6. Usenet Newsgroup Archives

The ability to search for and retrieve information from archived posts to the linux-related (Usenet) newsgroups represents a powerful means of troubleshooting in Linux.

Search engines permit one to search the archives by stipulating the forum, keywords, authors, dates, language and combinations thereof. Because the number of linux-related newsgroups is large, the likelihood of finding useful information is high.

I would like to relate a brief anecdote to demonstrate the efficacy of this approach. The first time I attempted to build a kernel, I was presented with this error message when I invoked a "make" command:

make[1]: as86: Command not found make[1]: *** [bootsect.o] Error 127
make[1]: Leaving directory `/usr/src/linux/arch/i386/boot' make: *** [zImage]
Error 2

I had no idea what as86 was, but I entered it as the keyword in the SUBJECT field of the Power Search utility at deja.com ( see below) , and was presented with a large number of posts from folks who had encountered the same problem. Respondents had provided the reason and solution: I did not have an assembler/linker necessary to create machine code, and the bin86 package provided it. I downloaded and installed a RPM package of the latter and was on my way. This entire process took about 10 minutes ( I do have an ADSL connection to the 'net ! ).

There are two websites that provide access to Usenet archives using a search engine as described in the following sections.

6.1. Power Search at deja.com

The Power Search page allows you to search using keywords and other parameters.I suggest you spend some time becoming familiar with the Search Language nuances. In particular, note the value of using the wildcard symbol. You will be repaid time and again for your efforts. I typically enter the following for a "routine" search:

LANGUAGE : English

SUBJECT : try different keywords, thinking of a subject line you would use for a post

FORUM : *linux* or comp.os.linux.*

Another version of this search engine is this Customized Power Search Page. Customize this page to your liking ( I like the " DejaClassic" option ), and then choose " Save Settings."

The DejaSearch utility is another application that you may use. It will print out the retrieved posts in one HTML file for your perusal. By using this, you will not have to page back and forth in your browser.

6.2. Searchlinux.com (CNET Linux Help)

The Searchlinux website is relatively new, with many of the same features as deja.com. It has "basic" and "advanced" search options. The latter does not have as many options as the Power Search feature at deja.com. It has a nice one-click option whereby one may view one's own posts and associated replies