Consider the following opening words to a question:

  • "I'm using HFS..." (red flag)
  • "I'm running Ubuntu in a VM on Mac..." (red flag)
  • "My Mac won't boot Ubuntu..." (red flag)
  • "Bootcamp..." (red flag)
  • etc...

At which point does the question fail to meet the criteria for staying on Ask Ubuntu?

Edit: Moving a comment into the question because I feel it's useful:

Comment on jrg's response:
I completely understand your response. I'm looking for a metric on when it should be considered off-topic. Like most of your answer is completely valid for VMs, but I think there needs to be a further discussion of exactly when a Mac issue become a VM issue

The one I gave the check is b/c I most agreed with this-
'Is the problem directly related to the Ubuntu OS? Does an answer require tweaking in Ubuntu only?' See my answer below if you want my opinion.

  • 2
    For those who are wondering why the Ask Different (Apple.SE) folks are commenting here: I thought it'd be best to have some answers from people who have more experience with Macs than most of us on Ask Ubuntu. As such, I'd like to thank the ones who did take the time to answer. :)
    – jrg
    Mar 30, 2012 at 20:42
  • 2
    I completely agree. I want REAL feedback not ubuntu only feedback Mar 30, 2012 at 20:44
  • @all I'm adding what might be a spammy comment - Thank you all for your feedback. I upvoted ALL of them as constructive in hopes to get some decision making going. Mar 30, 2012 at 22:57

5 Answers 5


Here's a simple migration test. Would it be considered on-topic if there was no other specific Mac related site to migrate to. If Ask Different didn't exist, would you vote to close instead? If no, then it's still good to keep within AU. Just because there is a Mac site, doesn't mean we need (or want) to have all Mac questions.

Also, bear in mind that if the migration results in a stranded question that is never answered and that the OP never follows up because it's been migrated, then it's to no-one's benefit. Just imagine all the SuperUser questions that we would end up with if we migrate on the basis of keywords rather than context.

So, unless it's highly specific to OSX, keep it :)

  • 1
    Indeed. There is also the golden rule of migration: Don't migrate junk. So that alone would stop most of the stuff that Ask Ubuntu does get that is Mac related but off-topic.
    – jrg
    Mar 30, 2012 at 21:04

I think in many ways, I also agree with jrg's answer. I'd like to expand a bit though, since I'm an active Ask Different user.

I'm using HFS

As jrg pointed out, the majority of the time, this is a Ubuntu question the majority of the time the question is an Ask Ubuntu question, rather than a Ask Different question.

I'm running Ubuntu in a VM on Mac.

If the question is about using software in a Ubuntu VM on a Mac it would be on-topic for Ask Ubuntu, and off-topic for Ask Different. If the question pertains to installing Ubuntu in VM on a Mac, it may or may not be a valid Mac question. If it's a question about drivers for the VM, I'd say that it is an Ask Ubuntu question, not an Ask Different question. If it is about the VM on the Mac not working correctly and deals with the VM itself, not the OS being installed in it, it'd be an Ask Different question.

My Mac won't boot Ubuntu

This doesn't pertain to OS X, so, it would be off-topic for Ask Different.


Same as the VM, if it isn't problems with the Bootcamp software itself, then it is an Ask Ubuntu question.

Summing it all up, about 95% of all questions that have "Mac" in them are Ask Ubuntu. The other 5% (stuff that pertains to the software on a Mac) is a valid Ask Different question.


I think the question is "at what point is a question about a VM a question about a host OS?"

For example, a few weeks ago we had a guy come into the chatroom and start asking about VirtualBox and Ubuntu. He kept blaming Ubuntu for not updating his Macs kernel scripts so VirtualBox could run. Needless to say, we tried to be helpful, but I ended up sending him to Apple.SE, and I don't think he ever figured it out.

Lets go through the examples you gave:

  • I'm using HFS.

Not necessarily. Lets say I'm given a USB drive which was formatted on a Mac - its going to be HFS(+). "How do I mount my HFS+ USB stick on Ubuntu?" is a valid question (even though the answer is "plug it in, it should work").

  • I'm running Ubuntu in a VM on Mac.

Not necessarily either. However, I'm more inclined to point at this one as a Mac question for 9 times out of 10.

  • My Mac won't boot Ubuntu.

Not a red flag at all! As far as we are concerned, its no different from any other hard ware question (like say, an oddball ATI card or something).

  • Bootcamp.

eehhhhh... I know nothing about bootcamp, how it works or anything, so I can't comment on this one.

  • I completely understand your response. I'm looking for a metric on when it should be consdered off-topic. Like most of your answer is completely valid for VMs, but I think there needs to be a further discussion of exatly when a Mac issue become a VM issue. Mar 30, 2012 at 19:58
  • what about when their mac can't boot windows, because only Ubunutu is installed? askubuntu.com/questions/123162/…
    – Mateo
    Apr 19, 2012 at 1:26
  • @Matthew on-topic. They need to solve a problem using Ubuntu, the hardware is irrelevant.
    – jrg
    Apr 19, 2012 at 1:31
  • I guess, I think you need the bootcamp driver stuff to get it windows working on a mac though, it's just so broad a question, don't even know where to start.
    – Mateo
    Apr 19, 2012 at 1:34


Is the problem directly related to the Ubuntu OS? Does an answer require tweaking in Ubuntu only?


Is the problem directly related to the Mac OS? Does an answer require tweaking in Mac OSX only?

Using these requirements I'd answer your points like this...

  • "I'm using HFS..."

    HFS is not directly related to Mac OS X. An answer requires tweaking in Ubuntu → On-Topic

  • "I'm running ubuntu in a VM on Mac..."

    Running Ubuntu in a VM is not directly related to Mac OS X. However, the solution might require either tweaking of the VM Software on Mac OSX or virtualized Ubuntu. → this could be either Off- or On-Topic

  • "My Mac won't boot Ubuntu..."

    This is directly related to boot configurations of Ubuntu software and Mac hardware (not the Mac OS) → On-Topic

  • "Bootcamp..."

    Bootcamp is an umbrella term for software that runs on Mac OS X and Window. It's not directly related to Ubuntu and does not require tweaking in Ubuntu. → Off-Topic

  • Bootcamp does not run on windows....still upvote for a mostly reasoned response Mar 30, 2012 at 20:26
  • @aking1012 The bootcamp drivers and a GUI for little settings are part of the bootcamp software provided by Apple.
    – user24668
    Mar 30, 2012 at 20:28
  • I would examine this chat: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/4038164#4038164 before I jumped to the conclusion that bootcamp is compatible and open software...hence not being Mac/Apple proprietary. Mar 30, 2012 at 20:41

The answer I accepted is a REALLY concise way to put it. It's not a Virtualbox/VMWare issue. It's not a Mac can't boot from USB if you don't have MacOS on the USB. It's not an issue with file recovery on HFS using Ubuntu. It's not an issue using Ubuntu live media to do something to Mac OS.

Just thought I should weigh in too.

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