FreeBSD-Newbies First Aid Kit

This is a regular posting to the FreeBSD-Newbies mailing list.
It is also available at

FreeBSD-Questions@FreeBSD.ORG is the place to send all questions about installing, configuring, running and using FreeBSD. All help requests are handled by FreeBSD-Questions, including newbies questions. It is particularly important to send all installation questions and answers to FreeBSD-Questions so that they only appear in one place.

FreeBSD-Newbies is different. We don't ask for FreeBSD help or answer how-to questions. It is a discussion forum for newbies.

FreeBSD-Newbies provides a place for new FreeBSD users to meet and covers any of the activities of newbies that are not already dealt with elsewhere. Examples include helping each other to learn more on our own, finding and using resources, problem solving techniques, how to seek help elsewhere, how to use mailing lists and which lists to use, general chat, making mistakes, boasting, sharing ideas, stories, moral (but not technical) support, and taking an active part in the FreeBSD community. We take our problems and support questions to freebsd-questions, and use freebsd-newbies to meet others who are doing the same things that we do as newbies.

We can help people to use the FreeBSD mailing lists and resources, or to interact more productively with the broader FreeBSD community. These are not support questions, and not technical, so we deal with them here. Everyone can help with these new user orientation requests.

One of the things we do together is learn more effective ways to find help when we need it. Here are some suggestions:

When something doesn't work the way you expect

  1. First look at the errata for your release of FreeBSD at http://www.FreeBSD.ORG/releases/ for the latest information and security advisories.
  2. Search the Handbook, FAQ, and mail archives at http://www.FreeBSD.ORG/search/search.html
  3. If you still have a question or problem, collect the output of `uname -a' and of any relevant program(s) and email your question to FreeBSD-questions@FreeBSD.ORG.

Mailing lists

When you have a problem that you can't solve by yourself, there's only one support mailing list and that's FreeBSD-questions@FreeBSD.ORG. FreeBSD-questions helps with installation and basic setup as well as more general and advanced questions.

You don't have to actually join freebsd-questions before asking a question there. Replies to your question will normally be sent to you personally as well as to the list. Just make sure you have read and followed the guidelines for posting, because you might find them different to what you're used to. If you do subscribe to freebsd-questions you'll have the advantage of seeing all of the recent questions and their answers.

Before you post to FreeBSD-questions, please read the guidelines at Many of the people who answer FreeBSD-questions are very knowledgeable, but they get frustrated when they get questions which are difficult to understand. is worth reading too.

If you're not sure that you can follow these guidelines, come back and ask the other newbies for help on how to post an effective question to the support mailing list.

Maybe your question has been asked before. If you search the mailing list archives at first you might get the answer right away. It's always worth trying.

Other mailing lists ( cover specialised areas and many are more developer-oriented. You'll need to read their charters carefully before participating, but it's probably a good idea to ask on either -newbies or -questions for advice about where to post a more specialised question.

FreeBSD-announce is a very low volume read-only list for occasional announcements, such as notice of new releases, and the Really Quick Newsletter. It's worth subscribing to FreeBSD-announce too.


You'll always be expected to show that you have made some effort to use the available documentation before asking for help. That's not always as easy as it sounds!

If you know what documentation you need but can't locate it, send a brief query to FreeBSD-questions. If you don't know what you need, always have trouble finding it, or can't make any sense of it when you do, ask some patient newbies to steer you in the right direction.

Anyone interested in writing or reviewing documentation for FreeBSD is encouraged to join the FreeBSD Documentation Project. Details are at

Other resources

A resource list is available at to help new and inexperienced FreeBSD users to find relevant information quickly. It includes books, on line documents and tutorials, and links to web pages that other newbies have found useful for learning. If you have a suggestion for good material to be included, please write to freebsd-newbies and tell us about it.

But I have seen people asking questions here!

It is quite common for people to send the wrong kind of post to a mailing list. Because we're newbies it'll certainly happen here from time to time. The best thing to do if you see a message that doesn't belong on a list is to ignore it. There's always someone around whose job it is to sort these problems out privately.

The posts to the lists go straight through, whatever their content. It is going to be confusing for a little while because we're all newbies so we all make mistakes. That's OK.

One thing we're going to see a fair bit is people posting questions, believing they're doing the right thing by posting here as newbies, not realising how it works. If someone answers those questions the situation will snowball. There's nothing wrong with helping someone to redirect their question to freebsd-questions, but please do so gently. There's nothing wrong with the occasional mistake either.

So all questions, requests for help, etc still go to freebsd-questions as usual. Ours is more of a discussion group, a place where newbies can relax with other newbies and focus more on our successes than on our temporary imperfection. We can talk about things here that are not allowed on freebsd-questions. We're also a bit freer to make the mistakes that we need to make in order to learn.

Mailing list membership

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