Linux isn’t just a kernel — the people around it are just as crucial. They provide support where it’s needed most: for those just starting their foray into Linux. It’s a community that expects you to slowly become part of them, learning as you go. And it’s why there are numbers of websites out there ready and willing to help out with any troubles you find along the way.
That being said, it’s important to approach support in a certain way. This is doubly the case when asking questions from something like an internet forum. It’s easy to forget that many people on there are simply volunteering time of their own good will. Plus the Linux community can seem quite imposing at times. If you’re unsure about where to start, this might help you.
1. Visit Specific Forums
Most of the time, you should visit your Linux operating system’s own custom forum before trying anything else. While there are many websites out there to help with your Linux needs, having a community that uses the same thing as you do makes it much easier to pinpoint your problems.
This way, you might have shared problems with others. Some people might have even solved it themselves, and could be happy to share how they did so. And even if that’s not the case, it’s always nice to be surrounded by like-minded people from time to time.
If you don’t find these forums to be active enough for your taste though, there are plenty of other communities you can become a part of. They may have more users — potential people who can help you out, even if they’re not using quite the same operating system as you.
2. Do a Quick Search
While many people in the Linux community are happy to help out others, you should keep in mind that they’re doing this voluntarily. As such, before asking any sort of question, searching around for similar topics on the discussion forums (or even elsewhere) is usually a good way to go.
This way, if an issue has been resolved by someone else, you won’t be creating any more clutter. If it hasn’t (and the topic is new enough to still be the same problem), then you’ve found a place to ask your question. It’ll also be easier to address multiple people at once, rather than post by post.
In fact, some parts of the Linux community have this as an expectation of sorts. Arch Linux for example, prides itself on its extensive wiki, which has plenty of resources to help people out (other Linux operating systems can benefit too). As such, one of the first questions that’s asked to a person seeking aid on Arch’s forums is whether they’ve checked the wiki first.
Plus, showing that you’ve done some legwork also ups the chance of you getting help. It helps tell others that your problem is unique and therefore something that actually needs support on. And don’t forget, the whole investigation process can be quite useful for your Linux journey as well.
3. Pick Your Titles Well
If you do end up posting a new question, be sure to make your issues clear from the start. Posting something vague as your topic only makes it harder to get support. After all, there are many reasons a computer isn’t working as it is. By narrowing it down, to say, booting problems, you’ll get better responses.
You should aim to be as specific as possible, clearly stating what your issues are as your topic. This is much better than trying to grab attention by playing up your problem with all-caps and vague complications. You should also keep in mind which sub-forum your issue belongs in.
In general, most forums will have multiple sections dedicated to specific types of support. This makes it easier to gain the help you need, so long as you post in the right place. Plus, it makes navigating through lots of calls for aid much easier to handle.
By combining both a meaningful title and the correct location for it, your post will be that more likely to be seen and responded to.
4. Provide Relevant Information
This goes without saying, but it’s good practice to provide details about the sorts of things you want to achieve or fix. Giving what you know upfront can speed up the process of getting help, and puts less work on others. It also ties in with showing what you’ve already done — work you’ve put in to help narrow down a solution.
For example, if you’re having troubles with a specific application, you could try attaching its configuration file(s). Anything you deem relevant to the problem at hand could potentially help out in some way. Just remember not to overdo it — a dump of information can be a bit hard to wade through.
That aside, it can be quite educational. You might even start to practice your own troubleshooting skills in the process, by making guesses on what appears to be the problem. After all, there’s nothing like solving something all by yourself.
5. Give Something Back
Eventually, you’ll begin picking up more and more about Linux. Once you’re at that stage, why not give back to the community in the same way people have helped you out? After all, forums are dependent on the people who are part of them. Taking part in them helps them survive and thrive.
And in a way, you can learn a lot about how your own computer works, especially if you have to explain difficult concepts such as the Linux kernel to new users. Plus, having an active foot in the community is sure to be noticed. Perhaps it might even result in more support for your own needs when the time comes around.
Not to mention, it’s just a nice thing to do, especially if you’ve gotten things out of your Linux operating system’s forum. And the spirit of working together to help others on a common goal is very much an open source philosophy.
Ever shared your tech problems with a forum or discussion board? How did it go? Have you had any Linux forum success stories?