Linuxdoc Linux Questions
Click here to ask our community of linux experts!
Custom Search
Next Previous Contents

3. Subscription

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, 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.

3.1 Usenet News

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 Frequently Asked Questions or 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 main FAQ archive at MIT.

These are also available as 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:

Many national hierarchies also have Linux groups, such as the Norwegian Linux groups. If you cannot find your national or local group you might be able to use Deja to find the names for you.

3.2 Mailing Lists

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 Majordomo which is what the list server at vger.rutgers.edu is running. To learn how it works you send a mail message with the word 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 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 subscribe and 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 help or something it cannot parse will give you the help information. An example: you send the word subscribe to the address corned-beef-requests@somelistserver.org and then you get mail from and contribute to the list address corned-beef-list@somelistserver.org until you unsubscribe.

A few tips before you start sending in to mailing lists:

As mentioned above, vger.rutgers.edu. is one of the main mailing list servers and here is an abbreviated index of what is available for the Linux community:

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 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 Publicly Available Mailing Lists.

3.3 Magazines

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 Linux Journal. More information on subscription etc. can be found at the SSC home page. A table of contents is usually also available online.

Another commercial paper magazine is the Linux Magazine which also offers table of contents and some excerpts online.

Also Unix Review (formerly known as Performance Computing) gives a lot of Linux coverage.

Some popular e-zines are

and probably a few others as new ones seem to pop quite frequently.

Check out LinuxHQ 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 Freshmeat 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 Linux Weekly News, which gives you a weekly update of important news, including securities alerts and also announcements of new and updated software.

You can also find directions to IRC online chat lines at Linux.com.

There are also a number of more hardware oriented web sites worth visiting, such as Toms Hardware, Anandtech for general hardware reviews, and Storage review for the latest in disk, tape and other storage technology..


Next Previous Contents