November 10, 2004

Tinyminds.org: A not-tiny Linux site

Author: Tina Gasperson

Tinyminds.org is a Linux site that is not tiny at all. There's so much information here it would be difficult to fit all of it into even a big head. Tinyminds has been around since June 2002, providing resources to the community and the Internet at large, in order to fulfill its mission of "bringing users closer to Linux."

The site has thousands of registered members who participate in the fun by posting to the forums, uploading screenshots, writing articles, and hanging out in the Tinyminds IRC chat room. The site's owner, Mark Angeli, fills the site with reviews, interviews, and TLCs -- Tinyminds Linux Cheatsheets.

TLCs are Tinyminds' version of Linux HOWTOs. It's a catchy concept and one that appears at first glance to be eminently useful. A few of the TLCs are just links to articles on other sites, which could greatly diminish their usefulness if the links go bad. Many, however, actually reside on the Tinyminds.org site and appear to be written specifically for the site. Topics range from the ultra-basic hand-holding of "Newbie Lesson", to more complicated lessons like "Learning C++" or "Running a Web server with a Dynamic IP", all the way to slightly obscure, such as "Taming the Dual-Headed Monster" and "Setting up a Linux Counter Strike Server".

So, inquiring minds want to know, where did the name Tinyminds come from? It's a question no one seems to have a definite answer for. The site's FAQ states: "...before Tinyminds, there were many Linux BBSes with people with ... 'tiny minds' ... they were so fanatical about their OS, the MENTION of another operating system would bring about droves of responses and flames. Tinyminds was created out of need for a better BBS, where people from all OSes could come and help each other without fear of being flamed for choosing the wrong os/distro/whatever."

For a site that is bulging with valuable learning tools and plenty of experience from which to draw, Tinyminds doesn't seem to have a lot of recent activity. The forums have thousands of posts on dozens of different topics, but only one forum has had any recent posts, and the last one there was almost a month ago. Where did everyone go? The site was down for a while in the summer, and one theory is that attendance levels never fully recovered after it was restored. But not even the site owner has been around much lately.

If you visit Tinyminds.org and think it is worth supporting, you can do so in several ways. Angeli maintains a CafePress shop with lots of Linux T-shirts, and Tinyminds gets a portion of every sale. You can buy banner ads at the site -- just $15 for two rotating banner ads for a month. You can even have your Web site hosted at Tinyminds. Or, you can just make an outright donation.

Is it too late? Did Mark Angeli throw in the towel? Maybe -- or maybe not. We think he just went and started another cool Linux site. But we'll tell you more about that another time.

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