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This document is regularly posted to the FreeBSD-questions mailing list.
Introduction
<literal>FreeBSD-questions</literal> is a mailing list maintained by the FreeBSD project to help people who have questions about the normal use of FreeBSD. Another group, <literal>FreeBSD-hackers</literal>, discusses more advanced questions such as future development work.
The term <quote>hacker</quote> has nothing to do with breaking into other people's computers. The correct term for the latter activity is <quote>cracker</quote>, but the popular press has not found out yet. The FreeBSD hackers disapprove strongly of cracking security, and have nothing to do with it. For a longer description of hackers, see Eric Raymond's <link xlink:href="http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html">How To Become A Hacker</link>
This is a regular posting aimed to help both those seeking advice from FreeBSD-questions (the <quote>newcomers</quote>), and also those who answer the questions (the <quote>hackers</quote>).
Inevitably there is some friction, which stems from the different viewpoints of the two groups. The newcomers accuse the hackers of being arrogant, stuck-up, and unhelpful, while the hackers accuse the newcomers of being stupid, unable to read plain English, and expecting everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. Of course, there is an element of truth in both these claims, but for the most part these viewpoints come from a sense of frustration.
In this document, I would like to do something to relieve this frustration and help everybody get better results from FreeBSD-questions. In the following section, I recommend how to submit a question; after that, we will look at how to answer one.
How to Subscribe to FreeBSD-questions
FreeBSD-questions is a mailing list, so you need mail access. Point your WWW browser to the <link xlink:href="http://lists.FreeBSD.org/mailman/listinfo/freebsd-questions">information page of the FreeBSD-questions mailing list</link>. In the section titled <quote>Subscribing to freebsd-questions</quote> fill in the <quote>Your email address</quote> field; the other fields are optional.
The password fields in the subscription form provide only mild security, but should prevent others from messing with your subscription. <emphasis>Do not use a valuable password</emphasis> as it will occasionally be emailed back to you in cleartext.
You will receive a confirmation message from <application>mailman</application>; follow the included instructions to complete your subscription.
Finally, when you get the <quote>Welcome</quote> message from <application>mailman</application> telling you the details of the list and subscription area password, <emphasis>please save it</emphasis>. If you ever should want to leave the list, you will need the information there. See the next section for more details.
How to Unsubscribe from FreeBSD-questions
When you subscribed to FreeBSD-questions, you got a welcome message from <application>mailman</application>. In this message, amongst other things, it told you how to unsubscribe. Here is a typical message:
Welcome to the
freebsd-questions@freebsd.org mailing list!

To post to this list, send your email to:

freebsd-questions@freebsd.org

General information about the mailing list is at:

https://lists.freebsd.org/mailman/listinfo/freebsd-questions

If you ever want to unsubscribe or change your options (e.g., switch to
or from digest mode, change your password, etc.), visit your
subscription page at:

https://lists.freebsd.org/mailman/options/freebsd-questions/grog%40lemsi.de

You can also make such adjustments via email by sending a message to:

freebsd-questions-request@freebsd.org

with the word 'help' in the subject or body (do not include the
quotes), and you will get back a message with instructions.

You must know your password to change your options (including changing
the password, itself) or to unsubscribe. It is:

12345

Normally, Mailman will remind you of your freebsd.org mailing list
passwords once every month, although you can disable this if you
prefer. This reminder will also include instructions on how to
unsubscribe or change your account options. There is also a button on
your options page that will email your current password to you.
From the URL specified in your <quote>Welcome</quote> message you may visit the <quote>Account management page</quote> and enter a request to <quote>Unsubscribe</quote> you from FreeBSD-questions mailing list.
A confirmation message will be sent to you from <application>mailman</application>; follow the included instructions to finish unsubscribing.
If you have done this, and you still cannot figure out what is going on, send a message to <email>freebsd-questions-request@FreeBSD.org</email>, and they will sort things out for you. <emphasis>Do not</emphasis> send a message to FreeBSD-questions: they cannot help you.
Should I ask <literal>-questions</literal> or <literal>-hackers</literal>?
Two mailing lists handle general questions about FreeBSD, <literal>FreeBSD-questions</literal> and <literal>FreeBSD-hackers</literal>. In some cases, it is not really clear which group you should ask. The following criteria should help for 99% of all questions, however:
If the question is of a general nature, ask <literal>FreeBSD-questions</literal>. Examples might be questions about installing FreeBSD or the use of a particular <trademark class="registered">UNIX</trademark> utility.
If you think the question relates to a bug, but you are not sure, or you do not know how to look for it, send the message to <literal>FreeBSD-questions</literal>.
If the question relates to a bug, and you are <emphasis>sure</emphasis> that it is a bug (for example, you can pinpoint the place in the code where it happens, and you maybe have a fix), then send the message to <literal>FreeBSD-hackers</literal>.
If the question relates to enhancements to FreeBSD, and you can make suggestions about how to implement them, then send the message to <literal>FreeBSD-hackers</literal>.
There are also a number of other <link xlink:href="@@URL_RELPREFIX@@/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/handbook/eresources-mail.html">specialized mailing lists</link>, which caters to more specific interests. The criteria above still apply, and it is in your interest to stick to them, since you are more likely to get good results that way.
Before Submitting a Question
You can (and should) do some things yourself before asking a question on one of the mailing lists:
Try solving the problem on your own. If you post a question which shows that you have tried to solve the problem, your question will generally attract more positive attention from people reading it. Trying to solve the problem yourself will also enhance your understanding of FreeBSD, and will eventually let you use your knowledge to help others by answering questions posted to the mailing lists.
Read the manual pages, and the FreeBSD documentation (either installed in <filename>/usr/doc</filename> or accessible via WWW at <uri xlink:href="http://www.FreeBSD.org">http://www.FreeBSD.org</uri>), especially the <link xlink:href="@@URL_RELPREFIX@@/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/handbook/index.html">handbook</link> and the <link xlink:href="@@URL_RELPREFIX@@/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/faq/index.html">FAQ</link>.
Browse and/or search the archives for the mailing list, to see if your question or a similar one has been asked (and possibly answered) on the list. You can browse and/or search the mailing list archives at <uri xlink:href="https://www.FreeBSD.org/mail">https://www.FreeBSD.org/mail</uri> and <uri xlink:href="https://www.FreeBSD.org/search/search.html#mailinglists">https://www.FreeBSD.org/search/search.html#mailinglists</uri> respectively. This can be done at other WWW sites as well, for example at <uri xlink:href="http://marc.theaimsgroup.com">http://marc.theaimsgroup.com</uri>.
Use a search engine such as <link xlink:href="http://www.google.com">Google</link> or <link xlink:href="http://www.yahoo.com">Yahoo</link> to find answers to your question.

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