Issue #6 April 2005

Red Hat Knowledgebase:
Serving apple pie to the masses

Red Hat is taking a new approach to providing self service to customers and redhat.com users through the Red Hat Knowledgebase. We've made some recent changes to Red Hat Knowledgebase, and some things are still baking in the oven. What exists now is basically equivalent to apple pie, nice crust and good fruit in the middle. Well, I like apple pie a la mode style with caramel. The Knowledgebase is on it's way to a la mode, and the caramel is warming up.

Before April 2005, Red Hat Knowledgebase was divided into a free section, notable by the /freefaq URL, and a customer-only section. The free section was restricted to the General Linux category. The free and customer knowledge outlets have been condensed into one resource, restrictions have been removed on the content. Now anyone with a redhat.com login can access all of the content categories in the Red Hat Knowledgebase including Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® and Red Hat Applications. All users can now access the text search, browse by topic, and the day/week/month browse. We hope the Linux community is able to harness some of the knowledge that was restricted before. We have essentially given more power back to the Linux community by providing technical solutions to those looking for answers. Open content for open minds.

One of the most recent visible changes that users of Red Hat Knowledgebase have noticed is the updated look and feel consistent with the new look and feel for redhat.com, courtesy of cascading style sheets.This visual update makes the site easier to use and the markup of the answers more consistent.

An interesting thing I have found over the years working with different people in the Linux community is the desire to find answers for oneself. People will search the Internet, read FAQs, and post to forums to get the answers to their problems. The desire to help people get those answers is equally impressive to me. Red Hat is trying to drive the Knowledgebase to be a self service center for our patrons. We are working hard to populate the Knowledgebase with the solutions you are looking for, and we are taking user feedback into account when we determine what we need to write about. In the coming months, I anticipate the Knowledgebase evolving into a premier place to find answers for Red Hat material, issues, and solutions.

Improved search

Red Hat has taken the first steps to making this happen. We are in the process of improving our site search to find the answers you are looking for faster and to return more valid, meaningful results. Look for this in the upcoming months on redhat.com and for the Knowledgebase. We have a good grasp on the pieces that need to be fixed immediately, we have listened to user feedback, and we are making improvements. Keep the comments coming!

Search tips

The biggest complaint that we get with our Knowledgebase is the search. I will be the first to admit it, the search engine for the Knowledgebase is not the greatest in the world. There are actually a few ways to search the Knowledgebase, and the most underutilized one is the category search.

Browsing by our Category and topics can be very effective for some search types. Many people jump right into the text search, which is based on keywords. Instead, try selecting the drop Select all to narrow the search in the category and topic pair that best matches the solution you are looking for. When doing text searches, start very general, then get more specific as you see the kind of results returned to you. In addition to that, once search results have returned, use the drop down to Search these and search within those results to narrow your findings even more. For example, if you search for "iptables" you will get 40 results (we limit the results to 40). If you were specifically looking for how to save your rule set, try searching "save" within those resultsThis more narrow search reduces the number of questions found and brings more relevant results to the top of the list. If you search for both of those terms at once with "iptables save" you get 40 results, but the effectiveness, I believe, is lost.

iptables search
Figure 1. Narrowing down your search

Keep tabs on the articles that are new and recently updated with the day, week, and month search buttons. This could be effective if you wanted to browse our articles based on how recently they were posted.

About the author

Jason Hibbets has been in Global Support Service at Red Hat for over 2 years and is currently a maintainer for Red Hat Knowledgebase. In his spare time, he enjoys surfing, gardening, participating in his local Community Watch program, and training his three Border Collies to be frisbee and agility dogs. He heads to the beaches of North Carolina during hurricane season to ride the waves.