How to post errors/ask for help the correct way


Pinoy Techie
OK more ofter then not I see many users posting XYZ is not working.. this version of program/fedora is unstable etc etc... Don't be vague and say it just does not work... be specific "what" does not work. I feel there has to be a how-to or some guidelines as to how to go about reporting errors/issues that you are facing. Just shouting out XYZ is not working would not help at all.. So here we go...

After you have figured out under which category the problem/issue falls, things do become much easy to resolve.

Now what I am about to say may put you off... if you are a total beginner to the Linux OS.. have no or little idea of the command line and basic commands. Then perhaps Fedora is NOT the correct Linux distro for you.

You must be willing to learn, search the net/forums/user groups for answer. In short be proactive to do some finding/RnD on your own.

With that out of the way. Here are some ways that can help fellow users/developers to help you out better.

1. Calm down and think -- this is most important to do. Using foul language for the developers, fellow users, community will not get you any help at all.

2. Have patience.. like any forum that is free.. people will help/reply when they have the free time. Remember that they are also Real people with an offline life (so what if many of them are uber geeks/awesome coders).

3. Now think about the actual problem/issue and fit it into a category. Broadly speaking issues would be about these things listed below ...

(i) Hardware issues -- Device X not working/poor performance/not detected
  • List what were you trying to do e.g install a new USB printer (make and model number)
  • Hardware X is not detected e.g a USB 3G dongle (make and model number)
  • Make sure the device that your trying to use works under Linux in general and esp with the newer kernels.
  • Check that you have the correct device drivers installed. Look up at the vendors web site under support/download section.
  • Did the hardware in question ever worked with an older version??
  • Post output of relevant command as a sudo user or as root... use grep and paste relevant info do not copy paste the entire output!!!!
For USB --> lsusb
For PCI cards --> lspci
For pcmcia cards --> lspcmcia
For cpu --> lscpu
For gen hardware issues ---> dmesg
For issues with Graphic Cards pass 'drm.debug=0x06' as a boot parameter or edit the grub2.cfg to add it to the boot line.

Then copy paste ---> dmesg | grep drm

Check here =====>

(ii) Software issues

-- Program X crashed/poor performance/does not work as expected after upgrade/downgrade/
  • List what were you trying to do e.g was listening to music in xmms when it crashed, watching a movie in vlc when it crashed..
  • If a program or the OS crashed.. did you make any changes recently .. installed new hardware/removed some hardware/installed updates/uninstalled software/libraries/dependency files/deleted or edited some config files
  • Learn to use the Automatic Bug Reporting Tool and submit a proper bug report along with a back trace. By submitting a proper bug report you help the developers and all the users at large to improve things.
Pro tip -- If you are totally lost but have a friend/mentor/co-worker who can help you. All you need is a working system and Internet connection.. use remote access tools like VNC/Krbf/KRDC etc. It is the fastest way to go about solving the issue.

Check here =====>

(iii) Compatibility Issues

-- Issues related to using a old/unsupported Distro version. Problems with upgrading from an old version to a newer version. Using very old hardware with the latest version etc
  • List what were you trying to do e.g upgrade from Fedora 12 to 17
(vi) Usability issues

-- Issues related to changes in the way options/system works or the normal workflow, e.g moving from KDE 3.x to KDE 4.x or moving from Genome 2.x to 3.x
  • Not much can be done here people are creatures of habit. Choose an supported alternative and use that instead.
  • Nothing is constant but change... read learn about the new features use them.. you may like them better.
(v) Compilation Issues
-- Errors related to software/packages not compiling correctly.
  • List what were you trying to do e.g installing gcc from source.
  • Read the how-to/README/INSTALL file that came with the source
  • Make sure you have all dependency/requirements installed.
  • Did you use a custom Makefile or passed custom C/CXX flags if yes post them too.
Robert 'Bob' Jensen --- For pasting files and/or command output the "fpaste" command works great, in fact "fpaste --sysinfo" provides a lot of information related to solving problems that otherwise has to be asked for over and over again or piece by piece.

Hope these points help us all solve the issues that we face. Resulting in a better experience with Linux over all :) :) Feel free to copy, modify and re post this anywhere you feel this would be relevant. Would request users to translated this to other non English languages and re post.

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