May 10, 2004

Linux community sites thrive on the Web

Author: Mary E. Tyler

You see it in headlines. It's quoted in the wires like some monotheistic Mel Gibson filled with religious fervor. But where is The Linux Community? Alive and well in forum-based community Web sites.

We went looking for Linux commuity sites that met four criteria. First, a site had to
be active, with postings within the last week. There are more than a
few dead or abandoned Linux community sites. Second, the site had to
offer three of the following: news, reviews, commentary, and Linux
information. Third, the site had to be hardware and distro agnostic,
for the broadest possible coverage of Linux. Finally, the site had to
offer channels for reader participation and exchange -- multi-channel
communication was a must.

That seemed to be the catch. There were scads of Linux news sites.
Plenty of sites gave one person's or group's opinion on everything
Linux. Linux information and reviews abound, but the full promise of
the Web -- community participation -- was absent from most sites
we saw. The vast majority of sites don't solicit reader comments.

We're not going to talk about our sister sites in the Open Source Development Network sites, but sites like and freshmeat are also great community resources.

What we came up with was not a comprehensive list of Linux community sites, but a selection of ones we thought interested users who searched for community resources would quickly find.

Newbies need only apply

We found two outstanding sites for new Linux users. not only has a forum -- everything except the
advertisements are interactive. The front page has news of interest
from the site maintainers. This can range from interesting tidbits of
Linux news to postings of upgrades to the site to long lists of
security issues and the scorecard for how many have been resolved.
There are reviews of products, books, and periodicals with comments
from the community. LinuxQuestions also maintains a hardware
compatibility list in an easy categorized format -- perfect for
newbies., which
resolves from, offers a sizeable
library of Linux how-to documents targeted to the newbie and forums
for user-to-user assistance. The home page lists both latest and
hottest threads as well as a newsfeed from Apparently, uses the same front end for its forum as

Buddy Buddy's discussion forum links directly to the forums
on However, the LinuxPlanet site offers its own pool
of tutorials, reviews, interviews, reports, and help documents.
Topics range from advocacy and email to utilities and Web servers -- a
comprehensive site. is
another kitchen sink site. There are introductory documents,
discussions on every major flavor of Linux, and even Linux wallpaper
and screensavers. The forums cover general Linux issues: feature
requests and bugs, security, and programming. There are also a number
of forums devoted to troubleshooting and ones for each of the major
distros. Part of The Web
network, LinuxForums lives up to its mission -- "work with a

Advocacy sites

Of the plethora of Linux advocacy sites, Advogato, a site dedicated to
open source blogs, fosters discussion and offers more than one-sided
declamations from one person. The site is also a research test bed for group trust
. Starting from a seed group of four, members must
certify one another as "apprentice," "journeyer," or "master,"
creating trust relationships and thereby providing security from
"attackers." Why anyone would want to attack a blog site we've yet
to establish, but we assume it has some deep mathematical meaning and
extensive application to programming.

With such a large community, we're sure we left out a variety of worthy sites. We're counting on you, our own community of readers, to tell us what's your favorite community site and why.


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