How to get best results from the FreeBSD-questions mailing list

Greg Lehey

Revision: 46431
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Last modified on 2015-04-02 by eadler.

This document provides useful information for people looking to prepare an e-mail to the FreeBSD-questions mailing list. Advice and hints are given that will maximize the chance that the reader will receive useful replies.

This document is regularly posted to the FreeBSD-questions mailing list.

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Table of Contents
1. Introduction
2. How to subscribe to FreeBSD-questions
3. How to unsubscribe from FreeBSD-questions
4. Should I ask -questions or -hackers?
5. Before submitting a question
6. How to submit a question
7. How to follow up to a question
8. How to answer a question

1. Introduction

FreeBSD-questions is a mailing list maintained by the FreeBSD project to help people who have questions about the normal use of FreeBSD. Another group, FreeBSD-hackers, discusses more advanced questions such as future development work.


The term hacker has nothing to do with breaking into other people's computers. The correct term for the latter activity is cracker, 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 How To Become A Hacker

This is a regular posting aimed to help both those seeking advice from FreeBSD-questions (the newcomers), and also those who answer the questions (the hackers).

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.

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