Is there a general rule when to ask a question on the "Unix and Linux" StackExchange rather than on "serverfault"?

Or: When should questions in one of these two be migrated to the other one?

  • Hmm. We probably need to ask U&L which questions they do/don't want. In the past I've only sent them hardcore U&L questions, like modifying kernel, etc, that don't really relate to sysadmining Commented Oct 23, 2011 at 21:46
  • @MarkHenderson We have some flaggers who really want general Linux questions (even ones very commonly done by sysadmins) going that direction, so yeah. Some cross-talk is probably needed here.
    – sysadmin1138 Mod
    Commented Oct 23, 2011 at 21:53

4 Answers 4


(Note: I'm a UL mod, so when I say "we" I mean Unix and Linux Stack Exchange)

If it's a question about Unix and Linux and you don't want it, odds are we do; we're fairly inclusive. We have this same overlap problem with other sites, notably Ask Ubuntu, so here's what we do with them:

  • Questions about Ubuntu that have no bearing on other distros are migrated from UL to AU
  • Questions about Unix or Linux that don't apply to Ubuntu at all are migrated from AU to UL
  • All other questions are left where they're posted unless the OP asks us to move them

I generally apply the same logic to other sites, even if we haven't specifically talked about it. So we almost never migrate here (3 times in the last 3 months), because it's rare for someone to ask a sysadmin question that doesn't involve Unix or Linux. Similarly, we don't expect you to migrate Unix/Linux questions to us if they're on-topic here -- you should only migrate a question if SF isn't a good place for it, or the OP changes their mind and wants it somewhere else.

I'll also mention that one thing you shouldn't do (or encourage others to do) is cross-post. Sites differ on their tolerance for cross-posting; we usually close a question if we find out it was posted on multiple sites. Either pick a site, or tailor your question for the individual sites you're asking it on -- don't just copy/paste it to all the sites that sound relevant

  • What about Debian questions?
    – Andrew
    Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 2:35
  • @Andrew Sure; all Linux distros are fine Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 2:54
  • Migrating an unanswered question is not crossposting, I assume?
    – Nils
    Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 21:05
  • @Nils Migrating a question is fine, what matters is that the question is not open on more than one site. This goes even if the question has answers, but unless we have a good feel for the target community, we (SE mods in general) only migrate questions with the explicit agreement of a moderator or user in good standing on the receiving site. Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 21:17
  • I came here because I had the question the OP had; about the specific scope of UL and SF, but then this response dives into AU which is completely outside the scope, because I still don't feel like I know the answer to the original question.
    – Tommy
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 16:48

There's inevitable overlap between U&L and SF. Generally, on the U&L side, we only migrate a question if it's definitely off-topic or if the asker agrees.

U&L generally isn't very strong on dedicated-server applications. For example only .6% of U&L's questions are about apache, contrasted with SF's >8%. U&L doesn't cater much for systems that people administrate through front-ends such as CPanel, usually we assume that a command line is available. Another kind of questions that will fare better on SF is practical performance questions (like this question which was migrated from U&L to SF).

A large class of questions that can be migrated to U&L is shell scripting questions. Some of these feel generic on SF, because the techniques involved aren't specific to system administration. The same goes for package management questions. As far as I remember, SF has a good track record for migrations to U&L, so if you keep doing more of the same, that's fine.

The main thing to keep in mind about U&L is that programming questions are off-topic. If someone posts a unix programming question on SF, migrate it to SO.

  • I think the main difference between UL and SF is that SF has a bigger audience - and has the broader topic.
    – Nils
    Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 21:11
  • 1
    @Nils No, that's not it. UL gets more SU-type questions than SF-type questions. SU and SF care who you are (amateur/pro computer user), U&L cares what you do (use unix, whatever for). It's a horizontal/vertical division. Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 21:15

The community consensus seems to be that if it is clearly for production servers you are working on, it stays. If it is a general Linux question, such as advanced find wizardry, regardless of production-machine status it generally goes to U&L (or gets some flags to that effect).

Linux software, on the other hand, is another story entirely and generally is answered on a topic-by-topic basis.

Now, some questions can have a happy life on both sites since we have strong Linux users who answer questions both here and there. It is my opinion that such overlap is healthy, and not everything needs to be ruthlessly migrated to the other site.


U&L and SF should just be SF. Totally crazy splitting off some Qs to U&L.

Just creates confusion and makes SF less valuable to me as a sysop.

  • 5
    They have different scopes, you might as well advocate combining French Language and German Language because they're both Language sites.
    – Chris S
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 18:33
  • On UL you can keep track. SF has just too many questions per day, so I would rather vote for creating a Windows-Server branch to diversify SF further.
    – Nils
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 21:13
  • 1
    @ChrisS French and German don't have the same level of overlap as 'Production servers' and 'Linux and Unix'. Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 12:37
  • @mikemaccana You should probably go read Server Fault's scope before making any more comments that sound ignorant.
    – Chris S
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 14:32

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