Things youâ€™ll need when seeking GNU/Linux support online
You broke something. Congratulations! Youâ€™re one of the millions of people across the globe, who have broken their system, perhaps without having any clue whatsoever about how you even did it...
Okay, so, youâ€™ve tried some searches online, youâ€™ve asked your other computer savvy friends, and youâ€™ve also dug out your favourite hammer â€“ just incase you need to break something. Being real though, thereâ€™s many times where you may need to seek out help online using forums, IRC, or mailing lists.
In these cases, simply asking, â€œI broke my â€˜distronamehereâ€™ install. Help?â€ wonâ€™t really do much for you. Now if you said, â€œI broke my nginx config, and checked the log files. I canâ€™t seem to figure out exactly what the error is, so Iâ€™ve posted it here, if anyone can help: www.mypastebinlink.com/linkstuff,â€ youâ€™d get much further.
So, hereâ€™s somethings you should know how to do, use, or find, when seeking online help. Obviously, there is going to be many things not covered here, because thereâ€™s more things that can break on a GNU/Linux system, than I care to count; but this should get you started so you at least look like you have some idea what youâ€™re talking about.
/var/log/ -- Check the logs!
Now, there is going to be exceptions to this, but a pretty good rule of thumb, is that if youâ€™re having issues with a process failing to start / restart, crashing, etc., to check /var/log/ for the respective log file you need. Many, many applications put their logs here, so I would say that first thing above all, is check the logs.
An easy way to check log files in real-time, is using the tail -f command, such as:
sudo tail -f /var/log/nginx/error.log
The tail command, will actively take over your terminal until you end the process (cntrl+c) and show you the contents of the file specified, as it happens. This is especially handy for things like Apache/Nginx, so you can watch the error log as you attempt to visit a page / do whatever, and the corresponding error.
Send terminal output directly to Pastebin
A handy little tool called pastebinit will automatically send any terminal output you pipe into it, to pastebin for you. There are a number of ways you can customize your paste if you wish, using various options added into your command, however, at its core pastebinit is very simple to use.
Again, to use the same example as before, sending the contents of /var/log/nginx/error.log this time into a pastebin link:
tail /var/log/nginx/error.log | pastebinit
https://paste.ubuntu.com/p/XXXXXXXXXXX/ <---- you will receive an output that looks like this, with your pastebin link.
Note: pastebinit will automatically try to see if the distro you are using, has its own pastebin, and if it does / its known to pastebinit, it will use it. If not, it will default to pastebin.com.
Another way to use pastebinit, is to send the contents of a file, directly:
pastebinit -i myfile.conf
Know your system
This one sounds a little redundant, but its unbelievably true...Know your system. If youâ€™re using OpenSUSE, you need to specificy if youâ€™re using Tumbleweed or Leap for example, or which release of Ubuntu you use. Knowing your kernel version is always handy as well:
or a more broad spectrum of kernel information
Or perhaps print all PCI device information, like usb ports, graphics adapters, etc:
lspci -v #remove the -v for a more simplified list
If there is one tip I can give to anyone about to go ask for support somewhere, itâ€™s do as much research into the problem as you can, first. Even if you have no idea what the actual problem is, if you at least can say, â€˜I tried X and Y to find the problem.â€™ then whomever it is who helps you, will have some idea of where you started, your capabilities / knowledge, and at the very least, will appreciate the effort.
When I was into Linux for a while it was so frustrating. Way too many guides/forum posts didn’t work. Sure, it happens sometimes with Windows too, specially now with Win10, but not as much IMO. I guess a reason is Linux changes(ed) faster than Windows and because of the different distributions. But often it was because the guides were incomplete, ie “you should know X so I won’t bother including it”.
With a system that is completely configurable BY THE USER, not the vendor, you have to trade off ignorance of your computer’s OS. I.E. the price for powerful, configurable, user defined software is the requirement that you now must be knowledgeable about how your OS is configured.
Or you could stay with a closed source, user hostile (privacy, security, etc.) malware such as Win10. IMHO, everyone should take a look at the industries’ response to these privacy assaults; Linux distributions that are easy to use and configure like ElementaryOS, POP!_OS, PureOS, Zorin, etc.
I mostly use Windows but have for over a decade used various Linux distros now and then. Seldom enough to forget quite a few commands, shortcuts and so on inbetween uses.
The rise of Stack Overflow and similar high quality Q & A sites have made it very much easier to troubleshoot and fix things that previously would have stopped me completely. Just googling the error message usually leads to finding someone’s question about the issue and a solution. So while the distros themselves have of course become more user friendly I think the abundance of good solutions online is the single biggest improvement for me actually.
Nice article, useful info. Still can’t keep it though, print to pdf of this webpage still doesn’t work. Any progress on that or have you given up?
PDF printing works fine in Chrome.
Ah, thanks. But I’m not going to be forced to install a piece of ** that I don’t want nor need. Sounds like the old days, when Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was forced upon web users, even if it didn’t comply to web standards. Not very Linux-like, this.
works fine for me on chrome, waterfox, internet explorer 11 qnd ms edge browsers.
Strange, Pale Moon does not work at all, not does Firefox latest. Are you using any special plugins?
You just have to install a PDF-Printer, thatÂ´s all
Which of course I already have. The issue is only the first page is printed, the following pages of text disappear and the last page is printed. It shows up like that on print preview too. Both Firefox and Pale Moon do this.
Try it with a clean profile, without adblocker or other plugins.
Eventualy try another or reinstall PDF-Printer, also with cleaned profile.
Deinstalled Firefox, removed everything (I’m using this for testing only,so no problem). Reinstalled, no add ons. Same issue. It does NOT work on Firefox or Pale Moon, and no I won’t be forced to move to Chrome.
I tested in FireFox, FireFox ESR, Palemoon… in WIN7, WIN10 and also in Linux.
I donÂ´t have the problem you mentioned.
… and no one will force you to move to Chrome, it wouldnÂ´t make sense… ;-)
Well, that’s very odd. I tested on my system Win 7 and OpenSuse, clean install Firefox, I even created a VM Linux Mint KDE especially for this, the issue remains. So the only answer possible is that you have something extra installed I have not.
In Windows I installed Foxit PDF-Reader with Foxit PDF-Printer, nothing else… but this should not be the reason. In Linux I donÂ´t have nothing extra installed.
I donÂ´t know, but when even the print-preview doesnÂ´t show you all pages…?
No, in print preview I indeed only see the first page, and then the last page with the “about Ghacks” text. That’s it. Tried everything sofar with FF and Pale Moon, Linux and Win 7 to no avail. I’ll try and create another vm and try chrome on that, but even if that would work it wouldn’t be a solution :(
BTW, I run 64bit Linux and Win7, you would not be using 32bit versions would you?
All 64bit, but tried in 32bit too without issues… tested in real installations, not VM
Try this workaround that often works: select the entire page (Ctrl+a) and then print just the selection (Ctrl+p to call up the print dialog directly, then click Selection).
Second please check to make sure that the printer does not have any saved settings in the Printer Settings option of Firefox printing.
Does it work?
Another way… https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/fix-printing-problems-firefox
Nice tips. Your second pastebinit example should be:
pastebinit -i myfile.conf
instead of pastebin -i myfile.conf
Thanks for the article.
Talking about “Know your system”: I have always found Inxi (I is a capital i) a very useful utility. It is a powerful command line-system information script with a lot of options.
Inxi should be in most repositories. There is also a PPA for Ubuntu, Mint, etc. users.
Try for instance: Inxi -Fxx
Correction: inxi -Fxx
Please change the links to HTTPS !! (We live in 2018 not 1998!!)
I have become fairly adept at finding answers, at lest with this last round with GNU/Linux. No doubt it helps that the internet is growing every second and search engines have improved greatly, and like what lin_win said with quality sites being on the rise. As always thanks for the info Mike, no doubt will eventually need it.
note to self, buy another hammer, just in case.
The Linux Information Project offers great resources along with a tutorial for using the man command:
Surprised so many Linux users are having problems with Linux; it’s in direct contradiction to the same users who condemn Windows for having so many issues.
If Linux isn’t stable enough for a user and Windows is a “pathetic” alternative, it means . . . I don’t know. A new OS is on the horizon?
Thanks Mike! These articles are very helpful and encourage new Linux users to dig in and learn.
Many Windows refugees who have recently adopted a ‘nix distro soon become painfully aware of their technical ignorance. When something breaks, they find it embarrassing to seek online help.
What should be noted is that Microsoft has steadily increased the complexity of Windows while dumbing down the interface over the years. This encouraged Windows users to become more reliant upon others for support. It also created situations where complete system reimages were performed to fix what *should* have been simple problems.
Compare this to the vehicle you drive. Microsoft would have you drive it with the hood locked and trade it in every three years. Instead, the open source option unlocks the hood and provides the shop manual, but you *will* have to read it.
So thanks again Mike for providing us with the tools and encouragement to jump in and get greasy fingers. After reading today’s Ghacks summary of the Windows 10 telemetry issues. I can’t imagine going back to the Windows world now.
Doug in east TN