Following are excerpts from the official FAQ, entire text is found at:
and is also posted at:
and other locations.
[comp.os.linux.advocacy] FAQ and Primer for COLA, Edition III
Copyright: (c) 2002 The FAQ and Primer for COLA Team -- All Rights Reserved
Frequently Asked Questions and Primer for comp.os.linux.advocacy
April 19, 2002
| Beware of those who would call you a friend for |
| many will eat your bread while working against |
| you. They will take credit for your good works |
| and blame you for their own misdeeds. |
| - TheGreat Unknown |
This document is posted on a weekly to the comp.os.linux.advocacy,
comp.answers, and news.answers newsgroups. In addition it is archived at
rtfm.mit.edu ftp archive and its mirrors and is also available on the
Internet FAQ Consortium's website at www.faqs.org.
1.2 Welcome to comp.os.linux.advocacy
If you are new to Linux and/or comp.os.linux.advocacy, welcome. It is
hoped that you will will enjoy your time in comp.os.linux.advocacy and
find it educational. We also hope that you will find Linux as useful for
you. and that in the ripeness of time that you will become a contributing
member of the Linux community.
COLA is like a meeting hall for Linux advocacy. A place where those who
advocate the use of Linux can meet and discuss all things Linux. In
addition it is a place were individuals interested in Linux can come to
gain an understanding of the Linux and the Linux community and to learn
about the capabilities of Linux from those who are experienced with the
use, administration, and development of Linux.
By using Linux as a user or sysadmin you are a member of the Linux
community of which this newsgroup is an asset. The Linux community is
world-wide and interconnected by the internet and other networks gated to
The description that your news server delivers to you for
comp.os.linux.advocacy, or COLA for short, is "Benefits of Linux compared
to other operating systems". That description is derived from the charter
of COLA. Sometimes advocacy groups are viewed as a place where the
bickering undesirables of other newsgroups are directed, in order to
remove a disruption from another group on the same general subject. That
is incorrect for COLA.
1.3 Contributing to this FAQ and Primer
All those who advocate the use of Linux are invited to submit material and
suggestions to be considered for future versions of this document.
Submissions should be sent by email to m...@mindspring.com. You may also
post your submissions in COLA; however, in that case you should still
email your submission as well, so that the submission will not be missed
as can happen if it were posted in COLA only.
Submissions offered by those who may deemed to be hostile to Linux,
including but not limited to anti-Linux propagandists, will not be
1.4 The Charter of comp.os.linux.advocacy
The charter of comp.os.linux.advocacy is:
For discussion of the benefits of Linux compared to other operating
That single sentence is the one and only charter of the newsgroup
comp.os.linux.advocacy. The newsgroup's charter is for the newsgroup as a
place for supporters of Linux to gather to discuss Linux, for the
betterment of the Linux community and the promotion and development of
Linux. It supports this as a place for those who would like to learn more
about Linux to come to learn from those who know Linux. It does not call
for it to be a place where the anti-Linux propagandists to gather in order
to discredit Linux.
You may have heard of another charter sometimes called by some the
"original charter," that opens the newsgroup to the abuses that are
inflicted on Linux by those who oppose Linux. That other charter never
existed, it was a proposed charter for another newsgroup that never was
created that would also have been called comp.os.linux.advocacy.
On 14 Feb 1994, Danny Gould dgo...@helix.nih.gov posted
comp.os.linux.advocacy-R...@uunet.uu.net a Request for Discussion entitled
"Request for Discussion (RFD) on comp.os.linux.advocacy" to the
news.groups newsgroup. That RFD was cross posted to the appropriate
newsgroups and a number of other inappropriate newsgroups as well. It
included the following proposed charter:
The proposed group will provide a forum for the discussion of Linux. In
addition, it will allow comp.os.linux.misc to deal with Linux-specific
issues. Discussion will include (but not be limited to) the discussion
of the pros and cons of Linux and applications for Linux, and the
comparison of Linux with other operating systems and environments such
as Microsoft DOS and Windows, SCO UNIX, Coherent, NeXTstep, Macintosh
System, etc. It will be an unmoderated forum.
The call for votes on the proposal was not posted, the issue died without
On 4 Oct 1994, Dave Sill d...@ornl.gov posted 37mn57$...@rodan.UU.NET a
Request for Discussion entitled "REQUEST FOR DISCUSSION (RFD)
comp.os.linux reorganization." Thus far comp.os.linux.advocacy was not yet
proposed. Note that unlike Danny, Dave posted the Request for Discussions
to appropriate newsgroups only, that is a hallmark of a serious effort.
On 14 Oct 1994, Dave Sill d...@de5.ornl.gov posted 37mn57$...@rodan.UU.NET
a revised version of this Request for Discussion, this revised posting
called for the creation of comp.os.linux.advocacy among other
comp.os.linux.* groups. Dave proposed this charter for
For discussion of the benefits of Linux compared to other operating
The Call for Votes went out in the required form, and on 13 Dec 1994
posted the results ikl...@amdahl.com with greater than 8 to 1 in favor of
the creation of comp.os.linux.advocacy (our COLA) with Dave's proposed
charter. On that date, that charter became effective and that other
charter that was proposed for the other comp.os.linux.advocacy that never
was created, never became anything that affects this
Those who oppose Linux and have invaded comp.os.linux.advocacy in order to
try to subvert the purpose of this newsgroup will continue as they have to
insult the intelligence of the Linux advocates by citing that other
proposed charter of that other newsgroup that never came into existence.
They also have continued to quote from the introductory paragraph of the
Danny's Request for Discussion as though that were a part of any actual or
even a part of the failed, proposed charter. Perhaps they feel that the
introductory section provides them with a greater impact.
When someone posts citations from that failed Request for Discussion in
order to make it appear that the anti-Linux propagandists are sanctioned
to be posting in COLA, as was done by an anti-Linux propagandist on
January 13, 2002 in article pMr08.457$Wf1.316...@ruti.visi.com, then once
again by another anti-Linux propagandist on February 13, 2002 in article
d6761fb5.0202131955.6c3b9...@posting.google.com they are not only using
disinformation they are also insulting the intelligence of everyone who is
a reader COLA.
2.1 On Topic Subjects
On-topic is anything anything regarding Linux that is of interest to a
person who advocates the use of Linux, or requests for information about
Linux by a person who would like to learn about it. COLA is also a great
place to share your Linux success stories.
COLA is not a place to advocate the use of other operating systems, there
are other newsgroups for advocating them. COLA is not a place to vent real
or imagined complaints regarding Linux. There are other newsgroups created
for that purpose.
COLA is not a place to post advertisements or other promotions for
financial gain or for promoting anything other than the use of Linux
operating system and growth of the Linux community.
Linux is an operating system based on the unix class of operating systems.
It can be argued that Linux is the kernel of the operating system;
however, in common usage the word Linux is used to refer to entire
operating system as a whole, an operating system comprised of the kernel,
systems utility software, user utility software and to a lesser extent the
applications software. This is the practice that will be followed in this
document. Specific instances of this from given vendors are referred to as
Linux as stated above, is based on unix, but is not legally a clone of the
unix operating system. On the other hand it looks like unix, behaves like
unix, feels like unix enough to functionally be considered a unix. Linux
is more compatible with both major classes of unix, BSD and AT&T, than
they are with each other. Linux fully operates with with the other unixes
as an equal peer via networking.
Linux runs software compatible with those other unixes and in most cases
the very same software does run on each of those unixes and Linux as well.
Where the other unixes have deviated from each other with various
utilities or services, Linux typically supports both of their styles of
utilities. Often Linux is more compatible with the various unixes, than
they are with each other.
Linus Torvalds started developing Linux from scratch as a better unix than
than the Minix that was then available. Minix is a contraction of Minimal
Unix, and is the name of a very minimal unix that was licensed for
educational purposes. The name Linux is in turn a contraction of Linus's
Minix, although the actual results of Linus's early releases had already
so far out classed Minix so that Linus's Unix would have been a better
base to form the contraction Linux.
One of the major goals of creating Linux was to create a unix that was
free from the encumbrances of existing unixes and the licensing that
restricted the use of Minix. So it was necessary to write the Linux kernel
The Linux operating system provides all the features that users and
administrators should expect from any modern, high-performance operating
system. Many of these features have been a part of Linux and stable for
years. While the developers of various, so-called popular operating
systems claim to be innovating, they are only playing catch up with Linux.
As this document is being written, Linux is increasing its lead with the
development on the 2.5.x series developmental/experimental kernels.
3.1 The Kernel
The Kernel is the core of the operating system. That is the part that
communicates with devices, handles memory management, schedules processes,
and provides other basic services to the systems utility software, user
utility software and applications software. Thanks to the fact that the
kernel handles the hardware and provides a uniform view of it to higher
level software, regardless of your hardware platform, Linux will present
the user with a uniform environment. That means that once you as a user of
Linux learn to run it on a PC, or a Mac, or a minicomputer, or a mainframe
computer you will be able to sit down to use Linux on any other of the
supported platforms, and feel right at home. The hardware may look and
feel different such as a different key layout or a different pointing
device, but Linux knowledge is portable across hardware platforms. Members
of the team that produced this document can attest to this, through their
first hand experience on multiple hardware platforms running Linux.
Many versions of the Linux kernel have been released, in fact since the
release of the Linux kernel version 1.0.0 in there have been over 600
official main line kernels released, including the AC series of Linux
kernels there have been almost 900 releases in that time. The reason for
so many releases has to do with the development of the kernel being an
open process, this way you don't have to wait for months or years for a
needed patch to be provided or for a feature that you really need to be
3.9 Linux's Compatibility With Other Operating System
Linux is compatible at different levels with many other operating systems,
ranging from the networking level all the way to running the same
3.9.1 Compatible With Windows
Linux can run Windows software by running that software under the actual
Windows operating system (requiring a properly licensed copy of Windows)
that is in turn running as a guest operating system in a PC emulator such
as VMware. Linux can also run Windows software on Linux itself with an
implementation of the Windows Application Programming Interface (API) via
Wine. It is also possible to compile the source code for Windows based
software on Linux and link it against the Wine libraries to produce a
Linux executable of that Windows software. One note about Wine, Wine can
only run on PC style hardware, since it is not a PC emulator hardware, and
runs the Windows software directly on the underlying processor.
Linux can provide network printers and act as a fileserver for Windows
computers by running Samba using TCP/IP networking. You can also use
MarsNWE to provide printers and network volumes using IPX/SPX networking.
Linux can also access shares and printers provided by computers running
Windows by the use of Samba and the Samba filesystem. Linux can also be a
file, and print server to Windows clients by using Samba. Linux machines
can access Windows machines that are emulating NetWare file servers by
using the NetWare core protocol filesystem.
Linux can read and write to Windows hard drive partitions that use the
filesystems of MS-DOS and Windows 9x. The NTFS filesystem are a bit
problematic because of their nature and they way their specifications
change from version to version. Linux can read Windows NT, Windows 2000,
and Windows XP NTFS partitions well; however, writing directly to such
partitions is possible but not recommended.
There is an indirect method for Linux to read and write to NTFS
partitions. Running Windows under a PC emulator such as VMware, give that
copy of Windows access to the NTFS partition or partitions and have that
copy of Windows running as a fileserver. Then let Linux access the
fileserver through a virtual or actual network connection.
Linux understands the Windows extensions to the CD-ROM standards. Linux
can both read them and generate them. Linux can also access Windows
diskettes and other disk media, either by mounting them as any other Linux
partition can be mounted, or by the use of the mtools.
3.9.3 Compatible With MacOS
Linux can provide network printers and act as a fileserver for Macintosh
computers. Linux can access Macintosh based print servers and fileserver.
Linux can read and write Macintosh floppies, hard drives, and other disk
3.10 Linux Leaves Users Wanting Less
From them 1950's through the 1970's users would expect their computers to
operate as specified in the manuals and the specification sheets. The POP
manuals (Principal of Operations manuals) and the rest of the
documentation of those computers were considered to be faithful
representations of the operations of those computers.
There was one computer that was installed in 1964, the organization that
owned it decommisioned it in 1984, and wanted to donate it to a college
computer science department but they had lost the installation media of
the machine's operating system. The computer was running twenty-four hours
a day and seven days a week for those twenty years without a single reboot
or any down time. There were components that had failed: individual tape
drives and card readers/punches had worn out and were replaced, CRT
terminals were added and the most of the card readers, the old model 26
keypunch stations and most of the model 29 keypunch stations were retired.
Disk drives were added to that computer years after the initial
installation, None of that needed any downtime or reboots.
In the 1970's there was the development of microprocessors and
microcomputers, most of them matched their operating systems in what ever
form they came in and were as reliable as the computers of the prior
decade. Some of the hardware was problematic but the operating systems
would generally operate as specified.
In the early 1980's something started to change. Today many users have
come to accept and even expect their computers and operating system to
fail frequently, many shops now use regular reboot cycles as an attempt to
use pre-emptive reboots to avoid crashes at unexpected times. They have
come to expect their operating systems and systems software and
applications software to not work as documented. What is even worse, they
often see nothing wrong with that madness. In prior decades, if such
undependability and unreliability were experienced, it would not have not
been acceptable and the vendor would have to replace those useless systems
and often had to pay for the customer's losses as well.
Now flash forward to present day, users have come to expect very little
from their computers. Such poor performance has led them to expect less
and less while wanting more and more with little prospect of getting it.
But in addition to such unreliable operating systems, there is Linux,
leaving its users wanting less and less because it provides more and more
all the time.
* A stable operating system
Linux users no longer want for a stable operating system because Linux
is as stable operating system. Twenty four hours, seven days a week
non-stop operation for years at a time with off the shelf PC hardware
is not anything unusual for Linux. As members of the FAQ and Primer
team can attest to from personal experience.
* An operating system that doesn't require me to spend a fortune on new
Linux can run on hardware with just the computing power needed or that
is available. Linux sysadmins upgrade to more powerful hardware to
have more power available for their users, not to regain yesterday's
performance from today's operating system.
* An operating system with a decent graphical user interface.
Or rather one that can be configured to work the way you want it too.
With the look and feel you seek. Linux does not actually have any
graphical user interfaces, but the X Windowing System is commonly run
on Linux and other unixes. There are also other graphical user
interface besides the X Window System that can run on Linux, including
some next generation test bed systems. If a Linux user wishes he can
run today a user interface that won't be available elsewhere for years
or even decades, that is if he likes to live on the bleeding edge.
* An operating system with lots of useful stuff built in.
Much of what a person needs to purchase to get some other operating
systems to be useful comes with the common Linux distributions.
Sometimes in surprising ways, such as the little program named "cat"
that concatenates files and is the more powerful original that the DOS
command "type" was copied from. The program "cat" also provides by
itself much of the functionality of Norton Ghost.
* An operating system that doesn't try to prevent me from using my
Linux does not second guess or interfere with the human decision
making process. It respects the wisdom of the human sysadmin and the
user. There are utilities available to automate that, but in the end
humans are the bosses. There has been a call for more "Windows like"
automation to take over from human authority, one distribution that
used that philosophy was Corel Linux. It is now a hated distribution
by its own users as a result.
* An OS not prone to viral infections
While in theory no operating system can be 100all worms and viruses,
Linux by is nature is immune enough that the possibilities that such
little beasties exist have become like urban legends in the Linux
community. Even if such infections could target Linux, the
multifaceted code base would in itself limit the spread, if a sysadmin
selects the software to run without regard to distributions and does
not use precompiled binaries, he has just increased the level of
immunity of his systems. The worst an attacking worm could do is crash
a server program, but the worm creator could not actually control
anything with the worm because he could not predict the memory layout
of the program he is attacking on systems so independent from
distributions. That same would generally be true with binaries
supplied from a different distribution or different version than the
one he is targeting.
* An operating system which I can program and hack easily
Anyone can have access to the source code of the Linux kernel and most
if not all the programs they run on Linux. If one is a programmer,
Linux provides all the tools and the source code to add or alter any
feature he pleases. If he wants to write a new program and has
questions, about the operation of the library functions, or the
kernel, he can refer to the documentation, ask for help on-line, or
just read the applicable source code. If he has a device for which he
want to create a driver for, he can write it. If he wants to see how
similar drivers work, there is the Linux kernel source code and the
code of the other drivers available.
* An operating system which doesn't decay over time.
Since the late days of DOS programs and the coming of Window NT and
Windows 95, there has been a pheonoma known as software rot, also
known as bit rot. With late DOS programs it could take an individual
program on a production system out of commission needing to be
reinstalled. Windows 95 and Windows NT elevated the software rot
phenomenon from causing the decay of individual programs to the decay
of the entire operating system. This is not a factor with Linux.
All these items are things that Linux users are not wanting for any
longer, because Linux has given to them what they have been wanting for up
to a decade. So yes, Linux leaves its users wanting less, because it
provides so much more of what they have been hoping for from their prior