March 8, 2001

Web review: Userlocal.com is a darn good site for Linux slackers

Author: JT Smith

- by Tina Gasperson -

Double agent Robert Hanssen purportedly is (was?) a Slackware user. Lots of people use slackware, and there's a big active Web site for them at www.slackware.com. But there don't seem to be many other sites dedicated to this distribution.Search for Mandrake sites, you'll get a nice long list. Pretty much the same for Debian, and Red Hat. But for some reason, Slackware doesn't get the same concentration of basic "here's the distribution" sites.

There is another destination for Slackware people, though. It's called Userlocal.com. The site focuses on the new slackware user, providing how-to articles on topics like Slackware packaging tools, upgrading KDE, locale settings, and other "stuff," including a good tip on mounting multiple cdrom drives as a regular user.

Userlocal sports a very cool page full of desktop screenshots that will make you jealous or spur you on to new heights of creativity. I didn't see any I didn't like. The only problem with pretty desktops is ... well, I can't think of any problems, other than the fact that I need to get one of the contributors to Userlocal to make one for me.

One particularly useful tutorial that is evidently still under construction is the EMACS how-to. It started out great, and even spurred me to fire up the fancy text editor to write this review. But it was a sad case of tutorus interruptus, as the article ends just as it was gathering a full head of steam. Where's the part about using EMACS as a browser? Or using it as a mail client? Again, give us more, please.

They've also posted a couple of interesting interviews with David Cantrell, core developer with Slackware, and James Simmons, the creator of Linuxmafia.org. Nicely done, but since it takes all of 15 minutes to read those, how about rounding out the selection a bit, guys?

Userlocal posts links to daily news, too, and original articles and reviews. The news links are updated frequently throughout each day, but the articles and reviews are a bit thin. The quality is good though, so we respectfully request, "more please." Forums, which we love in general for their searchability and helpfulness when facing a problem that needs fairly quick resolution, are also in need of fattening up. Userlocal just needs more traffic -- and it is worthy of more traffic.

Perhaps Slackware users feel they are getting all their needs met at slackware.com. But here's the deal: Userlocal is updated much more frequently with news of interest to the Slackware subset of the community, and it is a few degrees more friendly and personal than the slackware.com site. Not only that, but slackware.com doesn't link to Userlocal.com, and if it is truly the site of record for Slackware, then it should.

As a last word, we encourage the Userlocal.com people to keep going with their efforts at creating a useful community for Slack-people. Don't throw in the towel just because the audience participation isn't where you want it to be yet. Userlocal is a good thing, and we need all the quality we can get when it comes to distribution-specific Web sites.

Check out Userlocal.com and tell us what you think of it. And if you know of a site that is worthy of the NewsForge spotlight, send us email.

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