Copyright © 2005 Peter Jay Salzman
2005-09-27 ver 1.19
Licensed by Peter Jay Salzman under the Open Software License (OSL) version 1.1. See http://opensource.org/licenses/osl.php for more information about the Open Source License.
Some questions get asked repeatedly. When this happens, they may not get answered as fully or as well as they did before. Repeated questions are a waste of time and bandwidth for everyone. This is an attempt at providing high-quality answers for frequently asked questions.
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The author is Peter Jay Salzman
<email@example.com>. I accept corrections and additions gracefully.
In alphabetical order, here is a list of people who have provided content for this FAQ:
Ryan Castellucci, Melissa Hardenbrook, Henry House, Mark Kim, Foo Lim, John McDonnell, Rusty Minden, Rick Moen, Jeff Newmiller, Dave Peticolas, Peter Jay Salzman, Lynn S. Wood.
LUGOD stands for "The Linux Users' Group of Davis". Note the placement of the apostrophe. We are, as our name implies, a Linux users' group: a bunch of people who use Linux. LUGOD provides a means for us to support each other with technical know-how and also to provide a cool social network.
We are quite proud of LUGOD. People who come into contact with us like Dave Anderson (seti@home), Jeremy Allison (Samba), Rick Moen (linuxmafia.com), Chris DiBona (VA Software), and many others all say that LUGOD is the most active and prolific LUG they've ever seen. We do lots of stuff: support, social, evangelism. Why do we do it? Because it's fun! LUGOD started out as a purely social group. We're a bit too big for that anymore, but the social element is still an important aspect of everything we do.
Formally, LUGOD is a 501(c)7 non-profit club. It is supported entirely by volunteers and donations (not tax-deductable, alas). We have a constitution and a set of bylaws. Membership is free, though you do not need to join to participate.
The mission of LUGOD is provide services, technical assistance and a social network to the local Linux using community. Every penny that LUGOD makes goes to fulfilling this mission and nothing else. We're financially responsible, but what we do sometimes take money.
Some donations go to expanding our lending library. We don't purchase many books because we get so many book donations, but sometimes there will be a book that people want and really ought to be in our library which has no chance of getting donated. A book on learning LaTeX is a perfect example.
We don't normally provide food at the meetings, but for special meetings, where the guest speaker is special, we like to have some kind of food and beverage at the meeting to help celebrate the event. The food you see at the average meeting has been donated by some kind soul.
Part of our mission is to hold monthly installfests. The people run the installfest give up an entire day (10:00am to 6:00pm) once a month for every month of a year. And it can be a very difficult job! These people are the heroes of LUGOD; without them, we couldn't have installfests. As a way of saying "thank you" to the installers, we provide them with pizza for lunch. We don't feed the attendees (we couldn't possibly pay for all of them), but they can donate money to the installfest fund and share in the pizza. We usually have around 10 installers each month. That can be a little pricey.
LUGOD is constantly holding public Linux demonstrations, classes, info sessions and speaking events. The money required for making copies of our pamphlets and handouts can really add up.
We constantly advertise since part of our mission is to get people to use Linux and attend our events. We don't usually pay for advertising since we don't usually have the funds for it. However, for really special events we will sometimes take an ad out in a newspaper like the Comic News Press.
When we first started, we considered being a registered UC Davis club. This would've given us a lot of money each year and certain perks like being able to register rooms in UCD for events.
Unfortunately, the price was too high. As a campus group, there are no restrictions on who could be a member, but officers have to be registered UCD students. We didn't want our non-student membership to be 2nd class citizens by not being elegible for officership. So we chose not to be associated with UCD.
It has been asked, "Why not become a campus club and just not tell UCD that your officers are not UCD students". We could've done that, and chances are that nobody would know the difference, or more importantly, care. We wanted to be honest. Imagine that!
When we outgrew Steve's Pizza, we began to look for a new meeting place. The city of Davis has many perfect meeting rooms, but they are very costly to rent. We applied for a waiver of room fees but the Davis City council turned us down. They would rather have let our group die than give us a room for free that wasn't being used in the first place. So, no, we're not affiliated with the city of Davis, either.
We've all been there. You go somewhere and everyone knows each other, except for you. You don't know who to talk to and it's uncomfortable until you eventually make some friends. But some of us make friends faster than others. How do you speed up the process?
Firstly, have the webmaster (currently Bill Kendrick) take a picture of you at our meeting for our members page. This will allow other people to associate your name with your face so we can say hi to you at the meeting and know whom we're greeting.
Secondly, sign up for the mailing lists and interact with us. We can't expect to know someone without interacting with them. The mailing lists provide an excellent forum to interact and get to know you.
Thirdly, the single most important thing you can do to make friends quickly at LUGOD is to volunteer for something. We have plenty of things you can volunteer for. We're always looking for people to staff our monthly installfests and Linux demonstrations. LUGOD always has something in the works: classes... talks... booths at events... tons of stuff. We always need people to help staff these things. You don't need to be technically inclined either. We always need people to just "be there" to pass material out, field general LUGOD questions and direct traffic. By volunteering at events, your name is almost guaranteed to be remembered by the people at the event. Bringing food like chips and salsa to a few consecutive meetings is guaranteed to make you an extremely popular person.
The following people have been most kind to LUGOD:
Joel Baumert: Arranged for us to get some excellent meeting space at Z-World.
Z-World: Even though we don't meet at Z-World anymore, it would be hard to overstate how kind Z-World has been to us. Jim Riffel, Joel Baumert and Z-World has donated so much to LUGOD that I'm not sure how we'd ever pay them back.
Codeweavers: Donated Crossover Plugin and Crossover Office to LUGOD for our demo machine.
Bill Kendrick: Cofounded LUGOD, is the best webmaster we could ever hope for.
Maxim Group: Donated sandwiches at lots of meetings.
Rusty Minden: For tirelessly organizing our installfests.
mother.com: Gave us our initial web connectivity and mailing lists.
nerdbooks.com: For giving all LUGOD members an in-store discount of 10%.
O' Reilly Books: Donated hundreds of dollars worth of books to LUGOD, most of which LUGOD donated to the Yolo Public Library.
Rod Roark of Sunset Systems: Gave us our current web connectivity and mailing lists.
Christine Scobee: For bringing lots of snackables to meetings.
Officers, current: Mike Simons, Henry House, Melissa Hardenbrook
Officers, previous: Rhonda Bailey (treasurer)
Remington Stone: Co-wrote the bylaws and helped get tax-exempt status with Peter Salzman.
Steve's Pizza, Lampost Pizza: Provided space for meetings before we found Z-World.
VA Linux Systems (and Joe Arruda): Gave us lots of swag.
VMware: Donated a full version of VMware work station to LUGOD for our demo computer.
Marianne Waage: Designed the LUGOD website.
Andy Jones: Host of "Dr. Andy's Poetry and Technology Hour" who gives LUGOD radio airtime.
It's not as easy as it sounds; if you think asking a question is trivial, you probably don't really know how to ask a good question. Asking for help involves 4 things:
The symptom: "My system does X".
When does X happen: "My system does X when I do Y
The output: "My system does X when I do Y. The output is Z"
Relevent entries in your system log.
So in other words, this question:
My computer hangs. What could be causing this?
is much better asked as this question:
After my computer is on for a few hours, the system doesn't respond to the mouse or keyboard. The monitor is blank, and the only way I can recover from this is by hitting the reset button. I looked in /var/log/messages, but the last few entries just say "MARK" (what does that mean?). I'm running Suse 7.3 with a 2.4.2 kernel. I can successfully log into the computer remotely from my system at work when this happens.
And this question:
My CD writer doesn't work. How do I configure it?
Is much better asked as:
I'm having trouble with my CD writer. It's a SCISI Plextor Ultra writer. I tried to burn a copy of some mp3's using xcdroast, but it keeps burning coasters. My SCSI card is an Iomega EZ SCSI PCI card. I have a SCSI hard drive connected to the same card (but I know they're assigned different SCSI id's) and it works perfectly. I'm running Redhat 7.1 with a 2.2.18 kernel. When I run xcdroast, it prints out: Starting to write CD/DVD at speed 4 in dummy mode for single session. Last chance to quit, starting dummy write in 1 seconds. Waiting for reader process to fill input buffer...input buffer ready. Starting new track at sector: 0 Track 01: 0 of 59 MB written. /usr/bin/cdrecord: Input/output error. write_g1: scsi sendcmd: retryable error status: 0x2 (CHECK CONDITION) Sense Key: 0x5 Illegal Request, Segment 0 Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you're actually reading this. Sense Code: 0x64 Qual 0x00 (illegal mode for this track) Fru 0x0 Sense flags: Blk 0 (not valid) cmd finished after 0.002s. Timeout 40s
One of the myths propagated by Microsoft is that nobody is around to help you when you have trouble with a Linux system. I admit, there's a problem with Linux support, but it's quite the opposite. At times, there's TOO MUCH support. Linux support is free and available 24/7. Linux support doesn't end with documentation---it starts there. LUGOD is available for help, as are countless websites, other LUG's, Usenet, Google and more.
Before asking a question on vox-tech, check out the vox-tech archives to see if anyone has asked it before:
Also, do a search on Google groups. Most questions that get asked on vox-tech have been asked and answered hundreds of times on a Usenet newsgroup. Google groups is the #1 best source of info about Linux.
Next, for more verbose discussions about various topics, you can consult a HOWTO. The collection of HOWTO's is ever increasing and they're a good way to learn a topic which may not be covered by a book. You can probably find the HOWTO's on your system in /usr/share/doc/HOWTO.
If you don't see them then you should definitely install them from your Linux installation disk. Every distro carries the HOWTO's in various formats like text, postscript and html. If you don't know how to do this or don't have Linux installation CD's you can download the HOWTO's from The Linux Documentation Project:
They also have FAQ's, Guides and books at linuxdoc. Familiarize yourself with what's there, at least once, and the next time you need to know something about, say firewalling, you'll remember there were a few relevent sounding documents at www.tldp.org about firewalling. By the way, there is an excellent Linux FAQ at linuxdoc.org. Even seasoned Linux veterans can learn from it:
Don't forget the man pages. Learn what man -k does. Don't forget the info pages. If you don't know how to use info pages, do info info, then press h. It's a 10 minute info page tutorial, and is worth every minute.
Sometimes you have a quick question and don't want to wade through all the information out there to get the answer. This is called wanting to be spoonfed. Sometimes we just don't have the mental strength to hunt down the answer to every small question we have. That's OK. Just don't make a habit out of it.
Post this question to the comp.os.linux Usenet newsgroup. They'll have some excellent answers for you.
Nicole Carlson thought the previous answer was too evil for words, so I'll give a real answer.
Debian is the best Linux Distribution. Like Babylon 5, all other distributions are but shadows of perfection.
OK, some people don't appreciate my sense of humor. If someone wants to write up an answer to "what's the best Linux distro?" then I'll put it here.
This has been kicked around on the mailing lists every now and then. I believe the first time this topic surfaced was only a few months after the mailing lists started, when LUGOD was a fledgling LUG. The short answer is that nobody has any time. I certainly don't.