How to get help in Linux?
Getting help is not always easy. Sometimes you just cannot seem to get help. The information in this guide is a pretty good outline on why you may not be able to get help.
There are both things that you should do and should not do if you want help. Be patient and enjoy the read.
Some things to keep in mind.
Who provides your support?
Unless you are personally paying some one then none of us are paid to troubleshoot your issues, even if we know how. Most of the people you will encounter do what they do because they love it. Some have a job working in the IT field. In any case all of us want to be able to work efficiently at our task.
Do not waste others time.
Wasting others time is a good way to get yourself blacklisted when it comes to getting support. If you consistantly do things I have outlined below, There is a very good chance you will have issues getting help because you're wasting others time.
Things not to do and things to do:
Not attempting to help yourself first.
People spend their time writing documentation to make sure they can essentially multiply their time. Providing the steps needed once and not having to go through the information over and over again with each person that needs help.
Where you look for this information may be different depending on what Linux distribution you are running.
If your distribution has a wiki/forum/ask system you should look there first. Another person may have already encountered this issue and resolved it.
If your Linux distribution is based on another distribution then you should check upstream as well.
I can't find my Mint issue through the Mint resources? It is based on Ubuntu, Try there next.
I can't find my Manjaro issue through the Manjaro resources? It's Arch-based, Try their documentation.
If the information you are looking for is not Linux distribution specific then try to find the right place. If it is a program that many Linux distributions use then check the upstream documentation for that program.
I want help programming a bash script but the people supporting my Linux distribution cannot answer my question... Ask where people know and use bash.
I am having an issue with KDE but again the people doing support for my distribution do not know the answer to my question. Ask the people who develop KDE.
Check a search engine. You should never ever consider anyone else as your search engine. We all have access to the exact same tools.
- If you are having trouble finding the right search parameters then ask the right question. What search parameters should I use to find help with X?
Doing this will help you learn what to search for, instead of magically getting the answer from another person and learning nothing.
Overstepping your own experience.
Generally someone asks for information because they want to cover their bases. If someone asks you to paste a piece of information and you question why they need it. Immediately disregarding that the information asked for is needed. This is a great way to waste some ones time. Nobody wants to argue with you in order to help you. You may not think that information is relevent however, The person attempting to assist you would not be asking if they did not feel it was needed.
Not providing any information about the issue.
The number one reason that you may have trouble getting help is providing no background information at all on the issue.
Provide as much information as you can about the issue, software you are running and what steps you have already done.
Asking "How do I get IRC to not show my IP address?" and expecting other people to know what software you are using is wrong. You already know what IRC client you're using. Do not assume it is the 'job' of the person helping you to probe for this information. It is your job to provide it.
Not asking any question at all.
Simply saying a program does not work is an example that I see far too often. These issues probably never get resolved.
"I am trying to use irc but it just does not work!"
What functionality are you trying to achieve with the program that does not work? "I am trying to get IRC not to show my IP address. Does anyone know how to do this in hexchat?."
What are you trying to do? Maybe the program you are using is not suitable and another program is more appropriate. You have no idea what the person you are talking about may know.
Do not exclude other distribution documentation.
Many times the documentation exists already if not specific for your Linux distribution then for another. Certain steps may be different but in general the vast majority of documentation is not distribution specific.
- The major differences will be things like where a config file exists on a system or where a binary will exist on the system. What package manager is used.
These differences are fairly simple to bypass if you are at least minimally proficient in your system. That Ubuntu-based documentation might have the same steps as it would in Arch-based documentation except it says apt-get instead of pacman or the config file is located in a different place. If you can search your package manager for the correct package then all else may work great from the guide you are following. If you hit a snag due to the config file being in the wrong place then see if you can find the config file.
You've solved your issue on your own!
None of this worked!
Now you are welcome to ask your question, You've done your research and have tried to help yourself first. You've gained information that will help whoever decides they can help you and your issue will probably be resolved very quickly at this point.
If you are asking your question on IRC then you will want to be patient.
Just because people are talking about other things does not mean they are ignoring you, They do not have your answer.
Not everyone knows what you want or need them to know. They know what they have experienced.
There might only be one person in the entire channel that has an answer for you and they are AFK.
If you sit and idle you may get an answer from that person when they come back.
If you leave you never will. Far too often I come back from making a pot of coffee and there has been someone who asked a question that I could have answered. They did not bother waiting even 5 minutes and left.