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Best Web Resource For Linux Help? 74

Posted by Cliff
from the for-when-you-can't-help-yourself dept.
mikeswi asks: "I made the big switch to Linux from Windows about six months ago (SuSe Linux 10.0). Overall, I am very pleased with Linux. Every now and then, I run into a problem that I cannot puzzle out on my own. I am absolutely not a Linux expert and have no idea how to do certain things that expert Linux users take for granted. If a determined Google search turns up nothing, I plead for help at LinuxQuestions and someone there usually does a good job of helping me out. What web sites or other resources do Slashdot readers use, when they run into a Linux problem they can't handle themselves?"
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Best Web Resource For Linux Help?

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  • IRC (Score:4, Informative)

    by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:09PM (#15836462) Journal
    Freenode on IRC holds a wide variety of tech channels that you can ask questions on.
  • gentoo forums (Score:5, Informative)

    by jdmicklos (865404) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:10PM (#15836469) Homepage
    Although this is specific to the Gentoo Linux Distribution, Gentoo has fantastic forums. Gentoo [gentoo.org] I hope that helps.
  • Specifics (Score:4, Informative)

    by tonyr1988 (962108) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:13PM (#15836481)
    Look for resources that pertain to your specific distro. As an Ubuntu user, I use the official Ubuntu forums [ubuntuforums.org], and it works beautifully.

    Here [opensuse.org] is a list of some SUSE resources. It has forums, wikis, mailing lists, USENETs, etc.
  • Freenode. (Score:5, Informative)

    by dcapel (913969) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:21PM (#15836514) Homepage
    Get an IRC client and connect to irc.freenode.net:6667. There are a zillion channels on it, so you might feel a little lost, but few to start on would be ##linuxhelp, #suse,##kde/##gnome. Note: ## instead of # for channels means that it is a help or 'about' channel.
  • TLDP (Score:4, Informative)

    by lillgud (951277) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:23PM (#15836522)
    The Linux Documentation Project [tldp.org] is a really great site with loads of HOWTO's and guides. Really worth checking out if you have a relatively big task to do (eg. setting up a mailserver or such).

    If you want help with smaller tasks I would recommend finding a nice channel on freenode (IRC).
  • Distro Community (Score:4, Informative)

    by PAPPP (546666) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:36PM (#15836580) Homepage
    To me the quality of the community, especially as shown by a distro's Wiki/Forum/IRC Channel is a big determinant in the desirability of the distro. I've been using ArchLinux [archlinux.org] for years, and one of it's strongest suits is its knowledgeable and within reason, patient and helpful community (along with great package management). If a quick search of the forums and wiki fail to answer your questions, someone on the IRC channel probably can; sometimes I leave the channel up in the background just to learn tricks from the more knowledgeable people hanging around. Keeping an eye on a good distro community can teach you all sorts of useful things. Also, never rule out a simple google search, if you are having a problem, there is a good chance someone else has had it too, so learn from their experience.
  • by MMC Monster (602931) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:40PM (#15836604)
    I'm a Ubuntu person myself, and feel that the Ubuntu forums are excellent.

    That being said, I sometimes find answers on the debian forums for obscure problems.
  • Google (Score:5, Informative)

    by kronsrepus (52625) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @10:00PM (#15836709) Homepage
    You say a determined google search turns up nothing? My guess is then that you're not determined enough!!

    I'm a full time linux admin, and have rarely, if ever, had Google fail to answer my questions. Best start (if you're getting lots of irrelevant results) is to start with the linux search - http://www.google.com/linux [google.com] - and from there start narrowing your search terms. Sometimes you might need to search some "newbie" sites to figure out what the term you should be using is.. eg. if you're looking for network configuration options scrap the search term "network" and try "eth0" or "ifconfig" or something, use the + and - operators, quote phrases, etc. I'll often run half a dozen searches adding and removing terms until I find what I want. Often the answers lie in forums, etc which google all indexes.. but if you've got a problem there's a 99% chance that someone else already has had the same problem and an answer has been found.

  • Re:TLDP (Score:4, Informative)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @10:04PM (#15836731) Homepage
    You have to watch out, though, because a lot of the stuff on LDP is extremely out of date. The good thing about using the forums and/or wiki for your own distro is that you're more likely to get up-to-date information, and it's also likely to be accurate for your distro.
  • Re:IRC (Score:2, Informative)

    by paulmer2003 (922657) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @10:10PM (#15836749)
    Or, feel free to drop by #linux @ irc.rizon.net. Freenode is bad if you dont mind me saying, very high strung...They seem to enjoy yelling RTFM at people..
  • Use your local LUG (Score:2, Informative)

    by choprboy (155926) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @10:20PM (#15836786) Homepage
    "What web sites or other resources do Slashdot readers use..."

    Find out what Linux User Groups are in your area and ask your question there. In most cases, local LUG groups, <plug type=shameless> like my own Tucson Free Unix Group - http://tfug.org </plug>, are invaluable in providing quick responses and personal experiences for local users. Quite often, your own LUG may even hold periodic meetings at a location near you, so someone more experienced can "lay hands" on the problem if it comes to that.
  • Re:Specifics (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kadin2048 (468275) <[slashdot.kadin] [at] [xoxy.net]> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @10:28PM (#15836822) Homepage Journal
    Yeah I'll second (third, fourth?) that as well.

    Start off with distro-specific forums.

    Then, if you can't get anything there (and you're sure it's not because you're {being rude|being vague|asking a dumb question|etc.}), try to see if there are forums specific to the product you're having problems with (e.g. KDE, SANE) and ask there. Lastly, if you're still having trouble, see if there's a mailing list.

    I say go for the mailing lists last, because I think it's polite if you ask a question on a list, to become a member for a few days and try to get an idea of the personalities involved, and then once you've gotten your question answered to stay on the list for a while and try to give back. That just seems polite.

    That said, I've actually gotten much more help from the distro forums than from most mailing lists ... although I can't tell whether this is because the lists are actually less helpful than the forums, or if it's just because since I never go to mailinglists except as a last resort, the problems I ask there are generally much more complicated, and more often that that just stump everyone. But I'd say about 75% of the questions I've ever posted to mailing lists have gone totally unanswered and are currently unsolved, while only a very small percentage of the questions I've posted to forums like UbuntuForums or KDE-Forum are.

    I've never used IRC much for support (or at all, really), so I can't say anything about that.
  • Re:TLDP (Score:3, Informative)

    by munpfazy (694689) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @10:47PM (#15836912)
    Yup. TLDP is a great resource, especially for broad overview questions or cases where one starts off without enough keywords to make a meaningful search. Some information is old, but everything is dated, so it's usually relatively easy to stay clear of dangerously misleading material.

    I usually spent a while on google and then try a mailing list. When searching, error messages or whole phrases that someone is likely to use when describing a problem tend to pull up worthwhile results.

    For mailing lists, choosing the most specific mailing list possible is always a good idea. Sending mail to some generic linux list with a detailed question about some specific software package isn't likely to get you anywhere. Local user groups are a decent place to ask a question when you haven't enough information to know which specific list is appropriate.

    For someone brand new to linux, starting out with a fairly brief overview of linux or unix-like OS's in general isn't a bad idea. The Slackware Book works rather nicely as a free option, even if you aren't a slackware fan. (But then, I am - so my judgment may be questionable.) http://www.slackbook.org/ [slackbook.org]
  • Re:Google (Score:3, Informative)

    by jambarama (784670) <jambaramaNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @10:52PM (#15836931) Homepage Journal
    I like google groups [google.com] better than the google linux search, but I don't think either are the best sites. IMHO any site that purports to have all answers to all linux questions [linuxquestions.org] isn't going to do very well with any semi-complex question. They just can't have the know-how.

    IRC channels are good, but it is kind of like IM - if the devs aren't on you're out of luck.

    I think it really depends on the distro. For Ubuntu, there is Ubuntu forums [ubuntuforums.org] for SuSE there are SuSE forums. [suseforums.net] The same goes for Gentoo [gentoo.org], Mepis [mepis.org], Debian [debian.net], Redhat [redhat.com], Fedora [fedoraforum.org]or any other distro out there. The larger [kde-forum.org] projects [gnomesupport.org] also have their own forums.

    Getting as specific a location as you can will help (e.g. the google group on Debian is better than the one on Linux users for Debian problems). That is why IRC is great when you have a reasonably well-researched and specific question. Before you ask a dev (who may be working on fixing the problem, or may have already fixed it, or may be plagued by the same question over and over again) please read how to ask a question properly [catb.org]. That way you are maximizing the chance that you get the right answer, people won't get mad at you, and you won't be wasting anyone else's time.
  • Linux Help (Score:4, Informative)

    by NullProg (70833) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:16PM (#15837051) Homepage Journal
    I still run SuSE 9.2. You already know about LinuxQuestions.org. If your ready try these links:

    http://www.justlinux.com/ [justlinux.com]
    http://www.yolinux.com/ [yolinux.com]
    http://www.pclinuxonline.com/ [pclinuxonline.com]

    Some online magazines (I suggest you read the past issues):

    http://www.linuxmagazine.com/ [linuxmagazine.com]
    http://linuxgazette.net/ [linuxgazette.net]

    Enjoy,
  • Google Linux (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rydia (556444) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:26PM (#15837087)
    Lots of people I know try google but don't realize that Google [google.com] has a linux site-only engine, which is a huge asset, even over normal google search. Very helpful when looking for an application or the official site of a package you're working on getting running.
  • Linux Help (Score:3, Informative)

    by solid_liq (720160) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:41PM (#15837164) Homepage Journal
    There are many good resources on the web. The standard resource is The Linux Documentation Project, or http://www.tldp.org/ [tldp.org]. Another site, which is much better than it used to be, is http://www.linux.com/ [linux.com]. http://www.linuxjournal.com/ [linuxjournal.com] has many great articles to guide you through a wide variety of small projects. A great newer site with helpful articles is http://www.howtoforge.com/ [howtoforge.com]. For help on the desktop side, http://www.desktoplinux.com/ [desktoplinux.com] has many articles you may find of use. Documentation and information about KDE is, of course, available at http://www.kde.org/ [kde.org] and it's affiliated sites (linked from their homepage). IBM is always putting up new articles at http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/linux/ [ibm.com] that can provide usefull information for development work under Linux. You may also find the articles on http://www.debian.org/ [debian.org], http://www.gentoo.org/ [gentoo.org], and http://www.ubuntulinux.org/ [ubuntulinux.org] usefull even though the articles were written for other distros.

    If you can't find what you're looking for there, you can always head over to irc.freenode.net. The #suse and #opensuse channels will be of particular interest to you. You may find #kde helpful for KDE applications. ##linux is basically a catch-all channel; we'll generally be able to field just about any question you throw at us there. If we can't, we will point you in the right direction.

    Keeping up with the FOSS news can also teach you quite a bit. You already know about Slashdot. http://osnews.com/ [osnews.com] is another very nice resource. http://www.kerneltrap.org/ [kerneltrap.org] is a less frequently updated site which can provide you with more advanced information. Keeping an eye on http://www.freshmeat.net/ [freshmeat.net] can help you get a better feel for the various software available for Linux. And of course, with gmail you can setup alerts for Linux, KDE, etc.

    If you really want to learn more about Linux, there's no better way than distro hopping. Go to http://www.vmware.com/ [vmware.com] and download their free VMWare Server 1.0 to allow you to try out various distros without having to wipe your hard drive. This does, however, require you have a decent amount of RAM (I'd recommend at least 1 GB). Go to http://www.distrowatch.com/ [distrowatch.com] for a fairly complete list of the available Linux distros, sorted by popularity.

    If all these links really don't solve your problems, take yourself over to your best local bookstore and buy a book or two. The drawback of doing this, however, is that most of them will be pretty much out of date by the time they hit the shelves. On the other hand, they will give you a great foundation upon which you can build (update yourself) easily by utilizing the online resources.

    Also, never forget about http://www.google.com/linux [google.com]!
  • by Nile (53479) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:57PM (#15837239) Homepage
    I have been "in the industry" for about 12 years now and opened my own computer support company about 2 years ago. Early on I came across the site http://www.experts-exchange.com/ [experts-exchange.com] . I found it in a google search for some wacky problem on a client's computer that I hadn't seen before. I could see the question, but the answer...for that I had to take out a $9.95 per month subscription.

    I decided to subscribe figuring that I would cancel it once I fixed this one problem. Turns out that I use it a couple of times a month to find the answer to some obscure problem in just about any area from Programming to Desktop tweaks and Linux to MS Exchange Server.

    For me it's well worth the money because I'm the guy they call when no one else can fix a problem. It might not make sense for a regular user who has an occasional question with an easy answer to pay the fee...but if your time is worth a lot to you, I'll say you can find just any piece of information on the site.

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