Looking for help figuring out a cryptic Linux error message? A new guide that aims to make sense out of the most common messages is a great place to start.Mysterious OS error messages aren't a new problem, and they certainly aren't unique to Linux. Unlike Windows or Mac OS X, however, Linux error messages can be especially troubling for users who are already working hard to master a new and probably unfamiliar operating system.
If you're faced with an inscrutable Linux error message and aren't using a distro that includes tech support, you can always search Google or a support-focused community site like HowtoForge for help. Yet while some Linux help sites are a great resource for ordinary small-business Linux users, the task of deciphering error messages remains a sore spot -- in too many cases, the explanations are more suitable for developers than users.
That's why a recent guide to the most common Linux error messages -- and what to do about them -- is getting a lot of attention. Graham Morrison's "Error Messages Explained" first appeared in the September, 2008 issue of Linux Format (LXF) Magazine; since then, it has appeared on several Web sites, including the LXF Wiki and TuxRadar.com:
I suggest starting with the version posted on TuxRadar, which includes some potentially helpful illustrations. The guide covers more than a dozen common Linux error messages, including errors related to installing a new distro, booting a Linux system, filesystem, networking, and software errors. It isn't comprehensive by any means, but if your problem is on the list, you're likely to save time and trouble.
(Also note that while the LXF Wiki version of the guide includes a link to a PDF version suitable for printing, as of this writing the PDF link isn't working properly.)