FreeBSD-Newbies First Aid Kit
(Last updated 30 August 1998)
(This is a regular posting to the FreeBSD-Newbies mailing list.
It is also available at http://www.welearn.com.au/freebsd/newbies/)
FreeBSD-Questions@FreeBSD.ORG is the place to send all questions about
installing, configuring, running and using FreeBSD. All help requests
are handled by FreeBSD-Questions, including newbies questions.
FreeBSD-Newbies is different. We don't ask for help or answer how-to
questions. It is a discussion forum for newbies.
FreeBSD-Newbies provides a place for new FreeBSD users to meet and
covers any of the activities of newbies that are not already dealt
with elsewhere. Examples include helping each other to learn more on
our own, finding and using resources, problem solving techniques, how
to seek help elsewhere, how to use mailing lists and which lists to
use, general chat, making mistakes, boasting, sharing ideas, stories,
moral (but not technical) support, and taking an active part in the
FreeBSD community. We take our problems and support questions to
freebsd-questions, and use freebsd-newbies to meet others who are
doing the same things that we do as newbies.
One of the things we do together is learn more effective ways to find
help when we need it. Here are some suggestions:
When something doesn't work the way you expect
1. First look at the errata for your release of FreeBSD at
http://www.FreeBSD.ORG/releases/ for the latest information and
2. Search the Handbook, FAQ, and mail archives at
3. If you still have a question or problem, collect the output of
`uname -a' and of any relevant program(s) and email your question
When you have a problem that you can't solve by yourself, there's only
one support mailing list and that's FreeBSD-questions@FreeBSD.ORG.
FreeBSD-questions helps with installation and basic setup as well as
more general and advanced questions.
You don't have to actually join freebsd-questions before asking a
question there. Replies to your question will normally be sent to you
personally as well as to the list. Just make sure you have read and
followed the guidelines for posting, because you might find them
different to what you're used to. If you do subscribe to
freebsd-questions you'll have the advantage of seeing all of the
recent questions and their answers.
Before you post to FreeBSD-questions, please read the guidelines at
http://www.lemis.com/questions.html Many of the people who answer
FreeBSD-questions are very knowledgeable, but they get frustrated when
they get questions which are difficult to understand.
http://www.lemis.com/email.html is worth reading too.
If you're not sure that you can follow these guidelines, come back and
ask the other newbies for help on how to post an effective question to
the support mailing list.
Maybe your question has been asked before. If you search the mailing
list archives at http://www.freebsd.org/search.html first you might
get the answer right away. It's always worth trying.
Other mailing lists
specialised areas and many are more developer-oriented. You'll need to
read their charters carefully before participating, but it's probably
a good idea to ask on either -newbies or -questions for advice about
where to post a more specialised question.
FreeBSD-announce is a very low volume read-only list for occasional
announcements, such as notice of new releases, and the Really Quick
Newsletter. It's worth subscribing to FreeBSD-announce too.
You'll always be expected show that you have made some effort to use
the available documentation before asking for help. That's not always
as easy as it sounds!
If you know what documentation you need but can't locate it, send a
brief query to FreeBSD-questions. If you don't know what you need,
always have trouble finding it, or can't make any sense of it when you
do, ask some patient newbies to steer you in the right direction.
Anyone interested in writing or reviewing documentation for FreeBSD is
encouraged to join the FreeBSD Documentation Project. Details are at
A resource list is available at
http://www.freebsd.org/projects/newbies.html to help new and
inexperienced FreeBSD users to find relevant information quickly. It
includes books, on line documents and tutorials, and links to web
pages that other newbies have found useful for learning. If you have a
suggestion for good material to be included, please write to
freebsd-newbies and tell us about it.
But I have seen people asking questions here!
It is quite common for people to send the wrong kind of post to a
mailing list. Because we're newbies it'll certainly happen here from
time to time. The best thing to do if you see a message that doesn't
belong on a list is to ignore it. There's always someone around whose
job it is to sort these problems out privately.
The posts to the lists go straight through, whatever their content. It
is going to be confusing for a little while because we're all newbies
so we all make mistakes. That's OK.
One thing we're going to see a fair bit is people posting questions,
believing they're doing the right thing by posting here as newbies,
not realising how it works. If someone answers those questions the
situation will snowball. There's nothing wrong with helping someone to
redirect their question to freebsd-questions, but please do so gently.
There's nothing wrong with the occasional mistake either.
So all questions, requests for help, etc still go to freebsd-questions
as usual. Ours is more of a discussion group, a place where newbies
can relax with other newbies and focus more on our successes than on
our temporary imperfection. We can talk about things here that are not
allowed on freebsd-questions. We're also a bit freer to make the
mistakes that we need to make in order to learn.
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