- Did you get the latest version ?
- Did you read the documentation ?
- Is there a FAQ ?
- Is there an INSTALL or README ?
- Check the CHANGES, Changelog or HISTORY ?
- What are the commandline options ?
--help, -h, man <cmd>, info <cmd>
- Is there a verbose-option ? -v, --verbose, -V, -vv
- Is there a debug-option ? -d, --debug
- Is there a logging facility ? -o, -l
- What is the syntax of the configuration-file
- Is there a verbose-option ?
- Is there a debug-option ?
- Is there a logging facility ?
- What files does the program use ?
- Are the permission correct ?
- Are you the right user, do you have priviliges ?
- Is the program suid ? should it be ?
- Use a debugging-tool ?
- Use strace to examine all the system calls.
- Use ltrace to examine the library calls.
- Get in touch with the developers ?
- First check the documentation again
- Then check their website (if possible)
- Is there a user-forum ? Send it there.
- Is there a developer-forum ? Send it there.
- Send to author(s).
When you finally find a solution that was not stated somewhere in the documentation, you might want to provide both problem and answer to the author or one of the developers. This way you prevent someone else making the same mistakes you made, because wouldn't it be great if the answer was already available to you ?
If you've got enough expertise about a particalur program and there wasn't any beginners-document available, you might want to consider volunteering to write a FAQ about it, the author(s) would be glad !
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