Configuration, etc...) While this might not directly impact your bottom-line, it certainly would be an incentive for the linux-hacker community to keep itself growing. Having a flourishing community is an asset. Having a community of sought-after Techies is a very powerful asset.
Two things you could do to make money with this community: Offer a "Linux Consultants" area, and charge a fee to allow people to post their content. "Content" could be anything -- the ability to post in Linux-Hacker Forums with a special icon next to their UserName that says "I'm a Consultant!"; or a Forum specifically designed for Consultants to enter a single post to describe their talents/services; or even Linux-Hacker hosted mini-websites (home-pages) that do the same thing. Charge a lower rate for "consultants.linux-hacker.net/WildPencil" as a standard consultant web-page; and a premium rate for "WildPencil.consultants.linux-hacker.net" as a premium consultant web-page, for example.
The other thing you could do is offer banner-ads for cool hard-core stuff that we'd be interested in... like rack-mounted cases, or electronics-surplus outlets, or whatever the Linux-Hacker community might be interested in. Note that the REAL trick to successful banner-advertising is not waiting for advertisers to come to you. (When they come to you, the ads tend to be a tragic mismatch). Instead, you should market the Linux-Hacker community to those who have these cool products that the community would interested in. As owner, maintainer, and marketer of this site, you control who gets to put up a banner-ad. By doing so, you won't turn off your community with poorly-selected ads. Otherwise, you'd be allowing "junk ads" in.. and quite frankly, if I *EVER* see an annoying X-10 scroller-ad on this site, I'm DEFINITELY not coming back here. :-p
On another tangent. Having an email address at "linux-hacker" gives an impression of knowledge and credibility. I'm sure there are a few people who'd love to correspond with others through such a sought-after domain. Personally, I'd say that if you can offer email via Web-Interface, Secure-IMAP, or Secure-POP3, while giving reasonable performance and uptimes, I'd be willing to spend between $10-20/year. I'm totally flexible on that if you can offer optional value-added services (such as spam-filtering, blacklists, whitelists, and Server-Side Inbox-Filters that move emails to designated folders within my IMAP directory).
To win people over, though, you'd need to demonstrate the desire and ability to run linux-hacker as a long-term business. If you decide to close shop in two years, and I standardized on a linux-hacker email address, you'd force me to redo my business cards and stationery, and send out letters to everyone I've had contact with in the last 2 years. It's not pleasant. (This is the primary reason why I maintain a permanent email with pobox.com, and never use my local ISP's email addresses for long-term correspondence).
I'm not sure how well archives of this BBS on CD would go. You'd have to snapshot the whole BBS, or provide the SQL database plus the Ultraboard application to read and render the pages. If you know of an easier way.. then maybe it's a different story. All I'd really want would be the IOpener Tech Reference (Moderated) section, as it has most of the raw information I haven't bothered to print out.
Just some things to get you thinking...