Making things clearer - writing for dummies

I think it would be cool if each page of the Web UI could have a Help link that takes you to the appropriate wiki page. That would get more people aware of and using the wiki.


This suggestion has been made plenty of times. I would be happy to accept patches, but so far nobody wanted to work on it.

All of the above and probably more are true, in my experience with other discussion lists. People have become used to purchasing a device/accessory that “just works” and can be disinclined to investigate problems.

I also agree with others that we are unlikely to stop that behaviour, but as Jon points out, as far as possible, our best counter to this mind-set ought to be to refer to the relevant page of the wiki and provide additional suggestions only if that page does not adequately answer the question.

I agree with keeping the wiki as short as possible, addressing only IPFire specific issues and linking to external sites, such as Wikipedia, for more detailed explanation.

Dropping reference to Virtualisation makes sense. It’s useful for testing instances, but has multiple drawbacks for operational environments - assumes a very secure hypervisor instance, configuring multiple networks for VM is complicated and puts a number of “failure points” in one box.

I generally support what you have done and propose. As a relatively minor contributor to the wiki, I am prepared to add/amend small segments, but not to delete whole sections.

Many of the time-consuming posts are from beginners who apparently either expected an IPFire installation to “just work” or have insufficient understanding of IP networking to do a basic configuration.

Part of the solution could be to make an IPFire installation “just work”, as a strong, but uncomplicated firewall. I regularly install openSUSE and ocassionally Ubuntu-based distributions that achieve this on x86 hardware. IPFire might not be far from this objective, but the detail would be a separate thread under “Installation”

There is a case that the wiki is too late in the process for beginners, particularly if they are not inclined to read documentation. They are able to download an image without first acknowledging that they have read the hardware requirements as well as recognising that an elementary understanding of IP networking is (currently) required. A fairly straight-forward modification of the Download page might change that. A similar step could also be added to the opening boot screen of the Installer, or made part of the licence acceptance screen, to cater for those who got the image from a mirror/acquaintance.

True. The problem though is that you do not “purchase” IPFire. There is no free support coming with it. There is a place where you can ask questions, but that does not guarantee responses within minutes.

That is the way to go. But I am also trying to find a way, that we do not even have the post in the first place.

I am drafting some guidelines right now. That is something for another topic. However, I would not recommend to link to most basic things. SSH should be known. What an IP address must be known. If people lack that knowledge, they should not be running IPFire.

This was only an example, but I guess it is a good one: If you do not know how to set up networking on your hypervisor, then you should not run anything on it. People need to educate themselves.

We used to have a splash page after a successful download once, which I potentially want to bring back. I don’t think it worked very well tho.

just my humble opinion:

the wiki should be more clearly formulated at many places. These pages for example are quite illegible

this might scare off some people. i found the old wiki was more eye friendly.

se also:

I think a structure and design like here could help.

Why is this illegible?

Absolutely agree. There are too many pages that explain some console work which is absolutely unnecessary.

What is wrong with the design?

for example: is better to read like

It’s hanging out the right hand side of my screen…

But why is it better? Bigger font size? Font? Contrast to background?

i think more compact like the example would be better for the wiki-page.

Okay, I’m afraid this discussion is about to get out of hand.

At first, there’s a problem of different channels. A wiki is just a channel, same way like a forum being a channel. Both with different levels of user engagement. While in a forum everyone can write his issue and hope for an answer, a wki requires more efforts by the user to find a solution. Michael, I fully share your observations regarding content and focus in the Wiki. Put everything aside that is considered as ballast.

As far as readability and design is concerned, you always will have critical opinions. I find the current design more pleasing and beautiful. And readability will improve if the foxus is more clearly set on the content.

You are making a good job though it might be frustrating sometimes. Hey if there is a stupid question somewhere, just do not react to it. Just create your All-in-one-policy-friendly RTFM snippet once and drop it on these threads :wink:


LOL, I guess that is what we are all doing anyways, but some are a bit more persistent :slight_smile:

I want this to be an open space for everyone and nobody should be afraid to ask questions. But of course there are questions that have been answered too often are are not worth anyones time, when OP didn’t spend even a minute on Google.

I think we can improve the design of the wiki, but it is not the reason why people won’t find things. Good design can help, but structure is more important.

So, I guess the only thing we have left then is getting back to work to make these things happen…

I am that noob. That has a very limited understanding of all thing routing.
I wish I knew more. I try to answer noob questions so you do not.
I am a home user / hobby / linux user. Much like what you would call a Windozer.
You must remember not all of us are corporate users.
Most people are using there ISP provided router that their ISP tunnels right into
And calls it a feature that you need! ISP “look you can manage your router away from home”
(And so can they )

I love that you Michael Tremer are so passionate about Ipfire and all thing security.
I understand that Ipfire is also feed by a company and corporations have different needs
than me. Exactly why DOT will be the standard and not DOH.
Keep up the great work and don’t mind the noobs like me.


I think beginners are facing two problems at once:

  1. you have to figure out that a wiki exists
  2. you have to have at least some basic knowledge about the problem to come up with the correct search term

At least these are my struggles I regularly face while learning about a new product/technology.

My suggestion to solve these issues:

  1. add a “help me” button to every IPFire GUI page. This button brings up a simple wiki page, which answers the basic questions:
  • where am I? what does this feature do?
  • what’s the fundamental meaning of every option?
  • what could go wrong?
  • which other topics do I have to learn about to configure this correctly? For example, why should I use OpenVPN instead of IPsec?
  • provide additional reading, i.e. advanced configuration guides, forum topics, for advanced users
  1. do not swamp the average reader with technical details: if you have to be an expert to configure this feature, make sure I don’t touch it unless I am one.
  • add a very obvious note to the configuration or wiki page: do not mess with this unless you know what you are doing!
  • maybe: add some safeguards to the IPFire GUI. For example: Display a warning when I open port 80 to GREEN!

I know that some or even most of these changes would annoy the experienced users. But I think this would be a very reasonable way to point the beginners in the right direction.


Most of your suggestions are reasonable.
But on the other side, why should IPFire explain the basics?
There is much information ( and tutorials ) in the net and books.
I never mind to explain special problems, arising e.g. by differences in implementation in IPFire and other Linux/Windows/Mac systems.

Just my opinion.

No one is making anyone answer noob questions.
If it irritates you than RTFM them or do nothing.
Do we as Ipfire users wish to grow a large and vast community of users?
At all skill levels? I will try to point the noobs in the right direction if I can.
Your friend and noob.


1 Like

I don’t mind helping the newbies either. It’s helping someone on my level!

Maybe us Newbie Helpers™ can create a list of websites that might help a newbie? Things related to simple things like SSH. Or a website that is a beginners guide to firewalls.

We all started somewhere…

1 Like

Maybe something like this:

EDIT: and this:

How to Use PuTTY on Windows How to Use PuTTY on Windows

I have a decent amount of knowledge in certain areas on IPFire, but in other areas, I’m very limited. I certainly see a large number of questions on here that I have no idea how to help, but in the areas I’m comfortable with, I jump in. That helps me have appreciation and patience with the newbie questions, even if I’ve been using IPFire for many years.


26% of the installations says “We don’t care”…
No offense intended, just accepting numbers.

Edit: WHOA! What a full set of obsolete installations! Fireinfo never purge older data? (e.g two or more years of no contact) 44% of the setups are older than update 140.

I am curious where you saw this?