The Frequently Asked Questions List

This is the html version of the FAQ. It is possible to obtain LaTeX, PostScript and plain text versions of it. The html, LaTeX and PostScript ones have been generated using a particularly peculiar piece of perl written by Julian Birch who has now left Cambridge. It is maintained by Austin Donnelly. So far, he has figured out how it does it. He is currently working on why.

Followup-To: poster
Summary: Please read this before posting to
Keywords: FAQ, new,
Subject: FAQ v0.7 [last updated 10th May 1995]

This is the list of Frequently Asked Questions about, the
newsgroup for Cambridge University people to share their (often wildly
differing) opinions with each other.

See questions 1.1 and 1.2 for more details about FAQs. There are no HOWTOs as yet. Maybe someone would like to write a newsreader

This FAQ is posted regularly to, and can is also available
via anonymous ftp from as:


Please check out this FAQ, especially Q5.1 `You still haven't answered
my question !', before posting to the newsgroup.

You can skip to a particular question by searching for `Question n.nn.'.
Note that to find question 1.2, you need to search for '1. 2', the
space is important.

Section 1: Introduction and General Information on News

1.1 What is a FAQ?

:FAQ: /F-A-Q/ or /fak/ [USENET] n. 1. A Frequently Asked Question. 2. A compendium of accumulated lore, posted periodically to high-volume newsgroups in an attempt to forestall such questions. Some people prefer the term `FAQ list' or `FAQL' /fa'kl/, reserving `FAQ' for sense 1.

1.2 Can I get a pretty version of it, rather than this grotty text?

Yes, by all means. There is a version in LaTeX and one in PostScript available. Have a look at

1.3 Where can I find these HOWTOs people keep mentioning

They are posted to at the same time as this FAQ. Also, you should be able to get the from, as

1.4 What is a post?

A post is an article submitted to a newsgroup, such as Post can also be used as a verb, e.g. "I am about to post this article, do you want to read it ?"

1.5 What is a flame?

:flame: 1. vi. To post an email message intended to insult and provoke. 2. vi. To speak incessantly and/or rabidly on some relatively uninteresting subject or with a patently ridiculous attitude. 3. vt. Either of senses 1 or 2, directed with hostility at a particular person or people. 4. n. An instance of flaming. When a discussion degenerates into useless controversy, one might tell the participants "Now you're just flaming" or "Stop all that flamage!" to try to get them to cool down (so to speak).

The term may have been independently invented at several different places; it is also reported that `flaming' was in use to mean something like `interminably drawn-out semi-serious discussions' (late-night bull sessions) at Carleton College during 1968--1971.

It is possible that the hackish sense of `flame' is much older than that. The poet Chaucer was also what passed for a wizard hacker in his time; he wrote a treatise on the astrolabe, the most advanced computing device of the day. In Chaucer's "Troilus and Cressida", Cressida laments her inability to grasp the proof of a particular mathematical theorem; her uncle Pandarus then observes that it's called "the fleminge of wrecches." This phrase seems to have been intended in context as "that which puts the wretches to flight" but was probably just as ambiguous in Middle English as "the flaming of wretches" would be today. One suspects that Chaucer would feel right at home on USENET.

1.6 How do I read news?

There are several ways. They all come down to talking to, the news server machine. You can use various programs to make it easier, such as rn, trn, xrn, nn, tin, telnet, trumpet, NewsWatcher, InterNews. With the growth of the WWW, you can now read news using Netscape or Mosaic. Indeed, may would argue that it's nicer using Netscape than Trumpet. Alternatively, you can always look over someone's shoulder.

1.7 Why is trumpet such an excellent newsreader?

It has an interesting colour scheme, is fully supported, and crack up to date. Additionally, it prevents you from accidentally following up to one of those nasty joke followups without your realising it. It uses TurboVision, and is more stable than MS Windoze. As an optional extra, you can also read your favourate .sigs in proportional fonts under Windoze.

1.8 What are the rules for posting here?

A healthy attitude is required, along with a good thick skin for insults, and razor-sharp wit will probably get you somewhere fast. Miss Emily Postnews will provide further guidance as to nettiquette. You will require a signature too. This is a tail piece added to each of your articles, giving useful(?) information about yourself. It is variously described as a .sig, after the file in your home directory in which it resides. Generally a sig of under 50 lines is considered a small one, and you should be aiming for around 10-20 lines ideally. A good rule of thumb is that if your sig is shorter than your article, then your sig isn't long enough. Look on and rec.arts.ascii for some sample sigs.

1.9 Who is Emily Postnews?

Miss Postnews is to be found hanging around news.announce.newusers, telling them exactly what they should be doing. If you are referred to her advice, it is only decent to read it once, then politely disagree if you feel it necessary.

1.10 How do I fake news?

Read the relevant RFC. In this case, it happens to be number 977.

1.11 What is a cancel message, and how do I fake them?

A cancel message is what is sent by your newsreader when you cancel one of your articles. Since this is just a plain text message, it is wide open to forgery, and so you can cancel other people's articles. Ask Ian Jackson if you need some help. (See question 2.2 "Who is Ian Jackson?")

1.12 What is the most frequently asked question?

The question most frequently asked concerns the placing of apostrophe's in sentence's. I think the jury are still out on this one.

Section 2: People and Places, Habits

2.1 Who is 666aaa?

666aaa is the user ID of a cross between Lucifer and Anshu. See question 2.3 about Anshu, and surely you know Lucifer ?

2.2 Who is Ian Jackson?

Ian Jackson is the full-time Linux FAQer, and part-time postgrad at ORL (Olivetti Research Labs) He is a roving net.cop, checking people's articles for compliance with the relevant standards that may apply. Any which do not are given a summary trial and executed. He can be reached as

2.3 Who was Anshu?

Anshu is the master of irrelevant witterings. His postings used to provoke large flamewars with worldwide cross-postings. He left Cambridge and is now studying at UMIST. His email is See also the anshu filter, question 3.5.

2.4 Who was Julian Birch?

He was a Mathematician, turned into Diploma in Computer Science, and frequent dropper of flame bait. He has been back to Cambridge on a few occasions since he left, and was present at a pubmeet in his honour. Well known for the tagline "finger me for my CV" Now working for a London firm of baby bashers (his own words, I assure you), doing database type things.

2.5 Who is John Line?

The newsmaster for Cambridge University. He controls the news machines, so be nice to him if you meet him. His email is

2.6 Who are the CL?

The Computer Lab, originally the Mathematical Laboratory. They provide teaching to computer science students, and a few computing facilities.

2.7 Who are the CS?

The Computing Service. They provide a large array of computing resources to the whole university, including the CL. They are a sub-department of the CL, but still have a fair amount of autonomy.

2.8 What's a pubmeet?

A pubmeet is when a group of similarly minded people get together to storm a public house, and discuss issues interesting to them. There have been several pubmeets, and most have resulted in signed napkins or beermats etc. Ancient Druids has become the defacto standard pub to have the pubmeet at. Its large size makes it an attractive proposition. Some known dates of pubmeets are as follows:

          21st May  1994
           6th June 1994
           5th Nov  1994
          19th Nov  1994
          26th Nov  1994

Since then here have been, of course, many other pubmeets, but there are the only recorded ones.

2.9 Where can I find a jpeg of one?

There are very few photos that make it out the the Ancient Druids - but there is one to be viewed at about halfway down the page.

At other meets, people did have cameras, and indeed, at the Groggs garden party, some particularly juicy photos were snapped. See them on the World Wide Web as file://localhost/home/dna1000/dave.html (Sorry, you'll need to be on CUS to see this :( )

2.10 Why aren't pubs as cheap as college bars?

Because they don't lose money.

2.11 How much can I drink without falling over?

Recent research places the limit at 27 units.

2.12 How can I annoy Ian?

Tell him to read news.announce.newusers. Place large cuddly ascii graphics in your .sig. Quote as many people's .sigs as you can. Fail to quote blank lines. Place a uuencoded jpeg of yourself in your .sig. Add "distribution: World" to the headers. Change your quoting style willy-nilly. Get attributions wrong. Any or all of the above are guaranteed to work.

2.13 Do I have to be an engineer or computer scientist to post?

No, but it helps. These days has seen postings from a far greater variety of people. This is, of course, greatly to be encouraged.

2.14 Is long hair obligatory?

No. But it does mean you can hide behind it.

2.15 What is HPS?

History and Philosophy of Science. Marc Read, who left last year, studied HPS here, and was continually asked this question. Aldabra Stoddart is currently doing HPS.

2.16 What is worse than finding an ascii graphics sig in your news?

Finding one and a half sigs in your news. cf: the Anshu series of posts.

2.17 What is a womble?

A small furry creature, living in Wimbledon Common. Some have migrated to the New Museums Site, as described in the "Womble Hunting HOWTO"

2.18 Why is Big Womble watching me?

This was part of a Mond room poster campaign, when "Big Womble is watching you" posters went up everywhere. This was at about the time that games playing was banned in the Mond. The playing of Doom, leading to shouts of "KILL the ******* tomato, for God's sake!!" (and such like), was probably a major factor in this. Also, Doom would cause the network to crash frequently, and much of the flakier network oriented software would die horribly.

2.19 When will GROGGS for Unix be ready?

RSN. See also question 3.10 "What do these letters mean ?"

The "GROGGS package" is the main 'discussion board' on Phoenix, open to all users. It aims to enable users to discuss a wide variety of subjects, ranging from Phoenix and computing in general to serious social and political issues. Humour, poetry, advertisements and advice are also welcome, in fact anything which is likely to be of interest. GROGGS owes its origins to the Computing Service's SUGGEST mechanism, but has been made much more user-friendly and versatile than this. It consists of a special "message" file containing a number of separate items which have been submitted by users, and a file GROGGS.CURRENT containing all the items from the message file in a readable format, with the most recent ones first. Individual items in the message file may be read and replied to. The READNEW command provides a convenient way of doing this, though it uses up a lot of credit. GROGGS is not run by the Computing Service, but by a small group of users. Although the CS have provided the GROGGS filespace and HELP GROGGS, please do not expect them to provide any information or answer questions about it - all queries should be mailed to groggs@phx. Martin Hardcastle is the current Editor.

Ian Jackson is spearheading the move to groggs for Unix, and they seem to have found a home for the server.

2.20 Who produces 130 articles a day?

No one. Its a joint, team effort. Join in !

2.21 Who counts 130 articles a day?

Richard Kettlewell's posting habits program, which analyses the number of articles posted to, and breaks it down by time. It produces output similar to the following:

From: (Richard Kettlewell)
Subject: posting habits
Date: Mon May 08 21:28:45 BST 1995
Organization: Lies, damn lies and statistics

Time of postings within the day for the past 7 days:

  91 |                            xx                  
  86 |                            xx                  
  81 |xx                          xxxx                
  77 |xx                          xxxx                
  72 |xx                          xxxx                
  68 |xx                          xxxx                
  63 |xx                        xxxxxx                
  59 |xx                  xx    xxxxxxxx              
  54 |xx                  xx    xxxxxxxx              
  50 |xx                xxxx    xxxxxxxx            xx
  45 |xx                xxxx  xxxxxxxxxxxx          xx
  40 |xx                xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx          xx
  36 |xx                xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx    xx    xx
  31 |xx                xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  xxxx    xx
  27 |xxxx              xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  22 |xxxx            xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  18 |xxxx            xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  13 |xxxxxx    xx    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
   9 |xxxxxxxx  xxxx  xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
   4 |xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Time  00  02  04  06  08  10  12  14  16  18  20  22
        01  03  05  07  09  11  13  15  17  19  21  23

2.22 What's Jolt?

Jolt Cola is American coke with twice the caffeine, and lots of sugar. Just right for keeping alive and kicking during those long programming sessions.

Section 3: Computers and all that junk

3.1 Why should I use MS Windows?

MS Windoze is by MicroSoft {TM}, and so therefore it must be standard. You are guaranteed that everything will work the same way. The user interface is a slick, smooth and well defined one, and you can't really change it. It is a wonderfully memory efficient layer that can be run even on a 8086 (if you are patient, and don't mind not having the latest version). As well as all this, it is stunningly fast, and hardly ever crashes.

3.2 How do I use the X window system?

In comparison to MS Windoze, X is not really standard. Only people in the Unix world use it. So it can't be any good for business software. You are guaranteed that every application will have its own optimised user interface. X is slick, if you tweak it suitably. It can be smooth, on nice fast hardware. It doesn't really care about memory, after all, thats the kernel's problem, isn't it? You can't really run X on an 8086 or even an 80286, but then, no one uses those dinosaurs any more, surely? X is also fast, and never crashes. Which do you believe ? You use the X window system by tailoring it to the way you work, rather than changing the way you work to fit your computer. That's how you use X.

3.3 What is an RFC?

A Request For Comment. It is a technical description of some aspect of a particular software system. RFC's define the finger protocol, Mail, News, and many other things. You can obtain them via anonymous ftp from under /rfc

3.4 What does RFC977 cover?

RFC977 is the description of the nntp commands that may be used for reading and posting news to a news server, rather than the old-fashioned way of viewing directly the spool files.

3.5 What is the Anshu filter?

The Anshu filter is a little lex program written by Richard Kettlewell which takes your ordinary text file and make it look as if Anshu had written it. You can find the latest version of the Anshu filter at Apparently, the MSDOS version is no longer quite so up to date.

Here is the original announcement:

] #1431
] From: (Richard Kettlewell)
] Subject: OK, here it is...
] Date: Sun May 22 07:02:07 BST 1994
] Organization: Cambridge University
] Lines: 35
] Summary: takes its revenge on
] Right, as promised. I've now made available version 0.11 of The Anshu 
] Filter, a program not a million miles different in intent from the 
] various B1FF filters that we know and love.
] Operation of The Anshu Filter is very simple; you prepare some text, use 
] a command like:
]         anshu <myfile >mangled
] and you now have a mildly Anshu-ised version of the original text. For 
] more drastic effects, use something along the lines of:
]         anshu <myfile | anshu | anshu | anshu >mangled
] To get it, look in directory:
]         central-pwf\ub2:re-rj\rjk1002\public
] You will find various files there, including README, which describes the
] other files, and ANSHU.EXE, an executable for DOS machines. You will also
] find anshu.l, the original source to the filter, and anshu011.tgz, which
] contains not only anshu.l but also anshu.c, the flexed version of anshu.l. 
] (If you are ftp'ing to, the above directory name becomes
]         /ub2/re-rj/rjk1002/public
] instead.)
] For the most effective results, you need a reasonable sized piece of 
] text; you may prefer to look at anshu.l to see which words the filter 
] picks up on, but that would be cheating really.
] Richard Kettlewell

3.6 What is Doom?

DOOM is the official game of the PWF. It is an interactive action multiplayer game, involving blasting everything off the face of the earth. Generally, it is a nice little game to show off the power of your computer. Play it, and you'll soon see why it's so addictive - it's adrenaline on a diskette. Doom has been swamped by a host of imitations, including Descent (in 3D), Heretic, and of course, Doom 2. Many people have designed additional levels, and some are rather good.

3.7 What is a URL?

A Universal Resource Locator. It is used by WWW browsers when specifying a link to be made. The format is:


So for example the CL home page for Mosaic is at:

Which specifies that the data type is http (hypertext transfer protocol) and that the machine to connect to is called The final / says look in the root directory of that machine. Simple, huh ?

3.8 Where is the homepage?

3.9 What is Hello World?

:hello, world: interj. 1. The canonical minimal test message in the C/UNIX universe. 2. Any of the minimal programs that emit this message. Traditionally, the first program a C coder is supposed to write in a new environment is one that just prints "hello, world" to standard output (and indeed it is the first example program in {K&R}). Environments that generate an unreasonably large executable for this trivial test or which require a {hairy} compiler-linker invocation to generate it are considered to {lose} (see {X}). 3. Greeting uttered by a hacker making an entrance or requesting information from anyone present. "Hello, world! Is the {VAX} back up yet?"

See the "Hello World! HOWTO" for a few example implementations.

3.10 What do these letters mean?

Ok, the world is full of abbreviations, and no part of life more so than computers. So, for all those weird, wonderful letters, here are some meanings:

AFAIK      as far as I know
AFK        away from keys
ARMM       -  a program which automatically cancels unsuitable articles. 
               It also cancels its own postings.
ATM        at the moment
BALGE      by and large good enough
BRB        be right back
BRS        big red switch
ETLA       extended three letter acronym
FETLA      further extended three letter acronym
FMPOV      from my point of view
FWIW       for what it's worth
FYI        for your information
IAMFI      I ask merely for information
IMAO       in my arrogant opinion
IMCO       in my [Cc]onservative optinion
IME        in my experience
IMHO       in my humble opinion
IMLO       in my [Ll]iberal opinion
IMNSHO     in my not so humble opinion
IMO        in my opinion
IMSO       in my [Ss]ocialist opinion
IPMFYI     I post merely for your information
IPNMTA     I post not merely to annoy
IPNMTO     I post not merely to offend
ISTR       I seem to remember
ITWSBT     I think we should be told
MOTAS      member of the appropriate sex
NNTP       net news transfer protocol
RL         real life
ROTFL      rolls on the floor, laughing
RTFM       read the fucking manual 
SMTP       simple mail transfer protocol
TANSTAAFL  there ain't no such thing as a free lunch (Robert A Heinlein)
TGGD       the great god debate
TIA        thanks in advance
TLA        three letter acronym
TMBSSNDOTWwibbleOWIWNPA      this must be some special new definition of the
                             word "wibble" of which I was not previously
TYVM       thank you very much
UTSL       use the source, luke
YKYBC      you know you've been conned...
YKYBHTLW   you know you've been hacking too long when...
YMMV       your millage may vary

Look also in the Jargon File for further acronyms.

3.11 How do I get a .plan on hermes?

Create a file called plan on another machine and ftp it up to hermes, calling it .plan. You can do this using edit under MSDOS, or TeachText on Macs. If you have a Unix account, chances are you know what you're doing, so I won't cover that here.

   Ok, you've got a file called "plan" on your F: drive, and you want to
   get it to hermes - this is what you do:
      F:> ftp
      Name: <your user id>
      Password: <your hermes password>
      User <user id> logged in.
      ftp> put plan .plan
      [other junk while transfer takes place]
      ftp> bye

And thats it !

      Double click on the "fetch" icon, and when it prompts you for a
      machine name, say "", fill in your user id, and
      (hermes) password, then click OK.  Once you've been connected,
      click on "Put file", and navigate to where the file is.
      Remember to call it ".plan", or it won't come up.

Thats it !

3.12 What's the New Four Yorkshiremen Sketch?

The New Four Yorkshiremen Sketch is the standard "when I were a lad..." type of discussion about how hard computing was in the 'olden' days. The original Four Yorkshiremen Sketch came from Monty Python; this one is what happens when you let phoenix hackers at it.

XXM10 30 Nov 1989 17.11
Good grief. The rate's 1.14. Mind you, I remember in the old days when
the rate was 6 regularly. I used to 'ave to wait 'til 11pm before I
logged on. Of course, I only 'ad ten shares in those days.

RPTB1 1 Dec 1989 12.57
Ten shares! Ha! You were lucky. In my day we 'ad minus four shares,
and we were grateful. We couldn't log on to Phoenix at all. We 'ad to
sit there while it would log on t' us!

The rate were 'igh in them days. It used to get up to 1200 on Friday
afternoons. All t'resource units were used up once you logged on, and
you 'ad to log off again and wait for a few years, like.

XXM10 1 Dec 1989 14.07
Luxury. We didn't 'ave chance to log on. We 'ad to submit all our jobs
on punched cards. We 'ad to punch 'em wi' ower teeth, o'course. Users
today, they've got it reet cushy. They don't know 'ow lucky they are.
370 processor, indeed! Luxury!

SA121 1 Dec 1989 15.28
Punched cards wi' y'own teeth? Y' don't know y' bin born, ah can tell
y'. In ar day, we'd no teeth left, we 'ad punch th'cards wi' ower
toenails. An' we didn' 'av non of them fancy proper cards, let me tell
y'. We 'ad do it on used vendecups, wi' all th' gunky brown bits still
stuck to 'em. Eee, th' youth o' today.

PE103 1 Dec 1989 16.20
Punch'd cards? When I were a lad y'ad no fancy punch'd cards. Y'ad to
sit thur turnin' 'andle wi' y' left 'and t' get the 'lectricity, like,
whilst tappin' owt binary down't RS-232 line wi'tother. Ah saw one
bloke uz 'and dropped off from 'strain. Quick as a flash 'e start'd
hittin' morse key wi' 'is 'ead, wi'owt missin' a bit. You lot 'ad it
reet cushy.

RIT10 1 Dec 1989 18.23
Binary? We used to dream o' binary. When I were a lad we'd no digital
computers, like. We 'ad t' build analogue circuits like, wi' ower own
two 'ands, an' every day we'd die of 'lectric shock 'n user services
woul' cum 'n dance on ower graves. Well I say grave, 'n fact 'twere
more of 'n ol' cardboard box wi' radioactive waste in't. You should
think y'selves lucky, young 'uns like you...

XXM10 2 Dec 1989 15.43
Analogue? By 'eck. We used unary. Now that's what I call a number
system.  'Course, we couldn't afford more'n one digit. At t'University
they 'ad octal but even they didn't 'ave a 6 digit. Aye, those were
the days. Four registers and a toggle switch...

CR24 6 Dec 1989 16.19
Toggle switch? Toggle switch? In my young day we started out as
apprentice binary registers. Six o'clock in the morning, come rain,
sleet, hail, or snow, we'ed be there kicking each other in the
buttocks-right for 1, left for zero.

JS138 6 Dec 1989 17.26
Buttocks?  Luxury.  In my day we use t'have 12 inch nails knocked
through our skulls and were made to spend 28hrs a day bang heads
gainst brick walls to produce output.  You binary registers had it

XXM10 6 Dec 1989 17.28
Well a'course I say registers, cause they were registers to us. But it
were a stack really. None o' this modern stack pointer rubbish,
either. You used to 'ave to remember which were t'top element in yer

IMG12 6 Dec 1989 22.18
Stack? You were lucky. We used to have hole in t'ground. We'd 'ave to
bury each digit separately like, and then dig 'em up again three weeks
later t'refresh 'em, or eed jus vanish.

FJMD1 9 Dec 1989 20.38
'lectriciteh eeh bah gumm, we 'ad nevr een heard o'tricity when ah
were young.  No my old supervisor, Mr Babbage, 'e used ter say. Theres
nowt can beat these new steam powered flip flops. Course in those days
t'were all xperimenal like.  Folks like us were lucky if'n we were
allowed t'ave chisl (for punched stone tablets o' course - don't tell
me you young uns dont 'ave ter use them now). Eh those were the days.
It took 6 or 7 year to do quicksort on one number (mind you we didn't
have NO DIGITS AT ALL, though they ad one in Manchesyer).

Punched cards? electricity? Nails through t'ead?


Section 4: Newsreader hints 'n' tips

4.1 I love xrn, but it doesn't do quite what I want it to...

Paul Menage swears by the following Xresources:

XRn.Composition.width: 600
XRn.stripHeaders: Path,Message-ID,Followup-To,Sender,Nntp-Posting-Host,

XRn.includePrefix: >
XRn.iconic: true
XRn.sortedSubjects: true
XRn.sortedSubject: true
XRn.sortedsubject: true
XRn.sortedsubjects: true 
XRn.saveNewsrcFile: /dev/null

4.2 How do I set the default editor in trn?

This example is to set emacs as your default editor. If you use sh or bash, try

         export EDITOR

Otherwise if you use csh, you need to do

         setenv EDITOR emacs

Note that this will also affect other programs the allow you to set a default editor. If you want to make the change permanent, add the command(s) to your inititalisation file.

4.3 What are some good options to trn?

Well, if you set a TRNINIT environment variable, then trn will assume those command line switches every time it starts up. I use

        TRNINIT="-B -f -g3 -G -p -x8msl"
-B     means show a spinning cursor while trn thinks
-f     means go fast, ie don't pause to give user time to read message
-g3    means show 3 lines of context on doing a search (like more does)
-G     means do fuzzy matching on newsgroup names that don't exist
-p     means auto-select articles that followup to my postings
-x8msl means show 8 lines of tree hierarchy at most, and show thread
          listings in mediumly scrunched up mode

Section 5: How to get further assistance

5.1 You still haven't answered my question!

If you think an answer is incomplete or inaccurate, please mail Austin Donnelly at

If you're a Unix newbie look in the FAQ for comp.unix.questions, and those for any of the other comp.unix.* groups that may be relevant.

Check the relevant HOWTO for the subject in question, if there is one.

You are in little danger of making your posting too long unless you include large chunks of source code or uuencoded files, so err on the side of giving too much information.

Use a clear, detailed Subject line. Don't put things like `me again'. Save the space for the main thrust of your point, or make it meaningful in some other way.

If you use (t)rn make sure that when you post something new you use the lowercase f key. Some people have been posting using uppercase F and deleting the quoted text. This marks your article as part of the thread of the article you're following up, which will often cause it to be junked by the readers with the rest of a boring thread.

Don't be afraid to create a new thread if the current one has clearly got little to do with the subject line. Alternatively, change the subject line to something meaningful.

Section 6: Administrative information and acknowledgements

6.1 Feedback is invited

Please send me your comments on this FAQ.

I accept submissions for the FAQ in any format; All contributions comments and corrections are gratefully received.

Please send them to (Austin Donnelly)

6.2 Authorship and acknowledgements

This FAQ was compiled by Austin Donnelly <>, with assistance and comments from (amongst others) Donal Fellows, David Damerell, Chris Brown, Marc Read, Paul Menage, Liz for her room, Dave Holland, Julian Birch, Richard Kettlewell; and all the other beer mat scribblers from Druids.

Thanks to Ian Jackson, whose Linux FAQ I shamelessly copied and used as the framework for this one. If you think Q5.1 looks familiar, it's because it *is*.

Some entries for this FAQ were taken from the Jargon File, release 3.00. They can be spotted as the ones starting with a colon.

The Jargon File is available in numerous ways. Using Mosaic, URL

Or, via anonymous ftp from, under /pub/gnu, as the file jarg320.txt.gz.

Thank you.