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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.
    • Re:IRC (Score:2, Informative)

      by paulmer2003 (922657)
      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..
      • Actually, I got plenty of help for boneheaded questions on freenode's #linux.

        Perhaps somehow you got routed to EFnet one day and didn't notice it?
    • Try asking slackers (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kuitang (904572)
      Especially the ##slackware channel. People who use bare-bones distros are generally more knowledgeable about Linux (myself included). They frequently help people from other distros, even Ubuntu, though you should probably not bring your n00b questions there.
  • 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.
    • Seems most new arrivals to Arch Linux forums are folks from Gentoo and from Slackware. Many new to Arch site the forums themselves [archlinux.org] as yet another refreshing change. I personally enjoy the balance of overall friendliness but occasional justifiable-policing of the too-absurd or off-topic.

      /plug
    • I second the suggestion to use Gentoo's general help forums regardless of what distro you are using. The members of that forum are very knowledgable and helpful.
  • 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.
    • Re:Specifics (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jtoxification (678057)
      You hit the nail on the head, bud. The discussion forum for whatever distro you use should always be the number one starting resource.


      I fully agree with that guy above who posted the starting thread comment on Gentoo - that community rocks - every single question I had was already asked and answered by others except the few which I directly asked and was given answers for, but I don't know if having a lot of questions is necessarily a good or bad thing (?), but the answers were all concise, and
    • Completely agree about the forums for your distro, and especially the gentoo forums as a fallback option.

      As a longtime Gentoo user (4+ years), I have recently decided to test out Ubuntu. The polish is impressive, but the forums definitely have a higher signal-to-noise ratio than the Gentoo forums. This is not a slam on Ubuntu or its users by any means, I think its quite impressive. But in general, I think the Gentoo crowd simply attracts the more hard-core nerd element due to the type of distro it is. T
      • Re:Specifics (Score:2, Insightful)

        by wierzpio (570121)
        not be too picky, but if forums "have a higher signal-to-noise ratio", then that should be better, right? I mean: more signal and/or less noise...
    • Re:Specifics (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadin@NOsPam.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.
  • 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.
    • Note: ## instead of # for channels means that it is a help or 'about' channel.

      Actually, this is a new way of doing things on freenode from about a year ago or so. Channels with only one # denotes an official channel for the project, where core developers often hang out and help, having project meetings and so on. Examples are #docbook, #svn and #mediawiki. Channels starting with "##" are unofficial channels for a project, used for helping out for this specific software/distro/whatever, for example ##lin

  • 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).
    • 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.
      • by sowth (748135) *

        How much does it matter if the info is "out of date"? How much really changes with Linux, Posix and Unix style systems anyway? I don't think Linux has really changed a whole lot in the ten years I've been using it. Maybe iptables and direct rendering were added. The internals of X seem to have changed quite a bit, but configuring doesn't seem to be very different...I just can't think of many places in the howtos which would need updating...

    • Re:TLDP (Score:3, Informative)

      by munpfazy (694689)
      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, cho
  • 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.
  • I recommend http://www.ubuntuforums.org/ [ubuntuforums.org] even though it's distribution specific. There's a lot of questions/answers and how-to's and the search function works reasonably well.
  • I either use google or instant-message a friend of mine.
    Works especially well when I have a brain-fart moment.
  • Not familiar with Suse myself, but virtually every distro has their own mailing list, I should think. I am a Debian user myself, and debian-user at lists.debian.org solved many of my problems.
  • Value of community (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wylfing (144940) <brian@wylfi n g . net> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:59PM (#15836704) Homepage Journal

    I know the submitter uses SuSE, and that's fine, I have no wish to sway people away from their favorite distributions. But Ubuntu is crazy delicious this way. You can post even the most newbie-ish of questions on their forums and almost always someone will help in a friendly manner in a matter of minutes. In fact many times Googling for general Linux problems will turn up solutions from ubuntuforums.org.

    I think this is the "thing" that is going to be a big driver of certain distributions in the near future (as if it isn't already). I mean, you can have a distro like Linspire or Xandros where they try hard from a technical standpoint, but there's no community of helpful souls to help you out. What makes OSS go is the gift economy, and one (major) way to give back is to offer friendly technical assistance on the boards. Distros that don't "feel" like they are part of the gift economy are destined to languish. Ubuntu and Fedora seems to have communities like this, even though the vibe of each of their communities is pretty different.

    Anyway, on completely different note, I kind of cringed when I saw this topic, because I expect to see a lot trolls posting anecdotes about how someone screamed at them to RTFM, how everyone is sooo hostile, and other such BS. The fact of it is that I have seen the opposite a lot more. For example, a user shows up on the boards, posts a problem involving a very rare digital camera that exeedingly few people have even heard of, and when nobody responds with a 100% solution in under an hour the user starts flaming the community for their "lack of responsiveness to problems."

    • I think the folks at Xandros Forums would take exception to that remark. The people there tend to be extremely helpful. Granted, Xandros does more out-of-the-box than Ubuntu so the former has a smaller Howto section, but overall I'd say that fewer questions go unanswered at Xandros.
      • I think the folks at Xandros Forums would take exception to that remark. The people there tend to be extremely helpful. Granted, Xandros does more out-of-the-box than Ubuntu so the former has a smaller Howto section, but overall I'd say that fewer questions go unanswered at Xandros.

        Well, I wasn't really trying to hightlight a deficiency, but let's be honest -- the support community you get from Gentoo or Ubuntu or Fedora is insanely better than than what you get with essentially any other distro. I know Xa

    • I kind of cringed when I saw this topic, because I expect to see a lot trolls posting anecdotes about how someone screamed at them to RTFM, how everyone is sooo hostile, and other such BS.

      Those aren't trolls and that isn't BS. Maybe you haven't seen that behavoir, but I have. The Linux newsgroups on Usenet a few years ago were exactly like that. People would get pissed of because someone asked a question which none of them knew the answer. Then they'd be pissed because someone outside their circle answe

  • 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.

    • You provided some great Googling tips but I don't think Google is the answer for a Linux newbie.

      The problem isn't that mikeswi wasn't determined enough in his Googling, the problem is that he does not yet know enough about Linux to have the context needed for effective Googling to solve his Linux problems.

    • Re:Google (Score:3, Informative)

      by jambarama (784670)
      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],
  • http://forums.scotsnewsletter.com/ [scotsnewsletter.com] (the "All Things Linux" section mostly, but the others are useful too) – not only do I find it useful myself, but I've also recommended it to a couple of my own users the few times I couldn't figure something out myself. Speaking of which, I'd say if your distribution has its own forums, check there too – not sure if SuSE runs any forums, but if you want to switch to Ultima Linux, we'll be more than happy to welcome you in ;-)
  • Use your local LUG (Score:2, Informative)

    by choprboy (155926)
    "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 t
    • IAWTAC - It was a godsend to have the ability to take the PC I was installing Linux on to the local LUG installfest [wikipedia.org] and have the fellows pinpoint the problem & the quick soultion. From that, I helped out at installfests, trying to troubleshoot others problems & bradening my Linux experience. Works well for all concerned. :)
  • Sure as hell isn't Slashdot where people only talk about adopting and using Linux with their Windows boxes.
  • 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.
  • by A.K.A_Magnet (860822) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:33PM (#15837119) Homepage
    You should have a look at Qunu [qunu.com]. It's a quite new Jabber/XMPP-based service. You go to the ["AJAX"/"Web2.0"/super high-tech] website, select/search a topic (Linux, Apache, Website, Ubuntu, Suse, networking, etc.. it doesn't have to be technical but the site is quite new so I doubt you'll find help for other domains); you'll get a list of experts (ie: people who have registered themselves as experts, you can adjust with multiple domains, eg expert in both Linux and GTK). Qunu supports other languages too. Once you've chosen an expert, you can ask your question, and hope for an answer (but if the expert is on the list, he should be available and answer in a timely manner). It's just like getting help on IRC, except that thanks to some Jabber/XMPP magic you go directly to the point (no need for a client other than your web browser, no need to know where to go, etc).

    Now, for the Slashdotters wishing to help (I personally don't yet, since last time I checked it wasn't really finished, but this question reminded me of it, so I may register and help in my spare time -- you decide when you help anyway), you can use your preferred Jabber client, add quser@qunu.com to your roster, and then select your domains of expertise. When you don't want to help, you can simply block the user or change your status (Away, DND, etc). If you want to stop helping completely, just remove the user from your roster (you can actually control user subscription in both ways with Jabber/XMPP, so you can stop when you want).

    Qunu is a great idea, so if you have some time to waste (I mean, we're on Slashdot, right, so we do ;)), or if you're fed up with helping on IRC (and people asking if they can ask and not asking the fucking question), you should give it a try.
  • Perhaps try the following site for suggestions:
    http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&q=suse+help&btnG =Google+Search&meta= [google.ca]
  • The Ubuntu Forums (Score:3, Insightful)

    by r_benchley (658776) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:41PM (#15837158)
    The Ubuntu Forums are a wonderful resource. Instead of beeing called an ingnorant newbie, people with questions get quick, polite answers. Very little of the arrogant, elitist attitude that pops up in so many Linux forums.
    • The Ubuntu Forums are a wonderful resource. Instead of beeing called an ingnorant newbie, people with questions get quick, polite answers. Very little of the arrogant, elitist attitude that pops up in so many Linux forums.

      Very true. However, often the quick, polite answers one receives are ones that some may consider worthy of "beeing called an ignorant" response. Responses such as: "Ubuntu Forums are a wonderful resource" for help with SuSE Linux, for example. I speculate that it's because you can pay

    • The downside to that is when you try to find answers for a non-noob question, you find 20 redundant threads covering the same simple topic. This is a recurring theme on every single helpful question-answer forum I've ever seen on the internet strangely enough. I've always wondered why people would choose to ask a question and wait, rather than do a simple search.
      • This is what i also find to be a problem with internet help searches, finding 1000 people asking a similar question, but only a small percentage of those are using the same distro and version as you and only a fraction of those actually have a usuable solution or suggestion and only one of those will actually have a solution that is simple, easy and doesnt involve editing a text file from the command prompt whilst standing on your head whistling.

        What's needed is a linux help site aggregator that gives you a
  • 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]!
  • Check http://gmane.org/ [gmane.org] (best viewed in a news reader). It's a treasure.
  • by Nile (53479)
    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
  • Since a good 90% of what I and others do is not specific to a distro or even an operating system, I thought I'd take the opportunity to ask if anyone here can recommend a decent place for Unix discussion (mailing lists, forums, etc). I gave up on Usenet a long time ago, but perhaps there's something there too?
  • In a certain mindframe, it seems logical enough, but the content on that site is NOT linux reference material. Just trust me.
  • I have found the IRC channels on irc.freenode.net [freenode.net] to be a superb source of good Linux support. #gentoo is friendly, knowledgeable, clean, and decent.
  • yuck, linuxforums has a bunch of morons running the show, last time i checked too many restrictions were there. On the other hand, http://forums.gentoo.org/ [gentoo.org] are a charm.Hats off, free as in freedom and you can really ask all advanced questions. I work on a variety of distros, Ubuntu,Suse and Gentoo, but when in doubt always goto Gentoo forums. Just a warning, most often you need not tell them, that you are actually not running Gentoo.
  • First find a good distro spesific IRC channel. (Learn IRC if you are an old fart like me who originally hated this kid stuff.) Whatever you have in your mind it is always a good idea to utter something to IRC. For example the Ubuntu default IRC client automatically goes to Ubuntu channel when you open it, and so does bitchx IRC client on Debian.

    WHILE waiting for answers/flames read man pages/docs or google, and also the Google Groups. How to balance you problem solving between "official" docs of the SW at h
  • Slashdot (Score:3, Funny)

    by Doug Neal (195160) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @07:13AM (#15838403)
    Just submit your Linux questions as more Ask Slashdot articles. Duh.
  • I have always found the best resource for help is the Linux Bible, and everything else I need I tend to find lurking around the Linux Documentation Project pages. For Distro specific their websites usually help, and like the others said, IRC helps for that too, last resort could be troubleshooting Distro members. But yeah, the Linux Bible rawks :)
  • I would just like to take a second to thank the /. community for the slew of Linux learning related articles that have surfaced over the past few weeks. I really can't stress how useful they've been in preparing me for the switch.

    A few weeks ago there was one article here that linked to three useful books for learning linux, and I'd just like to link to that for anyone else interested:

    http://linuxboxadmin.com/articles/first3.php [linuxboxadmin.com]

    I picked up Linux: Rute User's Tutorial and Exposition and I have to say i

  • the first thing i obviously do is searching google. the correct keywords will definitely bring up the right search results. If that doesnt help, the next place i go is ubuntuforums (i use ubuntu). and instead of posting right away, i take time off to read up the faq(which is updated quite regularly) and search the forum for the answer just to make sure its not a regular question. It sometime is very annoying if people keep asking the same questions again and again without reading stickies.

Computers can figure out all kinds of problems, except the things in the world that just don't add up.

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