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What's the difference between Super User, Unix & Linux, and Ask Ubuntu?

In general, what's a rule for deciding where to post a question when I have one (which might apply to any of those three)? If I have a problem with Linux Mint, which seems likely to be the same in Ubuntu, is it appropriate to post it on Ask Ubuntu?

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    The problem with statments like "which seems likely to be the same in Ubuntu" is how sure are you if you don't already know the answer? May 15, 2012 at 21:01
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    In this case it's actually because I was planning to ask a question when I was using Ubuntu, but didn't get around to it. Last night I installed Mint for the first time and then today found that I still had the same problem. Since I don't regularly change operating systems, I probably won't know whether the problem exists in Ubuntu as well, but in this one case I do know that it does.
    – dspyz
    May 15, 2012 at 21:08
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    Short version: Yes, sites overlap, and that's OK. :)
    – user154510
    May 15, 2012 at 21:46
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    Actually, I dislike that overlap, @Matthew, like I dislike Ask Different existing next to Super User too. But well.
    – Arjan
    May 15, 2012 at 21:47
  • @Arjan It makes me feel uncomfortable as well, but I am able to recognize that's merely due to my CDO :P
    – user154510
    May 15, 2012 at 22:50
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    I have a similar problem: I can't tell the difference between SuperUser and ServerFault when I'm voting to migrate a question.
    – Rob
    Jun 12, 2012 at 23:06
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    @gnat: Why do you keep flagging overlapping-site-scope questions as dupes of that faq when they're not about CS at all, and the only mention in the single answer of their actual issue is a link or so to a blog that discusses it? That's not a duplicate question or suitable answer for a dupe. Maybe the faq should be adjusted to discuss all such site scope questions, but do that first. Mar 29, 2016 at 17:51
  • @NathanTuggy you are right, I retracted my vote before it closed and voted to reopen
    – gnat
    Mar 30, 2016 at 7:59
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    @gnat: Good to hear! Mar 30, 2016 at 8:03
  • 1
    Not a duplicate IMO. Reopened. Mar 30, 2016 at 14:21

3 Answers 3

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Ask Ubuntu (AU) is for (from their On-topic help page):

Also from the the same Help page:

Questions that you should avoid::

  • Linux Mint, BackTrack (now Kali Linux), and other Linux distributions not directly based on Ubuntu (try our friends at Unix & Linux Stack Exchange (U&L)).

(Emphasis mine)

In general, AU is for Ubuntu, Lubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu...etcetera, while U&L is open to all other distributions (while Ubuntu is acceptable there, if you only care about Ubuntu, you'll get more focused answers on AU).

In your case, I would ask on Unix & Linux.

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    So you're saying so long as I'm working on Linux Mint, I should ask all my questions relating to installing anything on the Unix-and-Linux stack exchange, because superuser is for anything not Unix-and-Linux
    – dspyz
    May 15, 2012 at 21:03
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    @dspyz That is just not true. Super User is for Unix and Linux. Decide where you want to post, it's up to you.
    – slhck
    May 15, 2012 at 22:00
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    @dspyz Most Unix & Linux questions are also on-topic on Super User, but not all: Super User rejects mobile phones, tablets, embedded systems other than home routers, questions that are too server-y, questions about Hackintosh, and is not very accepting of questions that ask why and not how. Jun 12, 2012 at 19:42
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The FAQ for all three sites seems to cover it pretty well.

Super User concerns itself with computer hardware, software, and personal home computing/networking; Unix and Linux concerns itself with *nix operating systems (not specifically a particular distro); and Ask Ubuntu concerns itself with questions in regards to Ubuntu and its official derivatives.

To answer your question more pointedly:

[Ask Ubuntu] is not the right place for:

  • Linux Mint, Backtrack, and other Linux distributions (try our friends at Unix & Linux Stack Exchange).

...so you'd do well with Unix and Linux.

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    So if it's a home server running Ubuntu Linux, the question belongs on all of the above? :(
    – endolith
    Jan 25, 2020 at 18:26
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It's kind of like a hierarchy of increasingly narrowing scope.

  1. Super User Stack Exchange is the widest: includes questions for all computers and operating systems, including hardware and software (but not software development!—go to Stack Overflow for that!). See: https://superuser.com/help/on-topic:

    Super User is for computer enthusiasts and power users. If you have a question about …

    • computer hardware,
    • computer software, or
    • personal and home computer networking

    and it is not about

    • programming and software development,
    • video games or consoles,
    • websites or web services like Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress,
    • electronic devices, media players, cell phones or smart phones, except insofar as they interface with your computer,
    • issues specific to corporate IT support and networks,
    • asking for a product, service or learning material recommendation, … then you’re in the right place to ask your question!
  2. Next is Unix & Linux Stack Exchange. It is more narrow, requiring that the operating system be Linux, FreeBSD, Unix, or Unix-like. This includes macOS it sounds like, but if your question only applies to Macs, use Ask Different at https://apple.stackexchange.com/ instead. For Unix & Linux Stack Exchange, see: https://unix.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic:

    Unix and Linux Stack Exchange is for users of Linux, FreeBSD and other Un*x-like operating systems.

    If your question is about:

    • Using or administering a *nix desktop or server
    • The Unix foundation underlying OS X (but generally not frontend application questions)
    • The underlying *nix OS on an embedded system or handheld device (e.g. an Android phone)
    • Shell scripting
    • Applications packaged in *nix distributions (note: being cross-platform does not disqualify)
    • UNIX C API and System Interfaces ( within reason )

    then you're in the right place. Note that Ubuntu posts are a special case. If your question applies to Ubuntu only, or you're looking for answers that are Ubuntu-specific, you should post it on the Ask Ubuntu Stack Exchange site. If your question applies to other distros or you welcome more generic solutions, you're in the right place here.

  3. Finally, comes the Ask Ubuntu Stack Exchange. It is the narrowest scope. If a question is for Ubuntu only, don't ask it on Unix & Linux Stack Exchange, ask it here. See: https://askubuntu.com/help/on-topic:

    Ask Ubuntu

    It's a questions and answers site for Ubuntu-related questions. It's also a place to share knowledge about Ubuntu.

Note that there is a lot of overlap in where you can ask questions. Use your best judgment. If in doubt, and you're using Ubuntu, just ask there on AskUbuntu. It's probably safe.

If I'm having a problem with Linux Mint, which seems likely to be the same in Ubuntu, is it appropriate to post it on Ask Ubuntu?

Since Mint is so close to Ubuntu, you can probably ask on Ask Ubuntu (Stack Exchange site) for Mint too and be just fine. But, technically, since it's not Ubuntu, the guidance above says you should ask on the Unix & Linux Stack Exchange instead. See here for all recent questions on there tagged with linux-mint, which is exactly the tag you should use when asking there: https://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/linux-mint. With 3682 questions there with that tag (as of 12 Mar. 2021), it looks like that's the right place to ask.

Why so many sites? From my comment below, I think:

@pavel_orekhov, I think there is merit in creating multiples for one reason & one reason only: ownership. In a communist Stack Exchange, there is one site & all users must use it equally. But since they have no control over it they get disenfranchised & leave [or disengage]. In a free society with ownership, subgroups which are otherwise part of a larger group can break off & create their own community of more-narrowly-focused content. They feel ownership. This ownership gives them a sense of belonging, purpose, & meaning. It keeps them engaged. Their site thrives. Ownership is key to all things in life.

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    This is all really confusing... They should have stuck with stackoverflow for development and superuser for non-dev computer stuff. No need to create askdifferent, askubuntu, unix&linux... Dec 14, 2022 at 16:10
  • @pavel_orekhov, I think there is merit in creating multiples for one reason & one reason only: ownership. In a communist Stack Exchange, there is one site & all users must use it equally. But since they have no control over it they get disenfranchised & leave. In a free society with ownership, subgroups which are otherwise part of a larger group can break off & create their own community of more-narrowly-focused content. They feel ownership. This ownership gives them a sense of belonging, purpose, & meaning. It keeps them engaged. Their site thrives. Ownership is key to all things in life. Dec 14, 2022 at 16:30
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    I guess I agree with you in that sense, putting all eggs in one basket is bad, there must be alternatives. Thanks for sharing your point of view. Dec 14, 2022 at 16:38
  • That would be an argument for further splintering and dividing Stack Overflow up by programming language, Java, C#, Forth, Python, Rust, JavaScript, C, PHP, C++, Fortran, VBA, COBOL, assembly language, etc. Dec 14, 2022 at 19:33
  • @This_is_NOT_a_forum, perhaps. In a sense, that's exactly what happened with arduino.stackexchange.com. It's an overlap between programming (C++, C, and some Python and Bash) (Stack Overflow) and electrical engineering (Electronics Stack Exchange). So, it kinda sorta could have fit in either of those communities, but I promise it would not have fared well there. The communities are too different in how they think, feel, and act, and the knowledge they have and the desired end-point of what they want to make. Dec 14, 2022 at 19:59
  • If C and C++ developers clashed enough, yes, one group could break off and form their own site and that would be beneficial for all if they clash enough. But, many programmers program in a variety of languages at once and don't feel the need to break off like that, so the site remains whole. Dec 14, 2022 at 20:00

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