Distros, documentation, and support

Distro Walk – Documentation Support

© Photo by Roland Lösslein on Unsplash

© Photo by Roland Lösslein on Unsplash

Article from Issue 238/2020

Contrary to popular belief, free software does offer support. Depending on the distro, this support can be found in a wide range of documentation formats. Here's what to expect from a sampling of distros.

A common criticism of free software is that it comes with no support. That is not entirely true, since most projects maintain man pages and, in the case of the GNU Project, info pages. However, man and info pages are mostly for developers. To compensate for the lack of more general documentation, many projects, including distributions, have resorted to a wide variety of media for support, including blogs, online manuals, FAQs, how-tos, forums, and IRC channels.

These methods of documentation can be an important factor in selecting a distribution, especially for beginners. Although all sorts of documentation are available online, a distro's docs are a handy place to start. This allows users to avoid sorting through the glut of information on the Internet, much of which may be obsolete. Sometimes, other distros can also be a source of useful information, although much depends on how that information is maintained and organized.

Which distributions provide the most useful information? What follows is a sampling of distros' documentation (including Bodhi Linux and openSUSE, both of which you'll find on this month's DVD).


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