Re: Linux (free s/w) support

Darren Reed (
Tue, 30 Sep 1997 11:40:55 +1000 (EST)

In some mail I received from Darin Johnson, sie wrote
> Ah, but Sun, and *many* other commercial companies, will NOT
> necessarily help you. You get NO guarantees. And you most certainly

That's if you don't have a support contract.

> With Linux, you know who the authors are, and can email them directly,
> or contract with any of the hundreds or thousands of developers to fix
> the problems.

Are you telling me that hundreds, if not thousands of people have contributed
code to the Linux kernel ? How many of them could fix a problem with (say)
virtual memory or debug an obscure SMP problem ? The weight of numbers maybe
comforting, but expertise in any particular part may be limited to a handful
of people.

> With commercial companies, you have to go through a
> poorly staffed and poorly trained customer support department, and
> have no alternative to hire someone else to fix the problems.

Whereas with Linux, you have people doing customer support who have never
been trained for support roles, probably scoff at it even being suggested
that they do any sort of training and can even be hostile in response if
it suits them.

A good example of why _NOT_ to choose Linux (from a support point of view)
is the lack of any problem tracking such as GNATS (well at least not to my
knowledge - I asked Alan if there was any database of interesting problems
reported, to which he said he had no knowledge of which I'm implying means
a lack of this. There's also an absence of any reference to PR's in email
on the linux-kernel mailling list...). Even FreeBSD/OpenBSD/NetBSD use
GNATS for tracking problems.

You might have lots of people but there is no sense of co-ordination or
any sort of organisation of those people for problem resolution and nor
is there any central management of problems. An example of how this can
be a problem is if I post a problem and get 10 different patches to fix
the same thing. Each patch is different because nobody knows what the
other did and there is no tracking of what anyone is doing/has done -
unless they happen to cc an email list or others.

Basically, Linux is supported by anarchy. Is that what you want to sell
to management ?

p.s. That Caldera is providing Linux support is news to my ears. It will
be interesting to see if they become like other vendors doing Unix support,
over time.