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<!doctype linuxdoc system>
091197 SRG : Framework created
291197 SRG : Added info on mailing lists
301197 SRG : Added more info on mailing lists by web subscription
as well as usenet news groups. Mostly adapted from the
LDP web page (
101297 SRG : Added more local info, archie, mail servers and mail access
171297 SRG : Added link to research in the Internet
030298 SRG : Added link to how to find persons and more mailing lists
120298 SRG : Merged in indexing from Redhat
100598 SRG : New address for project coordinator, and notes on quality of documentation
110598 SRG : Cleaned up list and fixed minor typos
210598 SRG : More links to online news magazines
190798 SRG : More links to online news magazines
010299 SRG : More links to online news magazines
040299 SRG : More links to online news magazines ->0.20
180499 SRG : Renames to Metalab ->0.20a
240699 SRG : Minor updates and note on translator ->0.21
190999 SRG : Added link to Polish translation ->0.22
121299 SRG : Added link to Linux Magazine ->0.23
230100 SRG : Added link to French and Japanese translation
and more online resources ->0.24
310100 SRG : Added link to Portuguese translation
100200 SRG : Corrected for link rot and typos, expanded on advanced searching ->0.26
200200 SRG : Added Penguin Magazine to the zine list and the LDP ->0.27
290500 SRG : Linkcheck ->0.28
300500 SRG : Linkcheck ->0.29
240700 SRG : Added PAML ->0.30
<!-- Title information -->
<title>HOWTO: How to stay updated
<author>Kjetil Bakkeskaug, Kjell Sundby and Stein Gjoen, <tt/
<date>v0.30, 24 July 2000
<nidx>updated, staying (see up-to-date)</nidx>
This document describes how to stay updated and abreast of the development
that takes place in the Linux world of development.
Although most of this text is Linux specific there is also a lot of general
information on searching efficiently for specific information that can be
useful for a wider audience.
<!-- Table of contents -->
<!-- Begin the document -->
Development in the world of Linux takes place at an incredible speed and it
can be difficult to keep abreast with the latest development. This HOWTO
gives you a few guidelines on how to get the information you need, fast and
efficiently. Most are quite familiar with using the World Wide Web (WWW)
and Usenet News but as will be shown here there are many other methods that
can be as good or even better.
There are now many new translations available and special thanks go
to the translators for the job and the input they have given:
<item><url url=""
name="Polish translation"> by Tomasz Sienicki <tt/tsca (at)
<item><url url=""
name="French Translation"> by Jean-Albert Ferrez <tt/Jean-Albert.Ferrez (at)
<item><url url=""
name="Portuguese Translation"> by Duarte Loreto <tt/dnloreto (at)
<item><url url=""
name="Japanese translation"> by Satoru Takahashi <tt/hisai (at)
This HOWTO is copyrighted 1998 Kjell Sundby, Kjetil Bakkeskaug and Stein Gjoen.
Unless otherwise stated, Linux HOWTO documents are copyrighted by their
respective authors. Linux HOWTO documents may be reproduced and distributed
in whole or in part, in any medium physical or electronic, as long as
this copyright notice is retained on all copies. Commercial redistribution
is allowed and encouraged; however, the author would like to be notified of
any such distributions.
All translations, derivative works, or aggregate works incorporating
any Linux HOWTO documents must be covered under this copyright notice.
That is, you may not produce a derivative work from a HOWTO and impose
additional restrictions on its distribution. Exceptions to these rules
may be granted under certain conditions; please contact the Linux HOWTO
coordinator at the address given below.
In short, we wish to promote dissemination of this information through as
many channels as possible. However, we do wish to retain copyright on the
HOWTO documents, and would like to be notified of any plans to redistribute
the HOWTOs.
If you have questions, please contact the Linux HOWTO
coordinator, at via email.
Use the information in this document at your own risk. We disavow any
potential liability for the contents of this document. Use of the
concepts, examples, and/or other content of this document is entirely
at your own risk.
All copyrights are owned by their owners, unless specifically noted
otherwise. Use of a term in this document should not be regarded as
affecting the validity of any trademark or service mark.
Naming of particular products or brands should not be seen as endorsements.
You are strongly recommended to take a backup of your system before
major installation and backups at regular intervals.
News Section goes here when appropriate
Did a major link check but linkrot sets in quickly.
Added link to Penguin Magazine.
Added more information on the workings of mailing lists. Also proper
indexing is now added.
Renamed Dejanews to Deja and one chapter title. Also added note on
translation now underway. Minor typos fixed.
Added link to Polish translation
Added link to Linux Focus and Linux Magazine.
Added links to French and Japanese translations as well as several online resources.
Link rot is setting in, numerous corrections made. Also expanded on searching choices.
Credits Section goes here when appropriate
Tomasz Sienicki | tsca <tsca (at)>
Satoru Takahashi <hisai (at)>
<sect>Documentation Installed on Your Hard Disk
<nidx>up-to-date!information resources</nidx>
What do you want!?<p>
- Number 6 in The Prisoner<p>
When you start out with a Linux installation you will normally get quite a
bit of information along, not just the installation pamphlet but also
substantial online help and information files as well as HOWTO files. This
gives you a good starting point but after a while you will find yourself
interested in knowing more, updating your system and basically staying
informed. For simplicity this kind of information is here divided into
several types, the type you subscribe to, information you search for as
well as a bit on getting more specific help efficiently.
Even if you don't get printed information of some kind with your Linux
packages you will along with any self respecting distribution get a
number of directories with documentation of some kind, ranging from
the tersest <em/README/ files for most software packages to the more
in depth <em/HOWTOs/, of which this is one.
Have a look in the
<url url="file:///usr/doc"
name="document archive">
where most packages store their main documentation and README files etc.
Also you will here find the
<url url="file:///usr/doc/HOWTO"
name="HOWTO archive">
of ready formatted HOWTOs
and also the
<url url="file:///usr/doc/HOWTO/mini"
name="mini-HOWTO archive">
of plain text documents.
<url url="file:///usr/src/linux"
name="kernel source">
is, of course, the ultimate documentation. In other
words, <em>use the source, Luke</em>.
It should also be pointed out that the kernel comes not only with
source code which is even commented (well, partially at least)
but also an informative
<url url="file:///usr/src/linux/Documentation"
name="documentation directory">.
If you are about to ask any questions about the kernel you should
read this first, it will save you and many others a lot of time
and possibly embarrassment.
The online documentation is excellent for browsing and searching but
don't dismiss the printed version altogether; if you cannot even
get the machine to boot, how are you going to be able to read that
piece of information you need to get the system going again?
<nidx>up-to-date!information resources</nidx>
This basically means you set up a subscription of some sort and then follow
the news as they come in. Be careful not to bite over more than you can
chew, <em/information overload/ is more than a buzzword. There is also
rather more junk out there than is just annoying, it is a real problem
these days. Read critically and be prepared to unsubscribe.
There are two distinct medias for getting continuous updates: news and
mailing lists, though sometimes news is gatewayed to mail and vice
versa. In general news is a larger volume, larger noise source compared to
mailing lists. Trying to follow too many newsgroups is like drinking from a
fire hose.
<sect1>Usenet News
<nidx>up-to-date!information resources!news</nidx>
Getting access to Usenet News is outside the scope of this HOWTO, there are
others that will help you with getting and reading News directly from a
Linux system. If you have never used News before you should be careful to
read the introductory information thoroughly. In spite of looking like an
anarchy it does have its own distinct culture, follow a newsgroup for some
time before posting yourself. Most importantly, look out for postings
called <em/Frequently Asked Questions/ or <em/FAQ/ as they will show you
the ropes for the group it is posted to, and most likely give you the
answer to what you are looking for. Asking an FAQ will earn you severe
negative credibility points as well as a place in many killfiles.
FAQs should be posted regularly but if you cannot find it you can always
find it at the
<url url=""
name="main FAQ archive">
at MIT.
These are also available as
<!-- <url url="" -->
<url url=""
name="web pages">.
Still, there is a lot of noise, spam and junk in News and this is where
killfiles come in. You will need a news reader with killfile capability and
when properly set up it will scan through a newsgroup according to a search
key of your own design and mark all flagged postings as already read so you
don't have to be bothered by the noise. This improves the signal-to-noise
ratio and lets you concentrate on the important parts. Similarly, if you
make noise in News others will killfile you so if you later were to ask for
help they will never see your post.
Now to business: the following is a list of useful newsgroups:
<item><url url="news:comp.os.linux.announce" name="announcements">
<item><url url="news:comp.os.linux.answers" name="answers, HOWTOs, FAQs etc.">
<item><url url="news:comp.os.linux.development.apps" name="development of applications">
<item><url url="news:comp.os.linux.development.sys" name="development of the system">
<item><url url="news:comp.os.linux.hardware" name="hardware">
<item><url url="news:comp.os.linux.misc" name="misc">
<item><url url="news:comp.os.linux.networking" name="networking">
<item><url url="news:comp.os.linux.setup" name="setting up linux">
<item><url url="news:comp.os.linux.x" name="X11 on linux">
<item><url url="news:comp.os.linux." name="">.
<item><url url="news:comp.os.linux." name="">.
Many national hierarchies also have Linux groups, such as the
<url url="news:no.linux" name="Norwegian"> Linux groups. If you
cannot find your national or local group you might be able to use
<url url=""
to find the names for you.
<sect1>Mailing Lists
<nidx>up-to-date!information resources!mailing lists</nidx>
Unlike Usenet News a mailing list is centralised, someone sends a mail to
the server and the server in return mails everyone that is subscribed to
that particular list. These lists are generally low volume but also very
low noise. Any breaches of the charter will be looked harshly upon. Equally
seriously it will delay the development or the project that the list is
dedicated to. When you subscribe you will normally get an introductory mail
describing the charter, again you are strongly recommended to read this
very carefully.
There are many types of mail servers that can handle a list and you will
need some information on how and where you can subscribe.
One of the most common list servers is <em/Majordomo/ which is what the
list server at
<url url=""
is running. To learn how it works you send a mail message with the word
<tt/help/ in the body. If you send it something it cannot parse you will
get this help message anyway.
If you instead mail it the word <tt/lists/ you will be returned a list of
all mailing lists it serves, and that can be a considerable number.
Other mailing lists use several addresses, one where you send your requests
such as <tt/subscribe/ and <tt/unsubscribe/, and one where you send your
contributions to the list which is usually also the address from which the
list is also redistributed to you.
Again, sending it the message <tt/help/ or something it cannot parse will
give you the help information.
An example: you send the word <tt/subscribe/ to the
address <tt/
and then you get mail from and contribute to the
list address <tt/
until you unsubscribe.
A few tips before you start sending in to mailing lists:
<item>Do not send <tt/subscribe/ etc. to the list itself, only to the
server address, otherwise you will look silly and you will annoy
people. There can be several thousand subscribers to a list and if such errors were to
pour in the noise would be too much.
<item>When you subscribe you will often get an introductory message
sent to you automatically. Read it carefully as this should answer
most of the initial questions.
<item>Do not gateway mailing lists to news without asking first as this
can cause mailing loops as well as spam.
As mentioned above,
<url url=""
is one of the main mailing list servers and here is an abbreviated index
of what is available for the Linux community:
<item> linux-8086 (Linux on Intel 8086 processors)
<item> linux-admin (Administration of Linux systems)
<item> linux-alpha (Linux on the Alpha processor platform)
<item> linux-apps (Applications)
<item> linux-arm (Linux on the Arm processor platform)
<item> linux-bbs (Linux Bulletin Board Systems)
<item> linux-c-programming (C-programming with Linux)
<item> linux-config (Configuration)
<item> linux-console (Console)
<item> linux-diald (Dial on demand daemon)
<item> linux-doc (Linux documentation)
<item> linux-fido (Linux fido network)
<item> linux-fsf (Linux and the Free Software Foundation)
<item> linux-ftp (Linux File Transfer Protocol)
<item> linux-gcc (Linux and the GNU C compiler)
<item> linux-gcc-digest (Digests of the above)
<item> linux-hams Amateur Radio and Linux discussions
<item> linux-hppa (Linux on the HP Precision Architecture processor platform)
<item> linux-ibcs2 (Linux and the Intel Binary Compatibility system)
<item> linux-ipx (Linux and Novell IPX networking protocol)
<item> linux-isdn (Linux and Integrated Services Digital Network)
<item> linux-japanese (Linux and Japanese extensions)
<item> linux-kernel (Linux kernel)
<item> linux-kernel-announce (Announcements for the above)
<item> linux-kernel-digest (Digests of the linux-kernel list)
<item> linux-kernel-patch (Linux kernel patches)
<item> linux-laptop (Linux on laptops)
<item> linux-linuxss
<item> linux-lugnuts (Linux User Groups)
<item> linux-mca (Linux and the IBM Micro Channel Architecture bus)
<item> linux-mips (Linux on the MIPS processor platform)
<item> linux-msdos (Linux and MSDOS)
<item> linux-msdos-devel (Linux - MSDOS development)
<item> linux-msdos-digest (Digest of the linux-msdos list)
<item> linux-net (Linux and networking)
<item> linux-new-lists (New mailing lists for Linux)
<item> linux-newbie (Linux and the inexperienced)
<item> linux-newbiew
<item> linux-nys
<item> linux-oasg
<item> linux-oi
<item> linux-opengl (Linux and the OpenGL graphics system)
<item> linux-pkg
<item> linux-ppp (Linux and the Point-to-Point Protocol)
<item> linux-pro
<item> linux-qag
<item> linux-raid (Linux and Redundant Array of Inexpensive Drives)
<item> linux-scsi (Linux and Small Computer Systems Interface)
<item> linux-serial (Linux and the serial system)
<item> linux-seyon (Linux terminal system)
<item> linux-smp (Linux Symmetric Multi Processing)
<item> linux-sound
<item> linux-standards
<item> linux-svgalib (Linux and the SVGA library)
<item> linux-tape (Linux and tape storage)
<item> linux-term (A Linux communications program)
<item> linux-userfs (Linux User File System)
<item> linux-word
<item> linux-x11 (Linux and the X Window System, Version 11)
<item> linux-x25 (Linux and the X25 Networking Protocol)
<item> sparclinux (Linux on the SPARC processor platform)
<item> ultralinux (Linux on the Ultra-SPARC processor platform)
There are of course a number of other lists on other server. As this
is in a constant state of flux there is little point in naming all but
the most important here. Instead you could check out a web page that
maintains such a
<!--;djshin/linux/mail-list/index.shtml" -->
<url url=";djshin/linux/mail-list/index.shtml"
name="list of lists">
on various servers of interest to Linux users. It also offers an user friendly
interface to subscribe or unsubscribe to the various lists directly.
There is also a web page listing a huge number of lists concerning much more
than Linux at <!--" -->
<url url=""
name="Publicly Available Mailing Lists">.
<nidx>up-to-date!information resources!magazines</nidx>
Many have been disappointed at the lack of information on Linux in the
trade press. This is probably because certain commercial products would
not stand up for any comparison and the advertisers would not stand it
at all. Fortunately there is one Linux specific journal, called
the <em/Linux Journal/. More information on subscription etc. can be
found at the
<url url=""
home page. A table of contents is usually also available online.
Another commercial paper magazine is the
<url url=""
name="Linux Magazine">
which also offers table of contents and some excerpts online.
<!-- <url url="" name="Performance Computing"> -->
<url url=""
name="Unix Review">
(formerly known as Performance Computing)
gives a lot of Linux coverage.
Some popular e-zines are
<url url=""
name="Linux Gazette">
<url url=""
name="Linux Focus"> (available in a number of languages)
<url url=""
name="Linux Research">
<url url=""
name="Linux Today">
<url url=""
name="Linux News">
<url url=";netmag/"
name="Linux Netmag"> (available in a number of languages)
<url url=""
name="Penguin Magazine">
and probably a few others as new ones seem to pop quite frequently.
Check out
<url url=""
for up to date information on current news services.
New web pages with literally daily news on linux are popping up
everywhere, many are quite professional in layout as well as in
scope. One of the bigger ones is
<url url=""
which serves out news daily.
For those who cannot afford the time to follow the net on an hourly
basis yet need the important news quickly there is the
<url url=""
name="Linux Weekly News">,
which gives you a weekly update of important news, including
securities alerts and also announcements of new and updated
You can also find directions to IRC online chat lines at
<url url=""
One the other extreme there are the those who practically live on
the net and who might like to watch all sorts of news as they
are reported on
<url url=""
on a minute by minute basis using the ticker service or web interface.
There are also a number of more hardware oriented web sites
worth visiting, such as
<url url=""
name="Toms Hardware">,
<url url=""
for general hardware reviews, and
<url url=""
name="Storage review"> for the latest in disk, tape and other storage technology..
<nidx>up-to-date!information resources!meetings</nidx>
Linux has been created through a massive networked effort, mostly by
heavy use of the Internet. Still, there is the chance of meeting real
people, face to face, in Linux user groups (LUG) that are all over the
world. Search the lists that are published regularly, there could be
one near you.
Conferences, install fests, creating new user groups and more is regularly
announced on Usenet News
<url url="news:comp.os.linux.announce"
Such events are excellent venues for staying on top of events and also for
getting help.
<nidx>up-to-date!information resources!search engines</nidx>
There are many avenues open when searching for something particular.
Remember you can also use the web search engines and that some, like
<item><url url=""
<item><url url=""
<item><url url=""
can also search Usenet news.
There are numerous search engines available but they are not all equal
neither in method of rating relevance nor in size of database.
For established, authoritative pages I recommend using
<url url=""
since it scores pages by the number of links pointing to them.
People often link to pages they find important or useful and
Google uses this.
Google takes time to score a page properly so it is not that useful
for searching for the newest or more exotic topics. For that I
normally recommend either the very fast and wide spanning
<url url=""
or meta engines, web systems that forwards your request to
a number of other search engines, receives the results,
collates and scores before presenting you with the result.
My favourite meta engine is
<url url=""
formerly known as MetaCrawler.
Such preferences are all subjective and the systems improve
continuously so you need to experiment yourself. There is
no perfect search engine and as less than 10 percent of all pages
are indexed you need to try several engines if you don't succeed
at first.
Also remember that
<url url=""
is a dedicated news searcher that keeps a news spool from early 1995 and onwards.
Even though more and more things take place of the web these days, do
not forget that there is a lot of information available on the various
ftp servers around the world. Some web search engines also index ftp
servers but the tool of choice is still the Archie servers, systems
that regularly scan major ftp servers around the world and keep lists
of files. These can be accessed in many ways, either by Archie clients
like <tt/archie/ or the X11 version <tt/xarchie/ which should be
available on any well maintained linux system. Failing that you can
access archie servers using telnet to any of the servers listed
<item> <url url="telnet://" name="Australia">
<item> <url url="telnet://" name="Austria">
<item> <url url="telnet://" name="Belgium">
<item> <url url="telnet://" name="Finland">
<item> <url url="telnet://" name="Germany">
<item> <url url="telnet://" name="Korea">
<item> <url url="telnet://" name="Italy">
<item> <url url="telnet://" name="Japan">
<item> <url url="telnet://" name="Poland">
<item> <url url="telnet://" name="Sweden">
<item> <url url="telnet://" name="Spain">
<item> <url url="telnet://" name="United Kingdom">
<item> <url url="telnet://" name="United States">
<item> <url url="telnet://" name="United States">
Of course you should try to use the server closest to you, and to see
the list of current server you can either start the Archie client with
no arguments or, if telnetting, by querying the server. Online help is
available. Unfortunately not all servers are synchronised, so you
might have to search a few before finding what you are looking for.
Recently a more user friendly ftp index server entered the net, the
<url url=""
engine, featuring many options and with a rather stark interface,
in the best Unix tradition.
Most of these offer help on efficient searching techniques, reading this
can speed up your searches enormously. Investing a little time here will
pay off in the long run.
If you have trouble getting onto the Internet but have mail then you
should have a look at the <em/access via mail/ FAQ. Naturally you can
get it over e-mail using the
<url url=""
name="US, Canada and South America server">
entering only this line in the BODY of the note:
<tt>send usenet/news.answers/internet-services/access-via-email</tt>
<url url=""
name="Europe, Asia etc server">
entering only this line in the BODY of the note:
<tt/send lis-iis e-access-inet.txt/
or look through your news spool if you have one locally in
<url url="news:news.answers"
name="news.answers newsgroup">.
Finally, you might wish to get more information from a person, say an
author of a software package. usually you can find the e-mail address
in the accompanying documentation which normally would be in the
<url url="file:///usr/doc/"
name="documentation subdirectory">
but failing that and also if the given address is no longer valid you
could find help in the FAQ for
<url url=""
name="finding e-mail addresses">.
Finding information fast and efficiently is more of an art than a science
and we still have not touched on the really difficult part: how do you
determine the actual <em/quality/ of the information? It is outside the
scope of this HOWTO to tell you that but it is still something you should
keep in mind. You should at least check the information is recent enough
to be current to your problem.
As a bare minimum you should ensure a minimum of validity of the
documentation to avoid misleading or malicious advice. A surprising
number of people suggests things like <tt>rm -rf / </tt> as a solution
for a given problem. Some see it as an obvious prank, the unaware can
end up destroying his or her setup. Just to avoid such things you
should check out a few things before rushing ahead:
<item>Is there a name attached to the document? If people are serious
about what they write it should not be anonymous.
<item>Is it dated? Documents tend to evolve as the technology advances.
Be sure you are reading the latest version. Internet search engines can
help you here.
<item>Are there any followups? Be sure to check any followups or comments
to what you read, otherwise you might miss a warning or a correction.
If you keep this in mind you should not fall for too many of the scams
that circulate on the net, from get well-cards for Craig Shergold,
chain letters to the more recent problems of Trojans for Linux that
tries to trick you into mailing off your password.
There is a number of FAQs available that deals with more serious research
method topics and you can also see a comprehensive
<url url=""
name="on-line version">.
Finally, do not forget the
<url url=""
name="Linux Documentation Project">
site that coordinates documentation for Linux. Updates and new documents
are issued regularly, reflecting the development in the field.
Quoted from someone's signature:<p>
<em>Be alert! The world needs more lerts.</em>