What to Put in a Request for Help

Please read the following advice carefully about how to write your
posting or E-mail. Making a complete posting will greatly increase the
chances that an expert or fellow user reading it will have enough
information and motivation to reply.

This advice applies both to postings asking for advice and to personal
E-mail sent to experts and fellow users.

Make sure you give full details of the problem, including:

* What program, exactly, you are having problems with. Include the
version number if known and say where you got it. Many standard
commands tell you their version number if you give them a
--version option.
* Which Linux release you're using (Red Hat, Slackware, Debian, or
whatever) and what version of that release.
* The exact and complete text of any error messages printed.
* Exactly what behavior you expected, and exactly what behavior you
observed. A transcript of an example session is a good way to show
* The contents of any configuration files used by the program in
question and any related programs.
* What version of the kernel and shared libraries you have
installed. The kernel version can be found by typing "uname -a,"
and the shared library version by typing "ls -l /lib/libc*."
* Details of what hardware you're running on, if it seems

You are in little danger of making your posting too long unless you
include large chunks of source code or uuencoded files, so err on the
side of giving too much information.

Use a clear, detailed Subject line. Don't put things like "doesn't
work," "Linux," "help," or "question" in it--we already know that.
Save the space for the name of the program, a fragment of an error
message, or summary of the unusual behavior.

Put a summary paragraph at the top of your posting.

At the bottom of your posting, ask for responses by email and say
you'll post a summary. Back this up by using "Followup-To: poster."
Then, actually post the summary in a few days or a week or so. Don't
just concatenate the replies you got--summarize. Putting the word
"SUMMARY" in your summary's Subject line is also a good idea. Consider
submitting the summary to comp.os.linux.announce.

Make sure your posting doesn't have an inappropriate References:
header line. This marks your article as part of the thread of the
article referred to, which will often cause it to be junked by
readers, along with the rest of a boring thread.

You might like to say in your posting that you've read this FAQ and
the appropriate HOWTO's--this may make people less likely to skip your

Remember that you should not post E-mail sent to you personally
without the sender's permission.

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