Making the Most of Your LXer Experience

Posted by dcparris on Jul 17, 2006 8:07 AM EDT
LXer; By DC Parris
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  LXer Feature: 15-Jul-2006

If you're new to LXer, you'll appreciate this tour of the site's features that even old-timers overlook. The old-timers will find much to appreciate as well.

Welcome to the Guided Tour of LXer!

Recently, a regular user of LXer requested a forum feature. I replied that I would mention it to Dave, our publisher and webmaster. Dave beat me to the draw. Turns out the feature already exists. Some Editor-in-Chief I am. The truth is I simply haven't paid that much attention to some of the sites more useful features, developing my own approach to using the site. Whether our user and I have that in common or not, I don't know. I do know that this is a good opportunity to explore the hallowed halls of our site a little further, and help others along the way. For example, I wonder how many readers know they can add LXer to their Firefox search bar? Anyway, let's take a little tour, shall we?



Note: Where useful, I include the actual links. Otherwise, italics represents a link you might want to use, but is pretty useless in this tutorial. We'll drag the tour out over a few articles, introducing the site to newcomers, and moving on to the nifty things that many users find useful.



The Top Links

At the very top of the LXer site is a series of links that users may find interesting. The Newswire link, of course, is equivalent to "Home" on other sites. Following the Forums link, you can carry on general discussions about GNU/Linux or about LXer itself in the Linux and LXer Meta Forums.

You can learn about organizations that have migrated to GNU/Linux too. The Migrations link takes you to the Migrations database. You'll see a table of migrations, sortable by clicking on the Title, the Distro, and the links respectively. Oh, go on! You're allowed to play with the linky things on this tour.



Readers can go straight to the LXer Features, to find original articles published by LXer's editorial team. If you need to know how to do something related to GNU/Linux systems, follow the Howtos link to Howto Forge. You can contact the administrators, find out who is on the editorial team, and get some general background about LXer by following the respective links.

Reading The News

Typically, when readers come to LXer, they check out the stories on the Front Page first. So let's start there. If you're not visually impaired - and some of our readers may well be - you'll notice that stories are posted in the big column on the left side. LXer's newswire scrolls stories from top to bottom, normally at a pace of one or two stories per hour. Each story gets its own box with a lead paragraph, a few options for viewing it, and an indication of how many discussions (threads) about the story have been started. You may also see editors' comments about the story in small print beneath the lead paragraph. Comments can range from a snide remark to an explanation of why a particular article was posted.



There are a few different ways to view a story. Clicking on the headline or the Full Story link normally takes you directly to the actual story. The Read More link will take you to another page within LXer, where you can see further details about the story. For most stories hosted on other sites, the Read More link has little value, although some users make further comments that show up in that section. If the story is hosted on LXer, you'll get the same effect as if you clicked the Full Story link. We'll address discussing the news a little later on.



Once a story scrolls off the front page, you can navigate through subsequent pages a couple of different ways. Just below the last story on the front page, you'll find a link to View next 20 stories. After you click that link, you can then navigate the stories as they have scrolled through, or by date. Be aware that several stories from the bottom of the front page show up at the top of the second page. Clicking the View by date, instead? link gives you a drop-down list box with dates going back a little more than six months.



At the top of the right column you will find the "Today's Big Story", which carries the story that is viewed the most for that day. Sometimes it carries over for a day or two until a new story generates enough interest to knock the first one out of the box. You may have noticed the box beneath "Today's Big Story", "This Week at LWN". Since LWN is one of the other 'respectable' news sites, we have a special box that carries one story each week that is normally available only to subscribers. You heard correctly. We 'compete' with LWN, yet encourage you to go visit their site. That may be "something completely different" from what you're used to, but this is the FOSS community. We are completely different.

The Side Bar

In the right column, below the first two boxes (Today's Big Story and This Week at LWN), you'll find a box that wonders if you have anything you would like to say to the GNU/Linux community. Often times, someone will say, "If I want your opinion, I'll beat it out of you." Well, that's not us. We're asking you for your opinion, your news, your tutorials, and so on. Frankly, we're too busy to beat anything out of anyone. Anyhow, in that box is a link that says, Publish it here. That link actually takes you to a tutorial that explains in fairly simple terms just how to fill out the story submission form. So, go ahead and submit your stories - so we don't have to drop what we're doing to beat 'em out of you.

Next down is the Login/User Menu box. If you aren't logged in, you'll see the login box. If you're new, you can register an account to participate in the community that discusses the stories here. Once you login, you'll see a user menu, with options for the home page, posting a story, visiting your personal page to check your private e-mail and change your password, or logging out. Assuming you're not ready to logout yet, we can continue to the next box.



If you're this far down the page, chances are you don't want to scroll back to the top to navigate the site. Latest News just takes you back to the home page. Newswire Gives you that browse by page or by date feature. We have already pointed out the forums, but you can use the Syndicate link to add LXer to your RSS feed reader. The next box down is your search box, followed by the "Latest Discusions" box. That's for nosy people who want to butt in on other people's conversations. As I said earlier, we're different here. We welcome people jumping into our conversations!



In keeping with our "completely different" theme, how many news sites refer you to other news sites? Well, besides The Daily Rotation and the Linux Home Page. That's right, we send you to other sources of news and tutorials. Now, at the bottom of LXer's pages, you'll notice that you can choose to read the news by category. Shhhh. Don't tell anyone. It's a secret. And finally, we get to the sponsors. That's right, boys and girls! We have sponsors, advertisers even. Lxer doesn't have big, bright flashing ads. But we do offer banners, buttons and text links. What's that? You like the site? Great! I guess we'll see you for the next leg of the tour!



Footnotes, Links, etc.

We would be interested in hearing from any of our readers with disabilities, with respect to any challenges you may face in reading our site.

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