Difference between revisions of "SME Server:Documentation:Technical Manual:Chapter1"

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==Chapter 1. How you can help==
{{ :SME Server:Community }}
Documentation for SME Server was inherited from the prior distribution maintainers, e-smith and mitel.
Their work gave SME a great base to work from.
The current developers have continued to improve the SME Server software and to reflect these improvements the Documentation has to develop too. These wiki-based manuals have been put in place to allow anyone to update or add new sections where they see fit.
===Bug and New Feature Verification===
Please help us to make our software as reliable as possible. Your role in that is to report possible bugs only via the bug tracker, and to encourage others to do the same. Thanks.
[[http://www.bugzilla.org/docs/tip/html/bugreports.html#fillingbugs Reporting a New Bug]]
If you have searched the Manual and Bug Tracker and not found an answer or someone else's report that matches yours, you should register on the Bug Tracker and enter a new bug. The debugging process of any issue requires active participation on the part of the reporter, providing further information and clarification of the problem.
* So how do I know it is a bug?
You don't need to. If there's any chance that it is a bug, please report to the bug tracker. It doesn't matter whether anyone else has seen it. It doesn't matter whether anyone else has a theory as to what is happening. You have noticed something that doesn't seem to work right, so just report it. Please.
To enter a bug choose a category, component, fill in the details of the bug, and commit.
Please use a descriptive Summary, as most of the header searches just show the Summary
'panel errors' is not helpful, what panel, what errors ?
'Add option to limit mailman web access ' explains the topic very well
Anyone reporting problems, ask yourself these important questions, so that you
know what to tell the developers in the bug report:
# What version am I using and are there any contribs installed or other customisations?
# What did I do?
# What did I expect to happen?
# What happened?
# What do the logs say?
[[http://www.bugzilla.org/docs/tip/html/lifecycle.html Lifecycle of a Bug]]
If you find a bug you can work on, eg updating information on the wiki, do so.
There are likely to be a lot of these as they were generated before the wiki was in place.
In this example of adding documentation, after you have updated the wiki, return to the bug
post brief details of the fix, and how to verify it, eg 'updated wiki re: passwords' and give the URL
then change the Status to 'Resolved - Fixed'.
Someone else can then review your changes and change the Status from 'Resolved - Fixed' to Verified and the bug is finished.
Bug Tracker Administrators Close bugs in SME Current or SME Future, but the reporter or maintainer can close in other sections.
See the Developers manual
===Maintaining existing Languages===
Changes to Existing Language sets are posted to the Translations section of the Bug Tracker.
Making a patch to keep your language updated isn't difficult, follow these steps
Obtain an original file that you are going to modify, it will usually be a translation of a panel, eg.
/etc/e-smith/locale/en-us/etc/e-smith/web/functions/hostentries or
if a patch from the Bug Tracker is available it will guide you on what has changed
make a directory and copy your file there as name.old
make a copy name.new and edit it to suit
from the command line create a patch
diff -u name.old name.new > name.patch
add this to the existing bug or create a new one in Translations
===Donations & Funding Work===
Help smeserver.org pay it's bills
Pay a developer to add a feature you would like
Email a developer directly with your request or open a bug with your proposal

Latest revision as of 17:53, 28 December 2008

SME Server Community - Finding Answers and Getting Help

Before you dive in

As it can be difficult for new people to know what to expect from the community, where to put their information, and how to ask questions, we kindly ask you to carefully read this page as it tries to briefly describe what to expect where. You should also take a look at the Advice for new and existing users.

SME Server is a community product, mainly powered by a small number of developers and a small crowd of contributors within a large user community. There is a wide variety of communication media used and a lot of valuable information shared in this community. All people contributing donate their free time to this product and get nothing in return as SME Server is free, as in beer.

SME Server is a collaborative effort to create a secure and solid server product based on Linux. Development is done by a small team of developers in their free and spare team. The community not only consists of the development team, but also of a very active community and has a lot of information sources and communication media. We encourage you to contribute to the community in any way that you are able including knowledge, time, and financial donations.

Important.png Note:
As a general rule in the SME Server community we ask you to please try searching the information sources provided here before posting or asking for help. Please respect the value of people's time by investing effort on your own part before asking questions.

Thanks very much on behalf of the SME Server community.


The manuals are located at SME Server:Documentation.


The documentation section contains the manuals and is an extensive source of information. It is a must read for everyone who is willing to use SME Server. It may be large and overwhelming to you at first, but experience, over time, has proven that a lot of problems could have easily been solved or would not have existed if users would have read them. It is also worth your time to re-read the manual after working some time with SME Server as a lot of information that did not stick or did not seem interesting at first might very well be interesting once you gained experience with SME Server.

Information.png Tip:
Although it may sound silly we advise you to read the manuals at least two times.


The FAQ can be found at SME Server:Documentation:FAQ.


The goal of the FAQ is to be a condensed list of questions raised (more) often in other media used in the community. It lists a wide range of topics all related to use and administration of SME Server.


The wiki is where you are at now, a good starting point would be the Main Page.


The wiki is a collaborative effort and is a key source of information. It contains a number of manuals and a wide variety of HowTo's and tips, tricks and installation instructions of additional packages.


Please read the Help:Wiki Manual of Style before editing the wiki.


Except for a very few, most people in the community were novices with SME at one time. When you are ready to contribute back, this is a good place to start by documenting new solutions.

There is a side benefit for you in that now you also have a secure location for documenting changes you have made to your own environment. As people start to use your solution, they will modify and update with improvements and you too will benefit from the community's expertise.

Take a look at some of the wiki entries that exist as a reference and of course heed Help:Wiki Manual of Style. Be up front about risks, warnings, concerns as not all people who read the entry have the background to identify dangerous situations. You will also note that most modern wiki entries have a Skill Level identification to help others prepare for what they are about to do.

Bug tracker

The bug tracker can be found at http://bugs.contribs.org.

Important.png Note:
If you have discovered a bug or a suspected bug, please submit the issue to the bug tracker and not to the forums. Discussions about the bug should be within the bug tracker. Once you have submitted the bug, you can reference it in the forum as information to others please ensure a link to the bug tracker is provided.


The bugtracker is for reporting issues with SME Server and is used extensively by the developers to track problems and new feature request needed for development of SME Server. Here you should report all problems you experience with SME Server installation. All problems or issues you experience with stock SME Server, SME Server contribs or with other products like the wiki and forums should be reported in the bugtracker and not in the forums.

For more information on how to work with the bugtracker please read Bugzilla Help.


The forums can be found at http://forums.contribs.org.


The forums are used for discussions on a variety of topics considering SME Server. Here you can discuss configurations, ask opinions and support that is not provided by the bugtracker. The forums are the places where users can help each other and exchange experiences and knowledge.

It is appreciated that before posting in the forums you first read the manuals and try to search for your answer in the manuals, wiki, forums and bugtracker before posting a question in one of the forum boards.

Important.png Note:
The development team are also members of the forums but please report problems with SME Server in the bugtracker.

Anything that is not working as it should be, can be considered as a bug and should be reported in the bugtracker and not in the forums. Discussions about the bug should be within the bug tracker and not in the forums. Once you have submitted the bug, you can reference it in the forum as information to others. If you do so, please ensure a link or a reference to the bug is provided.

Exactly where the bug lies and whether the SME developers will do anything about it, gets determined in the bugtracker. If they cannot or will not resolve the problem in bugtracker, then you can come back to the forums for further help.


Before posting a question to the forums, we would ask that you take the time to read this page.

This information is provided to help you get answers to your questions more quickly. Everyone who provides answers are volunteers and their time is valuable. Following the guidelines below will help them make the best use of that time to aid as many as possible including, of course, you.

Post your question to the correct forum

This may seem obvious but please try to ensure you post your question to the correct forum and in the correct section (eg, for SME Server 8.x, SME Server 9.x, SME Contribs, etc). If you are unsure in which forum your question belongs, please do NOT double post in multiple forums but instead use the General Discussion forum. Most of us read ALL the forums so we will see your question. Double posting will result in

  1. . you being asked not to double post as opposed to being provided with an answer and
  2. . multiples posts being locked by a moderator where inappropriate.

Use a descriptive title for your thread

Firstly, post your own thread - do not hijack someone else's thread, even if you think your question is related. You may post a link to any related threads that you feel are appropriate.

Use a descriptive title for your thread. This is your one chance to advertise what it is you require help with and persuade people to actually read and potentially answer your question. Do not SHOUT and your question is not urgent (at least not to anyone else). Please do not use txt speak or exclamation marks (!!!!).

Bad example:

Urgent: pls hlp, can't get it to work!!!!!!

This tells us nothing other than it's urgent to you and that something isn't working. It is unlikely to even attract views, let alone answers. If you can't get your title right, what hope do we have that you've actually asked a coherent question in such a way that we may be able to help.

Better example:

Installed SME Server 8.0, need help getting Network to connect (Dell Integrated Broadcom Nic).

Now we know what you've done and those who have dealt with Broadcom Nics will know that it's an issue where they can possibly help. (This also holds for other hardware such as video cards and hard drives. Someone might ignore a subject of network doesn't work but answer a post of realtec card not working if they've had experience dealing with that particular card.)

Composing your question

Again, do not SHOUT and your question is not urgent (at least not to anyone else). Please do not use txt speak and no excessive exclamation marks. Do use good spelling, grammar and punctuation, and split your post up as appropriate into separate paragraphs. We acknowledge that although English is the preferred language of the forums, it is not everyone's first or native language. You do not need to apologize if English is not your native language, just do the best that you can to clearly and concisely describe your problem.

Before posting your question, first think about what your question is. If you don't know what your question is and how to articulate it, it is highly unlikely anyone else will be able to provide a reply. We don't have crystal balls and we can't read minds, also make sure you actually ask a question.

Bad example:

Q: My nic doesn't work!
A: That's a shame, but thank you for sharing it with us. Did you have a question?

Better example:

Q: My nic isn't detected after a default installation of SME Server. Please could anyone assist me in getting it working?

Don't ask questions that can be answered with yes or no, unless you want a yes or no answer, as that's what you'll most likely get.

Bad example:

Q: I can't get Foo to work. Has anyone else managed to get this working?
A: Yes.

Ask realistic questions

Saying you're totally new to Linux and asking how to set up a domain server to authenticate users, provide roaming profiles, file sharing and email services with spam and virus filtering to replace your current server provided by some other company demonstrates totally unrealistic expectations on your behalf. No one is going to be able to help you, as this is likely to be a long term project and not something you are going to achieve over the weekend by asking a couple of questions on a forum.

Provide the relevant information

Research your question or problem. You may find an answer is already provided. Demonstrating that you have researched your question by describing what you have previously done to try to resolve your problem is more likely to persuade a volunteer to help you than if you sit back and expect the answer to land on your plate.

Provide as much useful information as possible to assist others in helping you solve your problem. We don't know what hardware/software you are running, or how you have configured your system unless you tell us. We also can not guess at what error message you may have received.

If you have a hardware-related problem, please provide information about your hardware. We can not help answer questions like "help, my nic isn't working" without knowing what nic you have and what attempts you have made to configure it.

Use commands such as lspci, lsmod, lsusb or dmidecode to gather information about your hardware and provide that in your post.

If you have a software-related question, please provide as much relevant information about your configuration as possible. Provide the version numbers of any software you are using, post the configuration file for the package you are having problems with and check your logs for relevant errors, and post these too (only the relevant errors please, not the whole log file).

If you have a network-related question, please provide as much information about your topology and configuration as possible. For example: network links and type, routers, LAN toplogy, servers, Clients, and Desktops. Where it may be part of the issue, identify the model and version of these items.

If your question relates in any way to the kernel, please show us what kernel(s) you have installed and running by providing the output from the following commands:

uname -a
rpm -qa kernel* | sort

This will help to speed up the process of getting your problem resolved and is likely the first information you will be asked for if you haven't provided it.

What to do if no one answers

Please wait for at least 24 hours. The volunteers on this forum live all over the world. If it's day time where you live, it's going to be night time somewhere else and the person able to answer your question may be sleeping, so give everyone a chance to read your question.

If after 24 hours you haven't received any answers, then you may bump your thread by posting more information. By more information, we mean what you have tried during the last 24 hours to fix the problem. You have been trying to fix your problem, haven't you and not just waiting for someone else to fix it for you?

What to do once you have an answer

It would be nice to thank the member(s) who helped you. We are all the more inclined to help those who take the time to acknowledge the help they have received.

Provide feedback as to what the solution was. This will help the next person with the same problem to identify the solution and so share this knowledge with others.

Congratulations, now you have an answer to your problem, you have gained some valuable knowledge that, hopefully, you'll be willing to share when another Community member asks a similar question. Before you know it, you will be one of the people answering some of the questions, not just asking them. This is how a community works, by giving a little back occasionally. So once you have an answer we hope you'll stay around and become part of the Community.


The mailinglists can be found at http://lists.contribs.org.


The mailinglists are used for a variety of purposes that do not suit the forums, you can think of facilitating in the delivery of commit messages but also for discussion on development that does not fit in the bugtracker.