The #centos IRC Channel and Related Channels
The CentOS team maintains its official IRC channels on the Freenode IRC network in the #centos channel, the #centos-social channel, and several related channels. We encourage users to ask for, and provide, help with CentOS, but we also strongly favor learning and utilizing existing resources instead of simply answering well known questions. Many questions are so common that formal FAQ matter, and a whole page are dedicated to methods of self-serve Getting Help.
Some questions recur so frequently that an automated answer robot: a bot that usually 'lives' in the channel, will be triggered to offer guidance. The bot knows about these topics and it may be privately consulted thus:
/msg centbot @irc
Other questions are answered by channel regulars, or perhaps a person with no clue at all. Sometimes it takes a few minutes for a new question thread to be addressed, so please be patient. Such is IRC.
Takeaway: Don't be surprised if you are asked to read the channel /topic, or to read a man page on your installation, or to view and read a web page, or otherwise instructed to ask your system to tell you the answer.
Preface: tl;dr -- that is: too long; didn't read is a common reaction to a long piece of writing. Here is the Executive Summary:
Tens of millions of boxes run the various CentOS releases, and so at least hundreds of thousands of people occasionally seek help in the main CentOS IRC channel: #centos on using what the distribution ships. By maintaining a focus on CentOS specific matter, the channel has attracted participants knowledgeable in the distribution. From observation, sticking to on topic matter retains their presence. No channel has the bandwidth to support a free for all approach and yet remain relevant. A quick test is:
Unless a thread is about a problem with a program supplied by CentOS, it is likely to be off topic and belongs in #centos-social or some other venue. Particularly, polling for general usage preferences or other opinion matter, discussing availability or usage of non-CentOS shipped packages or usage problems with other archives (which the CentOS project does not control and cannot directly affect) are simply off topic, and belong elsewhere.
If you ended up in the IRC venue looking for support, and are not getting the results you expected, you need to bear down, read this entire page, and think about what it is saying.
This is the primary IRC support channel for the distribution; it is NOT a primary support venue for learning Linux, chatting (see: #centos-social, below), or asking off topic (OT) matter. It is not free technical support on demand, but rather a volunteer effort populated by knowledgeable people who use the distribution professionally or personally. Polite and on topic people get answers; insulting, rude or off topic (often abbreviated "OT") people get ignored. If asked to read this page, not reading it or not paying attention to the content of this page is a probably a good way to get ignored. If disruptive enough to the channel, so-called trolls are otherwise removed from the channel.
It can be a very busy channel, with several conversations threads proceeding in parallel; actions such as: 'greeting' the channel, or using [CR] as a form of punctuation, are not useful as they just add noise: Please do not do such. The channel tries to stay on topic, and so please read the topic and links therein to understand how the channel operates (type: /topic [CR]) Watch for a few minutes when entering the channel, to avoid interrupting an active thread and to get the 'flavor' of the channel. If you have skimmed the topic and are asked to read it again, please re-read it and each of the links to which it points. One way to really provoke the channel is to perform a multi-line paste or some off topic matter, or of content that looks like line noise, and then express regret for violating channel rules. Such pastes are not allowed; don't do it. If you feel a need to provide any information that is more than a single line, please use a pastebin.
The official channel policy is that we "support what we ship", we also help real CentOS users with some of their needs. This does not mean we can teach Linux 101 (hint: ask in: the freenode ##linux channel). We will not retype documentation in an IRC channel for people who will not read what readily exists. When there is a specific support forum for some software the CentOS project does not ship, you will often be referred to that venue.
Please treat other users in a civil fashion; the channel is not all business, and so passing snarkiness or incidental OT matter occurs, and is not the end of the world. But problems can arise when such by-play takes over the channel, and a sincere and thoughtful questioner cannot get a word in edgewise. Lurk for a while to get the flavor of the channel, compared to: dropping in, asking a question, and disappearing without learning. The channel is logged by the channel owners (and one assumes others, so what you say is not private nor confidential), and the logs regularly reviewed. Persistent abusers are easy enough to identify and to some degree, IRC 'ban' masks are used to fence out well known sources of 'noise'. If you find your IRC client banned, connect from another 'nick', IRC client (several web IRC interfaces are banned based on observed noise 'load') or IP, or join channel: #centos-unregistered and ask anyone in channel with '/centos/' in their nick's mask (to view a mask, see the results from: /who (nick) [CR]) for an assist to understand why you may be banned and to request removal of that ban.
Do not be surprised if you are asked to provide some information about your system. In particular, the output from:
rpm -V _somepackage_
is often useful -- remember: a single line in channel is fine; if multi-line, use a pastebin please and then paste just the single line result URL in channel. Once additional information of this type is sought, often members of the channel will make no further response until the requested detail is provided. Such questions are not asked to harass, but rather so that all in the channel may understand what is present on a box. Sometimes a box that is nominally CentOS is not in fact running a 'true' CentOS installation. If you are told that a system is 'not CentOS', read the link about broken V-servers and consider the outline of tests which that page presents.
We heavily encourage the Socratic Method over spoonfeeding answers; reading how to ask questions; and understanding the upstream's statement about backporting. If you find yourself typing a reply that contains: 'I think' or 'Probably', these are signs that you or the person you are responding to need to do some thinking and research: read a man page, look at log files or a live system, or frame a question that adds relevant diagnostic detail instead. Speculation and 'guessing' at technical answers is not useful, so if you find yourself guessing, please help raise the quality of the channel's content by first reading the documentation, and 'hang back' from adding noise to the channel. If some consider that to be pedantic, so be it. That is fine under the policies of this channel as we value accurate content over a high volume of posts. Some questions are sufficiently complex that reading the documentation is the only reasonable way to start, and then perhaps followed by doing further research, or testing on a local box; IRC is suited for a few lines of back and forth diagnostic work, perhaps supplemented by extended pastebin use to display configuration files or the last few lines of an error log.
What Is Not Supported
old (out of support) point releases of CentOS
Other unsupported matter
- Politics or profanity
- Distro X is better/worse than CentOS
- General social chatting
This is a secondary channel. We encourage that general chatting move here rather than the main channel. You may also be asked to go here if a particular question is too "offtopic" for #centos
Pretty much, the only things offtopic in #centos-social are flamewars and insults you would not make in a face-to-face social setting.
This channel is used by the people who develop CentOS or add to the development by helping, writing documentation or contribute software. Please do not use #centos-devel channel if you have general questions about CentOS, there are other channels for that.
This channel is used by CentOS mirror operators. If you have questions about setting up a public centos-mirror, this is the place to ask.
Other CentOS and other out-of-project support venues
Many FOSS and commercial vendors use the freely available CentOS binary products as a foundation to build on, occasionally at differing package version levels than the "current" one shipped by CentOS, and usually adding non-CentOS matter. The 'Cloud' (as that term is variously used, public and private), virtualization, puppet, spacewalk, commercial products such as AWS from Amazon, and more all come to mind. No-one can know them the details of them all, and so the project or vendor native support venues, including IRC channels are the best place to start. The CentOS approach is more fully described here .