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Getting Help

Unless you have a support contract with a major distribution“s vendor such as RedHat or, perhaps, OpenSUSE, support of Linux typically does not involve using the telephone.  Then again, if you have ever waited on hold for 45 minutes only to get canned answers from a vendor such as Microsoft, you know that the telephone does not cure all computer ills!

For our preferred distribution (Linux Mint) try their forums.

For finding support for any distribution, a privacy-enhanced general search engine such as DuckDuckGo could be ideal.  DuckDuckGo does not collect identifying information such as IP or MAC address, search terms or history, etc.  They can't store or "hand over" such information either . . . since they don't collect anything!

Enter your search in natural language such as "how can I open the Cinnamon menu with the keyboard?" or "how can I open the Linux Mint 17.2 print queue?"  Sometimes you will need to refine your search; try, for example: "Cinnamon keyboard shortcuts" and see whether you get better or worse results.  [Hint: you'll probably learn more shortcuts, but maybe not about how to open the main menu.]

In rare cases (i.e. limited or inaccurate search results), you may need to resort to Google, which we prefer to avoid as they can be a big privacy risk.

Regardless of search engine used, returned search results will often feature Linux-specific sites, including that of your distribution and more generalist Linux sites.

In many cases one of the Stack Exchange sites such as Stack Overflow or Server Fault will show up in your results list.  These are among the most reliable sites for getting quality IT support.

Don't forget that forums and the Stack Exchange sites allow you to pose questions and (automatically, by e-mail) monitor for responses.  Responses often come as quickly as 10 minutes (sometimes less!), often with example images and offers for further help . . . all at no cost.

But it would be nice if you return the favor when you start getting really comfortable with Linux!

Page Last Edited: Monday, October 12, 2015
Page First Published: July 24, 2015

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