Frequently Asked Questions and Primer for comp.os.linux.advocacy
April 13, 2002
| The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. |
| -Thomas Jefferson |
* 1 Introduction and welcome to comp.os.linux.advocacy
* 1.1 Contributing to this FAQ and Primer
* 2 The Charter of comp.os.linux.advocacy
* 3 COLA
* 3.1 On Topic Subjects
* 3.2 Kinds of People Who Read and Post to COLA
* 3.3 Conduct Acceptable in COLA
* 4 Linux
* 4.1 Intrusive Suggestions for Changing Linux
* 4.2 Wanting to Spread Linux to Everyone
* 4.3 Don't Dump That Command Line
* 4.4 Linux Success not Prevented by Microsoft
* 5 What is Linux?
* 5.1 What is a kernel?
* 5.2 The Linux way of software development
* 5.3 How good is Linux?
* 6 Is Linux Compatible with other operating system?
* 6.1 Linux leave users wanting less.
* 6.2 Linux Provides Modern Operating System Features
* 6.3 How much does Linux cost and where can it be obtained?
* 6.4 What software is they for Linux?
* 7 Who uses Linux
* 7.1 Businesses who use Linux
* 7.2 These Governments and their Agencies use Linux
* 7.3 Schools, Colleges and Universities
* 7.4 Sources of information
* 7.5 Charitable Organizations
* 7.6 Why Amateur Radio Operators use Linux
* 7.7 Types of new Linux users drawn to Linux
* 8 Linux Documentation and Resources
* 8.1 Internal
* 8.2 man and info
* 8.3 Developer Provided Documentation
* 8.4 Linux Documentation Project
* 8.5 Online Magazine Articles
* 8.6 Mailing Lists
* 8.7 Newsgroups
* 8.8 The Web
* 8.9 Internet Relay Chat
* 8.10 File Transfer Protocol
* 8.11 Online Radio Shows
* 8.12 The Source
* 9 Anti-Linux Propagandists and Trolls
* 9.1 Disinformation
* 9.2 FUD
* 9.3 A Common FUD of the Anti-Linux Propagandists
* 9.4 The Effect of the Trespassers
* 9.5 Where the Disrupters Should Go
* 10 Trespasser Disinformation Tactics
* 11 Methods to Counter Disinformation
* 11.1 Use of Trespasser Disinformation Tactics List
* 11.2 Refute Disinformation Where Possible
* 11.3 Stay On Topic
* 11.4 Post an Advocacy Article
* 11.5 What Have they Contributed to Linux
* 11.6 Use Your Newsreader Scoring and Killfile Features
* 12 Contributing to the Linux Community
* 12.1 How To Contribute
* 12.2 There are Many Reasons to Contribute
* 12.3 It is Not Crazy to Contribute
* 13 Linux's BSD cousins.
* 14 Credits
* 15 Pesky Details
1 Introduction and welcome to comp.os.linux.advocacy
This is the FAQ for the comp.os.linux.advocacy newsgroup and a primer for
new readers of this newsgroup, providing information about this newsgroup
and the Linux community as a whole. This document is posted to
If you are new to Linux and/or comp.os.linux.advocacy, welcome. We hope
that you will will enjoy your time in comp.os.linux.advocacy and find it
educational. We also hope that you will find Linux as useful for you as we
find it to be and that in the ripeness of time that you will become a
contributing member of the Linux community.
This FAQ and Primer was produced and is being maintained entirely with the
use of software running on the Linux operating system.
The description that your news server delivers to you for
comp.os.linux.advocacy, or COLA for short, is "Benefits of Linux compared
to other operating systems". That description is derived from the charter
of COLA. Sometimes advocacy groups are viewed as a place where the
bickering undesirables of other newsgroups are directed, in order to
remove a disruption from another group on the same general subject. That
is incorrect for COLA.
COLA is like a meeting hall for Linux advocacy. A place where those who
advocate the use of Linux can meet and discuss all things Linux. In
addition it is a place were individuals interested in Linux can come to
develop contacts and gain an understanding of the Linux community.
COLA is also a place where those curious about Linux can come, to learn
about its capabilities from those who are experienced with the use,
administration, and development of Linux.
By using Linux as a user or sysadmin you are a member of the Linux
community. The Linux community is world-wide and interconnected by the
internet and other networks gated to the internet. Linux is designed and
written by its users to meet the needs of its users.
1.1 Contributing to this FAQ and Primer
All those who advocate the use of Linux are invited to submit material and
suggestions to be considered for future versions of this document.
Submissions should be sent by email to mj...@mindspring.com. You may also
post your submissions in COLA; however, in that case you should still
email your submission as well, so that the submission will not be missed
as can happen if it were posted in COLA only.
Submissions offered by those who may deemed to be hostile to Linux,
including but not limited to anti-Linux propagandists, will not be
2 The Charter of comp.os.linux.advocacy
The charter of comp.os.linux.advocacy is:
For discussion of the benefits of Linux compared to other operating
That single sentence is the one and only charter of the newsgroup
comp.os.linux.advocacy. The newsgroup's charter is for the newsgroup as a
place for supporters of Linux to gather to discuss Linux, for the
betterment of the Linux community and the promotion and development of
Linux. It supports this as a place for those who would like to learn more
about Linux to come to learn from those who know Linux. It does not call
for it to be a place where the anti-Linux propagandists to gather in order
to discredit Linux.
You may have heard of another charter sometimes called by some the
"original charter," that opens the newsgroup to the abuses that are
inflicted on Linux by those who oppose Linux. That other charter never
existed, it was a proposed charter for another newsgroup that never was
created that would also have been called comp.os.linux.advocacy.
On 14 Feb 1994, Danny Gould dgo...@helix.nih.gov posted
comp.os.linux...@uunet.uu.net a Request for Discussion entitled
"Request for Discussion (RFD) on comp.os.linux.advocacy" to the
news.groups newsgroup. That RFD was cross posted to the appropriate
newsgroups and a number of other inappropriate newsgroups as well. It
included the following proposed charter:
The proposed group will provide a forum for the discussion of Linux. In
addition, it will allow comp.os.linux.misc to deal with Linux-specific
issues. Discussion will include (but not be limited to) the discussion
of the pros and cons of Linux and applications for Linux, and the
comparison of Linux with other operating systems and environments such
as Microsoft DOS and Windows, SCO UNIX, Coherent, NeXTstep, Macintosh
System, etc. It will be an unmoderated forum.
The call for votes on the proposal was not posted, the issue died without
On 4 Oct 1994, Dave Sill d...@ornl.gov posted 37mn57$d...@rodan.UU.NET a
Request for Discussion entitled "REQUEST FOR DISCUSSION (RFD)
comp.os.linux reorganization." Thus far comp.os.linux.advocacy was not yet
proposed. Note that unlike Danny, Dave posted the Request for Discussions
to appropriate newsgroups only, that is a hallmark of a serious effort.
On 14 Oct 1994, Dave Sill d...@de5.ornl.gov posted 37mn57$d...@rodan.UU.NET
a revised version of this Request for Discussion, this revised posting
called for the creation of comp.os.linux.advocacy among other
comp.os.linux.* groups. Dave proposed this charter for
For discussion of the benefits of Linux compared to other operating
The Call for Votes went out in the required form, and on 13 Dec 1994
posted the results ikl...@amdahl.com with greater than 8 to 1 in favor of
the creation of comp.os.linux.advocacy (our COLA) with Dave's proposed
charter. On that date, that charter became effective and that other
charter that was proposed for the other comp.os.linux.advocacy that never
was created, never became anything that affects this
Those who oppose Linux and have invaded comp.os.linux.advocacy in order to
try to subvert the purpose of this newsgroup will continue as they have to
insult the intelligence of the Linux advocates by citing that other
proposed charter of that other newsgroup that never came into existence.
They also have continued to quote from the introductory paragraph of the
Danny's Request for Discussion as though that were a part of any actual or
even a part of the failed, proposed charter. Perhaps they feel that the
introductory section provides them with a greater impact.
When someone posts citations from that failed Request for Discussion in
order to make it appear that the anti-Linux propagandists are sanctioned
to be posting in COLA, as was done by an anti-Linux propagandist on
January 13, 2002 in article pMr08.457$Wf1.3...@ruti.visi.com, then once
again by another anti-Linux propagandist on February 13, 2002 in article
d6761fb5.02021...@posting.google.com they are not only using
disinformation they are also insulting the intelligence of everyone who is
a reader COLA.
3.1 On Topic Subjects
On-topic is anything anything regarding Linux that is of interest to a
person who advocates the use of Linux, or requests for information about
Linux by a person who would like to learn about it. COLA is also a great
place to share your Linux success stories.
COLA is not a place to advocate the use of other operating systems, there
are other newsgroups for advocating them. COLA is not a place to vent real
or imagined complaints regarding Linux. There are other newsgroups created
for that purpose.
COLA is not a place to place advertisements or other promotions for
financial gain or for promoting anything other than the use of Linux
operating system and growth of the Linux community.
3.2 Kinds of People Who Read and Post to COLA
While reading articles in COLA you will often see references to various
types of people. To someone new to COLA, these classification may be
3.2.1 Linux Advocates
A Linux advocate is a person who advocates the use of Linux. They are
those who enjoys sharing the experiences they have had with Linux. These
experiences range from an easy first-time install through regular
day-to-day experiences, all the way to solving thorny or uncommon
technical issues by using Linux.
There is no admission ritual or test to become an advocate. If you enjoy
using Linux and enjoy discussing your experiences, then you are an
Linux advocates will often help with technical questions posted to COLA,
but as technical assistance is not part of the official charter, this
should be considered a bonus.
3.2.2 Ordinary User
A user of Linux that does not have superuser access. When you login into
Linux using your personal account, you are an ordinary user. When a person
who is a sysadmin logs into his personal account, he is an ordinary user
The term sysadmin is a contraction of system administrator. This is the
traditional title used for the person responsible for the operations of a
unix computer. In general, that is the person who knows the superuser
account password. That superuser account is used for system maintenance.
As the superuser a person is granted more privileges than the other users,
but only when using the superuser account. For normal work the sysadmin
should use his own personal account and become the superuser only when
needed. The most common name for that account is "root", but it can be
anything. The superuser account is distinguished by its user
identification number, which is always 0.
3.2.4 Anti-Linux Propagandists
Anti-Linux Propagandists are those who regularly post argumentative,
insulting, distracting, untrue, and generally unpleasant articles to COLA
containing propaganda designed slow and even prevent to acceptance of
Linux by the general computing public.
The anti-Linux propagandists have one and only one purpose: to prevent the
advocacy of Linux by any means necessary. Their methods can be blunt, such
as starting many top-level off-topic (and often obscene) threads, and
responding to dozens or hundreds of messages with personal insults. Their
methods can also be subtle, such as posting random misleading comments and
half-truths in the middle of productive discussions.
That is in marked contrast to the behavior of true advocates of other
operating systems are as a rule found to be polite and good-natured in
discussing their opinions and views. We welcome the cross-fertilization
that their participation brings.
The most strenuously persistent and most common anti-Linux propagandists
are those who defend and promoting Windows.
3.2.5 Wintroll and Winvocate
The term "wintroll" and "winvocate" have commonly used in COLA to to refer
to anti-Linux propagandists who champion Windows. Wintroll are the ones
who appear to behave at a lower level of sophistication than the
winvocate. Winvocate is someone who would be a proper Windows advocate, if
they were to post in an appropriate Windows advocacy newsgroup. That fact
that they are posting in COLA instead of an appropriate newsgroup, proves
that they in fact are not real Windows advocates. Often there is no record
of them posting in any other newsgroup ever.
3.2.6 Average Users
The famous and mythical average users those they do not exist are often
discussed in COLA, often as a ploy by the anti-Linux propagandists.
3.3 Conduct Acceptable in COLA
By mandating that discussions of the benefits of Linux are to take place
in COLA, the Charter requires that conditions necessary for those
discussions must be maintained in the newsgroup. In consideration of the
fact that the incessant spamming of the newsgroup (with lying and/or
insulting anti-Linux propaganda articles, most often pro-Microsoft, at the
rate of thousands per month) makes the mandated discussions very difficult
to carry on, the Charter therefore does not permit such disruptive
activities in COLA and requires that the terms in this section to be
Strict interpretation of the Charter of COLA, as expressed in the terms in
the rest of this section, has been made necessary by the incessant
spamming into the newsgroup of lying and/or insulting anti-Linux
pro-Microsoft propaganda articles, which has occurred constantly since
early 1999, at the rate of thousands of posts per month.
In order facilitate communications, by making articles posted in COLA
readable by as many people as possible, English is the language of COLA.
All persons who are seeking information about Linux or its suitability for
their particular needs are expressly welcome to post inquiries in COLA and
participate in discussions. Likewise people reporting new advances in
GNU/Linux/Open-Source software, its application, adoption by companies and
organizations, benchmark results, and other related topics.
The use of profanity, vulgarisms, sexual innuendo, or slurs regarding
race, ethnicity, class, caste, gender, sexual preference, or national
origin, is not acceptable in text or graphics posted to COLA.
Discussion or any images of genitals, posteriors or bodily functions or of
any lewd nature are strictly off topic and are not acceptable in COLA.
This includes such images in the form of ASCII art.
Lying, insulting, belittling, criticizing, grandstanding or otherwise
attacking Linux, Linux users, or Linux advocates, their statements, or
their position, either directly or indirectly is not acceptable within
COLA. Attacking a statement is not the same as disagreeing with it and
The use of trolling, stone walling, FUD, disinformation, patronizing
tactics, or that are disruptive, misleading, or otherwise have the effect
of impeding the discussions specified by COLA's Charter, are not
considered acceptable by the honest posters and readers of COLA; therefore
is not acceptable.
The X-No-Archive header was created for a valid purpose, but has come to
be use and a method to facilitate the disruption of newsgroups. The
readerships of various other newsgroups have prohibited the use of that
header in their newsgroups. The use of the X-No-Archive header n COLA is
fine if you feel concerned about your privacy in your honest postings and
feel that its use can be of benefit to you. But keep in mind that it may
severely lower your credibility; because, that header has been used in
this group mostly by those who post to this newsgroup to disrupt it.
Forging articles to appear to have been written and/or posted by another
person is not acceptable in COLA. The use of another person's email
address in your sig or used otherwise to appear to be your own is not
acceptable in COLA.
The terms "geek" and "nerd" have been used to insult persons who are
intellectually advanced and/or advanced in the computer field. These terms
have been used by those envious of the capabilities of those persons. Some
have come to accept the use of those terms; however, many find those terms
offensive. Those terms, are most often posted in COLA as insults against
Linux users by the anti-Linux propagandists. Therefore, use of those terms
are not acceptable in COLA.
The topic of COLA can draw persons of all cultures and ages, including
minors, please keep that in mind when authoring your articles for posting
Debating or arguing for its own sake is not acceptable. If you want to do
it, go to another newsgroup, where it's acceptable or even encouraged.
You will not purposely offend anyone who is not an anti-Linux propagandist
or a classic newsgroup troll.
The use of threats are not acceptable in COLA. This can be an indirect
threat to harm a person or group of people not connected with the
situation, with COLA, or the target of the threat, or it can be a direct
threat of physical, mental, or cyber harm. Physical harm includes behavior
such as any harm that threatens the life or physical well being of an
individual, such as threats of physical violence. Mental harm includes
behavior such as any harm that is of a psychological nature such as
harassment, or stalking either real world or online. Cyber harm include
any harm directed at the targets information systems or third party
providers of information systems including such actions as email bombing,
port scans, attempts to crack systems, and intentional insertion of
malicious code into information systems that you do not have legal
The promotion, support, incitement, or recommendation of software piracy,
system cracking, extortion, denial of service attacks or any unethical,
illegal, or immoral act is not acceptable in COLA.
Each of these actions are not acceptable in COLA. Frequently changing
identities or using multiple identities simultaneously. Assuming a new
identity to deceive others into believing you are a newcomer to the group,
an old timer, returning, or that you alone are not a legion of poster.
Assuming the identity of another active or past poster. Using identities
that are lude, profane, sexually explicit or otherwise inappropriate.
By not abiding by these terms, you will not be welcome in COLA. The
readership of COLA take a very dim view of these kind of violations and in
general, you will need to make some major amends if you do display any of
these behaviors. Making amends includes demonstrating over a prolonged
period of time that your behavior has changed and you will not go back to
it. Reputation is everything, and you will find it is much easier to make
a reputation than to reform it. Some misbehavior on your part can take a
long time to be forgiven. while some may never be forgotten or forgiven.
Every Internet Service Provider (ISP) has Acceptable Use Policies (AUP)
Also known as Acceptable Use Guidelines (AUG) or Terms of Service (TOS).
As a user of your ISP you are required to abide by the terms of their AUP
and you enter into the agreement to so abide when you establish your
account with them. The terms of an AUP varies from one ISP to another, but
the behaviors herein proscribed are violations of the AUP of many internet
service providers. By violating these terms You could lose your account,
or be banned from posting to the news group.
In addition, many of these proscribed behaviors are illegal and the law
enforcement agencies and other officials in your area may take a dim view
on your actions if you choose to commit them.
The anti-Linux propagandists are unwelcome in COLA. Firm handling of
anti-Linux propagandists is often required for the benefit of the honest
posters and readership of COLA.
Individuals who repeatedly violate the above terms, in spite of warnings,
are disrupting the activities specified in the Charter, and are therefore
forbidden from posting. They may be subject to the usual remedies to
prevent them from further disrupting the newsgroup.
This section is certainly not intended to prevent honest discussions.
People who haven't violated terms in this section are welcome to
participate in friendly, cooperative discussions, which may include polite
and reasonable disagreements.
With respect, none of the guidelines or unacceptable behavior sections
would be needed. If you respect others, you will not engage in any of
those behaviors. You will not engage in countless others not listed here
that are equally inappropriate. The COLA Primer and FAQ team wishes to
advocate respect in our interactions with others. If it were not the
actions of the anti-Linux propagandists and troll, there would be no need
for these terms to be listed here.
It is not respectful to come to an advocacy group and be an
"anti-advocate". There is a huge difference between discussing the
relative benefits of Linux compared to other operating systems, and coming
to COLA with the express purpose of spreading disinformation and
disrupting the newsgroup. Promoting another operating system at the
expense of or to the exclusion of Linux or posting in a manner that
ridicules Linux or it's developers places the offender squarely in this
category. To discuss is a far cry from the obstructionist, the ridiculer,
the disrupter, the FUDster - the anti-advocate.
COLA is the cyber meeting hall and club house for those who advocate
Linux. All other honest posters are also welcome as long as they are
courteous, respectful, and abide by the above terms and remain on topic.
4.1 Intrusive Suggestions for Changing Linux
I posted a suggestion of how to make Linux easier to use for everyone and
was met with hostility!
This is, unfortunately, all too common. Both sincere suggestions and harsh
replies come frequently, and both of them for a reason (though we would
like to see less harshness perhaps in the replies).
To understand this, it is important first to realize that nearly all of
the programs on your Linux CDROM were written for free by volunteers who
release their creations to the world without chance of recompense.
Naturally, the respect that a person receives in this community is in
direct proportion to that person's contributions. A newcomer who has made
no contribution but tells everyone else how to "improve" it is sometimes
about as welcome as an in-law at the holidays who tells you who to manage
your affairs. Though you may not think of yourself that way, that may be
the impression you are making.
Next, if your suggestion reflects ignorance of Linux, which is in itself
no crime, you will likely be told in one way or another to learn a little
more about it first. It may be that what you want already exists, or is
not necessary because of some other feature, or is considered a Bad Thing
based on long community experience.
If you receive one of these harsh replies, don't be afraid to ask why, but
be sure to focus on asking more about Linux, as this is after all why we
are all here. You may discover to your delight that your feature already
exists, likely in a far better form than you think if you came from the
world of popular desktop computers.
Linux is about freedom of choice, you can choose to do things the way you
want to and so can everyone else. If you should be thinking of changing
anything, you should be thinking of offering a new option that everyone
can adopt if they choose to. Your new option should not have any impact on
anyone who does not agree with your vision of how Linux should be.
Consider if you have been using Linux for years, you have labored long and
hard to make your vision a reality, now someone comes along, just starting
to use Linux, and starts trying to impose changes to support his vision of
what Linux should be, perhaps destroying the usability of the environment
you have worked so hard to create.
Consider this also, very little of the software that runs on Linux is
Linux specific, so if you try to impose a change on that software, you
will have to get agreement from all the users of that software on all
Unixes and many non-Unix platforms as well. How many people have that kind
of clout in the Unix world? Not many, if any.
Your freedom of choice ends when it interferes with that of another
Finally, if you find yourself in a genuine disagreement about a
suggestion, then remember the Linux philosophy, "Don't talk about it, do
4.2 Wanting to Spread Linux to Everyone
By definition, all Linux Advocates enjoy spreading the good word about the
power and flexibility of this remarkable OS and its growing family of
tools and applications.
But Linux is not a commercial enterprise, though it is even now being
adopted by some of the "heavy-hitters" in the computer world. Very few
Linux applications have been developed for a "market" in the traditional
sense. They are developed usually at first by a programmer who has a
specific need. From there a program may pass to another developer who
takes that beginning and adds more to it, and so on and so on.
A decade of experience with Linux and decades of experience with Unix have
shown that the this model produces the best quality of software available,
and nobody wants to see this process derailed in an effort to conquer the
4.3 Don't Dump That Command Line
This question is fast becoming irrelevant. There exists a myth that Linux
requires the use of cryptic commands in order to do basic tasks. This is
simply not true.
So, if you have no taste for the Command Line, then welcome and enjoy! You
will never go near a Command Line if you do not want to. You will find
that you can do everything you enjoy doing, web, email, news, stock
quotes, word processing, printer setup, and so forth, without ever typing
in a command.
However, if you prefer the Command Line, then welcome and enjoy! It is
alive and well, it will never go away, and all of your beloved GNU
commands (plus many more) are intact. If you want the power of Unix and
cannot afford a commercial license, Linux may be just what you are looking
Returning to the question, "Why not dump the Command Line," we see the
real power of the Linux philosophy at work, which is that if you have no
use for it, then don't use it! You can "dump" the Command Line by simply
ignoring it. However, looking at it from the other direction, it is quite
contrary to the Linux philosophy to get rid of something just because one
group, no matter how large, has no need for it. Where would we be if we
dropped word processing because some X percent of Linux users never need
it? Or music playback? Or graphics manipulation?
This question reveals much of the power of Linux and the movement that
created it. With the addition of beautiful and flexible GUI's, the choices
open to the Linux user have increased. That is the way of things with
Linux: choices always multiply over time.
But there is one final thing to be added about the Command Line: Command
Line tools are incredibly powerful and flexible. Many feel, and we have no
desire to debate the point, only to present it, that the Command Line is
far faster, more powerful, and more flexible than any GUI that ever was or
is ever likely to be. To find out more about this point of view, and
opposing points of view, just go to COLA and post a question, you are
guaranteed a lively discussion.
4.4 Linux Success not Prevented by Microsoft
Success by what measure? Linux Advocates measure the success of Linux in
terms of their own personal and professional productivity and enjoyment,
which in Linux are in their own hands, free of the so-called "dominance"
by any commercial enterprise, no matter how large.
The GNU General Public License ensures that Linux can never be destroyed
by the tactics that commercial giants usually employ against one another.
Nobody can buy out Linux and take it away. If the Linux community were to
suddenly lose the efforts of the top ten kernel hackers, others would step
in and carry on their work.
Moreover, the rapid growth of the entire Linux family of software, and the
commensurate growth of the family of users, are accelerating even as the
commercial giants battle for "dominance." Their struggles do not affect
4.4.1 You mean Linux is already successful?
Yes, as far a those who are happy to be using it are concerned.
4.4.2 Does Linux have to be more like Windows?
No, Linux does not have to be more like Windows. Linux only has to be like
Linux. Why is Linux so much like Unix? Because that is what it was
designed to be from the beginning of its development.
If you want an operating system that is as free and stable as Linux, but
is a clone of Windows (pick your favorite version of Windows), Linux may
not be for you. Freedows or Freemen Windows would be better operating
systems for you.
Both the Freedows OS Project and Freemen Windows are a projects to create
free and stable operating systems that are clones of Windows. It is true
that neither of these projects have not yet produced a single release nor
have they released any files yet. You should look into them at
sourceforge.net/projects/freemenos and sourceforge.net/projects/freedows,
contact their development teams and offer your services to help with their
development. That way everyone will be much more happy.
5 What is Linux?
Linux is an operating system based on the unix class of operating systems.
It can be argued that Linux is the kernel of the operating system;
however, in common usage the word Linux is used to refer to entire
operating system as a whole, an operating system comprised of the kernel,
systems utility software, user utility software and to a lesser extent the
applications software. This is the practice that will be followed in this
document. Specific instances of this from given vendors are referred to as
Linux as stated above, is based on unix, but is not legally a clone of the
unix operating system. On the other hand it looks like unix, behaves like
unix, feels like unix enough to functionally be considered a unix. Linux
is more compatible with both major classes of unix, BSD and AT&T, than
they are with each other. Linux fully operates with with the other unixes
as an equal peer via networking.
Linux runs software compatible with those other unixes and in most cases
the very same software does run on each of those unixes and Linux as well.
Where the other unixes have deviated from each other with various
utilities or services, Linux typically supports both of their styles of
utilities. Often Linux is more compatible with the various unixes, than
they are with each other.
Linus Torvalds started developing Linux from scratch as a better unix than
than the Minix that was then available. Minix is a contraction of Minimal
Unix, and is the name of a very minimal unix that was licensed for
educational purposes. The name Linux is in turn a contraction of Linus's
Minix, although the actual results of Linus's early releases had already
so far out classed Minix so that Linus's Unix would have been a better
base to form the contraction Linux.
One of the major goals of creating Linux was to create a unix that was
free from the encumbrances of existing unixes and the licensing that
restricted the use of Minix. So it was necessary to write the Linux kernel
The Linux operating system provides all the features that users and
administrators should expect from any modern, high-performance operating
system. Many of these features have been a part of Linux and stable for
years. While the developers of various, so-called popular operating
systems claim to be innovating, they are only playing catch up with Linux.
As this document is being written, Linux is increasing its lead with the
development on the 2.5.x series developmental/experimental kernels.
5.1 What is a kernel?
The Kernel is the core of the operating system. That is the part that
communicates with devices, handles memory management, schedules processes,
and provides other basic services to the systems utility software, user
utility software and applications software. Thanks to the fact that the
kernel handles the hardware and provides a uniform view of it to higher
level software, regardless of your hardware platform, Linux will present
the user with a uniform environment. That means that once you as a user of
Linux learn to run it on a PC, or a Mac, or a minicomputer, or a mainframe
computer you will be able to sit down to use Linux on any other of the
supported platforms, and feel right at home. The hardware may look and
feel different such as a different key layout or a different pointing
device, but Linux knowledge is portable across hardware platforms. Members
of the team that produced this document can attest to this, through their
first hand experience on multiple hardware platforms running Linux.
Many versions of the Linux kernel have been released, in fact since the
release of the Linux kernel version 1.0.0 in there have been over 600
official main line kernels released, including the AC series of Linux
kernels there have been almost 900 releases in that time. The reason for
so many releases has to do with the development of the kernel being an
open process, this way you don't have to wait for months or years for a
needed patch to be provided or for a feature that you really need to be
made available. /subsection Doesn't Linux "turn back the clock?"
No. The Linux crowd, like enthusiasts for all Unix flavors, have a
different motto, which is "If it is not broken, do not fix it." Text files
were incredibly easy to deal with when they were first used, and they
The term "turn back the clock" is an almost perfect example of FUD, Fear
Uncertainty, and Doubt. The use of this approach always indicates the
poster is attempting to direct conversation away from the actual merits of
a particular approach.
Consider an example. Nearly every program in use on a Linux system can be
configured with various options, and nearly every one of those stores its
configuration in plain text files. For those who have spent their lives
with graphical point-and-click setup tools, this can seem quite
old-fashioned. "Where's the wizard?" they ask.
But the simple facts are that plain text files are technically superior to
all other alternatives that have arisen. Plain text files do not require
the creation of a specialized tool to handle a proprietary format. Plain
text files can handle virtually any kind of option, and any combination of
options. Plain text files can be printed and handed around. Plain text
files can be loaded with explanatory comments, with notes about when and
why an option was changed, and who changed it. Plain text files can be
emailed without worrying that the recipient is lacking some program
necessary to read them. In short - plain text files have everything that
Linux enthusiasts prize: flexibility, power, and simplicity.
Ultimately, plain text files just plain work. The Linux community will
generally reject anything claiming to be latest-and-greatest, no matter
how fashionable, if it threatens the stability and reliability of their
system. This is just one reason why Linux is so stable and reliable.
It may seem that modern distributions and graphical programs, which do
allow for graphical and mouse driven configurations, have "seen the light"
and replaced these text files more recently envisioned configuration
repositories. This is not true. They are actually reading and writing to
those same text files. As is always the case with Linux, the tent gets
bigger as options multiply over time. Those who desire the graphical
system can be comfortable, and those who want to go straight to the text
files still can do so.
Another example is the text editing programs themselves. Linux and UNIX
users who deal with text files rapidly develop fanatical loyalties to
their text editing programs (just try shouting "vi rules!" in a crowd of
emacs fanatics), which often cannot print, have no menus, and use keyboard
keys to control the program instead of mouse actions. This can be a big
shock to those who come from the point-and-click world. The consensus
among devotees of plain text editing is that it is just plain faster than
the "mousetrap" programs that are currently so popular. Why should the
editor get bogged down with a printing system when they just exit when
they are finished and print straight from the command line? Why use a
mouse, then you have to take your hands off the keyboard and slow down?
Who needs a menu, when all editors basically just search, replace, find,
replace, etc? "Learn a few keystrokes and get moving" is often the motto
of these Advocates.
5.2 The Linux way of software development
Some think that we must maximize our user base at all costs, to include
all potential users. This is a pitfall of the commercial programming mind
set, which leads to kitchen sink programming, where you have a little
something for everyone and a lot of nothing for anyone, with a product
that fails to fully serve anyone's needs. That is not the the Linux way to
Software development with Linux is, as it should be, about creating a
program that suits its users' needs perfectly. If that program is a text
editor and your editor serves the needs of 100 people and it pleases them
completely, then you have achieved complete success. Don't worry about
somehow getting the rest of the Linux community to use your editor, other
editors serve their needs better. If they do find that your editor serves
them better, many will switch away from their other editors in favor of
yours. Then there is nothing wrong with using multiple editors for
different tasks. They could use your editor for some tasks they they think
it is suited for and other editors for other tasks that they think those
other editors are best suited for. There is nothing wrong with that
either, that is freedom of choice in action and that is the Linux way.
You will have more satisfaction for your development efforts by having a
smaller user base comprised of users who are absolutely pleased with the
software that you have created, than with a user base of tens of millions
of users who can barely tolerate what you have developed, with not one of
them being truly pleased with it.
There is some software that runs on Linux that has fallen into the kitchen
sink programming trap. These programs are conspicuous because they are the
exceptions to the rule.
There is a developing commercial software market for Linux; Let us hope
that those developers learn the Linux way, and do not fall into the trap
of believing that they must each try to capture the marketplace to the
exclusion of all others. But if they do fall into that trap, there will
still be the programmers who do know the Linux way, and users who
appreciate that way. Those companies who fall into the same old trap that
has dominated a sizable portion of the computer marketplace of the 1980's
and the 1990's, will find their efforts thwarted by the Linux way.
Due to the freedom of choice that is a keystone of Linux, let each user
choose the programs that suit their needs best.
5.3 How good is Linux?
Linux is very good and getting is better all of the time.
But in the end, all questions of how good something is boil down to, "Will
it meet my needs?" We think that the proof is in the explosive growth of
the use of Linux, spreading as it is into servers, desktops, embedded
systems, PDA's, and mainframes and minis.
The more detailed questions below on Stability, Dependability and
Flexibility should demonstrate that Linux is already the best solution for
many situations. Read through them to see if it is Good Enough for you,
and of course, you could post a question on COLA about your particular
needs if you do not see them listed here.
5.3.1 Is Linux Stable?
Within this FAQ and Primer, we use Stability in the very strict meaning of
unchanging. The core point here is that once a particular Linux system is
configured as desired, no forces, internal or external, will force a
change upon it. In this sense, Linux is stable primarily because it is not
developed under the control of a commercial organization, no party has a
vested interest in forcing you to upgrade. There are no "update agents"
loading things that you do not want. And if the distribution companies do
put them in, you can always turn them off.
This does not limit the flexibility of Linux, however. Many of the links
to software and projects in this FAQ (including the kernel itself) provide
information on alpha and beta versions of software, for those who enjoy
contributing, testing, or generally being on the bleeding edge.
We can also cast this question in terms of permanence. In other words, how
likely is it that something I am using today will be supported tomorrow?
In any particular situation, the chances are very good. Consider:
likely that if you accidentally lose that driver for that esoteric
graphics card, you can still go out to the net and get it. There is no
motivation for Linux vendors to get together with hardware vendors and
purposely abandon drivers in an effort to force you to purchase new
stick with something once it is deemed to be the Right Thing, and Good
Enough. This is why we still use text files for configuration; they
are stable, dependable, compatible, and they work! Further, the
advance of WYSIWYG systems has not replaced the venerable Tex and
LaTex systems, which you can find with a quick web search to be going
strong and stable.
5.3.2 Is Linux Dependable?
Within this FAQ and Primer, we use Dependable in the strict sense of being
"always there." Linux developers aim very high, and it can be safely said
that the goal is no less than for Linux to be dependable, "as surely as
the sun will rise in the East tomorrow."
The question, Is Linux Dependable enough for Me? is something that depends
on your purpose, be it desktop email reading or embedded elevator control.
Here are some links that may get you started.
Completely impartial studies comparing Linux uptime to other operating
systems are very difficult to craft, but here is one very strong attempt:
www.heise.de/ct/english/00/08/174/ A notable quote from this test is "This
Linux machine, by the way, was up for the entire 32 test days without a
A collection of pro-Linux case studies in a variety of situations can be
found at: www.bynari.com/collateral/case_studies.html
As for vendor-sponsored claims, this link is a press release and should be
taken with a grain of salt, but is worth mentioning as an example of the
kind of trumpeting that Linux is getting these days:
Covering the GNU tools and their strength relative to commercial cousins
is this link (this link leads to the source of the GNU tools, the "winner"
in their view, and must be considered accordingly):
5.3.3 Is Linux Flexible?
Linux is supremely flexible, along many different lines: hardware,
software, platforms and purposes.
Let's begin with the world of the ubiquitous x86 platform. If you simply
want a desktop system for basic productivity, there are a wealth of
distributions listed at www.linux.org which will provide simple setup and
immediate productivity. For a price of typically $70 or less at this
writing (January 2002), these provide a collection of software that is
equivalent and often superior to commercial packages that would cost
thousands of dollars if purchased together.
To continue with the basic desktop, Linux always offers choices. Rather
than limit users to "one-size-fits-all", you can choose between two
mainstream appeal desktop systems, being KDE www.kde.org, and Gnome
www.gnome.org. If these do not fit your tastes, just post a question to
COLA and you will hear plenty about the alternatives.
But Linux's flexibility goes far beyond offering competition to the
typical desktop. Linux "rescues" so-called obsolete equipment. For
instance, you can download a firewall system from lrp.steinkuehler.net
which will rival the power of hardware costing $1000's of dollars, but
which will run on a 486 with nothing but a floppy - no CD or HDD required!
Going in the up-scale direction, and abandoning the idea that "All the
world runs x86", an entire project is dedicated to spreading Linux to
large-scale configurations: foundries.sourceforge.net/large .
In terms of CPUs, Linux can be deployed on any Intel CPU from 386sx to the
latest Pentium, as well as:
AS/400 users.snip.net/ gbooker/as400.htm
Mac (PowerPC) www.yellowdoglinux.com
Mac (68x) www.mac.linux-m68k.org
If you do not see your machine listed, just go to www.google.com and type
in Linux+MySystem, where MySystem is your desired platform. You may just
find it has already been ported!
To see the latest hardware supported across many platforms, drop by
lhd.zdnet.com to see the Linux hardware database, or to see projects both
complete and in-progress, check out
Linux has been used to create low-cost clusters of dozens or hundreds of
"throw away" PC's that rival supercomputers. See www.beowulf.org for just
one of these, or find out more at
Going small, there is also much work afoot in putting Linux into embedded
systems, which you can find out about at www.embedded-linux.org
Linux also loves to coexist with other systems. While the Windows NT boot
loader insists on owning the disk's Master Boot Record, Linux never makes
such rude demands. You can easily maintain your current Windows NT/2000
system with Linux dual-booting by checking out this FAQ:
Along the same lines, if you have a dual-boot Linux/Win system, Linux is
very happy to read and write to your FAT and FAT32 partitions. At this
time, reading from NTFS systems is considered stable, but writing to NTFS
is considered to be risky.
Linux can also replace NT domain servers for authentication, file serving,
and print serving to Win clients. See www.samba.org
There is far more than this, but it can not all possibly be listed here.
One last thing should be mentioned, which is that Linux is flexible
because there are often different programs even for the same task, each
appealing to different users. For news reading, there is KNode, slrn, tin,
and pan, to name a few, while text editors abound as well, with such
programs such as emacs, vi and its many flavors, CoolEdit, and Automatic
Editor, also to name but a few.
Yes, Linux is flexible.
Free software has a characteristic that proprietary software
In the early 1990's PC class computers were sold with the MS-DOS operating
system and often with Microsoft Works. Both have since either died, or
changed into programs unrecognizable from their origins. DOS exists only
as a command prompt in Windows and OS/2-except for the open source
FreeDOS. Works exists only as a Windows product that uses Microsoft Word
for word processing. Its file formats are completely foreign to Works'
original file formats. The way users interact with these programs has also
changed-the feature sets have changed dramatically (which can be seen as
both good and bad). There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of programs that
are no longer available. Some of those programs were once the kings of the
desktop. WordStar is one example.
In the free software world useful programs tend to last a very long time.
Emacs, has been around for at least 20 years. Unix, whether in free or
proprietary incarnations, has been around since 1969. The C language has
been around for nearly as long-it was created specifically to enable
porting Unix to different hardware platforms (not that these are
revelations for the COLA readership-I mention them only as contrasting
examples). The TEXtypesetting system has been around since the 1970's.
These differences in longevity of software have implications for user's
expectations about it-in the effort they are willing to invest in learning
it, and in their trust that the software will be around in five or ten
If many in the Linux community thought Linux and other free software was a
fly-by-night phenomenon, they probably would not invest much time or
energy learning it or advocating its use. But the more that one realizes
that it and its applications are here to stay, the more they are willing
to invest time and energy learning specific pieces of software. Knowing
that what they learn today will continue to be useful to them for years
and decades to come.
Why invest time in an "easy to learn" text editor that might die in a
couple of years or a seemingly more difficult editor that has proved
through longevity and developer support that it will be around for a long
time to come? The first impulse upon starting to use Linux is to pick the
easy editor (such as nedit). They do not want to invest the energy or time
to learn Emacs or Vim. assuming that they would be supplanted by graphical
editors. But then they started longing for better features in their
editors. They could ask the developers to add features, pay someone to add
them, or add those features themselves. But why, when editors with all the
wanted features, and more, are a mouse click away?
And what's the hurry? The software isn't going anywhere. It won't be
outdated next year or the year after. It has proved its utility and
longevity. Even more important in the long run is that this software has a
stable user interface. New features have been and continue to be added
over the years and the pre-existing features are still there. They won't
have to learn a new way to use their computer just because developers
might decide that break dancing provides a better way to interact with
computers or that animated paper clips or some dweeb named Bob make life
easier for new users.
In Linux, some things remain constant-BASH, Emacs, Vim, the core
utilities, and languages for programming and typesetting. New features get
added, graphical interfaces are developed, new programs are born. But the
latest whiz bang hypeware doesn't kill the tried and true work horses that
made the system useful. Marketing doesn't determine a Linus program's
lifetime, feature set, or implementation. Utility and need are the sole
arbiters of a program's life cycle.
There are many who would chomp at the bit to point out that most people
just want to use their computers without having to invest time and energy
learning 20-year-old software. The good news is-they can-even with Linux.
The breadth of command-line, text, and graphical software for doing
everything gives users choices in how to interact with the system. New
users coming from other systems can adapt Linux to their style. There is
no need to learn new ways to do anything. Complete novices can be
productive very quickly thanks to KDE, GNOME, and BASH.
Fortunately, there are many ways to get most things done and Linux
provides an environment that allows gradual accumulation of knowledge and
skill and adapts easily to any working style. And the knowledge and skill
gained over time is not made obsolete by sweeping changes in software
availability, feature sets, or user interfaces.
5.3.5 Linux supported hardware
As mentioned above, Linux supports a bewildering number of platforms, and
has plentiful support for various devices on these platforms. Two links of
6 Is Linux Compatible with other operating system?
Linux is very compatible with other operating systems.
6.0.1 With Windows
Linux can run Windows software through running the actual Windows
Operating system as a guest operating system in a virtual PC emulator such
as Wine or VMware. Linux can also run some Windows software on Linux
itself via an implementation of the Windows Application Programming
Interface via a package named Wine. It is also possible to compile the
source code for Windows based software on Linux and link it against the
Wine libraries to produce a Linux executable of that Windows software. One
note about Wine, Wine can only run on PC style hardware, since it does not
emulate PC hardware, and runs the Windows software directly on the
Linux can provide network printers and act as a fileserver for Windows
computers by running Samba using TCP/IP networking. You can also use
MarsNWE to provide printers and network volumes using IPX/SPX networking.
Linux can also access shares and printers provided by computers running
Windows by the use of Samba and the Samba filesystem. Linux can also be an
NT domain, file, and print server to Windows clients by using Samba. Linux
machines can access Windows machines that are emulating NetWare file
servers by using the NetWare core protocol filesystem.
Linux can read and write to Windows hard drive partitions that use the
filesystems of MS-Dos and Windows 9x. The NTFS filesystem are a bit
problematic because of their nature and they way their specifications
change from version to version. Linux can read Windows NT, Windows 2000,
and Windows XP NTFS partitions well; however, writing directly to such
partitions is possible but not recommended. However, there are reliable
indirect methods to write to NTFS partitions.
Linux handles Windows extensions to the CD-ROM standards. Linux can also
access Windows floppies and other disk media, either by mounting them or
with the mtools package.
6.0.2 With Mac OS
Linux can run Macintosh software through an emulator such as executor.
Linux can provide network printers and act as a fileserver for Macintosh
computers. Linux can access Macintosh based print servers and fileserver.
Linux can read and write Macintosh floppies, hard drives, and other disk
6.0.3 With NetWare
Linux can work in a NetWare based network as a fileserver and a print
queue server with the use of MarsNWE and the IPX/SPX networking protocols.
With NCP utilities Linux can communicate with other printer queues as a
print server. Linux can also print through a Novell-style printserver.
Linux can be a client in such a network, using the existing NetWare file
and print queue servers. Linux supports the Dos, Windows, OS/2, and NFS
names spaces of NetWare.
Support for access to NetWare partitions has recently been added to Linux.
6.0.4 With other Unixes
Linux software is Unix software. Some source code many need to be ported
to Linux, but that is no different than moving such a program from one
Unix to another. If the software in question is too low level then it
might require a complete rewrite to run on Linux, but that is the same as
it is between any other two Unixes already. Most other Unixes can also run
programs written for Linux, some of the other Unixes have even started to
support running Linux binaries. Yes, Linux and other Unixes are very
compatible with each other's software.
In all ways that matter, Linux is a Unix, so if the other Unix computers
in the networks are running a version of Unix that is compatible with
normal Unix networking services, Linux will fit right in.
Linux can access the filesystems of a variety of other Unixes, that means
that Linux can read their drives. Linux can access even a variety of those
that do not use the native partitioning scheme that Linux uses on the
given hardware platform that it is running on.
6.0.5 With other operating systems
Linux can run programs of various other operating systems through
emulation software. Linux can access the floppy drives and hard drives of
a variety of other operating systems as well.
6.1 Linux leave users wanting less.
From them 1950's through the 1970's users would expect their computers to
operate as specified in the manuals and the specification sheets. The POP
manuals (Principal of Operations manuals) and the rest of the
documentation of those computers were considered to be faithful
representations of the operations of those computers.
There was one computer that was installed in 1964, the organization that
owned it decommisioned it in 1984, and wanted to donate it to a college
computer science department but they had lost the installation media of
the machine's operating system. The computer was running twenty-four hours
a day and seven days a week for those twenty years without a single reboot
or any down time. There were components that had failed: individual tape
drives and card readers/punches had worn out and were replaced, CRT
terminals were added and the most of the card readers, the old model 26
keypunch stations and most of the model 29 keypunch stations were retired.
Disk drives were added to that computer years after the initial
installation, None of that needed any downtime or reboots.
In the 1970's there was the development of microprocessors and
microcomputers, most of them matched their operating systems in what ever
form they came in and were as reliable as the computers of the prior
decade. Some of the hardware was problematic but the operating systems
would generally operate as specified.
In the early 1980's something started to change. Today many users have
come to accept and even expect their computers and operating system to
fail frequently, many shops now use regular reboot cycles as an attempt to
use pre-emptive reboots to avoid crashes at unexpected times. They have
come to expect their operating systems and systems software and
applications software to not work as documented. What is even worse, they
often see nothing wrong with that madness. In prior decades, if such
undependability and unreliability were experienced, it would not have not
been acceptable and the vendor would have to replace those useless systems
and often had to pay for the customer's losses as well.
Now flash forward to present day, users have come to expect very little
from their computers. Such poor performance has led them to expect less
and less while wanting more and more with little prospect of getting it.
But in addition to such unreliable operating systems, there is Linux,
leaving its users wanting less and less because it provides more and more
all the time.
* A stable operating system
Linux users no longer want for a stable operating system because Linux
is as stable operating system. Twenty four hours, seven days a week
non-stop operation for years at a time with off the shelf PC hardware
is not anything unusual for Linux. As members of the FAQ and Primer
team can attest to from personal experience.
* An operating system that doesn't require me to spend a fortune on new
Linux can run on hardware with just the computing power needed or that
is available. Linux sysadmins upgrade to more powerful hardware to
have more power available for their users, not to regain yesterday's
performance from today's operating system.
* An operating system with a decent graphical user interface.
Or rather one that can be configured to work the way you want it too.
With the look and feel you seek. Linux does not actually have any
graphical user interfaces, but the X Windowing System is commonly run
on Linux and other unixes. There are also other graphical user
interface besides the X Window System that can run on Linux, including
some next generation test bed systems. If a Linux user wishes he can
run today a user interface that won't be available elsewhere for years
or even decades, that is if he likes to live on the bleeding edge.
* An operating system with lots of useful stuff built in.
Much of what a person needs to purchase to get some other operating
systems to be useful comes with the common Linux distributions.
Sometimes in surprising ways, such as the little program named "cat"
that concatenates files and is the more powerful original that the DOS
command "type" was copied from. The program "cat" also provides by
itself much of the functionality of Norton Ghost.
* An operating system that doesn't try to prevent me from using my
Linux does not second guess or interfere with the human decision
making process. It respects the wisdom of the human sysadmin and the
user. There are utilities available to automate that, but in the end
humans are the bosses. There has been a call for more "Windows like"
automation to take over from human authority, one distribution that
used that philosophy was Corel Linux. It is now a hated distribution
by its own users as a result.
* An OS not prone to viral infections
While in theory no operating system can be 100all worms and viruses,
Linux by is nature is immune enough that the possibilities that such
little beasties exist have become like urban legends in the Linux
community. Even if such infections could target Linux, the
multifaceted code base would in itself limit the spread, if a sysadmin
selects the software to run without regard to distributions and does
not use precompiled binaries, he has just increased the level of
immunity of his systems. The worst an attacking worm could do is crash
a server program, but the worm creator could not actually control
anything with the worm because he could not predict the memory layout
of the program he is attacking on systems so independent from
distributions. That same would generally be true with binaries
supplied from a different distribution or different version than the
one he is targeting.
* An operating system which I can program and hack easily
Anyone can have access to the source code of the Linux kernel and most
if not all the programs they run on Linux. If one is a programmer,
Linux provides all the tools and the source code to add or alter any
feature he pleases. If he wants to write a new program and has
questions, about the operation of the library functions, or the
kernel, he can refer to the documentation, ask for help on-line, or
just read the applicable source code. If he has a device for which he
want to create a driver for, he can write it. If he wants to see how
similar drivers work, there is the Linux kernel source code and the
code of the other drivers available.
* An operating system which doesn't decay over time.
Since the late days of DOS programs and the coming of Window NT and
Windows 95, there has been a pheonoma known as software rot, also
known as bit rot. With late DOS programs it could take an individual
program on a production system out of commission needing to be
reinstalled. Windows 95 and Windows NT elevated the software rot
phenomenon from causing the decay of individual programs to the decay
of the entire operating system. This is not a factor with Linux.
All these items are things that Linux users are not wanting for any
longer, because Linux has given to them what they have been wanting for up
to a decade. So yes, Linux leaves its users wanting less, because it
provides so much more of what they have been hoping for from their prior
6.2 Linux Provides Modern Operating System Features
Linux provides the features that have come to be expected from modern
operating systems and features that many other operating system will only
match after years of playing catch up. These features include:
6.2.1 Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks
Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks, or RAID for short, is a method of
combining multiple disk devices or partitions into a single logical disk
device. This can be done to provide more contiguous disk space, although
LVM is a better and more flexible option for that. RAID also provides
fault tolerance for drive failures because the data is stored in redundant
locations across multiple physical drives, if an individual drive fails
the data is not lost. RAID can also increase disk I/O improvements by
spreading the workload across multiple drives, channels, and host
Naturally Linux supports hardware only RAID implementations since in that
case the hardware RAID box presents itself to the drive controller as a
single drive, or if the controller implements the hardware only RAID it
presents its connected drives to the computer as a single drive. Linux
also provides within the kernel a software RAID implementation. The Linux
implementation of software RAID provides support for linear, RAID-0,
RAID-1, RAID-4, and RAID-5.
6.2.2 Logical Volume Manager
Logical Volume Manager is commonly called LVM. Linux provides a Logical
Volume Manager as a modern operating system should. Multiple partitions or
whole drives can be assigned as physical partitions to LVM. LVM permits
you to combine and allocate storage space that can be carved up to appear
to be many drives, called logical volumes, or even one gigantic drive. If
one logical volume is running short of space it can grow to consume more
disk space. You can also reduce size of logical volumes that don't need
the space assigned to them. Disks can be added or removed from LVM control
and disks can be added or removed from the system at will without having
any software beyond LVM knowing any difference.
6.2.3 Journaling Filesystems
The stable Linux kernels support two journaling filesystems, The third
extended file system and the reiser filesystem.
6.2.4 Sparse Files
A feature of Linux filesystems design is support for efficient storage
allocation for sparse files. How much disk space should be allocated for
an uncompressed 10-megabyte file that contains 10-kilobytes of data with
the remainder of the file empty? How about storing that file in
10-megabytes? With the Linux native filesystem this is possible. Assume
that file contains its data in two 5-kilobyte segments, one at the
beginning of the file and one at the end of the file. Assume that the file
was written to disk with a sparse file aware program. That file is stored
in the filesystem as having three fragments, the first and third fragments
are stored on disk as normal, the second fragment is the empty part of the
file so it is allocated no actual disk space. When a program reads from
the empty part of the file, it will to be given by the kernel a block
containing all zero bytes. When a program writes to a part of the empty
fragment that fragment is divided into two or three fragments depending on
the location within it that was written to. The newly written to segment
is in a fragment that is allocated disk space and the other one or two
fragments generated now are allocated no disk space. The result could be a
single file that may be continuous on disk but would be reported as being
6.2.5 Disk Fragmentation
The Linux Native filesystems such a the Second Extended filesystem, the
Third Extended filesystem, and the Reiser filesystem are all designed to
be resistant to the disk fragmentation that plagues the filesystems of
some other operating systems. In normal use with a typical Linux
installation disk fragmentation levels rarely approach 20unreasonable
expectation. Sparse file handling tends to increase the apparent amount of
disk fragmentation that is reported. So true fragmentation is often
considerably lower than is reported by the various Linux filesystem
A Linux disk defragmentation utility does exist. Most Linux sysadmins who
know about the disk defragmentation program don't use it; because disk
fragmentation to serious percentages without the figure being inflated by
the existence of sparse files are rare enough that Linux sysadmins just
don't see a need to defragment their filesystems. Such a utility needs to
be used on an unmounted partition, that would mean that the host, to have
its partitions defragmented, would have to go out of service for the
duration of the procedure, that is seen as being unacceptable by many
sysadmins. Also, defragmenting files can hurt system performance and disk
space availability. The disk defragmentation utility undoes the benefits
of sparse files and if the filesystem is spread across multiple physical
drives defragmentation could move all the allocated file space a single
Not many in the Linux community even know about the existence of the disk
defragmentation utility. Because of the low rate of fragmentation, and
defrag's inconvenient and possibly detrimental side effects experienced
sysadmin don't feel a need for it and so do not search for it.
Most of those who do want to use that utility are among the new Linux
sysadmins who are still approaching Linux from a DOS/Windows mind set. It
is not recommended, but if you have a special situation and feel you
needed it, you can locate the utility by performing a search for defrag on
www.freshmeat.net using "defrag" for the search key. Note that defrag has
not been maintained since 1997, so it can not handle more recent
developments in Linux filesystems. You have been warned.
6.2.6 Symmetric multi-processing
Linux's Symmetric multi-processing or SMP as it is often called
facilitates the use of all the processors on a computer with multiple
processors. Unlike many other operating systems that support SMP only in
their high end versions, if at all, with Linux any and every installation
can support SMP.
SMP was not even considered before the 2.0.x series of Linux kernels, when
a spin-lock was placed, essentially, around the entire kernel and no
processor switching/activation occurred between system calls.
In 2.2.x series of Linux kernels that was changed so that individual locks
were placed on critical system calls and sometimes were moved to critical
sections of the system call, leaving the before and after sections
available for simultaneous use by another CPU.
The 2.4.x series of Linux kernels has gotten even more fine grained.
Enough so that the scheduler and clock ticking were seen as prominent
The development 2.5.x series of Linux kernels already (as of January 2002)
has a scheduler which is at least 10 times as good without any tuning,
which will get over the next few months, and the system and CPU clocks
have been decoupled a great deal, there is even talk of having different
clock speed CPUs in the same system.
This rapid advancement is evidence of what can happen when no contributor
does more than they can easily afford but the efforts of all of them
combined give a push that not even the largest corporations like IBM,
Intel, and Microsoft can hope to match.
Linux supports clustering to utilize a number of common off-the-shelf
computers to provide the computational power of even a super computer.
Imagine tying together a number of computers that some other operating
systems would have you consider obsolete, and you have the makings of a
6.2.8 Graphical User Interface
To be precise, Linux does not have a Graphical User Interface (a GUI).
However there are multiple GUI's that run on Linux. The most popular is
the Xfree86 distribution of the X Window System, also called X windows or
simply X. There is often a call to fully integrate a GUI into the Linux
kernel; that would be highly undesirable for multiple reasons such as
reduced stability and forcing a GUI on to those who do not want or need a
GUI. That would also be locking Linux into supporting that one GUI alone,
thereby locking out the rest. A common argument for full GUI integration
is that X is too ingrained into the Linux community to permit any other
GUI to develop, that argument exposes nothing more a lack of understanding
of the Linux way. The reality of the matter is that other GUIs already
exist. Such as the virtual reality based shell, 3Dsia.
Linux, as other unixes, has support in the kernel for networking. Linux
supports TCP/IP, IPX/SPX, Appletalk, DECnet, X.25, AX.25 level 2, and unix
domain networking protocols. Linux hosts can operate as single home host,
multi-home hosts, bridges and routers, firewalls, and NAT boxes. Linux can
access non-Linux fileservers and printserver and other network servers.
Linux can serve as a fileserver and a print server using a number of unix
and non-unix protocols.
Besides the common Ethernet network interface, Linux can network via
serial ports with SLIP and PPP, performing either as a dialup client, or a
dialup server. For an organization that needs to provide TCP/IP networking
access for their workers, member, and clients and does not want the
traffic to cross the internet, a Linux computer with a number of modems
serving as a dialup server is a perfect solution. Linux also uses parallel
ports for networking with the PLIP driver.
6.3 How much does Linux cost and where can it be obtained?
All of the major pieces of a complete Linux system are completely free to
use under various licenses. There are exceptions, but by and large it is
truthful, if not over-simplifying, to say that "Linux is free."
If you are new to Linux and want to get started right away, you most
likely want a "distribution" (more on distributions below), which is a
large collection of ready-to-go software, all picked out and packaged with
an aim towards a quick start, beginning with an easy installation.
Many distributions can be downloaded directly from the internet, burned
onto CDROM's or put onto hard drives, and installed immediately.
We do not list all of the distributions in this FAQ, as there are many,
and more are developed for special purposes quite often. Therefore, we
recommend a visit to www.linux.org, which maintains a list of
distributions, with links to their sites where you can download Linux
Also see the more detailed question below on distributions.
6.3.1 Downloading Linux is not Software Piracy
As stated above, all of the crucial elements of a complete Linux system
are free to use under various licenses. Two of the crucial components, the
Linux kernel itself, and the GNU command line tools, are covered under the
General Public License, which can be viewed at
The precise purpose of the GPL and its cousins was to eliminate what its
authors felt were artificially imposed limitations on the free
distribution of software. They felt that it was possible to create a
complete operating system, one that was powerful and could never be
"hijacked" by commercial interests. The result of countless people
contributing for many years is what we call Linux: complete, powerful, and
free to use.
Linux was free from the start, is free today, and will always be free.
So no, we are not pirates!
6.3.2 Purchasing Linux
Although many Linux-related software products are supported by
universities and corporations who wish to contribute to the community,
there are plenty of distribution companies that are profit-making
enterprises and must ask a fee for the services they provide.
Put simply, they spend time putting it all together for you and they need
to pay their bills. They have to pay the electric company, create the web
sites, and buy the computers that hold the free updates, and print those
manuals and burn those CD's.
Also, most distribution companies provide some type of free setup support
if you purchase a boxed set of their CD's and manuals.
It is important to realize that a distribution company is not charging you
for the software itself. They are collecting for the service they have
provided of writing some setup tools, writing some documentation, and
getting it all packaged and delivered to the store.
6.3.3 Linux Distributions.
A distribution is a collection of software, most of which is free-to-use,
but some of which may require a license, which has been assembled,
packaged, and documented by a company that wishes to sell this packaged
product for a profit or give it away as a service to the community.
Many distributions nowadays are well populated with hundreds or thousands
of packages spanning several CDs, and sport nice graphical setup tools,
plenty of easy defaults, auto-detection of hardware, auto-booting CDs, and
everything else you would expect from a modern operating system. Other
distributions are intended to fit onto a single floppy and serve a very
specialized purpose, such as being a self-contained firewall.
The downside of all of this choice is that the newcomer can become
confused and lost in the choices. If you find yourself confused by the
many choices, just post a question to COLA, and ask. You will likely get
many different opinions, which change over time as new distributions are
So, if you are not sure which distribution to use, just post a question to
COLA to get the current state of affairs.
6.3.4 Distributions are not the Same
As explained above, different distributions are meant to serve different
audiences. Some contain "safe" (mature) versions of software, others
contain the most recent "bleeding edge" versions. Some are geared for a
first-time user, while others are aimed at serious veterans. Finally, some
are aimed for high-end server work, while others include programs mainly
for the desktop user.
Some, of course, try to do it all, and come on many CDs.
Besides, if they were all the same, what need would there be for more than
one? This is a key strength of the Linux community, you are not forced
into a single mold, you have the power and freedom of choice. The freedom
to choose the one or ones that will serve you best.
Linux is all about freedom, including freedom of choice.
6.3.5 Must I make a purchase for each computer at a site?
In general, no. As stated above, In general you don't pay for the software
that comes with a Linux distribution. With some minor exceptions mentioned
above, once you have a distribution in hand you can install it on one
computer, or one million computers. You can make duplicates of the
installation media and give them away to your friends and neighbors or
anyone. It is all 100
6.3.6 You don't need a distribution
No, if you don't want to you do not have to. You can install Linux from
scratch without using a distribution. For more details on this see
6.4 What software is they for Linux?
There is very little Linux specific software, that is software that can
only run on Linux, but there is a great variety of software that is
available for Linux. Much of the software for Linux is the standard unix
fare that will be familiar to anyone who has used any unix. There is also
much software written for Linux that will compile and run on other
platforms as well. To see a partial list of the software available for
Linux, go to www.freshmeat.net activate the browse link, and start looking
7 Who uses Linux
All those sysadmin and computer users who have it installed are working on
a computer on which Linux is installed. That includes individuals, room
mates, families, clubs, schools, charitable organizations, small
businesses, corporations, government agencies, and governments.
7.1 Businesses who use Linux
* 58k.com, Inc
* Advance Packaging Corporation
* Affordable Computers
* Bertelsmann Foundation
* Bharti Telesoft Limited
* BRW, Inc.
* Cameraman Photos & Video
* Credit Suisse First Boston
* Computer & Communication GmbH
* Crisis Prevention Institute
* e-smith, inc
* Erol's Internet Services
* GKN Westland Aerospace Ltd
* Harbor Capital Advisors, Inc.
* Hewlett Packard
* Intekk Communications
* Koch Industries, Inc.
* Marconi Aerospace - a divison of GEC Marconi
* Merrill Lynch & Co.
* Meyer Tool, Inc.
* NBM Technologies
* New Star Service Co.
* New York Stock Exchange
* PC & Web Xperience, Inc
* REDE-RS - Internet provider network
* Replay Media
* Robert Reford
* Shell Oil Exploration
* The Astrolog
* The Strand Companies
* Tier 3 Solutions
7.2 These Governments and their Agencies use Linux
* Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority
* Fermi National Laboratory
* Los Alamos National Laboratory
* National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
* Oak Ridge National Laboratory
* Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
* Sandia National Laboratories
* National Areonautics and Space Administration
7.3 Schools, Colleges and Universities
* Auckland University
* St. Mary's Catholic School (Rockledge, Florida)
* Seton Hill College
* Staffordshire University
* University of British Colombia
* University of California at Berkeley
* University of California at San Francisco
* University of Columbia
* University of Notre Dame
* University of Macedonia
* University of Waterloo
7.4 Sources of information
* Message-ID: <33551C...@ericsson.com>
7.5 Charitable Organizations
Linux is perfect for the needs of many schools and charitable
institutions. When a company using PC hardware finds that is hardware is
"too weak" to support the latest release of Windows and Windows based
program, or at least does not support them productively; they will often
replace that hardware and donate their older hardware to charitable
institutions. That leads to a problem for the charitable institutions,
because Microsoft does not permit the transfer of the licenses for the
older version of Windows that the hardware runs from the company to the
charitable institutions. The charitable institutions can then find it
difficult to find copies of Windows that will run on that hardware; for
the same reason that the company considered that hardware useless tends to
lead the charitable institutions to the same conclusion.
What can the charitable institutions do? Install Linux, and that hardware
would be productive. If that organization is short of funds, a single
purchase of a Linux distribution is the most it should take to run most of
the 386+ PC hardware they have. What if they have 80286, or 8086/8088
based hardware? They can be turned into telnet based terminals to provide
access to their other computers that are running Linux or other unix
operating systems. The software to do this is also free. They would need a
copy of pctelnet (freeware), a copy of of Dos, if they do not have it,
they can get a copy of FreeDOS (it is free), and a network packet driver,
this driver could be provided by their network interface card
manufacturer, or they could use one of the standard and free packet
drivers, that have been time tested and stable.
7.6 Why Amateur Radio Operators use Linux
Yes, this is true. More and more amateur radio operators (usually referred
to as 'hams') are making the switch to Linux. This kind of comes under
'specialized things you can do with Linux that are really cool'.
There are many reasons for the use of Linux in the amateur community. It
is beyond the scope of this FAQ to try and list all of them, but a fairly
good summary is certainly called for.
Right now, Linux offers kernel support of digital ham radio modes. This
means that although they are usually not activated by default, recompiling
the kernel allows support for these modes from within the kernel itself,
no modules or drivers required. It is worth noting two facts here: this
support is not available in any other OS from within the kernel, and it is
available due to the efforts of amateurs around the world who have
contributed to the development of the Linux kernel.
Amateur radio literally has something for everyone. There are hams running
bulletin board systems that are networked all over the world over-the-air.
There are hams working OSCAR Satellites in near earth orbit, or making
contact with the space shuttle as it flies missions. There are hams
bouncing signals off of the moon and back to the earth again. There are
hams that communicate with each other using digitally modulated data
transmissions, rather than analog voice transmissions.
This last kind of communication is in a class known as 'digital mode'.
Probably the most common digital mode is known as packet radio. Packet
radio, also known as AX.25, is actually very similar to the internet in
function. An AX.25 protocol "packet" of data is encoded by a computer,
modulated by a modem (packet modems are known as TNC's or Terminal Node
Controllers), and transmitted by a radio in a 'data burst' that sounds
like a psychotic cricket on speed. You know that sound that your computer
modem makes when you are connecting up on a dial-up connection? data
bursts sound like that but are very, very short. Typically half a second
to three seconds in length. The process of receiving packets is the same,
but in reverse. A ham can 'node hop' from one unattended (or attended, it
really doesn't matter) packet station to another. A member of the team
that produced this document has hopped all the way from the Southern
California basin (USA) to central Texas. Every station in between takes
the packet and ships it on it's way to the next node, like a bucket
brigade used to fight fires in the old days.
On the long range radio spectrums, other protocols are used, but they
function similarly. Stations can communicate digitally with other stations
on the other side of the earth.
Pictures, weather fax and Amateur television are also digital modes.
Digital modes have long been used by law enforcement to communicate car to
car, and access databases while mobile; this all started with the
venerable AX.25 protocol. Remember Packet?
"What", you may ask, "has this got to do with Linux"?
Everything! For one thing, Linux can be easily modified to fit specific
tasks. The kernel code can be changed quite easily. But since Amateur
radio support is already a feature of Linux, no modification is necessary
for most digital modes of communication. The significance of this may not
be immediately apparent. Let me give a specific example.
It has already been mentioned that a special modem called a TNC is needed
to translate (modulate/demodulate) the digital language of the computer
into a sound pattern that represents the original data. These TNC's are
not needed with Linux. Linux is the only OS that supports amateur radio
from the kernel, allowing the Ham to leave the TNC in storage and packet
away in style.
A laptop running Linux can be used as a mobile packet station. Only a
radio and antenna are needed to go on the air, anywhere in the world. The
laptop's (or desktop's) soundcard takes the place of the TNC as data
modem. This saves power and space and is one less thing that might fail.
There are many other digital modes supported by Linux. The reader can
expect more will be supported as new kernel are released.
Hams all over the world answer their communities call for help, when
disaster hits, and reliable communications are needed. Linux is a stable,
reliable OS, and this emergency use has borne the fact out many times
over. When you are a data link for local law enforcement, or Red Cross,
you can't afford a blue screen of death.
After hurricane Andrew, Packet radio was used to provide wireless data
links between national guard, red cross shelters, and law enforcement to
coordinate the relief effort. Hurricane Iniki benefitted similarly from
packet. Packet also well served the rescue workers and the families of
those lost in the sneak attack that destroyed the World Trade Center and
surrounding area on September 11, 2001.
Linux is now, and will continue to be in the future, the OS of choice for
Hams. The reliability, versatility and open source nature of Linux makes
it ideal. For hams running BBS's and Internet gateways to Amateur Radio,
the security offered by Linux is essential. Our systems must remain
secure; at the very least, an illegal transmission can earn us a tongue
lashing from an FCC official observer. At the worst, a misuse of an (often
unattended) station by an intruder could mean our license.
The kernel support for data handling of all digital modes is found nowhere
else. You can certainly use other operating systems. The question is,
don't you want to use the best one for the job? Linux is the clear winner.
For more information on Amateur Radio, contact The American Radio Relay
League at www.arrl.org
7.7 Types of new Linux users drawn to Linux
Of the variety of new users, who are willing to try Linux here are a few
* Type 1a - the almost happy windows user
Those who use and love Windows but need more stability or can not
afford the software for it they need. They are not looking for Linux,
they are looking for safe, stable, and free Windows. Of these there
are two sub types. One sub type is happy if Linux is close enough to
what they have had before and are pleased to find all the things that
Linux has given them what Windows did not have or they could not
* Type 1b - the windows acolyte
The other sub type wants WINDOWS and Linux to be a WINDOWS clone in
all aspects. Like this comment I have heard and read so many times,
until Linux can run all the same software as Windows and Look just
like Windows and act just like Windows it is doomed. They very soon
will tend to dump Linux because it is not just like Windows. Wine does
provide much of that for those who want it, however, for that same of
that crowd I hope that Freedows get its act together and provide what
these people are looking for.
* Type 2a - almost happy Macman
Same as above, about Windows, but about MacOS instead.
* Type 2b - the macolyte
Same as above, about Windows, but about MacOS instead.
* Type 3 - gimme choice and freedom!
Those who don't like Windows or MacOS, or are truly sick of them-for
the cost, for the licensing problems, for the fragility, etc-they come
seeking something better, they are seeking stability, they are seeking
power, they are seeking value for their time effort and money, and
they are seeking freedom of choice without. They are NOT seeking what
they have left behind.
* Type 4 - gimme unix back
Those who have used unix before, either as a sysadmin or as a user.
They are not interested in a Windows clone, they want a unix they can
run on whatever hardware they have.
* Type 5 - teach me unix
Those who for personal or other reasons want to learn Linux/unix.
* Type 6 - the unixman
Those who need to run a unix to setup an environment at home equal to
what they need to use at work or school.
* Type 7 - the misdirected cracker
There is a false impression by some that Linux is a cracking tool.
This is a view that is fostered by Windows supporters and is part of
their propaganda against Linux. There are those who are in the
computer cracking scene, who will think that Linux is a hidden,
underground cracking tool. Once they don't find Linux to be that, most
of them will abandon Linux.
8 Linux Documentation and Resources
Contrary to an all too common misperception that is promoted by the
anti-Linux propagandists is that Linux is undocumented, but nothing could
be further from reality. There is a wealth of information available in
your machine, on the net and in books and magazines. If you purchased your
copy of Linux you should have the ability to getting assistance from the
company who created and maintains that Linux distribution.
Many programs have builtin documentation passing them the appropriate
command line option, three common command line options for this purpose
are -? -h and -help. Some programs will present you with that
documentation when you execute them without providing them with the
expected arguments. Some programs have that same information available as
an interactive help function.
8.2 man and info
Linux has a comprehensive built-in documentation system inherited from
prior versions of unix that is known as the manual page system (man). The
man documentation is divided into several chapters.
functions described in chapter 2.
available on the system.
packages, tables, C header files, the file hierarchy, general
concepts, and other things which don't fit anywhere else.
by the superuser, like daemons and machine or hardware related
As is in keeping with the unix standard, each software package should
provide its own applicable man pages for installation into your man pages
manual system. Contrary to the unix standard provision of the man pages,
the FSF has developed a different documentation format known as info
pages. Info pages are a primitive hypertext system providing. All packages
on your linux system should have a manual or info page associated with
them, although occasionally you might find something which is documented
in a different way.
8.3 Developer Provided Documentation
Besides the man and info pages, the developers of Linux and unix software
will usually provide additional documentation with the source code of the
software in the form various text files. Some software will place a copy
of that documentation in /usr/doc, /usr/share/doc, /usr/local/doc, or
/usr/local/share/doc, when it is installed from source. Many of the
precompiled binary packages place these documents into these same
The standard location of documentation of the Linux kernel is in
/usr/src/linux/Documentation. However, various Linux distributions are now
placing the contents of /usr/src/linux/Documentation into /usr/doc,
/usr/share/doc, /usr/local/doc, or /usr/local/share/doc.
8.4 Linux Documentation Project
The Linux Documentation Project's (also known as LDP) website at at
www.linuxdoc.org provides Guides, How-To's and other documentation. The
documentation that you will find there are provided as HTML for on-line
reading and archived for download in various formats, for use as you need
Many linux distributions provide a How-To collection in in ASCII format
within /usr/share/doc/HOWTO. The guides at the Linux Documentation Project
website include the Network Administrator's Guide and the System
Administrator's Guide, that have been printed as books and sold in book
8.5 Online Magazine Articles
The Linux Gazette at www.linuxgazette.com was started by a newbie user,
John Fisk, to help other newbies in getting the most from their Linux
systems. It was so successful that it has been adopted by the LDP as part
of their family of documentation.
A slightly more recent online magazine is Linux Focus at
mercury.chem.pitt.edu/ tiho/LinuxFocus/English/index.html, concentrating
in international coverage, with many translations.
8.6 Mailing Lists
There are various Linux centered mailing lists. Many of the major Linux
distributions provide one or more mailing lists for their users and for
the Linux community in general. You can go to their web pages to find out
what they offer, you can also do a web search for Linux mailing lists.
There are over 419 Linux newsgroups well. In addition to reading the
newsgroups and posting requests to the newsgroup, don't forget to check
the newsgroup archives at groups.google.com where the chances are someone
else has already posted the same question and received an answer.
8.8 The Web
A major resource to get information regarding Linux is the web. Remember
to try the homepage for your chosen Linux distribution.
Freshmeat at www.freshmeat.net is probably the most comprehensive software
website containing both bleeding edge development and mature software a
like. If you are seeking software for use with Linux or other unix
freshmeat should be your first (or second stop). If you're looking for
that obscure package which will change your life, then look here.
If you're planning a new project, it's wise to use their search engine to
see if another person or team has already started work on something
Freshmeat also has occasional articles which are typically of high
standard. The main page of Freshmeat's site provides a continuously
updated listing of announcements of the latest new or updated software
submitted to their site. You can access both, the announcements and the
articles by either the web, or by newsgroups.
Here are a few handy Linux websites:
8.9 Internet Relay Chat
Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is practically unknown by many of the relatively
new users of the internet. Internet Relay Chat offers a large range of
channels where help can be had in near real-time.
For more information, try www.openprojects.net The openprojects Internet
Relay Chat network hosts more than 4000 channels, so there's almost
certainly one which will meet your needs. This website also has beginners
information for those new to Internet Relay Chat.
This site has a listing of linux Internet Relay Chat channels on various
networks, www.helsinki.fi/ rvaranka/Computer/Linux/IRC.shtml
Also, don't forget the non-Linux IRC networks, there are useless and some
very useful Linux channels available on them as well. Some of the best
help is available from some the quieter channels. The primary thing to
remember when seeking assistance from such a channel is to ask your
question and then wait. Waiting for the reply is important, since too many
people will ask a question and leave the channel a minute latter. By the
time the regulars notice that the question has been asked the questioner
has parted from the channel.
8.10 File Transfer Protocol
While not the most modern or trendy internet protocol, the old style FTP
archives are still hard to beat for holding and distributing files and
documentations. In many cases FTP is the work horse behind the web file
Some of the FTP sites useful to Linux users:
8.11 Online Radio Shows
You can even follow Linux by listening to The Linux Show your on internet
radio broadcasts. See webwww.thelinuxshow.com. It's broadcast live once
per week in the wee hours (UTC), however archives are available for those
of us not living near to the Pacific.
8.12 The Source
If all else fails, you can use the ultimate documentation, use the source.
Most Linux software is open source meaning that you have free access to
the source code of that software. If you can read the source code, you can
consult it to learn what you need to know.
If you learn that the software is not designed to do what you want it to,
you have the choice of changing the program to do what you want it to do.
This is something that came in handy when setting up the software needed
to support the production and publication of this document. There was a
key program that was needed and could not be located. There were several
close matches to the requirements for the project, but no workable match.
So, the software that was the best match was selected and patched to
provide the features that were needed but were missing from that software.
Even if you can't understand the source code, you can find someone who
does. The developer/maintainer(s) will generally be willing to help you if
you've exhausted all the information sources above. If you've found a bug,
then tell them anyway - you'll generally be amazed at how quickly they get
9 Anti-Linux Propagandists and Trolls
The comp.os.linux.advocacy newsgroup is a newsgroup that is under siege by
one or more factions of anti-Linux propagandists. In the past those
factions have appeared to be confident and smug; however, as of late it
appears that they are becoming ever more desperate. The reason for their
desperation appears to be as a result of growth of the mindshare of Linux
and the continuing failures of their chosen cause. Besides the true
anti-Linux propagandists there are also the occasional classic newsgroup
It can be difficult to determine what type of person a particular
disruptive personality is; an anti-Linux Propagandist or just a troll.
That is because they both use some of the same tactic. What it not
difficult to determine is what their purpose is when they post to COLA.
They are doing it to disrupt the newsgroup and sidetrack its purpose of
existence. Regardless of their reason for the disruption, they are trying
to prevent: the free exchange of knowledge and support based on experience
of using Linux that would otherwise be happening in COLA, if it were not
for their interference.
The free and open discussions between the experienced users and the new
users and the would be users of Linux that is our goal. That is the goal
of all those who would be Linux advocates as well as all others who come
to COLA to discuss Linux. All of us, Linux users new and old, those
curious about Linux, and others, have come to COLA as students and as
teachers. All that is except for the anti-Linux propagandists and the
trolls, they have come to COLA to destroy it and prevent its being an
asset to the Linux community.
As has been stated else where in this document, all are welcome in COLA,
except those who come to COLA to destroy it.
If COLA were a physical location like a building where those who would
advocate the growth of the Linux operating systems and the Linux community
gather, the anti-Linux propagandists would be raiding that building. They
would be vandalizing the building, painting graffiti on the walls,
defecating and urinating on the floors and furniture, breaking down the
doors, setting fire to the building and physically assaulting the resident
Linux advocates and the visitors who happen to be in the building at the
time of the raid.
COLA is not a physical location, so they have had to adapt their methods
so that they can do an on-line version of what was described in the prior
paragraph. A key method used by anti-Linux propagandist to attack Linux,
its users, sysadmins, developers, advocates and those who have come to
COLA to lean about Linux. is a form of propaganda known as disinformation.
One of their favorite version of disinformation is known as FUD.
FUD is a acronym for Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt. The creation of that term
is credited to Gene Amdahl to describe the the tactic that was being use
by his competitors to fill his customers with Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt
about the consequences of doing business with him.
FUD can be recognized by its vague nature and general lack of true
information. An example would be ``there have been problems with the X.Y.Z
kernel, you know that'' wherein the poster has not said what problems,
what was affected, how it was affected, and how serious an impact was
made, or how long before the ``problem'' was fixed. The effect, sadly, is
to fill the casual reader with fear, uncertainty, and doubt, while
providing no evidence whatsoever that the claim has any real basis.
Generally Linux advocates tend to dismiss the numerous attempt by the
anti-Linux propagandists. However, for the benefit of the casual reader or
newcomer to COLA, there is always the Linux advocate who is ready and
willing to refute the FUD and other disinformation posted by the
9.3 A Common FUD of the Anti-Linux Propagandists
An example of dishonesty of the anti-Linux propagandists is their common
claim that the Linux proponents in COLA oppose the use of any other
operating system. They also would have you believe that the Linux
proponents in COLA oppose everyone who does not use Linux all the time.
Those are some of the lies that they use to try to discredit Linux users
who post in COLA.
The truth is that a user of one or more operating systems other than Linux
are not opposed in COLA for that reason alone. Many of the Linux Advocates
in COLA have experience on many other operating systems besides Linux.
Many do use multiple operating systems on a regular basis. It is due to
this experience that any disinformation regarding the capabilities of
Linux compared to other operating systems are easily detected by the Linux
Enthusiastic users of other operating systems provide some of the more
productive discussions in COLA. However, disinformation that introduced by
anti-Linux propagandists who post disinformation in COLA do not add any
value to the discussions in COLA and are unwelcome as are those who post
It is not difficult to tell the difference between a trespasser and a true
enthusiast of another operating system. Visitors are welcome in COLA and
occasional mention of others operating systems is fine. However, it is the
frequent or continuous promotion of other operating systems that turns a
visitor into a troll or a propagandist.
9.4 The Effect of the Trespassers
If the purpose of the anti-Linux propagandists was to create a disruption
in order to seek attention or for some other of the excuses that people
have used for trolling newsgroups, they could be ignored and in time they
would go away. However that is not their intent and the classic "just
killfile them" tactic does not work with anti-Linux propagandists. If
every regular poster did just killfile them, they would have freedom to
abuse the new Linux users and the rest of the COLA readership unopposed.
9.4.1 Effect on Readers of COLA
The anti-Linux propagandists fill the the newsgroup with dozens or
hundreds of useless messages, making it difficult for the readership of
COLA to find a thread discussing serious issues. In this way they are
damaging the utility of COLA as a community resource.
Their lies if believed will would mislead too many beginners and there by
inflicting harm on those individuals that they would mislead.
9.4.2 Effect Upon Posters
By using their time refuting and otherwise dealing with the disinformation
posted by the anti-Linux propagandists, the Linux proponents posting in
COLA don't have that time available that they would otherwise have to
write and post proper advocacy article, to develop software for Linux, or
otherwise promote and improve Linux.
9.4.3 Effect of the X-No-Archive header
The X-No-Archive header was created for a valid purpose, but has been
abused by the anti-Linux propagandists who are posting in COLA. By the use
of that header in their articles, they avoid having them archives in the
Google newsgroups archives and other such archives that may exist. This
means that their lies and other dishonest tactics are no stored in those
archives. Therefore, they can repost the same lies over and over again.
When they switch from one identity to another they can post the same lies
all over again feeling confident that without the ability to have their
prior use of those lies confirmed in the archives, they can fool at least
some of the readership of COLA.
They are also feel that by avoiding the usenet newsgroup archives that
there is no evidence to prove their misdeeds if and when complaints are
filed regarding their deeds. Deeds that are in violation of the agreements
that they have entered into with their internet service providers and some
deeds that are also criminal in nature.
All of this has been admitted by the anti-Linux propagandists. Once again
they are confident that proof of those admissions can not be retrieved
from the archives.
One anti-Linux propagandist who uses this header has posted to COLA with 6
confirmed false identities and has posted using the email address of
another person in his from header, causing that other person to be email
bombed by many complaints for the actions of that anti-Linux propagandist.
Another anti-Linux propagandist who has done the same and far worse for
years and has used over fifty false identities for repeating the same lies
over and over again.
9.5 Where the Disrupters Should Go
Many of the readership of COLA would like to tell the anti-Linux
Propagandists and trolls just where they can go. But that balmy place that
makes the planet Venus appear to be the Antarctic by comparison is not a
A common excuse made by the propagandists for their posting to COLA is,
``If not in COLA where will I go to post?''. The answer to that question
for any particular propagandist or troll can be simple or it can be
complex, it depends on what that person claims to be his motivation to be
posting in COLA.
Unfortunately, their claimed motivations and their true reasons for
posting in COLA do not often agree. What appears to be their motivation on
first consideration is most often only a smoke screen to hide their true
motivation as an anti-Linux propagandist with their intended purpose to
disrupt COLA and prevent the continued growth and acceptance of the Linux
Here are some of the claimed motivations of the propagandists and trolls,
along with where they should be posting based on those motivations:
* The trespasser has come to COLA in order to criticize Linux and vent
about his experiences with it. For that purpose three newsgroups have
* The trespasser has come to COLA in order to advocate Windows. For that
purpose a newsgroup has been created.
* The trespasser has come to COLA in order to advocate Windows NT. For
that purpose a newsgroup has been created.
* The trespasser has come to COLA in order to vent his dislike of
Microsoft and/or Windows. For that purpose several newsgroups have
* The trespasser has come to COLA in order to entertain himself with
debates, arguments and fights. For that purpose a large number of
newsgroups have been created.
* 258 other flame newsgroups
* 20 debate newsgroups
So as you can see there are many placed where a propagandist can go to
and actually be welcomed for a change. Perhaps they have lost their
way, so be helpful and tell the trespassers in COLA where they can and
10 Trespasser Disinformation Tactics
This is a list of the disinformation tactics that the that the anti-Linux
propagandists who post in COLA have been using. All of these tactics have
been used in COLA by the anti-Linux propagandists against the Linux
advocates and the rest of the COLA readership to further the cause of the
anti-Linux propagandists. This list has been worded as though you are one
of them, so that you can better see through their eyes how they think of
Be forewarned, putting yourself in the mind of an anti-Linux propagandist,
can be a disturbing experience the members of the team that has produced
this document who have scoured COLA for the tactics to include in this
list found it to be a dark and disturbing experience.
Act offended or claim that opposing viewpoints are incredible and/or
unbelievable. When you are unable to valid argument to refute a Linux
advocate, use empty statements such as:
* "OH PULEEEZE!"
* "Only a Linonut would say that"
* "And they wonder why no one takes Linux seriously!"
* "How dare you say that!"
* "That's the way to offend thousands!"
Distract your opponent from the issues at hand by accusing your
opponents of being "petty", "pathetic", "childish" or any of a number
of other such terms.
Put your opponent off guard by insulting him. The liberal use of
profanity and vulgarisms can be very effective, particularly when used
against you more dignified opponents. Your experience as a school
yard bully can be handy here
Be patronizing, condescending and present an air of superiority. It
may hide your inferiority to the casual reader. Use phrases like
"kid" or "son", to elevate your relative apparent authority by
attempting to diminish that of the Linux advocate you are addressing.
Discredit your opponent or his position through the use of
inappropriate laugher and other non-verbal grunts.
When your tactics are turned on you, call you opponents trolls. Do
not accept the fact that by calling someone using your tactics a troll
that makes you the real troll.
Keep posting non-stop. Flood the group with your idiocy and nonsense.
Some readers may equate your volume with proof of quality. You will
tie good Linux advocates in knots trying to refute you and they won't
have time for real advocacy.
Brag about destroying newsgroups and threaten to do the same to
Drive as many good Linux Advocates out of the group as possible.
10. Refuse to admit your errors
Never ever admit your errors no matter how blatant they are. If you
find no way out and have to admit that you are wrong, phrase it so
that you can accuse your opponent of being wrong.
11. Never apologize for your misbehavior
Never ever apologize no matter how out of line you have been behaving.
If you should ever find it to your advantage to apologize, phrase it
as a slap in the face of the person who you have already wronged.
12. Blame your stupidity and lies on your opponent
Blame your own stupidity on the Linux advocate you are dealing with.
Such as when you have made an unsupportable claim that suggest a list
of details and your are asked to present your non-existent list reply
with, "I don't have to list them for you; you aren't bright enough to
know what you're missing by using X instead of a real Y, I'm not going
to explain it to you." Then hope that nobody reading the thread
realizes that your statement translates as, "I lack the knowledge or
facts needed to counter your position or your position is too complete
and accurate to be refuted. So, I will say things to sound superior
to avoid admitting you are right."
13. Embarrass your opponent
Locate or create apparently embarrassing information or detail and
utilize it out of all proportion-trying to create a scandal around it,
to hijack a thread or drive everyone to distraction.
14. Blackmail your opponent
Locate or create apparently embarrassing information or detail and
threaten your opponent with exposure to force him to do as you want
him to. This tactic can be combined with the "Embarrass your opponent"
tactic if you can no longer get your way though Blackmail.
15. Avoid answering direct questions
Avoid answering a direct questions that you fear by claiming to not
have seen the question then refuse to address it for other reasons.
Keep it up along with other tactics until your opponent is distracted
from the question.
16. Turn a question asked of you back on your opponent
Better yet, turn the questions back on the Linux Advocate with a
question like: "What do you think is the `right' answer, lamer?" You
have now taken the heat off of your ignorance and you have cast doubt
on the credibility of your opponent.
17. Don't substantiate your claims
Refuse to present evidence to support your invalid claims. Repeat your
invalid claims and have your anti-Linux propagandist comrades do the
same. Do the same for any invalid claims that you have notice your
anti-Linux propagandists comrades make.
18. Don't discuss evidence counter to your position
Avoid examining or discussing evidence counter to your position. This
is especially effective when combined with 3.2.8, Dancing Fool,
wherein you change your position with every post.
19. Present multiple personalities
Change your position with every few article you post to
comp.os.linux.advocacy. Appear to be supporting all sides of the
issues. You can make a statements or opinion in one posting then
follow it up with a another post with a contrary opinion. You can even
get into an argument with yourself. This could cause readers to
dismiss the subject of the thread.
20. Narrow the scope of threads so that you can handle it. Narrow the
scope of the issues that are being addressed in a thread to details
you feel that you can refute, ridicule, or dismiss leaving the main
21. Widen the scope of threads to swamp out the original issue.
Widen the scope of the issues discussed in a thread to the point that
the original issues are buried away and hopefully soon forgotten.
22. Use invalid statistics
Introduce statistics to try to hurt Linux, Linux Advocates, and/or the
Linux community at large. Do not about them be valid or real. It would
be nice if you can find those statistics on-line, but if you can't
find any, invent them out of whole cloth. If they are discredited,
don't let that bother you, keep citing them. If you see a fellow
anti-Linux propagandist using statistics, cite them as well, no matter
their lack of validity.
Lie, lie, lie, lie. If you do it often enough you may create the
appearance of truth.
24. Ignore dictionaries when they don't support you
Rage against the use of dictionaries or other such documents, their
use can only hurt you and expose your ignorance.
25. Attack new posters who favor Linux
Some of these Linux Advocates may be new to Linux and COLA. Show no
mercy. Pounce upon their innocence with every single one of these
tactics. If you are lucky you might turn them to your side, at the
very least you may be able to drive them out of COLA and neutralize
them as a threat.
26. Attack typos and ignore the content of the message.
Point out your opponent's grammatical flaws and spelling errors. By
doing this you can concentrate on form while ignoring substance. This
is a very handy method to discredit your opponent and by extension his
position, without once again exposing your ignorance of the issues
begin discussed in the thread.
27. Use Spelling and Grammatical Errors to Distract
Make statements like, "Why do you nea d to dbug the cernal? Is lienux
not working agen!" When this tactic works, you have disarmed the
supporters of Linux who have chosen to ignore you because of your
idiot act, others may react to your style and fail to refute your
disinformation. Meanwhile, you have posted your disinformation in
support your cause.
28. Start trolling threads
Start threads with subjects like "Linsux Sux", "Linux fonts are bad",
etc. Manufacture false evidence to back up your claims when possible,
but don't worry that that is not important. All that is important is
that you consume the efforts and resources of Linux Advocate as they
try to refute your trolling threads and that you scare the new and
casual readership of COLA.
29. Unreasonably proclaim your reasonableness
If your method to deliver anti-Linux propaganda is not among the more
article style, you can try to claim to be reasonable. Of course if you
really were reasonable, you would not be an anti-Linux propagandists
in he first place; however, compared to your more radical comrades you
may seem to be more reasonable. You can not be certain that the
readership of COLA will accept your actions as being reasonable
without your prompting them to think of you that way. So you need
frequently mention how reasonable you are.
30. Expose yourself on COLA.
Post articles in COLA containing ASCII art depicting your body
including your genitals, either in the message body or in the sig.
Discuss your bodily functions and your bodily wastes, the more
disgusting the better. It will tend to drive away more of the casual
and new readers. The Linux Advocates who are frequent posters may
become disgusted enough to avoid threads that you involve yourself in.
31. If it makes Microsoft or Windows look bad call it a rumor
Claim that anything that tends to make Microsoft or Windows look bad
is an unfounded rumor and that you opponent is being unfair. If the
information is obscure enough claim that it is an urban legend, hoping
that no one knows that many legends are based on fact.
32. Promote Windows at every opportunity
Microsoft Windows needs a lot of help to be successful in the
mindshare of its targeted user base. Point out to everybody on COLA
how wonderful it is. Ignore the meaning of the name of the newsgroup
and its charter.
33. Claim false Alignment
Remind Everyone that you are a long-time Linux user and advocate. Of
course it is not true, so you will be accused of being what you really
are. When that happens and you are accused of working against Linux.
Deny! Deny! Deny!
34. Use of false identities
Create throw away identities to enter the newsgroup to spread discord
and after a few days or weeks, stop using that identity. If you are
losing an argument create a new identity to support the position of
your main identity. If things are getting slow, create a few
identities counter to your primary identity. Start a n-on-1 argument
with your primary identity being outnumbered. Then have each of your
new identities be convinced by your primary identity to the error of
35. When thing get too hot go away
When all else fails and things get too hot, disappear from the group.
This is not as drastic as it sounds. You might stay away for a few
months and then return hoping that the other wintrolls have softened
up the field a bit. If you don't want to stay away at all. Create a
new primary identity and drop the use of the other one.
36. Enter COLA as a sleeper.
If you are a new anti-Linux propagandist, or at least your current
false identity is new, then make your entrance as a dedicated Linux
user. After a little while, claim to have seen the light and "convert
back to Windows". Then you can promote Windows all you want for a
while, before your true nature is commonly known. Sometimes this works
for several hours before you are shouted down and have to move on to a
new identity or continue on as "normal" anti-Linux propagandist.
37. Enter COLA as a false disgruntled Linux user.
Create a throw away false identity to enter the newsgroup in order
claim to be short or long term Linux users who "have had enough of
Linux and are returning to Windows." Stir things up for a day or two
and disappear forever.
38. Never leave a Linux positive thread unchallenged.
If there is a thread developing that is positive for Linux, hijack
that thread at all cost. Even if it means sacrificing your current
identity. One method to do this is to ramble on about other topics,
with or without the use embedded insults. Even if you fail to hijack
the thread, you may be able to derail it enough to cancel the
positive-for Linux-impact that it could have had.
39. Lie about what you know
Claim credit for experience, knowledge, or education that you do not
have. It will impress readers who are not knowledgeable on the topic
of the moment. Be careful to not engage someone who is truly
knowledgeable on the subject in conversation or your actual ignorance
will be exposed.
40. Avoid providing any help.
Because you claim to be such an expert so often, you may from time to
time be asked for assistance. Don't provide it, you would only
destroy the image you have lied so long to create. Treat an honest
request based on a real situation as an argument: Restate the request
for assistance in a real situation as a hypothetical situation that
you can argue against.
41. Use of Undefined Terminology
Use terms such as "indoctrinated" as a substitute for "educated" or
"experienced" when referring to a Linux Advocate. Use "pedantic" in
place of "correct", "precise", or "accurate" when referring to a Linux
Advocate. Create and use personal definitions such as "commercial
quality" for impressive sounding terms to mislead the unwary. But
never share your definitions for your inappropriate terminology. This
is commonly known as Troll-speak.
42. Use fake email addresses.
Use a fake email address, not just a de-spammed address like real
advocates use, but a completely fake and made-up one. If you feel the
need for the appearance of normality use a real appearing email
address-maybe not one of yours, but you can try to explain your act of
identity theft as an accident.
43. Citing vapor postings
Cite the statements that you had "intended" to include but never
actual written into your past posting. Gamble on the possibility that
nobody will remember what you posted and that nobody will do the
research to determine what you have posted. If you loose that bet, use
another disinformation tactic to deflect the results of your using
44. Use being an idiot as an excuse
When you are criticized for using disinformation tactics, claim
ignorance of the disinformation tactics and use your apparent idiocy
as an excuse for your actions. Do the same for your comrades, when a
Linux Advocate corners one of your fellow anti-Linux propagandists
tell that advocate something like "What are you doing? It's only John
Doe for goodness sake!"
45. Criticize Linux Advocates but ignore anti-Linux propagandist
Always criticize the behavior of Linux Advocates, but, ignore the same
and even worse transgressions are being committed by your fellow
46. Accept the claims of other anti-Linux propagandists as face value
Always treat other anti-Linux propaganist's statements as being true.
Accept their interpretations without question, don't bother verifying
their statements. If they claim something against a Linux advocate
always side with the anti-Linux propagandists.
47. Don't do your own homework
Make your opponent do your research for you. Depending on who much
credibility you still have will determine how successful you will be
at this tactic.
48. Don't let your ignorance stop you from posting
No matter how little you understand of the issues being discussed in a
thread, post anyway. If you don't know what you are talking about just
pretend that you do.
49. Restate the issues to support your preconceptions
If the issues being discussed in a thread are not exploitable by you
for your purpose, restate the issues to support your ability to attack
Linux Advocate opponent.
50. Claim god like attributes
Claim god like attributes, such as being all knowing. If you don't
want to make that claim, behave as though you are, any way.
51. Claim only you understand what the issues are.
Claim and other wise present the attitude to imply that only you know
what the issues really are. Attempt to project the attitude that would
tend to discredit your opponent at the same time.
52. Invoke the mythical average user
Always use the mythical average users as your yardstick for usability.
No matter what is being discussed about Linux, restate the abilities
of the average users to fall short of that needed.
53. Use extortion to build an army
Use extortion against a group to generate an army of flunkies to do
your bidding and do you fighting for you. Such as when things are not
going the way you want in COLA, crosspost a threat in another
newsgroup a thread of your intention of making thing miserable for
them if they don't take up your battle for you. This is a dangerous
tactic for you the anti-Linux propagandists. If they don't react the
way you wanted them to, you will either have to forget it or you could
carry our your threat. If you forget it, you will loose even more
credibility. If you carry out your threat you will still loose
credibility and you could open yourself up for reprisal from those
your are hurting by carrying out your threat. Even if you do form your
army, you will be held responsible for the results of their actions on
your behalf. A recent case (as of this writing) of this tactic being
used by a anti-Linux propagandists can be revived by reading the
thread that resulted with the crossposting of Message-ID:
ozub8.40974$Wf1.7...@ruti.visi.com to comp.os.linux.adcoacy and
54. The devil made me do it
When you are caught in a situation for which you can not explain you
actions without a confession of your dishonesty and your alignment,
blame it on someone else. Create a boogyman to take the blame. A
variation of this tactic was used in the thread cited above, in which
the failed extortionist blames all the Linux Advocates in COLA for
forcing him into attempting extortion.
11 Methods to Counter Disinformation
Now that you have seen some of the tactics that that the anti-Linux
propagandist who post in COLA use against Linux advocates, the rest of the
COLA readership, and the Linux community at large, you may be wondering
how to counter them. There are several methods that have successfully
curtailed the activities of the anti-Linux propagandists. Those of you who
have been reading COLA for the past few months before the initial posting
of this document may have noted varying, sometimes puzzling, reactions to
the disinformation tactics of the anti-Linux propagandists by various
Linux advocates. These were experiments gauging the reactions of
anti-Linux propagandists to the methods the are being recommend in this
The methods of dealing with the anti-Linux propagandists are being
presented in the order of their apparent effectiveness. You can mix and
match them to suit your personality.
11.1 Use of Trespasser Disinformation Tactics List
A method that has worked successfully is to counter the use of
disinformation tactics by the anti-Linux propagandists is to identify
which tactic or tactics that trespassers is using in a particular message.
Use the trespasser disinformation tactics list Do not address their
individual comments in the message you are replying to rather examine all
their comments in that article under consideration. Create a list of
tactics that they have used in that article and place the list of the
tactics they have used in a single comment block.
As an example:
| Joe.Propagandist wrote in comp.os.linux.advocacy: |
| >[snipped disinformation text] |
| Disinformation tactics you have used are: |
| 2. Distract from the issue by using personal attacks |
| 3. Use profanity |
| 12. Blame your stupidity and lies on your opponent |
| 16. Turn a question asked of you back on your opponent |
| 22. Use invalid statistics |
| 48. Restate the issues to support your preconceptions |
It is recommended that you use this tactic as soon as possible in the
thread, supply no other comments to the trespasser. Anything you say to
them can be latched on to as the basis for their continued spreading of
disinformation. This method has been very successful in field tests.
11.2 Refute Disinformation Where Possible
Post a refutation of the disinformation early in the thread. Use only
verifiable facts and include the proof of the validity of your statements
including references to the source documents when possible. When citing a
past article that is not an immediate predecessor to your article in the
thread, include the message ID of that cited article. Including a URL to
it can also be helpful but does not replace the message ID. The URL may
remain viable or not overtime, the message ID will remain viable.
When you are lucky, the anti-Linux propagandist will drop the issue after
that; however, that is not too common. Most of the time, anti-Linux
propagandist will continue on ignoring your efforts or employ another of
their disinformation tactics. If that is the case, it is often best to
ignore drop the issue, unless you see an opening that you can use to
further expose the dishonesty of that anti-Linux propagandist.
This is a powerful method, as long as you don't let yourself get drawn in
to a situation that you can not handle.
11.3 Stay On Topic
All too often a Linux Advocate will respond to a anti-Linux propagandist,
and in no time at all, the anti-Linux propagandist gains near complete
control of the discussion. Continuing to follow the thread as the
anti-Linux propagandists lead, you will find yourself in a mirror maze of
twisted logic aiding neither yourself the others of the COLA readership.
The only persons aided by your efforts would be the anti-Linux
11.4 Post an Advocacy Article
Since comp.os.linux.advocacy is for Linux advocacy, post an advocacy
article! A quick scan through several days of COLA will show that Linux
Advocates, almost unanimously, offer nothing but encouragement and support
for those who share their honest experience.
Even if you started yesterday, and are no further along than a single
installation, you are certain of a warm welcome. No victory is too small
or too large, and anything you share will be of value to the members of
the readership who may be contemplating Linux.
11.5 What Have they Contributed to Linux
In the Linux community, individuals are earn respect in proportion to
their contributions to the benefit of the Linux community. If an
anti-Linux propagandist or even a classic troll make repeated complaints
about Linux, ask them what they have done to improve the situation that
they are complaining about.
For example, if one of them were to start complaining about typographical
errors of a How-To, ask that person if he has contacted the author of that
document to help proof read that document. The applicability of this
method is rather limited compared to the others, however, it has been
successful in those cases where it applies.
11.6 Use Your Newsreader Scoring and Killfile Features
The great bulk of the anti-Linux propagandists produce nothing but noise.
You can use your newsreader's killfile, scoring, or filtering facilities
to to filter out their posts. This will almost eliminate the anti-Linux
propagandists problem for you. That is good for you, be does nothing to
help cure the overall problem with in COLA. If all of the pro-Linux
regular posters of COLA were to do this, it would leave all of the
disinformation of the anti-Linux propagandists unchallenged and possibly
misleading the neophyte member of the COLA readership.
12 Contributing to the Linux Community
The Linux community began as an all-volunteer effort, and will remain so,
even as some of the "big boys" get into the act, and even though many top
kernel hackers have regular day jobs.
There is something about the Linux phenomenon that seems to prompt the
desire to contribute. Even for those for whom time constraints or lack of
skill prevent contributions to the dramatically visible areas of Linux,
there is still a satisfaction in knowing they are using something that was
put together for the love of the effort. Just a musician and the audience
make a symbiotic pair, so do the hackers and consumers make such a pair.
But contributions to Linux go far and away beyond kernel hacking. Most
statistical analyses of a typical Linux distribution show that in code
alone the Linux kernel is less than 3% of a distributed system, which
numbers do not even mention the vast of amounts of documentation that come
with a typical distribution.
If you think you may wish to contribute, but are not sure how, read on.
12.1 How To Contribute
Contributions come in many forms, both direct and indirect.
Direct contributions can take the form of code, testing, documentation and
assistance. You do not have to be a kernel hacker to contribute code,
there are many many projects underway, which can be found at these sites:
If your skills lean more towards documentation, check out these two sites:
There are also the various Linux newsgroups in the comp.os.linux
hierarchy, and their variants in several languages, where you can share
your growing knowledge. Even if you are a beginner or think you do not
know much, try reading these newsgroups, you may be surprised at how much
you know already and how much you can help.
If you are using free software and experience a bug, it is a very good
idea to report it to the author. The happy surprise for newcomers to Linux
is that the authors of free software are often far more responsive to bug
reports than most users are used to. Perhaps this is because the few
remaining giant software companies no longer have to work for your
business - everyone assumes you will buy their products, so what incentive
do they have?
Some who have long familiarity with other "Easy-to-Use" systems find Linux
hard at first simply because it is unfamiliar. Helping out a friend or
neighbor in need is always a fine contribution.
Think back on when you first used Linux or another unix operating system.
Were you one of those blessed with a mentor or benefited from help from
some other Linux help and/or support channel? Was that help provided to
you without compensation to those who aided you? Then why not honor those
who helped you by now providing help for others? If you were not so lucky,
why not provide help so that others won't have to go without help?
How easy is it to provide help? Subscribe to one or more Linux newsgroups
that provide help, read the requests for help. Locate requests that you
feel comfortable with, and post your assistance as a follow up to the
request for help. Alternatively join a Linux help channel on your favorite
IRC network. If there is no such channel on that network, create one. Then
you can monitor that channel while doing your other work.
Finally, there is the general discussion of Linux in whatever arenas are
appropriate, this is not to be confused with haranguing the family at the
dinner table! There are likely areas in professional or personal life
where a discussion of options and possibilities may arise. Any of these is
a good situation to raise the topic of Linux and all of its strengths. In
those cases where it is well-suited to the task (see Is Linux Flexible?,
your contributions may come as a welcome surprise.
...and, of course, there is publicly advocating Linux on COLA!
12.2 There are Many Reasons to Contribute
In the area of enlightened self-interest, contributing to the area of your
own need and expertise means you get something right away that otherwise
you would have to wait for. It is generally believed that a huge majority
of the work that has gone into Linux has been motivated by this type of
enlightened self-interest. After all, even IBM's much touted "$1 Billion
for Linux" is not a charity campaign, they are quite simply making use of
a very strong steel bar to leverage their ability to sell hardware and
The General Public License is an enormous tool here. While it may seem at
first that you are "giving away" your contribution, it must be kept in
mind that if you join the effort today, there are already 10 years of
development (17 if you count GNU as well, and more if you go back further)
that you are building upon. Further, if your efforts bear fruit for you,
then they will likely bear fruits for others, and you will gain the return
of contributions from others who are building upon your work. Such returns
are virtually impossible to obtain in the closed-source world.
Also in the enlightened self-interest category we have the concept of the
contributing expert. Many potential business contacts are impressed with
certifications, and why not? But many are also impressed by the person
who, when recommending a package, can say, "I think I know a thing or two
about it, I had a hand in its creation."
Others contribute because they simply want to give back, or "pay forward"
as we say these days. Many speak of a calm satisfaction that they get from
helping out the community at large. This satisfaction has been described
in many ways, but we choose the old favorite, trite though it may sound:
some things money just cannot buy.
Finally, there is the immortality aspect - getting your own code into
something that is being used around the world. This is an extremely
powerful force amongst many developers, and had much to do with the
development of Linux.
12.3 It is Not Crazy to Contribute
Not one person amongst the creators of Linux has ever publicly promoted
the idea that all software must always be free no matter what. There are
some proprietary systems that provide a better living for their authors if
they remain closed. If this is the case for you, then you would indeed be
crazy to give away your livelihood.
But the entire Linux phenomenon has caused an ever-growing questioning of
what really must remain closed. Given all of the advantages to open-source
development and the new business models that are growing out of it, one
might well say that "I Would Be Crazy NOT to Contribute."
Besides, if everyone thought it would be crazy to contribute to the Linux
Community, Linux as we know it would not exist.
13 Linux's BSD cousins.
Much of what is covered in this FAQ and Primer that is not too Linux
specific and is not COLA specific also applies to the other free unixes
such as FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD. Each of these unix operating systems
runs mostly the same software as Linux. The user environment is mostly the
same, with the exception of some features of Linux that is not yet
available on the BSD's. Each of these other unix operating systems are
similar to Linux in many ways, so that often an ordinary non-root user,
who is not a programmer and is not involved in the lower systems level
operations would be hard pressed to know whether he is on a Linux or a BSD
host, unless it is a hardware platform that Linux supports and the BSD's
do not, or vice versa.
We are all friends, in fact many who run Linux also run a BSD. As long as
the fans and advocate of a BSD or other unix do not behave as anti-Linux
propagandists do, they are welcome in COLA, as hopefully Linux advocates
are just as welcome to visit their newsgroups.
This document was made possible by the efforts of the following
| Maintainer |
| mjcr mj...@mindspring.com |
| Team Associate Members |
| Terry Porter col...@dingoblue.net.au |
| TuxTrax ARC...@zerojunkTUXTRAX.COM |
| Contributers |
| Charlie Ebert kd...@localhost.localdomain |
| Darren Darre...@Frankenstein.com |
| Ed Allen eal...@allenhome.kc.rr.com |
| Edward Rosten u98...@ecs.ox.ac.uk |
| Jerry Nash jn...@memento.org |
| Kenneth Downs kend...@downsfam.net |
| Mark Bickel Mark....@ericsson.com |
| Mark S Bilk ma...@cosmicpenguin.com |
| Mark Kent ma...@NOHAM.otford.kent.btinternet.co.uk |
| Mart van de Wege mvdwege...@drebbelstraat20.dyndns.org |
| Scott Bicknell sbic...@prodigy.net |
| Roy Culley r...@swissonline.ch |
15 Pesky Details
While every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this document,
The Frequently Asked Questions and Primer for comp.os.linux.advocacy Team
and the members thereof, assumes no responsibility for errors or
omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information
contained herein. The information is on an "as is" basis.
All trademarks and service marks mentioned in this document are the
property of their respective owners. The use in this document of a terms
that are trademarks or service marks should not be regarded as affecting
the validity of any trademark or service mark.
The COLA FAQ and Primer team reserves the right to edit and/or reject any
submission that is offered for consideration to be included in this or any
future edition of this document. Any material so offered may be included
in piecemeal, in its entirety, or not at all, at the discretion of the
The use of the masculine pronoun in this FAQ and Primer is intended to be
gender neutral unless a particular person is being specified. The use of
male pronouns this way is more dignified that using "it", and leads to
cleaner sentences than using "he or she", "him or her", or even
Copyright (c) 2002 The Frequently Asked Questions and Primer for
comp.os.linux.advocacy Team - All Rights Reserved.