A quick guide when providing technical support
Whether your product is an open-source script, a Web application or a downloadable product, you will need to provide some form of technical support. This article explores the subject based on my long personal experience of of providing technical support, paid and free. Giving technical support at work and in user community has been my life for a number of years now, not because I love doing it but because i have no other choice, toink! Or I just love to help! 🙂
This article contains a list to follow or consider when an issue or problem is raised by your end user on their Linux system or server.
- Ask for the pertaining configuration file.
This will enable you to analyse first if the Linux server for specific purpose is configured correctly. Try to spot any inconsistencies on the configuration file
- Ensure system and application logging is working.
Check the config and see if the paths specified on the configuration file really exist, can be written by the application or service process, etc.
- Gather relevant logs for analysis
Gather relevant parts from the application logs, services logs (i.e access.log, error.log) and system logs (i.e. syslog, messages). Check for additional info (connection dump, if any, see if you can track what lead to the malfunction, etc)
- Describe the problem accurately
If the web server crashed, try to describe when and what lead to it (at start, when you view a specific page, etc). If a certain page cannot be viewed or somehow the service doesn’t behave as expected, try to isolate the issue. Set the log level to 4 or 5, this will help.
- For live issues gather as much info as possible
Don’t rush to examine the logs, that can be done later, first priority is gathering as much info about the current state. If possible redirect the netstat to a file.
- Report issues with correct context
Specify the exact version of the service or application you are using. For live deployments provide a network diagram that explains the network setup and routing configuration
- Familiarise yourself with the product
When identifying an issue review the config and check that all are set properly for what you are trying to achieve
- Don’t provide too much information
Try to keep the provided info to a required minimum, don’t attach 24 hours’ worth of logs, or unrelated information and just extract the relevant parts from the log files.