The Ultimate Guide to Getting Support on Linux
Installing Linux has become effortless to the extent that anyone with a little knowledge of computers can get a Linux machine up and running instantly. However, many of them throw in the towel when faced with even the slightest of glitches. The main reason for this is the belief that Linux doesn’t offer any kind of support.
Other problem users face is that the regular technician who repairs their computer refuses even to touch a machine that’s running Linux. So, if you are one of those users disgruntled after encountering a multitude of problems with a fresh Linux install — don’t panic and read on to know some ways in which you could get support for your Linux installation.
1. Press F1 and RTFM
Yes, press F1 now! Distributions like Ubuntu, Fedora and openSUSE provide excellent documentation for almost all of their default programs. Simply press F1 and a nice little window pops-up to explain different parts of the User interface and common terminologies. Reading the documentation works mainly because many users think they face a glitch when in fact, they’re just unfamiliar with the user interface. Ubuntu users can get their hands on a very well written manual explaining Ubuntu step-by-step for free HERE. Fedora users on the other hand can benefit from a huge collection of common problems and their solutions listed HERE.
If your problem is slightly more severe, then leaving your query in the forums is a nice place to start. Every distribution has its own support forum, a link to which can easily be found on the distribution’s main website. If your query is very general, then you might as well post it on linuxquestions.org, which is one of the most active forums for Linux.
For getting your point through, it is essential to pose your question clearly so that the other person can help you in the best way possible. Also, there is etiquette to be followed when posting questions on forums. This manual will teach you to ask questions the smart way so that you’ll get an effective answer really quick. If you don’t know where to start, here’s a list of some of the most popular Linux forums out there:
What is IRC? In case you’re in need of quick help, then IRC is your best bet. IRC, which stands for Internet Relay Chat, is a form of real time Internet chat that allows instant group communication. These group communications happen in discussion forums called channels. Many developers and users hang out in their favorite channels either helping out other users or discussing software.
Getting Started: In order to get started with IRC, you’ll need an IRC client. If you’re using one of the popular distributions like Ubuntu, Fedora or openSUSE you’ll find an IRC client preinstalled. For example, Ubuntu comes with Empathy instant messenger, which acts as an IM client as well as an IRC client. Other than Empathy, there are a lot of good IRC clients, which you can compare using this list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_IRC_clients
Because covering all the clients is beyond the scope of this tutorial, we’ve decided to keep this tutorial limited to Empathy. To start using IRC on Empathy, you first need to decide on a nickname. Once you’ve done that, go to Applications > Internet and open Empathy Internet Messaging. Now, if you see your ‘contacts’ list, go to Edit > Accounts (or press F4). Here you’ll see a window where you can manage all your messaging accounts.
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