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Newsgroups and this mailing list

Hi.  I'm about to get a new machine and put Debian on it, and was wondering
if someone could explain the relation between the Debian mailing lists and
the comp.os.linux hierarchy in newgroups.

My immediate practical question is which source I should use for help.

My more general question is why this apparent split exists (if I'm correct
that it does).

First, why not use the newsgroups mechanism?  Are there people without
access to them, or is it just an historical holdover?  I believe it is
possible to gateway between a mailing list and a newsgroup, so that posts
to one come out in both forms.

Newsgroups would allow searching and archiving via Deja News (among
others), would be more visible to others, and wouldn't fill up my disk so
much :)

Of course, Debian could use newgroups but keep them separate from the
comp.os.linux groups.  Is there any reason to do so?  It seems to me doing
so somewhat defeats the purpose of open software.  It also makes Debian
appear somewhat rare, if one judges by traffic in the newsgroups.

If this has been discussed ad nauseum before, I'd appreciate a pointer to
the earlier discussions.  I hunted around the archives some and couldn't
turn up anything.

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