Getting Help

While Linux is much easier to use now there are still many instances where help is needed. That is still the case with other operating systems as well.

When I was in college one of the computer people was asked to teach a class in programming. He was not a teacher and had no idea how to teach what he knew. The entire computer industry was still rather new and no one had been formally trained to teach computer science at that time. We were given an assignment to write a program. He never showed us what one single line of code even looked like. There was no internet to go to for help.

So all but maybe two people showed up without a finished assignment. What he had not told us was not only what code looked like but that he had expected us to "cheat"! He figured that we would go find someone who knew programming and just copy what they had done. I suppose that he also expected that someone who knew programming would let everyone in the class copy his work. I can imagine that the teacher may have hoped that the student might just do his job for him and we would all come to class knowing how to program?

In essence we were like someone thrown into a different country with different language and morals and just expected to figure it out over night. Fortunately there are many resources available and ready for one to "cheat" and learn with Linux. Any problem you encounter is probably not the first time it has happened to someone. In that regard the forums at several web sites are amazing resources. It just takes a little digging. One suggestion is to just use a search engine first and include the name of your distribution. I found that I had better success finding things at the Ubuntu forums through a search engine than through the Ubuntu forum website. Secondly once you get past all the You Tube videos of people showing off fancy desktop effects there are some very good videos on how to make things work. Thirdly your live CD.

The live CD in conjunction with help from the forums is a good combination. One time, not all that long ago, I accidentally made an adjustment to my video settings. I was left with the black screen of nothing but a command prompt. The forums had already solved this problem for others and suggested that booting from the live CD and looking at how things were configured would get repair started. The finish was simply to make the settings on the hard drive the same as the live CD. You will need to know how to get permission to do such and how to edit from the terminal and possibly the command line, but comparing the files taught me quite a bit. In my case running through xorg.conf setup did not help.

So I did not have to reinstall! Now my next step is to put my home folder on a separate drive or partition so that in the event of an unrecoverable error I do not have to risk losing my files.




About Tim

Amateur Radio operator, television broadcast engineer living in Minnesota.
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