[sf-lug] Answers at Ubuntu.com

Grant Bowman grantbow at ubuntu.com
Thu Mar 24 00:37:42 PDT 2011

Hello Ken,

Looking very carefully now (twice) I see no link from ubuntu.com to
"technical questions." Thank you for clarifying with a URL. I see now
that www.ubuntu.com links to www.ubuntu.com/support which links to the
"Technical answer system." https://answers.launchpad.net/ubuntu

That is an interesting and very active section of the launchpad.net
site devoted to redirecting questions about "Ubuntu" to more specific
areas. That's a great place and a very interesting use of launchpad!
I bet your help there is greatly appreciated.

I think that location is a default that was carefully chosen by the
ubuntu.com web team as the website has evolved. From a quick look it
seems a lively place; 70 questions asked in the last 24 hours. I
admire the time you take to read and especially to respond to an
interesting mixture of questions. I see an answer to a question that
came up at our noisebridge.net discussion this evening, how to install
FireFox 4.0 Final.
http://techie-buzz.com/ubuntu/install-firefox-4-in-ubuntu.html offers
three methods. It seems to me that answers.launchpad.net/ubuntu may be
where the most general and/or broad questions get asked these days
given how the website is set up. I will have to check back there from
time to time. As stewards of the Ubuntu community Canonical
necessarily make a few opinionated decisions in cases where few others
can such as the text and links on www.ubuntu.com and
www.ubuntu.com/support directing people looking for "support" and/or

Launchpad provides the same Q&A service focused around questions and
answers for all packages. [1] This use and process around
answers.launchpad.net has evolved as the features have become
available through the launchpad.net system.  A question may or may not
lead to what the Debian and Ubuntu package maintainers deem a "bug."

For people that can (know how to) narrow down whatever issue they
think they have to a particular package within Ubuntu they have done
for themselves some of the hardest work toward asking smart questions.
An essay was written on this topic that I find very helpful though it
may not be helpful to everyone who attempts to read it. I think much
depends on one's previous experience.


Helping people from a multitude of different backgrounds with various
levels of technical skill is not something that has a single magic
answer. While the above essay written by Eric Raymond and our own Rick
Moen is important it is only a sample of the writing that I think
needs to be written to provide a wider audience of people with
meaningful answers to their questions. While people more familiar with
the traditional methods of asking and answering questions may not be
fully aware of the newer answers.launchpad.net system I think we would
be well advised to pay it some attention. I know I will.

Thanks again,


[1] Packages & Package Maintainers

Going one level deeper, each part of Ubuntu (and Debian) is provided
by some source package which provides one or more binary packages that
people typically install via the Software Center, synaptic or the
command line tool apt-get. Behind each source package (and by
association each binary package) is some person or group of people
called "package maintainers/developers." People choose to become
maintainers for many different reasons. I haven't seen any statistics
or survey of this brave group of souls but among this group are
volunteers, employees of companies that produce open source software,
Debian Developers,

The best guides I can find right now are linked from

On Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 10:51 PM, Ken Shaffer <kenshaffer80 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Grant,
> Clicking on the technical questions link on ubuntu.com leads to the Ubuntu
> section of launchpad at https://answers.launchpad.net/ubuntu, which is where
> I've been spending some time.  I took a quick look at the ubuntuforums.org
> (from the community support link at ubuntu.com), but found the interface
> less convenient for me to work with -- maybe just because I was less
> familiar with it.  I'll definitely check out the IRC and the other sites you
> mentioned.
> Ken
> On Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 9:09 PM, Grant Bowman <grantbow at ubuntu.com> wrote:
>> Hi Ken,
>> Thank you very much for your summary. I'm having a hard time following
>> where you are contributing your work and where others might go to do
>> what you have done and/or support you in your work.  Here are some
>> URLs that come to my mind when reading your description:
>> http://lists.ubuntu.com/mailman/listinfo/ubuntu-bugs
>> http://launchapd.net - questions sections of various source and binary
>> packages.
>> http://ubuntuforums.org
>> http://brainstorm.ubuntu.com
>> I appreciate the efforts you are making and invite you to participate
>> with the http://ubuntu-california.org team which has IRC discussions
>> on freenode.net in #ubuntu-us-ca channel (24x7 discussion, Sun 7PM
>> meetings every other week) and share with our mail list.
>> https://lists.ubuntu.com/mailman/listinfo/ubuntu-us-ca I would be
>> happy to do what I can to help you in your efforts. There are many
>> different ways to contribute to Ubuntu. Local Communities like the
>> California Team are designed to "help groups of Ubuntu fans and
>> enthusiasts work together in regional teams to help advocate, promote,
>> translate, develop and otherwise improve Ubuntu. Our worldwide network
>> of LoCo teams is providing a strong backbone to our already vast and
>> extensive Ubuntu community." https://wiki.ubuntu.com/LoCoTeams
>> Cheers,
>> Grant Bowman <grantbow at ubuntu.com>
>> https://wiki.ubuntu.com/GrantBowman
>> On Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 5:32 PM, jim <jim at systemateka.com> wrote:
>> >
>> >
>> > thanks __much__ ken!
>> >    i'm at noisebridge, waiting for the start of the
>> > linux discussion group (wed 6 to 8 PM), and i'll
>> > definitely share your note with them.
>> >
>> >
>> > On Wed, 2011-03-23 at 16:33 -0700, Ken Shaffer wrote:
>> >>  When I mentioned to Jim at a recent SFLUG meeting that I was spending
>> >> some time at the Ubuntu site helping out people who have problems, he
>> >> suggested I write up a note for the mailing list -- others may be
>> >> interested, both as a way to find answers to questions and to offer
>> >> their expertise to others.
>> >>     I've always been aware of the "bugs" section at the ubuntu.com
>> >> site, but have never looked much at the two support sections:  1)the
>> >> web based community support and 2)the mailing list for technical
>> >> questions.  Much to my surprise, the two are apparently totally
>> >> separate entities, each requiring their own login.
>> >>    The last few months, I've started to  spend more time at the
>> >> ubuntu.com site helping out in the "technical answers system" (From
>> >> www.ubuntu.com, click on the support tab, then the "Techincal Answers
>> >> System" link). Here, people can post technical questions about Ubuntu
>> >> or applications and get help from other users.  The questions are
>> >> categorized for quick search filtering.  Support groups, both formal
>> >> and informal, tend to form around the categories.  Mostly I respond to
>> >> installation or wireless setup problems -- the first hurdles for new
>> >> users interested in getting a working Ubuntu system.  Help is welcome
>> >> from anyone, but before formally joining a support team, you need to
>> >> generate a gpg key and sign the code of conduct.
>> >>    I also find the technical questions section is a pretty good place
>> >> to learn alternate ways of dealing with a variety of problems I
>> >> encounter on an Ubuntu system.  When others are asking about a problem
>> >> which you also have, you might pick up a workaround, or even decide to
>> >> file a bug report.
>> >>
>> >> Ken Shaffer

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