[sf-lug] resolver problem

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Apr 6 17:30:49 PDT 2016

Quoting Alex Kleider (akleider at sonic.net):

> My ubuntu 14.4 system has been booting without network configuration
> which I have been _assuming_ was due to a failed wifi module.
> So I switched to an ethernet cable connection which seems to work sort
> of!

1.  What is unstated here in your initial message is the relevant network
details.  So, for example you say 'without network configuration':  
Is network configuration expected, then?  From the Ubuntu system itself
(not likely for most SF-LUG users, as that would imply static IP setup)?
Derived from a DHCP server somewhere on your LAN?  Probably the latter, 
but you didn't detail any part of that.

2.  Also, in your original message, I personally found it unclear what
you were posing to the mailing list as your problem.  Could have been:

a) boots with no network configuration
b) failed wifi module
c) ethernet cable connection sort of works
d) Firefox cannot 'see' the Internet

By the way, every one of these possibilities poses the additional
difficulty to readers that they are surmises and interpretations on your
part rather than raw diagnostic data.  The former (user
surmises/interpretations) are often problematic and difficult or in some
cases futile/impossible to diagnose.

You might be tempted to reply back answering each of the above as
questions to you, but (actually) my point is that it's nearly essential
to get such things right _in one's original problem post_, if one hopes
to get reliable help.  By the time 33 messages have accumulated in the
thread, it's a little late for a clear laying out of the situation.

But I'm hoping the above might help next time, at least.

So, I'm _not_ saying, for example, that you should elaborate on what
'failed wifi module' meant in the real world.  I'm just saying you
should be aware that it could mean countless things, and readers have no
way of knowing from your post specifically what you meant.

As an aside, after many years of trying to figure out why so many users'
technical questions provide only surmises/interpretations rather than
needed raw diagnostic data -- and getting no answer when I politely ask
why -- I figured it out:  Users tend to describe their symptoms after
the fact from memory.

Attempting to recall details of a problem from memory, after the fact,
is a well-intended thing to do, and one cannot help admiring people who
try, but it's nearly impossible to get right!  You typically _cannot_
remember clearly what happened, and cannot accurately report relevant
details verbatim in chronological order, because nobody has that good a
memory.  So, straining heroically to do so anyway, the user invariably 
mixes up semi-correct factual details with interpretations, and it ends
up a vague and unreliable stew -- frustrating both the user and aspiring

Therefore, the altnerative I earnestly recommend wherever possible is
this:  Before posting, go back and try again, and this time take
accurate contemporaneous notes.  These should include (where they exist)
the full, accurately transcribed text of any error / diagnostic messages

There are machine-aided ways to do this.  One is /usr/bin/script.
Another is a digital camera.  Or, absent that, just a legal pad and a

In that regard, to give you a well-earned atta-boy, the portions of your 
initial posting where you showed the result of 'git push' and of various
'dig' incantations were exemplary.

In the essay 'How to Ask Questions the Smart Way' that I co-wrote with
my friend Eric S. Raymond, I think one of my better contributions was
the bit that jokes that 'All diagnosticians are from Missouri.'  By
which, as I go on to explain, a diagnostician's attitude is _Show me_.
Don't describe.  Don't interpret.  _Show_.

Quoting the essay:

  Describe the problem's symptoms, not your guesses

  It's not useful to tell hackers what you think is causing your problem.
  (If your diagnostic theories were such hot stuff, would you be
  consulting others for help?) So, make sure you're telling them the raw
  symptoms of what goes wrong, rather than your interpretations and
  theories. Let them do the interpretation and diagnosis.

  Since the preceding point seems to be a tough one for many people to
  grasp, here's a phrase to remind you: "All diagnosticians are from
  Missouri."  That US state's official motto is "Show me" (earned in 1899,
  when Congressman Willard D. Vandiver said "I come from a country that
  raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy
  eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I'm from Missouri.  You've
  got to show me.")  In diagnosticians' case, it's not a matter of
  skepticism, but rather a literal, functional need to see whatever is as
  close as possible to the same raw evidence that you see, rather than
  your surmises and summaries.  Show us.

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