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Should there be a community here for Linux users?

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Codidact finally took off. A collective dream was named Codidact. This is now a Q & A website. Congratulations.

I used Stack Exchange [SE] most times for Linux questions. When I come across difficulties I search in DuckDuckGo and I find SE, or/and Quora.

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6 comments

Is Linux too narrow? Should we include all UNIX-like systems? Is Linux too broad, allowing all sorts of questions related to any library usable on Linux? What is the intended scope here? msh210‭ 4 months ago

I think including all UNIX-like systems (including the various free *BSDs as well as commercial UNIX variants, including Mac OS X to the extent that the UNIX-like portions are what matters) makes sense. A reasonable restriction might be that programming questions that require a separate step before direct execution is possible should go on Software Development instead; that would allow questions about scripting (bash, perl, awk, ...) but exclude most about compiled languages (C, C++, ...). Canina‭ 4 months ago

@Canina: I think Unix/Linux-specific programming questions should be ontopic, even if they include languages like C++. OTOH, platform-independent questions (or questions specific to non-Unix platforms) should be offtopic, even if they are in Perl (bash, or generally Unix shells, are Unix specific almost by definition, although ports to non-Unix systems exist). Thus, "Read password database in C++" should be on-topic, and "best way to do large number arithmetic in Perl" should be offtopic. celtschk‭ about 1 month ago

Could somebody add a draft scope (doesn't need to be long but should indicate what's in/out broadly) as an answer, so people can comment, vote, and refine? Please address Linux vs Unix (is it both? just the former?). Monica Cellio‭ about 1 month ago

I think the most important consideration is to consider overlaps. If this is a community for Linux users then I would imagine that there will be a huge overlap with an upcoming "Power user" site. To the point where I would question why *nix couldn't be covered by the Power user site, perhaps as a separate category. Lundin‭ about 1 month ago

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5 answers

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Right now we don't have a good way of identifying people who would help build a new community, so let's do this: if you are interested in helping to build this site, please leave a comment describing your level of interest (casual visitor, enthusiast, expert in this topic within the site's scope, something else?), or edit the post directly. I'll edit comments into the post later.

  • I would use it (casual visitor). — ‭8063‭

  • Enthusiast here! — ‭r~~‭

  • I would have occasional user-level questions, and probably some questions for which the answers involve sudo. - Monica Cellio

  • I think I would be a casual visitor with occasional questions. — ‭mbomb007‭

  • I would likely be a regular visitor and consider myself to be a competent user, more likely to answer than ask questions. — Canina

  • I'd be an asker — ‭ShowMeBillyJo

  • I'd be a casual participant who would ask/answer on occasion (for comparison, you can see my account on Unix & Linux SE which shows I've posted 5 questions and 3 answers and voted 72 times over the past ~5.5 years) — laserkittens (Dan)

  • I'd be a casual visitor for the most part, I'd likely mostly just read, occasionally answer. I've got knowledge in some parts of the Linux kernel and how to configure a system, but I am not much of a script writer in the usual Linux sense (no Perl, only basic shell scripts), I'm fluent in Python though and I usually use that for automation, though at that point it's probably more a software question than a Linux question. — ‭jrh

  • I’ve been using Linux as my primary OS for over two years, so I might be able to help with answering some questions, but I’d definitely lurk around and read. — ploni‭

  • enthusiast and somewhat experienced AU answerer here, I would love to help building up this community! — dessert‭

  • I'd probably be a casual visitor/poster. — celtschk‭

  • I'd be a casual poster. I've been using Linux and MacOS for a while. — Razetime

  • Another enthusiast here — fedorqui

  • Casual user, probably questions about WSL. — Sigma‭

  • Oh, If WSL is on topic for this site then I'd probably use it as well (casual) — Moshi‭

  • I'd be a casual user — FoggyFinder‭

  • I'd be a casual user as well — Ullallulloo‭

Re "If WSL is on topic" -- could y'all work out at least a high-level scope for this community? Linux specifically or any Unix or any Unix-like system? WSL? What else? (I don't know enough to ask the right questions.)

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13 comments

Enthusiast here! r~~‭ 4 months ago

I think I would be a casual visitor with occasional questions. mbomb007‭ 4 months ago

I'd be an asker ShowMeBillyJo‭ 4 months ago

I'd be a casual visitor for the most part, I'd likely mostly just read, occasionally answer. I've got knowledge in some parts of the Linux kernel and how to configure a system, but I am not much of a script writer in the usual Linux sense (no Perl, only basic shell scripts), I'm fluent in Python though and I usually use that for automation, though at that point it's probably more a software question than a Linux question. jrh‭ 4 months ago

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Rather than adding a bunch of comments to the existing proposal, I'm going to add an

alternative scope proposal

The community should cover Unix-like operating systems, but only to the extent that the Unix-like portions are what the question is about.

This uses "Unix-like operating systems" to refer collectively to such diverse systems as Linux (including both the kernel proper, typical general-purpose userlands such as GNU, and distribution-specific idiosyncrasies), the various *BSDs, Mac OS X, Windows Subsystem for Linux, Cygwin, the various proprietary UNIXes, and other operating systems and environments that operate similarly from a user (including system administrator) perspective.

on topic

  • Questions about installation, configuration, usage, administration, troubleshooting and repair of the Unix-like portions of Unix-like operating systems.
  • Questions about system startup of Unix-like operating systems, including configuration and error recovery thereof. (Editor's note: this includes, but is not limited to, Grub as a bootloader; it could also include, say, LILO or Syslinux. It can also include kernel initialization and system bootstrapping; asking about, say, root file system pivoting during the Linux boot process would fall into this category.)
  • Questions about performing, scripting and automating tasks using tools commonly used for such purposes on Unix-like operating systems.
  • Questions about how to accomplish a task in a GUI that can run on more than one Unix-like operating system. (Editor's note: the latter criteria excludes "how do I do X on Android?" or "how do I do Y using the OS X GUI?" because, while those are GUIs running on top of a Unix-like foundation, the GUIs are specific to those OSes and are therefore more of defining features of those specific OSes than of Unix-like operating systems in general. Questions about how to accomplish a task in a distribution-centric way on a Unix-like operating system, such as "how do I configure Z on Ubuntu?" are allowed under the "distribution-specific idiosyncrasies" allowance as long as the GUI itself can run on more than one Unix-like operating system.)
  • Questions about the history of Unix-like operating systems, including historical implementations.

off topic

  • Software development in a more general sense, even for software intended to run on a Unix-like operating system (should go on Software Development instead).
  • For Unix-like environments running within other operating systems (such as Cygwin, WSL, or the terminal in Mac OS X), questions relating solely to the operating system hosting the Unix-like environment, unless that is itself Unix-like. (Editor's note: the last exception allows for example questions about hosting of containers, namespaces and jails, where a Unix-like environment operates within another Unix-like environment, possibly constrained in some manner by the outer environment.)
  • General software usage questions that are unrelated to the operating system; it's not enough to add "when run on insert-favorite-*nix-here" to make "how do I draw a rectangle in LibreOffice Draw?" on-topic.
  • Software recommendations; ask how to accomplish a defined task, not which tool to use to accomplish a task.

Some notes

There are going to be some issues defining which exact task-automation questions fall within or outside of the community's scope, no matter the delineation, simply because in some sense, task automation is what all software development is all about. My intent in the bullet point on performing, scripting and automating tasks is to cover typical usage of a shell, including shell scripting (after all, nothing particularly magical happens because commands are placed in a file instead of typed manually at a terminal), while excluding development of larger-scale software.

As for the suggestion that configuring the boot sequence is on-topic but configuring an Apache web server is off topic, I'm torn on the issue. Near one extreme, "how do I configure LibreOffice to include my name in documents I save?" clearly has nothing to do with anything Unix-like, even though LibreOffice can run on Unix-like OSes; somewhere close to the other extreme, "how do I configure my insert-favorite-*nix-here system to not activate the kernel-implemented system facility XYZ during the boot process?" would pretty clearly be on topic; but there are quite fine lines between questions like "how do I configure Apache to do X without intervention during FreeBSD system boot?", "how do I configure the OpenIndiana NFS subsystem to export the Y file system automatically once it becomes available?" and "how do I configure the DHCP client daemon to do Z during Debian system boot?". Personally, I would be inclined to go for a slightly more permissive stance at first and revisit the issue later if it becomes a problem.

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0 comments

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Scope proposal

The new site should cover everything specifically Unix or Unix-like, covering all aspects. It should however not cover topics that are independent of Unix, or only marginally related to it.

In particular:

On-topic

  • Everything that could in principle be answered purely from the POSIX specification, as well as components that replace POSIX facilities.

  • Questions about GNU command line tools.

  • Questions about package managers

  • Questions about configuring Unix-like systems, as long as they are restricted to components that are otherwise on-topic (e.g., configuring your boot sequence is on-topic, configuring your Apache server is off-topic).

  • Questions about the X Window system or Wayland, as well as window managers and desktop environments running on top of those.

  • Questions about Grub.

Off-topic

  • Use of software that just happens to run under Unix or Linux (for example, questions on the usage of LibreOffice or the Apache web server).

  • Questions specifically about running Unix-like utilities under non-Unix operating systems (this includes both native ports of Unix utilities, or more sophisticated environments like Cygwin or WSL).

  • For systems comprised both of Unix and decidedly non-Unix parts (like OS X), anything that relates to the non-Unix part.

  • Generic programming questions that don't specifically relate to Unix or Unix-like operating systems, or are only marginally related (e.g. how to do thread-safe programming with POSIX threads would be off-topic despite being POSIX related, because the principles of thread-safe programming are mostly independent of the specific threading library used).

Anything I forgot to include or exclude?

If so, please tell in the comments.

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1 comment

Thanks! This is the sort of thing I was looking for. It looks solid to me; let's see how the community feels about it. (In particular, I hope the people who expressed interest will vote or provide feedback.) Monica Cellio‭ 24 days ago

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There's a lot of interest in this proposal. That's great! There are also questions about scope. We'd like to help this community succeed, and to do that we need everyone (or at least most folks) to agree on what it is you're building.

Could somebody add a draft scope (doesn't need to be long but should indicate what's in/out broadly) as an answer, so people can comment, vote, and refine? Please address Linux vs Unix (is it both? just the former?) and the WSL question, and whatever else might be big and controversial that I don't know to ask about. Thanks!

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0 comments

+2
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Scope: Should WSL be on-topic?

I'd say yes, because it is (technically) Linux, but there might be some peculiarities specific to WSL that would make it too far removed from being a 'Linux' question (e.g. I've seen a lot of WSL bugs ending up being "Microsoft hasn't implemented that functionality yet").

Such a scope question might come down to whether WSL is considered just a tool or if it is a system in its own right; if it is merely a tool, then it might be more on-topic on Software Development.[1]


  1. Of course, such questions might also be on topic on both communities, but that should also be thought about. ↩︎

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I would say perhaps a subset of WSL questions might be on topic, but specifically those that are still within the Linux aspect of it. For example, “how to run GUI programs in WSL?” requires a working knowledge of Windows, but not so much of Linux. ploni‭ about 1 month ago

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