Make error messages more useful: add a URI

Nico Williams nico at
Fri Oct 3 00:41:31 EDT 2014

On Thu, Oct 02, 2014 at 10:57:33PM -0400, Ken Hornstein wrote:
> I can offer my experience being on the developer side and having to deal
> with end-users as part of a big rollout.
> >From an end-user perspective, the error messages are almost always
> meaningless; they all boil down to "system failure" (I'm talking about
> the average end-user).  In our environment users don't google the text
> error message; they contact the support desk.  So they either have to
> read the error message over the phone or (more sophisticated) they
> can cut and paste or do a screenshot and send it via email.  I think the
> majority of support happens on the phone.

Yes.  It's awful.

> Now if URIs did pop up, would users click or cut & paste them?  Maybe.
> I don't have a good sense for that.  I think we'd be willing to write
> custom web pages that would deal with a lot of first-level tech support
> questions, which might be nice.  We'd need an easy way to provide a custom
> set of URIs to Kerberos implementations, though; I don't really want to
> have to patch com_err tables.  Nico's later suggestion about a line in
> libdefaults looks interesting.

Roland's suggestion is functionally the same as my URI suggestion, but
without forcing you to use a URI.

Note that there's no need to write a page for every possible URI: you
can have one page (a 404 if you like) to handle all cases that you don't
write a specific page for.


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