December 21, 2000

Web review: Ground zero for Linux knowledge

Author: JT Smith

- by Tina Gasperson -
What first drew me to investigate and ultimately review the Linux knowledge base (lkb), being that I'm a woman in a field that is over-populated with men, is the logo for lkb. It's a picture of a woman (fully-clothed, even) working on a laptop, and by the caption "technical Linux info for technical Linux people" we are given the impression that she is involved with Linux. She's sitting on a sofa with her bare feet propped up on the coffee table. The expression on her face: a touch quizzical with a sprinkle of disgust thrown in. This could be me! I can identify! Show me the Knowledge!The Bad Stuff:

There were a few annoying bad internal links at the Linux knowledge base. I signed up for a free membership, in order to have access to an LKB mailing list that provides news about updates to the site, and promises free Linux support. After I typed in my personal information and clicked 'join,' I got a 404 error. Before that, an attempt to take a look at 'kb articles' revealed that there are no articles. Trying to access "," an internal link, brought another "not found" error. Once or twice I hit deadends when clicking on links to outside sites - though I have to give the benefit of the doubt on this; URLs can change faster than Clark Kent in a phone booth.

Another complaint/question: what the heck is that stuff on the right side of the page, under "recently updated items?" When I click on those links, I just get a blank template page. Intentional, or a mistake? If it's intentional, it'd be nice to know what's going on.

The Good Stuff:

Before you get the impression that I didn't like the site, allow me to correct you: I like it a lot. It's a good compendium of information about Linux, and while there are quite a few Linux info compendium sites, this one seems to go the distance in its effort to lay it all out for easy use.

The top of the site shows you links to categories for hardware, software, networking, development, quick information, and miscellaneous stuff. Digging down through the links takes you to ever more specific information. Navigating this way is good for when you 'sort of' know what you're looking for, or you just want to do some free-form learning. At times when you're honing in on an exact target, you can type in a keyword and search the entire database. For instance, a search on the keyword 'linksys' turned up 48 matches, and a search on 3com delivered 124.

In addition to standard 'how-to' links, there's a collection of MAN pages and access to Usenet posts. It's a pretty good bet you'll find the information you're looking for here.

Once I became a member, signing up for mailing lists was as easy as a single click (Amazon, are you listening?). There are four to choose from, so far: a discussion of the source code for the lkb, a general discussion list, an lkb advocacy list, and lkb-tech, to talk about issues with Linux.

The tips and tricks section is truly a site unto itself. LTT, it calls itself, and it contains no less than 189 TTs (tips and tricks) to study and learn from, all sorted into categories like web, SAMBA, drivers, hardware, and "FMTYWTK," which stands for "far more than you wanted to know."

The owners of the Linux Knowledge Base are working on a new version. It's a full-blown project with a site on SourceForge. (Disclosure: SourceForge is owned by VA Linux, which also owns Newsforge.)

Lkb is open to suggestions and they'd love for you to spread the word about the project. My suggestions: add a detailed "about" page to explain what they want to be and how they intend to get there. Why don't you go visit and send them your suggestions?

NewsForge editors read and respond to comments posted on our discussion page.


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