Talk:Common Questions and Misconceptions

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OK guys, on 19th December 2004 I went in and cleaned this page up a lot mostly by fixing the formatting and removing the extraneous info somebody had added apparently not realising that the questions were already answered. Any flames/comments/etc should go to me, -- User:Mike Hearn, as I originally wrote this article and most of the answers.


Change page title: add (FAQ)

Since this page is a FAQ, it should be labeled as such, but the link is on the Main page, so it takes a moderator. Note: I am editing this page, including inserting suggestions made in the comments below. User:TomFrayne June 2, 2004


"How to get Linux"

Regarding the 'is Linux free', it may just be my impression, but the original seemed to say 'Charging for Linux is iffy and barely accepted' and the edit seemed to say 'Getting it free is doable but very difficult and you should really buy it'. I am closer to the first attitude myself, but tried to attain a middle-state here.

The most important reason for my re-edit is that no article here should say 'if you are willing to learn item X' - every article in here should teach item X. They've already shown willingness to learn by coming here. Saying 'If you already know how to locate, download, and install it, or if you are willing to spend some amount of time searching on the web for information' rather than 'Go to LinuxISO' (especially when it's that simple) is - well, frankly, it seems to mislead the person interested in trying Linux into thinking getting a distro is some arcane art that they may not be able to master.

Also, Mandrake offers a free version along the lines of Fedora and still backs it with the brand name, so I feel they should be listed in the other group. And I just have to mention Slackware wherever possible. :) Seriously, it is a major and free distro.

Digiot 01:58, Feb 29, 2004 (EST)

Hmmm... the actual intent of my edits was not to suggest that it is hard to obtain Linux at no cost, but rather to acknowledge that there are many ways to obtain it without giving preference to one avenue over another. IMO, if we are to link to a "best 1st step" (LinuxISO, in this case), there are many sites that would contend they should receive that high-profile listing instead. I don't think we need to enter that argument.

Appreciate the correction regarding Mandrake. I wasn't sure of it's status.

Slackware...? I suppose your change here is warranted, but IMO just barely. And it raises a question similar to that above -- which distros warrant a mention here -- top 5? Top 10? Top 50? My preference would be to name only a few and link to another article that will try to deal more comprehensively with the top 20-50. Otherwise, as time goes by, the number of links on any page listing a distro will proliferate to an unreasonable degree.

I'm not currently making any further edits on these points but leave it to others for further consideration and discussion on this page.

Texastwister 02:21, Feb 29, 2004 (EST)

Well, I do agree that no preference should be given to either method in an article such as this, which is why I tried to preserve that balance in the edit. And I agree that the LinuxISO mention is debatable. I put that as a concrete example rather than an endorsement, but it is an unfortunate side effect. I mentioned elsewhere that we might or might not need a 'portal' page. If we had one, I'd favor the LinuxISO link being replaced with one to the list of links. As far as Slack, it just seemed missing. I may be wrong but it's my perception that there's kind of a 'top 6' tier (or top pair of trios) of RH/Fedora, SuSE, Mandrake, Debian, Slackware, Gentoo - but that may be more subjective than I think.

I do appreciate your edits - you corrected a mis-correction of mine that made me do a websearch to refresh my grammar (differ from/differ with - both are correct expressions, but in different cases) and I liked the restatement of Unix's age. :)

Digiot 03:37, Feb 29, 2004 (EST)

First off, I would like to apologize/take credit for added the sectioning to the talk page. There seems to be several seperate threads and I'd like to add my bit to most of them

Regarding the LinuxISO link, I wouldn't worry about it too much. If it's really that important, partisans from another site will add their links, until they annoy someone enough that they split them off into a 'portal' page. Relax and let the uptight do the work for you :-) Crazyeddie 02:45, Mar 11, 2004 (EST)

"Is there a bug"

Is 'there' a bug? (Jeez.)

Skyline - did you edit my comments or did the system screw up stuff between slashes and backslashes?

Windows 3.1/95/98/ME got turned into Windows 3.1///ME
C:\Windows got turned into C:
/usr/local/share got turned into //local/share


Digiot 19:22, Feb 29, 2004 (EST)

I think there's a bug aswell - I changed "Harware" to "Hardware" and "linux" to "Linux" - then checking the page history it looked like Windows 3.1/95/98/ME got turned into Windows 3.1///ME in the current revision - thought it was just a quirk at the time because if you actually look at the finished page, there's been no edit at all to take anything out - ie Windows 3.1/95/98/ME is still there as it should be - click on last next to my Spelling correction entry and you can see on the normal page that nothing has been taken out - very weird! - probably a bug.

Skyline 19:36, Feb 29, 2004 (EST)

Attack of the Gnu

I'm getting really tired of looking through changelogs and seeing 'GNU' stuck into every possible place it can be wedged. I'd like a wiki consensus that, unless a particular point is being made about specifically GNU or Linux or GNU/Linux, that everybody leave any of those words how they found them.

Or at least an overwhelming consensus that GNU *will* be wedged everywhere it can possibly be wedged.

If that's the case, I say we 'take off and sed the site from orbit', so we don't keep getting these nitpicky edits.

And 'espresso' was spelled right to begin with.

Digiot 05:19, Mar 6, 2004 (EST)

You've got my agreement on the GNU issue. While I'm eager to acknowledge the gratitude owed by the community to the GNU project I don't support efforts to force a change on a widely understood and nearly universally accepted name. In principle, I don't disagree with the sentiment that calling the OS merely "Linux" deprives the GNU project of well-deserved recognition. But in practice, "GNU/Linux" is a cumbersome name that will never be widely used. To try to promote it here -- in a site with a focus on "newbies" -- would only create unnecessary confusion and is misguided.

Texastwister 10:52, Mar 6, 2004 (EST)

All I can say is, if some maniac wants to put GNU in front of every single Linux on this wiki, I'm not going to get in his way...

Crazyeddie 02:45, Mar 11, 2004 (EST)

How about unfrequent questions?

I have a common misconception. When I find a problem with something, how do I report it with the least resistance? I have found a problem with the Kernel supporting my on board sound card as it worked for only some of the boots. Then how about my USB device (Microtech ZiO! Smartcard reader) as the specific directions I found were for an older Kernel and that I couldn't even come close to matching any of the results in the directions. There's a specific Kernel compiling option for it with no up-to-date directions!

For a site like I really would like to know where the questions and general troubleshooting support is at. Why can't the first page with main categories also show its underlieing site categories.

Dave 10:53, Mar 6, 2004

I think that this Wiki is as good a place as any to start answering FAQs that aren't answered in the already existing FAQ lists, but this node seems awfully small for such a task. Can anyone recommend where to node the less-common questions? For example, I'd like to start (because I just figured it out today, at long last) by listing some Causes of Filesystem Usage Discrepancies.

Vagary 16:20, Mar 6, 2004 (EST)

Part of the problem is that the individual Q&As need to be split off into their own pages. That would give enough room to have a progression from beginner's questions to expert's questions. I'd do it myself, but I'm training to be the laziest man in the state of Missouri. Crazyeddie 02:45, Mar 11, 2004 (EST)

Vagary - How about Disk_and_Tape_Drive_Commands or the commands under that section? A 'related' link. Those are the tools people will be using when they notice discrepancies, so it's a likely place to go looking for further help.

Not sure I followed what you meant, Crazyeddie. That's good work if you can get it, though.

Attack of the Gnu. :D

Digiot 05:44, Mar 11, 2004 (EST)

Blast from the Past

COMMENT SECTION (ed., About Security)

Just some thoughts - read, incorporate, delete as appropriate:

"Unfortunately on Windows, due to its Windows 3.1/95/98/ME heritage, many applications assume there is no security system in place (for instance their installers assume they can write to C:\Windows). This means that most users run as Administrator all the time, which is a bad idea as it means any program run can do anything to your system. On Linux, the opposite is true - because this system has always been there, there is no confusion over what apps can and cannot do."

-- actually, a lot of apps try to write to /etc when they really ought to write to /usr/local/share or what have you. Trivial, maybe, but the point is that *nix initially had pretty poor security, itself, and the root filesystem isn't always as invincible as we'd like. Legacy things like having mtab in /etc screwing with mounting / read-only and so on.

"None of these operations are really dangerous on single user machines. Worse, many programs that require root functionality for whatever reason have a special "uid" flag set on them, they are called "suid root" binaries. These programs always run as root, regardless of who runs them. There are typically thousands of these programs on any Linux system."

-- 'find / -perm 4755 2> /dev/null' only returned half a dozen on my box (half of which I installed myself) - am I just not finding them?

"You don't need root to:

  • Send mail
  • Steal or delete personal documents from your home directory
  • Scribble on your screen

which are some of the most common things viruses do. D'oh."

-- you still need the correct permissions, though. A user account isn't insecure - just defenseless in relation to root.

"* SELinux is a complete overhaul of the security system. Instead of an black and white user vs root distinction, each program is assigned only the capabilities it needs. This is a much more finer grained (but complex) level of security than was available before, and could go a long way towards helping stamp out many kinds of viruses. It was originally developed by the US National Security Agency."

-- a more complicated security scheme may result in less security, though, if people can't figure out how to use it properly. Besides the fact that the more complicated it is, the easier it is to break or screw up.

And, overall, while Linux isn't invincible and NT has some good points, the difference between them is still mind-boggling. This Q/A makes it sound like Linux is barely secure and NT is very nearly as (in)secure.


some more thoughts:

The author does not clearly differentiate between actual _KERNEL_ security and application security. --If your application gets hacked, so sorry. Just clean up the mess and restart the service, if it was not a privileged one. --If your kernel blows, you're probably SOL.

However, Linux (in a standard desktop installation: OpenOffice, KDE, Mozilla) seems to have less security flaws which can be eploited from the network. Windows 2000/XP is full of them, as one might believe after summer 2003.

Yours, mick29

You're right, digiot, there are only at most a couple dozen suid binaries. This security section in general is very poorly written and misleading. -elladan

this stuff should be moved into the talk section really -mike

Okay. :) Digiot 14:14, Mar 12, 2004 (EST)

I've added a bit in the NTFS support section (the Captive NTFS part to be exact) that I'm only 90% sure is right. Could somebody who actually knows what they're talking about take a look?

Crazyeddie 18:38, May 16, 2004 (EDT)

It's my understanding that, yes, CaptiveNTFS uses Windows' own drivers - kinda like a mini-WINE for the filesystem. So you're right or we're both wrong. --Digiot 20:32, May 16, 2004 (EDT)

Formatting cleanups

I fixed some formatting errors from the "microsoft differs from linux" faq item. The problem was that someone had put the bolding opening on a seperate line than the actual heading, thus bolding the text instead of the heading itself.. Am I making any sense? (: Ill drop an example here, just see the source and youll see what I mean.. (: A small difference, but critical as it seems.

Correct formatting, this is the heading: And here we have the text for this heading.. And now the opening tag is on a seperate line, this is the heading: And now comes the text, which is in bold, and just the opposite of what was intended.

copy and paste from published articles

It appears that a big chunk of this article was simply copy-and-pasted from (So what is ?) What should we do about LQWiki:Copyrights? Has M. Horowitz given permission already? --DavidCary 03:02, Oct 6, 2005 (EDT)

The email address does look familiar, but I cannot find an email giving us explicit permission to use the article in question. I'll have to do a bit of research (it's possible that the email address is just similar to someone else I have corresponded with or that I am just not finding the email right now). If we don't have explicit permission to use it under either of our licenses, we'll have to either get permission or remove the content. Jeremy 10:02, Oct 8, 2005 (EDT)

I was on the verge of emailing M. Horowitz myself, but I would hate to bug M. Horowitz *again* if you've already talked to him.

If you are going to email M. Horowitz, please politely ask:

  • Do you mind if we use your article as a rough draft of a "Linux vs. Windows" article? We plan to bring it up-to-date and distribute it widely using a Creative Commons License. (Someone thought you already gave us permission. If that was a mistake -- if you *don't* want us to use your text -- we will of course strip your text out of the article and start from scratch).
  • We already linked to your article from our version ( ). We certainly intend to give credit where credit is due.
  • Would you mind adding a short postscript to the bottom of page , saying you gave us permission to use your article as a rough draft? You might even consider linking directly to our article which (hopefully) has been brought more up-to-date.
  • As always, feel free to edit that or any other page on our wiki if you can improve it in any way.

--DavidCary 23:40, Oct 8, 2005 (EDT)

Just wanted to update the status on this. I have sent the email and am awaiting a response. Jeremy 23:08, Oct 24, 2005 (EDT)
We have received permission from Michael, with the caveat that we need to keep the link as attribution. He also noted that some corrections have been made to the doc that have not been rolled into the LQ Wiki article. I've kept all correspondence for our records. Jeremy 12:32, Oct 26, 2005 (EDT)

British or American English?

I'm a bit curious about whether the British English spellings should be used. I was thinking that since the site is hosted in the U.S., that one should use U.S. English conventions and try to maintain some consistency throughout the site and wiki. Or is this unnecessary, or might someone take offense to such changes?