This article is from the Frequently Asked Questions for Linux, the Free/Open Source UNIX-like operating system kernel that runs on many modern computer systems. Maintained by David C. Merrill with numerous contributions by others. (v1.0).
Please read all of this answer before posting. I know it's a bit long, but you may be about to make a fool of yourself in front of 50,000 people and waste hundreds of hours of their time. Don't you think it's worth spending some of your time to read and follow these instructions?
If you think an answer is incomplete or inaccurate, please e-mail David Merrill. See Asking Questions and Sending Comments.
Read the appropriate Linux Documentation Project books. Refer to Where Is the Documentation?.
If you're a Unix or Linux newbie, read the FAQ for news:comp.unix.questions, news:news.announces.newusers, and those for any of the other news:comp.unix groups that may be relevant.
Linux has so much in common with commercial unices, that almost everything you read there will apply to Linux. The FAQ's, like all FAQ's, be found on ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/ (the email@example.com can send you these files, if you don't have FTP access). There are mirrors of rtfm's FAQ archives on various sites. Check the Introduction to *.answers posting, or look in news-answers/introduction in the directory above.
Check the relevant HOWTO for the subject in question, if there is one, or an appropriate old style sub-FAQ document. Check the FTP sites.
Try experimenting - that's the best way to get to know Unix and Linux.
Read the documentation. Check the manual pages (type man man if you don't know about manual pages. Also try man -k subject and apropos subject. They often list useful and relevant, but not very obvious, manual pages.
Check the Info documentation (type F1-i, i.e. the F1 function key followed by "i" in Emacs). This isn't just for Emacs. For example, the GCC documentation lives here as well.
There will also often be a README file with a package that gives installation and/or usage instructions.
Make sure you don't have a corrupted or out-of-date copy of the program in question. If possible, download it again and re-install ityou probably made a mistake the first time.
Read news:comp.os.linux.announce. It often contains very important information for all Linux users.
General X Window System questions belong in news:comp.windows.x.i386unix, not in news:comp.os.linux.x. But read the group first (including the FAQ:, before you post.
Only if you have done all of these things and are still stuck, should you post to the appropriate news:comp.os.linux newsgroup. Make sure you read the next question first. "( What to put in a request for help. )"