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Re: user questions

Will Lowe <harpo@udel.edu> writes:

> Well,  I like to read and answer questions on both -devel and -user.  But
> since (i think) most newbie questions have been answered 500 times already
> (why else would we call them newbie questions?) what we need is a way to
> direct people to these answers without me having to retype them all the
> time.  Two solutions:
> 1) more/bigger FAQs.
> 	Positive side:  easy to use.
> 	Negative side:  pain in the butt to keep track of/update.

No, we don't need Yet Another FAQ. A lot of the problems experienced
by novices are not Debian specific, and are probably covered in
another FAQ somewhere else. What we need is pointers like: there is an 
excellent XFree86 FAQ at http:// ...

> 2) a way to search the mail archives.  Just about every question I've ever
> wanted answered about debian is someplace in the mail archives.  The
> problem is that to find information,  you're restricted to reading them
> indexed by month,  and searching through them by scanning headers (or
> using netscape's 'find' on the headers).  If it was possible to do a
> regexp search on the mail archives,  a newbie could enter a search for
> "configure x" and get a billion documents on how to configure x.

A search engine is a brilliant idea! 

> 	Positive side:  lots of information for free,  already in
> electronic form.
> 	Negative side(s):  increased load on servers (probably not a
> difficult search to write,  though).  Also,  the information is presented
> in a somewhat colloquial (and flame-ridden) form.

I haven't seen many flames on this list (this is not Usenet). 

A third proposal:

3) Write a "Debian Novice Guide" (lets get rid of that ugly
   n... word!), and make this guide a frequent posting to this list.

   This guide should include pointers to all the information available
   to a Debian user.


   * Existing FAQ's on all the component of a Debian
     system (X, XFree86, bash, kernel & modules, ppp, etc.).

   * "Official" websites (linux.org, debian.org, LDP, etc.) 

   * Educational websites (http://www.gaijin.com/X/, LDP again etc.)

   * An introduction this list - what it is, and how to use it. I am
     imagining something like the "Welcome to comp.unix.questions
     [Frequent posting]", that appear once a week in the (quess which)
     group. Recommendations of good Usenet groups. 

   * Most importantly: A list of all the information available on the
     Debian system. This includes the man pages of course, especially
     how to use them efficiently, and which pages are obligatory
     reading (X(1), bash(1), etc). Important docs in /usr/doc. Info in 
     /var/lib/dpkg, and where to read more about dpkg. The existence
     of useful configuration scripts in /usr/sbin. The manuals in the
     info system (and how to read them). 

   The guide should explain that Linux is just a free Unix, and
   therefore an introductory book on Unix or shell scripts is just as
   valuable as any - existing or non-existing - "Debian Users Guide"   
Now, there is only left to wait and see if anyone takes up the stick
and write the dam'n thing... Dont expect me to write it, I am a novice 
myself - a few weeks with Debian after a few months with
Redhat. (Maybe that will cheer up those that were depressed by the
initial posting in this thread.)

- Sten Anderson

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