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  1. #1
    stevea Guest

    How to ask/answer a question

    There is a venerable old document on how to ask questions ...
    http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
    but I think this forum could use a few more specific rules.
    [OP=original post ,RP=reply post]

    For OPs,

    Look for a solution before creating a thread.
    Google the specific error message and maybe throw 'fedora' or 'f17' into the search. Search on this forum. It's surprising how often the solution is posted already.

    Pick a good title; brief, specific, descriptive.
    BAD: "Yum is broken, "Internet is down", "Can't boot F17"
    BETTER: "yum update can't find mirror, "can't ping my router", "Can't boot after install from KDElive"

    Describe how to cause the problem and also the resulting error.
    This seems so simple but about half the OPs fail. Too many OPs are confused, circular, gibberish.
    BAD : "ssh was working until I upgraded, now it fails".
    BETTER: "Since I upgraded to openssh-clients-5.9p1-22.fc17.x86_64 now ssh on my LAN fails with,
    'ssh: connect to host 192.168.2.77 port 22: No route to host'"

    a/ Describe the conditions that demonstrate the problem - either exact commands or describe the GUI interaction.
    b/ Describe the exact result including the PRECISE error messages produced.
    Cut-n-paste and screen-shots are the tools. Approximate error messages like, "it said something like 'cannot find file'" are nearly useless.

    ALWAYS describe the Fedora release involves, F15, F17 ...
    ALWAYS describe the architecture - i686, x86_64, PC, ARM, ...
    ALWAYS describe conditions that the typical reader would not expect. For example if the problem occurs within a VirtualBox virtualization - SAY SO.


    If you have clues state them as clues.
    If the problem just started since you added new hardware, then state that. DO NOT mislead by stating your guesses and conjectures as facts. Obviously if you are asking the question, then you likely don't know the cause and certainly not the cure, so no one can expect that you will provide these, but you need to provide clues. Especially DO NOT claim that XXX is the cause or cure of a problem unless you can describe why you believe that. This forum is filled with all sorts of 'voodoo' approaches to problems.

    Include the basic info.
    This is a difficult issue since the OP may well not know what sort of info is required, but some starting points:

    a/ If you have a network connectivity or access problem, then you will want to post the results of
    ip link
    ip addr
    ip route
    cat /etc/resolv.conf

    [Note: if you have a PUBLIC IP address in that output, then edit the values to "XXX.XXX.XXX.42" for security. You do not need to edit MAC addresses or private addresses like 192.168.*.* or 172,1*.*.* or 10.*.*.*. These commands supersede the "ifconfig" and "route" commands that use deprecated syscalls].

    b/ If you are having problem with a PCI/PCI-x bus device including ethernet interfaces or video, then post the partial output of 'lspci -nnk', for example:
    Code:
    03:00.0 Network controller [0280]: Intel Corporation Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 [8086:4238] (rev 35)
    	Subsystem: Intel Corporation Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 3x3 AGN [8086:1111]
    	Kernel driver in use: iwlwifi
    0d:00.0 SD Host controller [0805]: Ricoh Co Ltd MMC/SD Host Controller [1180:e822] (rev 01)
    	Subsystem: Lenovo Device [17aa:2133]
    	Kernel driver in use: sdhci-pci
    The underlined output shows the exact vendor & part ID and the driver, so the -nnk option is very important when it's a question of which driver has claimed the device.

    c/ for USB devices 'lsusb' or 'lsusb -v' (partial) output provides good info.

    d/ for Disk problems try 'smartctl'
    sudo smartctl -H /dev/sda
    sudo smartctl -a /dev/sda

    (also hdparm, read the man pages).

    e/ For disk partition issues try these,
    sudo fdisk -l
    sudo gdisk -l /dev/sda
    sudo gparted


    f/ For video output, or resolution issue try 'xrandr'

    g/ Audio is a complex topic, and we really should develop a better debugging method, but there is also a vast level of voodoo and misinformation associated with audio. I'll note that 'alsa-info' collects a very nice level of detailed info and can be used to compare different configs. pavucontrol and alsa-mixer are useful.

    h/ Use 'lshw-gui' tool when the hardware is less obvious.

    Mark the thread SOLVED when it is.

    ==========

    For RPs.

    A shocking number of answers' to queries on this forum are what I would call "shotgun" answers. Sloppy or no thinking invested. The classic (worst) case, the RP may lack any knowledge related to the problem, so instead of remaining silent they suggest "reinstall fedora". No one has encyclopedic knowledge of Fedora, anyone can make an error or misinterpret a question but there are IMO too many "I have no clue, but here is a pot-shot" type replies. These aren't helpful and are ultimately very harmful to the frustrated OP.

    There certainly are good reasons to re-install the distro or to un-install pulse audio, but these are extremely rare compared to the number of times this usually bad advise is suggested.

    One might rationally believe some FedoraForum threads are like the Tao; "Those who know, do not speak. Those who speak, do not know". In short - if you don't know, but suspect an approach might be useful - then by all means suggest the approach as tentative. If you have no clue then advice like "reinstall fedora" or "rip out pulse" or "post some unrelated nonsense" or "change some unrelated configuration" is harmful; ignorance dictates silence on the topic.

  2. #2
    bob's Avatar
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    Re: How to ask/answer a question

    Steve, thanks for your excellent update. As I've retired, I can't do more than 'stick' the thread, but it sure deserves that.
    Linux & Beer - That TOTALLY Computes!
    Registered Linux User #362651


    Don't use any of my solutions on working computers or near small children.

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