Open Source Support Network

Over on Slashdot today, a minor flame war has erupted over whose linux distribution is better in Will Novell’s Desktop Linux Catch On. The usual assertions that you need a company to provide full support behind a distribution, like Redhat or Novell, have been raised. And in particular, some felt that Ubuntu had no chance because it doesn’t have some big sponsoring company or an enterprise edition with paid support. This got me to thinking that just having internet forums and IRC channels is not going to be enough for open source software support if it is to get into the hands of “ordinary” people and gain mindshare from Windows and its applications. There really needs to be an Open Source Support Network.

The Open Source Support Network would consist of volunteers around the world who would take shifts fielding email, instant messages, and (gasp!) phone calls from people who need help with open source applications and Linux. This would essentially be a free, worldwide call center that Jane, Joe, Huang, and Hakim User could call to get help with OpenOffice, Linux, and other open source apps.

Of course, talk is cheap and such an undertaking would first require a well thought out organizational structure and a deep enough pool of knowledgeable volunteers to operate 24/7/365, and of course, money. But I don’t really think it would be too much beyond the kind of effort that has gone into the Mozilla, and Apache foundations to name a couple. Such a support organization could finally put to rest the often raised criticism that nobody is really supporting open source software by giving people a number to call when they need help. And as a bonus, the building of such a support network would probably advance the art of customer technical support itself which would benefit everyone.

A guy can dream, right?

One reply on “Open Source Support Network”

Well then again, most people that use Linux use it by choice. I think that’s part of the difference here. The general public doesn’t really give a rat’s ass, and get stuck with Windows as the default. They don’t care, and they just want it to “work.” They want to call and bitch when their porno doesn’t come up. When a person uses Linux, they are making a conscious decision, to put forth the effort to learn the Operating System. Linux isn’t for everyone. You have to “want” Linux to learn it. The only way it would become mainstream is by conscious decision anyways. I mean if Open Source software made deals for computers to be pre-manufactured with those programs installed, we’d be no different from Microsoft.

Let the idiots be idiots. Open Source will be their when they actually decide to get a brain and give a damn. People need to start thinking a little. We are so caught up in the one-touch, “make it brainless” concept, in the end it’s gonna’ hurt us.

I can sum it up with this…

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