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TR-05: How to Troubleshoot problems

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TR-05: How to Troubleshoot problems


Here's a list of useful links to check out and things you should know, should something go wrong with your beloved PC.

  • My second favorite troubleshooting hangout (no. 1 being here) is on IRC.
    Check the connecting to IRC how to to see how to connect.
    Freenode (an IRC network) hosts a large no. of open source project channels where you can get help.
    Usually all you have to do is type the name of the project preceded by the hash sign (#), e.g. #kde, #qt, #xchat, #nvidia.
    Some linux distributions have unofficial channels in freenode as well where you can go for help, e.g. #mandrake, #slackware, #fedora, #gentoo.
    There're also channels aimed at more general non-distro, non-app(lication) specific help, e.g. #linux, #musb. Be forewarned though, some of these channels are pretty crowded so you may have to ask your questions more than once.
  • Troubleshooter No. 2 for me, which really should be the first, is the manuals/documentation which comes with most distros.
    The Linux Documentation Project is an excellent source of these. Also any distro worth its salt will have it's own documentation and help manuals. They are available with boxed (bought) products, online or both. More often than not these manuals/how tos have the answer to you're exact question.
  • Provided documentation that comes with applications (not distros, but the apps themselves) can also be useful in troubleshooting.
    Provided documentation that comes with applications (not distros, but the apps themselves) can also be useful in troubleshooting.
    These can be accessed from man and info pages, the documentation found in the /usr/share/doc directory and in the Readmes accompanying source files. Man pages for a certain program can be accessed at a terminal by typing
    man name_of_program

    Similarly, info pages can be accessed by typing

    info name_of_program

    Documentation in the /usr/share/doc ($DOC) directory usually have names which somewhat correspond to the app being looked for e.g. $DOC/php_manual_en/ or $DOC/NVIDIA_GLX/. Information is usually obtained here in the form of webpages (html) or READMEs (text files).
    The README files accompanying most source packages, a.k.a tarballs, may also contain useful troubleshooting information.

  • GOOGLE! < insert angelic harmony here >
    For the experienced troubleshooter, google can be the first thing to head for when in trouble or a last bastion for the hopeless. Either way, it is an invaluable resource.
    Whatever problems you're having, chances are somebody else has had them before. This means you can search for it on Google and be damn near guaranteed of finding something on it, including but not limited to solutions for the problem.
    Google also has a linux specific search engine called, imaginatively enough, Google Linux :) which can be found @ www.google.com/linux.
    For troubleshooting you can paste in parts of an error message to get results on sights with similar messages. Chances are a fix will be floating around somewhere. Google is also useful for solving rpm dependencies.
    N.B.: www.google.com/linux is NOT the same as www.google.com/linux/. Notice the trailing slash at the end...
    RPM stands for Redhat Package Management (or something like that). It is an alternative method to installing applications, much like exe(cutable)s as seen in windows.

You may have noticed that most of the troubleshooting methods documented here involved a working system of some kind. Either the internet has to be working or you need to have bought a boxed product to get available documentation. Sucks if it's your ethernet card or modem that you're having problems with, don't it?

Lesson for today? Buying a boxed product of you

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