Community Support

The Slashdot comments on Paid Support Not Critical For Linux Adoption illustrates a very common problem with the Linux community. Many Linux users equate their personal computer use with that of large enterprises, or in other words they give advice based on their own very limited experience and not on facts.

The two comments below were both modded interesting and summarize the rest of the discussion

The Ubuntu forums are very helpful. I resent them being referred to as ‘kiddie’ forums. I do agree that there is a difference between these busy forums and those more edgy, maybe hardcore forums though.
One example from my experience as a new less than 3 years Linux user is that I started on debian and their IRC was fantastic, folks in there would walk me through “read the man page”! but they have no forum that I know of (maybe a mailing list). Ubuntu IRC is clogged up most of the time, but you can get questions answered there too, its just that the help isn’t always as fast/good. I now pretend to be using debian and ask them for help and they are very helpful ’till they discover that I use Ubuntu and then they go all dark and silent on me!!!!
Having said that, in Ubuntuforums there are fantastic walkthroughs, howtos and other folks with the same problem who found a solution all over the place and I highly recommend it. Its not just full of kiddies.


I don’t know about everyone else, but the reason It was recommended to me (and why I recommend it to everyone else), is the amazing hardware detection and driver list that is automatically installed. When looking at other distros (slackware, fedora, etc.) I was looking up down and upside down finding sound drivers, wireless drivers, video drivers, and so on; but Ubuntu found and installed them, then ASKED if I wanted the binary ones as well!

The ignorance of the above comments is genuinely overwhelming. Any serious enterprise runs on a custom tailored network, clustering, storage, and database solutions and the community lacks individuals that are able to solve issues in complex environments with high load. Quickly glancing at the server sections of the Ubuntu forums shows the dominance of elementary questions with hardly any adequate answers. Searching for DB2 returns 136 results, out of the first 25 (the first page) only 7 are relevant. Out of the 7 relevant posts 3 have to do with asking how to install DB2, and the remaining 4 are unanswered. The community is almost helpless outside of the standard Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP configuration.

This guy is one of the few people that has a clue.

Small to mid-sized shops who get by with less than a dozen SAs and who don’t have WAN volume replication concerns might go this route, but there is too much risk for Fortune 500. It mostly boils-down to 3rd party applications, hardware and drivers. If you’re a F500, you probably have proprietary storage of some sort and you probably rely on volume replication across the WAN. You want to hook into that storage from Linux, you need a “certified” platform and that ain’t going to be an arbitrary set of Ubuntu packages. Sure it will probably work from Ubuntu, until you get kernel panics under load. Then your in-house Linux “experts” call support for the storage vendor and they ask what distro version and driver you’re using. When you say “Gutsy Gibbon recent” they laugh and refuse to support you. At that point, your idea of community support doesn’t look quite so hot considering nobody in the community can repro your hardware/driver issue.

Nails it right on the head.