This is inspired by another thread and I feel the following will give a newcomer a better understanding of what Linux actually is and getting help the proper way.
What I'm posting are not my own words but come from the following sources.
1.] The Slackware Handbook
From: The Slackware Handbook - http://www.slackbook.org/html/book.h...ODUCTION-LINUX
1.1 What is Linux?
Linus Torvalds started Linux, an operating system kernel, as a personal project in 1991. He started the project because he wanted to run a Unix-based operating system without spending a lot of money. In addition, he wanted to learn the ins and outs of the 386 processor. Linux was released free of charge to the public so that anyone could study it and make improvements under the General Public License. (See Section 1.3 and Appendix A for an explanation of the license.) Today, Linux has grown into a major player in the operating system market. It has been ported to run on a variety of system architectures, including HP/Compaq's Alpha, Sun's SPARC and UltraSPARC, and Motorola's PowerPC chips (through Apple Macintosh and IBM RS/6000 computers.) Hundreds, if not thousands, of programmers all over the world now develop Linux. It runs programs like Sendmail, Apache, and BIND, which are very popular software used to run Internet servers. It's important to remember that the term “Linux” really refers to the kernel - the core of the operating system. This core is responsible for controlling your computer's processor, memory, hard drives, and peripherals. That's all Linux really does: It controls the operations of your computer and makes sure that all of its programs behave. Various companies and individuals bundle the kernel and various programs together to make an operating system. We call each bundle a Linux distribution.
From: Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_kernel
The Linux kernel is an operating system kernel used by the Linux family of Unix-like operating systems. The term Linux distribution is used to refer to the various operating systems that run on top of the Linux kernel.
The Linux kernel is released under the GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2) plus proprietary licenses for some controversial BLOBs and is developed by contributors worldwide; Linux is one of the most prominent examples of free / open source software.. Day-to-day development takes place on the Linux kernel mailing list.
The Linux kernel was initially conceived and created by Finnish computer science student Linus Torvalds in 1991. Early on, the MINIX community contributed code and ideas to the Linux kernel. At the time, the GNU Project had created many of the components required for a free software operating system, but its own kernel, GNU Hurd, was incomplete and unavailable. The BSD operating system had not yet freed itself from legal encumbrances. This meant that despite the limited functionality of the early versions, Linux rapidly accumulated developers and users who adopted code from those projects for use with the new operating system. The Linux kernel has received contributions from thousands of programmers.
As for questions concerning a distribution one may be running,, there are many sources for an answer.
This also applies to etiquette as a lot of users won't bother to help those who won't help themselves.
1.] There may be open forums for that distribution as well as a Wiki.
Do a search in them.
2.] There is this Forum, LQ for short or the long version, Linux Questions.
Do a search in it.
3.] There is also Google and Google can be your best friend.
In a lot of instances questions can be answered in Google by simply prefacing something with what is; ie. what is jdk.
This alone can shed some light on a problem and lead you to an answer.
3.] One can also browse to the homepage http://www.google/linux
Googling from here will ensure the overwhelming results of queries or hits are Linux related.
1.]The overwhelming majority of those that post in help forums do so because they like to help others in the Linux journey.
No one gets paid for offering this help, so be courteous in your post please and also, be patient.
Someone who knows an answer to your problem will come along eventually,
simply keep in mind, no one is getting paid, therefore no one is sitting anxiously at their pc waiting for someone with a problem to come along and make a post.
2.] There is almost always a pinned post stating the proper way to post a question in most forums,,, please read it.
3.] In order to help, it must known specifically what the problem is.
If it's an error code, the complete error code must be known, what the error code is in reference to, what distribution you are running and probably what kind of box you're running.
In short, supply as much information as is possible to help the helpers help you.
4.] Don't start your post with Help! or Oh Crap!.
Give a brief synopsis of the problem such as "no sound from alsa".
Then in the body give a description of the steps you have taken to date to arrive at the "oh crap" phase.
5.] Post one problem at a time in a thread!
Multiple problems can receive multiple responses unrelated to one another and can result in mass confusion.
This is a good start, any responders are free to add to the list.