Despite their drawbacks, newsgroups can be a very efficient way of finding the information you need.
Before going to the newsgroups, I would highly recommend the Google news archives (http://groups.google.com , once known as DejaNews). This is a huge archive of newsgroup postings and you can search it using nice search tools. This way, you can often find an answer to your question without going through tons of trash, and without exposing yourself to anger after posting a question which "was already asked ten times this week". You may be surprised by the amount of information available through the google archive.
There are several newsgroups devoted to Linux and they seem much better than other newsgroups (maybe they are better policed by the Linux experts?). Here is a short list:
news:comp.os.linux.announce (moderated--the postings are done by a moderator, who reviews them prior to the posting. Inspect the footer of any message for info on how to post.)
news:comp.os.linux.advocacy (Use this one for discussion of pros and cons of Linux and perhaps a comparison of Linux with other operating systems. This is an excellent newsgroup if you like getting into endless arguments).
news:alt.linux.sux (Here you can read/write really all opinions on Linux.)
news:comp.os.unix (general UNIX newsgroup)
Please note that there is a newsgroup etiquette ("netiquette"), and you risk rejection and perhaps expose yourself to flames if you choose to break it. The major points:
Don't post on a topic that is unrelated to the subject of the newsgroup;
Don't post to many newsgroups at the same time (cross-post);
Use plain ASCII, don't post attachments, pictures, html, etc.;
Don't advertise (particularly commercial products);
Don't write UPPER CASE ONLY - THAT GETS YOU KILL FILED.
Use a simple descriptive subject ("HELP" isn't going to work) and briefly explain your problem. Include distribution and version number, and identify the hardware (USR 56K modem is wrong - list the model number).
To read newsgroups (also called usenet), you have to configure your access to a newsserver. The simplest may be to use mozilla ("edit"-"preferences"-"mail and newsgroups") and specifying the news server (your Internet Service Provider, ISP, should have given the name of the server) and then add the appropriate newsgroup to your list of local "mailboxes". If you don't know the name of the news server, try: "news.my_isp_provider_name.and_domain", or perhaps just "my_isp_provider_name.and_domain".
For news reading, I prefer knode& (type in the X terminal). Installation and learning newsgroups was certainly worth my effort.
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