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8 Ways to Get Help with Ubuntu Linux

Mon, Mar 2, 2009

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No matter what operating system you use, be it Windows, Mac OS, or Linux, you’re inevitably going to run into some problems. But, especially with Ubuntu Linux, there’s a wealth of information to help get you through your crisis. Below are eight ways to get help when you have a problem with Ubuntu.

1. Google
By far the easiest, most common method of fixing any problem. Google will search most of the items listed below, including user guides, wikis, forums, and newsgroups. But it’s not always the easiest way to find the solution to an obscure problem, so here are some alternatives:

2. Ubuntuguide.org – The Ubuntu User Manual
This User Guide covers all the major aspects of Ubuntu, from installation to video driver support. It’s a must-read for those new to Ubuntu, and especially for those just beginning in Linux. Roughly equivalent to the printed manual you’d get in a shrink-wrapped product, the guide comes in the form of a Wiki that can answer most of your basic questions.

3. Ubuntuforums.org – Help in 60 Seconds
The Ubuntu Forums are a great place to go when you have a question not listed in the User Guide. But follow rule #1 and always Google first – chances are, someone has already answered your question and google has indexed it. People here are friendly, and help is quick; you’ll usually get a response within a few minutes. You will have to register, though, as with all forums.

4. IRC Channels – Help in 60 Seconds, Redux
If you don’t feel like registering on Ubuntuforums, or if you just have a quick question and want some live-feedback, consider the Ubuntu IRC channel. Like the forums, people are friendly, knowledgeable, and courteous, and will do their best to answer your question. The easiest way to do this under Ubuntu is to install X-chat, and connect to the Ubuntu Servers (irc://irc.ubuntu.com); it will automatically take you into the #ubuntu channel, where you can get help quick. Most questions are answered here in just a few minutes time. Don’t forget to thank the people that help you!

5. Linux User Groups
Linux User Groups, or LUGs, have been an important part of Linux support for a long time. A LUG is where users meet to discuss various topics, help each other out with problems, and eat pizza, coffee, and/or donuts. You can find a LUG near you on Google; lots of universities have them, also.

6. Application Documentation, Wikis, and Forums
Most individual applications have their own documentation, including FAQ lists, troubleshooting sections, user manuals, and sometimes Wikis. This is always a good place to look if you’re having a specific problem with a specific application.

7. Ask the developer
If you’re using a smaller, lesser-known application, there might not be very extensive documentation available; or worse, there might not be any documentation available at all. But most of the time, developers will put their email addresses, or some other way to contact them, on their project page – use it but don’t abuse it! Small open source developers want to know that their programs are being used and enjoyed by others, and they want to help out when they can; but don’t deluge them with an onslaught of questions that could have been solved by step number one – Google.

8. If all else fails – submit a bug report
Not exactly an instant solution, but if you’re having a problem that doesn’t seem to have an answer, it won’t be fixed unless you let the developers know about it!

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6 Responses to “8 Ways to Get Help with Ubuntu Linux”

  1. perspectoff says:

    Thanks for mentioning Ubuntu guide (ubuntuguide.org) !

  2. Rich_C says:

    I would advise a search of the official documentation/wiki first, followed by a forum post. Google shouldn’t really be your first port of call although it is a very useful resource.

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