12. How to get further assistance.


12.1 You still haven't answered my question!

Please read all of this answer before posting. I know it's a bit long, but you may be about to make a fool of yourself in front of 50,000 people and waste hundreds of hours of their time. Don't you think it's worth spending some of your time to read and follow these instructions?

If you think an answer is incomplete or inaccurate, please e-mail Robert Kiesling at kiesling@terracom.net.

Read the appropriate Linux Documentation Project books--see `` Where can I get the HOWTO's and other documentation? ''

If you're a Unix newbie, read the FAQ for comp.unix.questions, and those for any of the other comp.unix.* groups that may be relevant.

Linux has so much in common with commercial Unices, that almost everything you read there will apply to Linux. The FAQs, like all FAQs, be found on rtfm.mit.edu in /pub/usenet/news.answers (the mail-server@rtfm.mit.edu can send you these files, if you don't have FTP access). There are mirrors of rtfm's FAQ archives on various sites--check the Introduction to *.answers posting, posted, or look in news-answers/introduction in the directory above.

Check the relevant HOWTO for the subject in question, if there is one, or an appropriate old style sub-FAQ document. Check the FTP sites.

Try experimenting--that's the best way to get to know Unix and Linux.

Read the documentation. Check the manual pages (type ``man man'' if you don't know about manual pages. Try ``man -k subject''--it often lists useful and relevant manual pages.

Check the Info documentation (type C-h i, i.e. Control H followed by I in Emacs). This isn't just for Emacs. For example, the GCC documentation lives here as well.

There will also often be a README file with a package that gives installation and/or usage instructions.

Make sure you don't have a corrupted or out-of-date copy of the program in question. If possible, download it again and re-install it--you probably made a mistake the first time.

Read comp.os.linux.announce--this often contains very important information for all Linux users.

General X Window System questions belong in comp.windows.x.i386unix, not in comp.os.linux.x. But read the group first (including the FAQ), before you post.

Only if you have done all of these things and are still stuck, should you post to the appropriate comp.os.linux.* newsgroup. Make sure you read the next question first. ``( What to put in a request for help. )''


12.2 What to put in a request for help.

Please read the following advice carefully about how to write your posting or email. Making a complete posting will greatly increase the chances that an expert or fellow user reading it will have enough information and motivation to reply.

This advice applies both to postings asking for advice and to personal email sent to experts and fellow users.

Make sure you give full details of the problem, including:

You are in little danger of making your posting too long unless you include large chunks of source code or uuencoded files, so err on the side of giving too much information.

Use a clear, detailed Subject line. Don't put things like `doesn't work', `Linux', `help', or `question' in it--we already know that. Save the space for the name of the program, a fragment of an error message, or summary of the unusual behavior.

If you report an `unable to handle kernel paging request' message, follow the instructions in the Linux kernel sources README file for turning the numbers into something more meaningful. If you don't do this, no one who reads your post will be able to do it for you. The mapping from numbers to function names varies from one kernel to another.

Put a summary paragraph at the top of your posting.

At the bottom of your posting, ask for responses by email and say you'll post a summary. Back this up by using Followup-To: poster. Then, actually post the summary in a few days or a week or so. Don't just concatenate the replies you got--summarize. Putting the word SUMMARY in your summary's Subject line is also a good idea. Consider submitting the summary to comp.os.linux.announce.

Make sure your posting doesn't have an inappropriate References: header line. This marks your article as part of the thread of the article referred to, which will often cause it to be junked by readers, along with the rest of a boring thread.

You might like to say in your posting that you've read this FAQ and the appropriate HOWTO's--this may make people less likely to skip your posting.

Remember that you should not post email sent to you personally without the sender's permission.


12.3 I want to mail someone about my problem.

Try to find the author or developer of whatever program or component is causing you difficulty. If you have a contact point for your Linux distribution, you should use it.

Please put everything in your e-mail message that you would put in a posting asking for help.

Finally, remember that, despite the fact that most of the Linux community are very helpful and responsive to e-mailed questions, you're asking for help from unpaid volunteers, so you have no right to expect an answer.