Last-modified: 11 Jul 94
Version 3.09 July 11, 1994
This is the Meta-FAQ for Linux. It is mainly a list of valuable
sources of information. Check these sources out if you want to
learn more about Linux, or have problems and need help. Lars
Wirzenius (wirze...@cc.helsinki.fi) wrote the first version of
this document, and it is now maintained by Michael K. Johnson
(johns...@Sunsite.unc.edu). Mail me if you have any questions
about this document.
NOTE: Filenames in this article are for the tsx-11.mit.edu ftp
site unless otherwise noted. (see below for names of more ftp
sites). Files are usually located in similar places on other
sites. The names are relative to the directory /pub/linux/ on
What is Linux?
Linux is an independent implementation of the POSIX operating
system specification, with SYSV and BSD extensions, that has
been written entirely from scratch. It has no proprietary
code in it. Linux is freely distributable under the GNU
Public License. It only works on IBM PC compatibles with an
ISA or EISA bus and a 386 or higher processor. See the FAQ
for more exact hardware requirements. The Linux kernel is
written by Linus Torvalds (torva...@kruuna.helsinki.fi) from
Finland, and by other volunteers. Most of the programs
running under Linux are generic Unix freeware, many of them
from the GNU project.
The Linux FAQ
A collection of common problems and their solutions. Answers
many questions faster than the net. Stored on many Linux ftp
sites (docs/) and rtfm.mit.edu, the general archive site for
The Linux HOWTO's
These are somewhat like FAQ's, but instead of answering
common questions, they explain how to do common tasks, like
ordering a release of Linux, setting up print services under
Linux, setting up a basic UUCP feed, etc. See
sunsite.unc.edu, directory /pub/Linux/docs/HOWTO/ for all the
There are several Usenet newsgroups for Linux. It is a good
idea to follow at least comp.os.linux.announce if you use
Linux. Comp.os.linux.announce is moderated by Matt Welsh and
Lars Wirzenius. To make submissions to the newsgroup, send
mail to linux-annou...@tc.cornell.edu. You may direct
questions about comp.os.linux.announce to Matt Welsh,
The newsgroup comp.os.linux.admin is an unmoderated newsgroup
for discussion of administration of Linux systems.
The newsgroup comp.os.linux.development is an unmoderated
newsgroup specifically for discussion of Linux kernel
development. The only application development questions that
should be discussed here are those that are intimately
associated with the kernel.
The newsgroup comp.os.linux.help is an unmoderated newsgroup
for any Linux questions that don't belong anywhere else.
The newsgroup comp.os.linux.misc is the replacement for
comp.os.linux, and is meant for any discussion that doesn't
In general, do not crosspost between the Linux newsgroups.
The only crossposting that is appropriate is an occasional
posting between one unmoderated group and
comp.os.linux.announce. The whole point of splitting
comp.os.linux into many groups is to reduce traffic in each.
Those that do not follow this rule will be flamed without
Do not assume that all your questions are appropriate for a
Linux newsgroup just because you are running Linux. Is your
question really about shell programming under any unix or
unix clone? Then ask in comp.unix.shell. Is it about GNU
Emacs? Then try asking in gnu.emacs. Also, if you don't know
another group to ask in, but think there might be, politely
ask in your post if there is another group that would be more
appropriate for your question. At least the groups comp.unix.
comp.windows.x.i386unix should be useful for a Linux user.
The World-Wide Web
Matt Welsh, m...@sunsite.unc.edu, maintains the home WWW page
for the Linux project. The URL is
The Linux Journal
A new magazine called Linux Journal was recently launched. It
includes articles intended for almost all skill levels, and
is intended to be helpful to all Linux users. Subscriptions
are 19 dollars in the U.S., 24 dollars in Canada, and 29
dollars elsewhere around the world, all payable in U.S.
funds. Subscription inquiries can be sent via email to
s...@ssc.com or faxed to (U.S.) 1-206-527-2806 or mailed to
Linux Journal, PO Box 85867, Seattle, WA 98145-1867 USA.
Please do not send credit card numbers via email; the
internet is not secure, and it is entirely possible that a
technologically adept thief may steal your credit card number
and cost you a large sum of money if you do.
0.1 Getting Linux
0.1.1 Linux FTP sites
A more complete list of Linux FTP sites is in the Linux
INFO-SHEET (docs/INFO-SHEET). The most important sites are
listed here; please see the INFO-SHEET for a site nearer to you
(there are many mirrors).
textual name numeric addr Linux directory
======================= ============== ===============
tsx-11.mit.edu 188.8.131.52 /pub/linux
sunsite.unc.edu 184.108.40.206 /pub/Linux
nic.funet.fi 220.127.116.11 /pub/OS/Linux
These sites are the main ``home'' sites for Linux where most
uploads take place. There are many mirror sites; please use the
closest (network-wise) site to you.
0.1.2 Linux on BBS's
Occasionally, someone posts a list of BBS's that have Linux
available for download. Try them if you can't FTP. This list is
available by ftp as docs/bbs.list at tsx-11. You may use ftpmail
(described elsewhere in this document) to get this list if you
have mail access, or ask a friend with internet access to get it
0.1.3 Linux on physical media
Linux is distributed on physical media, including floppies,
CD-ROM, and tape, by several commercial vendors. Please read the
distribution HOWTO, posted regularily to comp.os.linux.announce,
and available for ftp at sunsite.unc.edu as
Also check advertisements/* at tsx-11 for advertisements of
other ways to get linux, including a list of people that will
make copies for you at low prices. Also available there are
advertisements for other commercial services related to Linux.
0.1.4 Commercial networks
GEnie mirrors most of tsx-11 and sunsite. CompuServe has only
very limited very old Linux archives.
0.1.5 Mailservers and such
Sunsite offers ftp-mail service --- mail
0.2 Linux distributions (aka ``releases'')
Linux is distributed by its author only as a kernel. Other
people have put together ``distributions'' that can be used.
These distributions pair the kernel as released by the author
with software, to make a complete working package. Most releases
include application programs as well as system software,
providing ``one stop shopping'' for Linux.
H.J. Lu (the Linux GCC maintainer) also has a set of disks,
including a combined boot and rootdisk, and some additional
disks with more programs. This package assumes you are already
familiar with Linux. See directories packages/GCC/rootdisk and
packages/GCC/basedisk on tsx-11.
There are several distributions of Linux, which are available at
various sites. Sunsite mirrors almost all the distributions in
/pub/Linux/distributions. The recommended distributions are
Slackware, MCC, and soon, Debian. These are all available for
free over the internet, and some are also sold on floppies and
0.3 Linux mailing-lists
Used mostly for discussion between developers of new features
and testers of pre-release versions. See addresses in the FAQ.
Many lists are based in the Mail-net system at Helsinki
University of Technology. Send mail to
linux-activists-requ...@niksula.hut.fi, and you will get mail
explaining how to get any of the many ``channels'' available.
Save this mail, as it tells you how to unsubscribe to the
channels, and if you post annoying messages to the rest of the
list complaining about not being able to get off the list
(because you didn't follow instructions and save the mail
telling you how to unsubscribe), you will likely be flamed for
wasting international bandwidth and money.
0.4 Documentation for various programs
Many programs come with some sort of documentation, often in a
file called README or something similar. It is a VERY good idea
to read them with care. It is boring to see (and answer)
questions that are answered in the documentation.
0.5 More Documentation
The Linux Documentation Project is working on a lot of
documentation. Already, over 600 pages of book-style
documentation has been released to the general public, and a
large set of man pages has also been released, with more to
follow. Check sunsite.unc.edu:/pub/Linux/docs/LDP for documents
written by the LDP.
0.6 Keeping track of current releases
New releases, programs, and ports are usually announced in
comp.os.linux.announce. Finger torva...@klaava.helsinki.fi to
get some information about the current kernel (often long!).
0.7 The Linux Hardware Compatibility List
Posted occasionally to comp.os.linux.announce, and found on the
major Linux FTP sites (tsx-11:docs/compat.list). This list lists
some of the devices and hardware that Linux currently supports.
It's useful for anyone wanting to purchase or upgrade their
system. Be aware that it cannot be complete, as there is more
hardware out there than Linux users can own.
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