From time to time we all have issues that we just don’t know how to solve. As an example my son wanted to use Tekkit with Minecraft and he asked me to install it for him.
It took a while to get Tekkit working on his laptop and each step of the way I used various resources to solve the problems that came my way.
The problems I experienced included the fact that his laptop needed a different java runtime version installed, then the launcher would not load because despite having java installed the Tekkit launcher could not find it and then when it did load it became stuck at the splash screen because Zonealarm was blocking access to the Tekkit servers and even when Tekkit loaded the connection to Minecraft would not work because Zonealarm blocked access to the Minecraft site as well.
The point of this article is to highlight the best ways to get support for not just Linux problems but all sorts of other PC issues.
As a software developer this is the most important resource on Earth. If Google decided to charge for searching I would go bankrupt. (or use DuckDuckGo). Personally I’d rather go bankrupt than try Bing.
Googling is a skill and as much as Google tries to think for you, sometimes you don’t get the results you were hoping for.
For me there is one rule about Googling and that is if you don’t find the answer to your question then either there isn’t an answer or more than likely you are asking the wrong question.
Simply the best way to use Google though is to type the subject area and then the issue you are getting.
As an example I have just installed XFCE within Peppermint Linux. The only issue I have is with the audio settings. If I click the speaker icon I get the following message
“GStreamer was unable to detect any sound devices. Some sound system specific GStreamer packages may be missing. It may also be a permissions problem.”
Now when I am searching Google for an answer I will type “XFCE ” and then paste in the error message.
Instantly I am given access to a list of results which I know will provide me the answer to my issue.
The 2nd item on the list actually gave me the clue to what I needed to do. All I had to do was run the following command:
sudo apt-get install gstreamer0.10-plugins
Google is first on my list because it really is the first place to look. The only criticism of Google is that there is as much misleading information as there is good information. (for instance one of the links within my search for Tekkit help genuinely suggested that I turn off the firewall software whilst running Tekkit).
ch_client = “garynewelluk”;
ch_width = 550;
ch_height = 250;
ch_type = “mpu”;
ch_sid = “Chitika Default”;
ch_color_site_link = “0000CC”;
ch_color_title = “0000CC”;
ch_color_border = “FFFFFF”;
ch_color_text = “000000”;
ch_color_bg = “FFFFFF”;
2. Linux Support Forums
Google will probably lead you in this direction anyway but you should be aware of the forum that you need to visit for answering queries.
Now there are really some rules you should follow when using the forums.
- Search the forum – It is highly likely that the question you are about to ask has been asked before. Searching the forum is not only polite because it saves the forum administrators constantly redirecting users to the post that answers the question but it means you get the answer to your problem sooner.
- Find the right section of the forum to post your question – Posting your question in the wrong section of the forum will delay the response and it will again mean a moderator has to move the question to the correct forum.
- Only ask your question in one section of the forum – Asking your question in multiple places within the same forum will just annoy the moderators and it will not get you an answer any quicker.
- Be patient – People who post answers on forums are usually doing it for nothing. If you post a question and then refresh your browser 2 minutes later, find no answers and then buzz to see why nobody answered is considered bad form.
Forums are a great resource but unless your question has been asked before it can be some time before your question is answered. If you are looking for a more immediate answer then read on.
3. IRC Chatrooms
If it doesn’t come pre-installed on your system install XChat. XChat is an IRC chat client and provides you access to chatrooms for all the major Linux distributions and most of the minor ones as well.
If you are using a more popular version of Linux you are more likely to find a chat room with more members and so you are more likely to get an answer to your issue straight away.
If you are using a smaller, less popular distribution and you find the chat room barely populated then consider the base system on which your distribution is derived and then visit that chat room as it is likely that you will get the answer to your question there.
IRC chat rooms are real time and the likelihood of getting help is very good. Every IRC chat room I have been to for support has been brilliant. There is always one person willing to bend over backwards to help you resolve an issue. As with forums it is good form to be polite and be patient. The contributers to the chat room are probably not being paid to help you.
4. You Tube
You Tube has thousands of videos on nearly every subject that demonstrates how to solve issues. As a software developer I have used this to learn new techniques. You Tube provides the best free training you can get.
You Tube is great for watching how to resolve a problem visually.
5. Yahoo Answers
I would generally recommend visiting the forums first and the chat rooms on IRC first because you are more likely to find a dedicated Linux person to answer your Linux queries using these methods.
If you are really stuck and the previous 4 options have been exhausted give Yahoo Answers a try.
Post your question and wait for the replies to appear.
The thing I have found is that the answers are a mix of flippant remarks (For example “I have an issue with Ubuntu that….” would be answered with “Use Windows” or “Use Slackware”. Not helpful), misleading answers (One guy recently asked a programming question and all 4 answers provided up to that point were simply wrong) or correct answers.
As it is so hit and miss this is my least favourite place to find an answer to a question but I do answer questions on the site.
Linux is very well supported and help is easily accessible. Feel free to add comments with other methods for getting support for Linux.