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Paid Support Not Critical For Linux Adoption

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the why-buy-the-milk-when-you-can-get-the-cow-for-free dept.

Linux Business 199

ruphus13 writes "At the LinuxWorld expo, an analyst for the 451 Group pointed to a growing trend in enterprise — the increase in adoption of community-supported Linux distros. From the article, 'Companies are increasingly choosing free community-driven Linux distributions instead of commercial offerings with conventional support options. Several factors are driving this trend, particularly dissatisfaction with the cost of support services from the major distributors. Companies that use and deploy Linux internally increasingly have enough in-house expertise to handle all of their technical needs and no longer have to rely on Red Hat or Novell.'"

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first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24534911)

eat my asshole you cocksuckers.

Re:first post (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24534943)

We can't. We suck cock, go ask the asshole-eaters.

bad taste. (0, Offtopic)

twitter (104583) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535027)

Your offer might be better than Novell's, but I think I'll skip both. Red Hat has skipped the M$ deal and fostered Fedora. Suse will live on after Novel has gone, if they don't mono it up too badly. Last year enterprise users tended to agree [slashdot.org]. So sorry, no one needs you or your private parts.

LOL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24535041)

Asshole tastes better than Novell.

Re:LOL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24535241)

What about Miguel deMicrosoft's asshole?

Re:LOL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24535255)

Asshole tastes better than Novell.

and cocks taste better than both. Delicious.

Re:LOL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24535299)

Just like my father always said, "Cocks taste exactly the way they smell... delicious."

Support is Better (4, Insightful)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 5 years ago | (#24534923)

When the person giving it to you knows what they are doing. If that person actually uses the software then they probably know alot about it. This is why community-driven support works, if you manage to keep the "kiddies" out so that they don't clog up the forums with lots of repeated/redundant questions then everything goes quite smoothly. Arch Linux does a very good job of this; it's a simple distro to use for the experienced user, so you get alot of good questions being asked with lots of good answers. Community support > paid support any day.

Re:Support is Better (3, Insightful)

perlchild (582235) | more than 5 years ago | (#24534959)

How much of that experience is due to the "for the experienced user" selecting criteria? Commercial support costs a lot, because there are a lot of calls, which requires lots of people, which means you have more level 1 and less level 3 people(proportionately anyways), which makes those people overworked, which lowers the qualify of their work(again if only proportinately). But the costs don't go down(indeed, they tend to go up). So the perceived value of support goes down.

Re:Support is Better (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24535393)

Working in paid support I don't want to mention any names. But you've got a point. I'm pretty good but can't know it all. And sometimes get thrown onto supporting stuff I have little to no training in. The sad thing is a lot of people calling in know even less. So they're sometimes paying for me to search google, forums, internal knowledge bases, on their behalf.

But as someone else pointed out, people pay for the 24x7 and to leverage the organization's knowledge. If I don't know, I can run over to someone who presumably will. Also good to be able to tell the boss someone owns the problem. But I can also see it's kind of hard for support organizations to hire ppl who know what they're doing into phone support. It has a stigma about it. Not sure how long I want to stick around doing it either for that reason.

Re:Support is Better (3, Informative)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 5 years ago | (#24534999)

For the average semi-tech-savy person yes, for those that don't know how to use a forum (I know quite a few), it is much easier to call someone (or even email them) and know that they are paid to help you. Company execs also prefer knowing that someone is ultimately responsible if something does not work.

Now before you start in on the "Microsoft support is crap", "no support for OEM" and "Canonical does offer paid support", I just want to say that for most users that know a little (less than power user, more than word/email), forums are pretty much the ultimate support, but there are still people who require and/or need someone they can phone 24/7 and know that person's job is to help you.

Note: I am a linux user, I use forums CONSTANTLY and the only time I use paid support is with ISP's, phone companies and Hardware failures.

Re:Support is Better (5, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535209)

Can I add a bit to that? ok, sure I will.

Businesses like to have 24/7 support so they can point fingers at someone else. Anyone who has supported Solaris for the last 10 years knows that supporting Linux is a walk in the park. Having forums and "The Google" is a bonus.

In my current day-time job, they are adopting F/OSS based on cost. After the initial 2-4 year honeymoon the PHBs have finally realized that the knowledge base in-house is as good as what they can pay for, and community support is often faster than a phone call, things have worked out smoothly. We pay for minimum support to ensure timely patches, that's it. Some systems that are not 100% mission critical fall to Fedora or CentOS and in-house admins to manage it.

We have 40-75% of hardware hitting end-of-life and the choice to move to commodity hardware with Linux OS is becoming very easy, almost expected. Its a point where is seems a no-brainer, just whack in a blade server with a LAMP stack and configure.. what's the hold up? what do you mean it will be 3 weeks? Seriously. Now that they see the competence of F/OSS on commodity hardware it is the go-to configuration because of in-house knowledge and skill and the fact that owning the skills makes it a true zero cost option compared to others.

Re:Support is Better (4, Insightful)

foobsr (693224) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535813)

Company execs also prefer knowing that someone is ultimately responsible if something does not work.

Company execs also prefer knowing that someone other than themselves is ultimately responsible if something does not work.



Re:Support is Better (3, Insightful)

rronda (1139207) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535135)

Those same kiddies that you talk about are users that don't have institutional support or enough nerdy friends when something "comes up" in linux. I understand the repeated-redundant questions clogging up the expert forums but usually the technical level needed to solve some specific problem is very high (and specially to understand what one is doing). And it gets high so quickly sometimes that a new user can not discriminate whether her question is being answered or not in an old post. I think everybody would benefit from a newbie forum (I've been a newbie Linux user for almost 10 years now) so that one can ask stupid questions and get well explained answers from some generous more advanced users. Just last week I had to replace my video card. I have it working after several hours, but it still looks like an Atari. I am looking forward having some time to spare from my research to see if I can make it work in 3-D.

Re:Support is Better (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24535213)

It's called the ubuntu forums. Seriously.

Not trolling. Really.

Re:Support is Better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24535225)

I use Linux at home as my primary Operating System. I am a programmer at work, so I am probably not indicative of "Joe Sixpack", but at the same time, I have never experienced anything that I have not been able to solve or a simple question on a forum has not been able to solve - I have never had the need to use paid support...

Re:Support is Better (4, Interesting)

spandex_panda (1168381) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535525)

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.

Re:Support is Better (1)

Johnny Chinpo (1340653) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535723)

THE Ubuntu forums are...AWESOME and the main reason I am still using Ubuntu...it hasn't been a completely smooth ride but it has been *a lot* smoother and friendlier than when I was on WinXP

Re:Support is Better (1)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535783)

Sorry, I didn't mean to accuse any Ubuntu users of being kiddies...I was more refering to people who would post "omg do it for me you are my slaves at my EVERY CALL REMEMEBER THE CAPS".

pizza (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24534927)

anyone order a pizza ?

Re:pizza (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24535021)

If by "pizza" you mean "rimjob from a tranny", then it was me.

Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda

Pants are optional, but recommended for you.

easy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24534939)

I never got the point of Linux support anyway. If you're too thick to look up solutions to your problems on the internet or to contact developers directly, just lay out the one-time fee for Windows.

Re:easy (4, Insightful)

iceeey (842254) | more than 5 years ago | (#24534997)

The paid support is for businesses who can't waste their time scouring the Internet and posting in forums for solutions. Time is money, and the sooner they get the help they need, the better. The same is true for Windows. You think Microsoft doesn't have expensive paid support? Guess again. They basically have a monopoly on it, whereas with Linux, any company can support the software competently, since the source code is available.

Re:easy (2, Insightful)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535285)

The fact that time is money is the reason more businesses are going to community-supported distros and moving away from things like Red Hat. For many problems, you can find the solution in less time than it would take to open a support incident, then get to work on implementing the solution. Even if you use vendor support and they tell you the solution, you're still the one that has to do it. As someone else mentioned, vendor support mostly comes in handy when there isn't a work-around and the vendor is your only option. That's true for Microsoft support as well.

Re:easy (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535909)

The paid support is for businesses who can't waste their time scouring the Internet and posting in forums for solutions.

Or it is for businesses that do not have the budget for admins smart enough to scour the net. Some companies are penny-wise and pound-foolish - the budget for employees is completely different from the budget for hardware and software. At the places that are understaffed (because the HR department won't pay even market-rates, much less premium rates for premium talent) it can be much easier to slip a 3-5 year 5x8 or even 7x24 support contract in on the same PO has a system purchase than it is to hire good talent.

Re:easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24535065)

microsofts support is far from free- even the 90 day support is limited. Expect to shell out $90/incident -minimum- depending on what os, etc.

zonit (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24534947)

who wants to rely on Red Hat or Novell having ubuntu ?.

We started with Red Hat (4, Interesting)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535009)

We started with RHEL3, especially since we ordered a Dell Server and it could come with the server, thus I knew RH would just work on it. Never seemed to get my money's worth out of support (if you are going to administer it, you might as well learn it, so I answered most questions by myself.) A year or so later, instead of going RHEL4 I went to CentOS 4 next, as it had the same necessary apps and updates, support didn't matter so I had the OS without the bothersome RedHat Network license validation nag screens.

About a year after that I got tired of CentOS - when I started looking at options for a cross-platform backup solution, CentOS was the low man on the compatible distribution totem pole, sometimes not even there at all, most support requestes ended with some vague problem with dependencies and an 'oh well'.

Also learned to shy away from SuSE then too, as I noticed around that time any Novell associated projects usually dropped any non-SuSE binaries (i.e. iFolder).

But Ubuntu had just about everything there, was well updated, and a lot of forums with solutions. Granted, Ubuntu lacked the nice SAMBA admin program (GSAMBAD needs help), but I never have any problems finding apps or resolving installation issues quickly.

Re:We started with Red Hat (1)

Dice (109560) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535067)

Amanda [amanda.org] is very good for backups across various *nix systems. I'm running it on Solaris, CentOS, RHEL, Fedora, and Ubuntu machines at various locations. There's a bit of administrative overhead in the initial setup, but it's bullet proof once you have it running. Combine it with a large disk array and some software VTL and you have a backup system that requires basically zero overhead.

Re:We started with Red Hat (1)

Jailbrekr (73837) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535113)

I found the same thing with Bacula. My only minor complaint was its command line interface for restorations and administration. Apart from that it was bullet proof and really well laid out.

Re:We started with Red Hat (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535133)

Cross platform (i.e. Linux/Mac/Windows) we are currently using Unison (lower setup/install on client and server) but probably will go to Backula next. Looked at Amanda, it seemed to have pretty steep setup curve (at least at the time I was looking at it).

Re:We started with Red Hat (1)

catscan2000 (211521) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535259)

I use Unison, too, and love it! Not many backup solutions support backing up OS X resource forks and metadata to Linux servers. I use it in combination with a GFS-like shell script that performs a hard-link copy of the current backup state to another folder named after the current date and time, and backups older than a couple of months are deleted except for the last backup of each month. It's space efficient and longitudinal :-)

I wish the restore interface was as nice as Apple's Time Machine, but it's not that often that I need to restore, and it's not really that hard to create one-off Unison restoration config files.

How did Ubuntu get it's community? (4, Interesting)

VoyagerRadio (669156) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535055)

How did Ubuntu get such a huge community so quickly? I remember hearing about Ubuntu shortly after I installed Xandros on my system, about three or four years ago. I began looking into Ubuntu, and its community was exploding, and still seems to be. I wouldn't be surprised if alot of enterprises are installing this distro now, based on its community. Yet still: why Ubuntu? Why not one of the other similar distros? Is it the name? The slogan? The color scheme? Mark Shuttleworth? What's the deal?

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (2, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535099)

I wouldn't be surprised if alot of enterprises are installing this distro now, based on its community. Yet still: why Ubuntu? [...] The color scheme?

Baby poop brown is so non-fun that it must be a serious business application.

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (1)

VoyagerRadio (669156) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535151)

I'm just saying...I mean surely it must be the community that is attracting so many to the distro. Yet that doesn't explain why so many flocked to Ubuntu in the first place; was their a pre-installed community or something?

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (3, Interesting)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535349)

I can't speak for anyone else but the reasons I went with and remain with Ubuntu are pretty simple. I wanted to use Debian because of their stance on freedom and open source but a. the learning curve was a bit steep for a newb and b. etch was a bit out-dated. I tried Knoppix but for some strange reason, various bits of my hardware didn't work. I was turned off of Mandriva because of my experiences with RedHat and RPM's way back in the day when I first dabbled in Linux.

I had heard nothing but good things about apt-get and dpkg so the next distro out of the pile for me to try was Ubuntu. And the rest has been history. It worked perfectly out of the box first time. Not cheesy like Linspire or PCLinuxOS and not too hard either. I think it's what you could call the Goldilocks distro. Not too tough but not condescending either. Whatever IT is, Ubuntu has it and its popularity attests to that.

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (2, Interesting)

SleepyHappyDoc (813919) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535537)

You hit an interesting nail, there. I wonder how much of Ubuntu's community came around looking for something a bit more up-to-date than Woody, which was getting long in the tooth when Ubuntu first came around (and didn't get a new release for more than a year after that).

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (5, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535453)

It really was a combination of factors.The slogan? So Mark Shuttleworth choices in establishing the principles of Ubuntu certainly had a lot to do with it. The logo, the slogan and the principles behind them had a lot to do with it. The friendliness of the support forums had a lot to do with it. The quality of the distribution had a lot to do with it. The variants possible within the distribution Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Edbuntu, Xubuntu and now Gobuntu had a lot to do with it.

It all really points to the choice that open source provides and the principles of sharing the effort. Once any open source product gains a bit of a lead and of course adheres to the principles upon which it is founded, it gains additional users, which provides greater numbers for support, development and distribution, which gains additional users, which naturally enough creates greater numbers for support, development and distribution , etc. What tends to disrupt that cycle is a change in principles of the founders of that particular open source product and this happens because a variant can so readily be created which does adhere to the preferred principles of the majority of actual end users.

So redhat went a bit corporate, SuSe via Novell went a bit M$ ie. nucking futs, mandrake was struggling with finances, Sun was struggling to get a handle on it, IBM like a millipede is pretty smartly keeping a foot in every door possible and most of the others were not really seeking a broad Linux market, so Ubuntu, right principles at the right time and a very good job they done of it indeed.

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535165)

Ubuntu's colors are "Starbucks"* Orange & Brown. Or a close-up of an elephant's side.

*I don't know if Starbucks invented the color scheme, but they sure did use it to death. And every "trendy" mass-market "bistro" repeats the refrain ad nauseum.

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (5, Funny)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535553)

Baby poop brown is so non-fun that it must be a serious business application.

Baby poop also comes in green and yellow.

Oh shit I hope Intrepid Ibex isn't green and yellow.

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (2, Informative)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535127)

It is as stable as Debian but much more polished.
(To the point that I switched to Debian when I realized my learning was hampered by Ubuntu's ease-of-use)

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (2, Informative)

AceofSpades19 (1107875) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535273)

Ubuntu isn't even close to being as stable as debian

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (2, Informative)

keeboo (724305) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535575)

Ubuntu isn't even close to being as stable as debian

Please tell that to the Sun Enterprise 450 I've got at work.
And we're talking about a SPARC-based server, it's not really that obscure.

Now the irony is the fact that ~2 years ago I got a old HP (PA-RISC-based) server and the only Linux which installed without glitches was Ubuntu (5.10). After the reboot the X started and we had a graphic login (horribly slow, the machine is a dinossaur, but still).

I like Debian, it's my preferred Linux for anything serious, we use that in several x86 servers. But no distro is perfect.

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (1)

Johnny Chinpo (1340653) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535763)

Ubuntu isn't even close to being as stable as debian

Yeah but it is a hell of a lot more stable than anything MS puts out for the home...

Your post sounds like saying that something that is 99% stable is a hell of a lot more stable than something that is 98% stable. I have used both and the difference is minimal at best.

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (5, Informative)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535141)

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!

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (1)

jhol13 (1087781) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535715)

The binary only (proprietary) drivers was the reason for me.

It is the only desktop distribution taking care of the huge PITA binary drivers are in Linux.

Unfortunately it does not solve the problem wholly, e.g. DVB card support is a bit behind (you may have to compile the sources going back to square one - every kernel update "breaks" your computer).

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (1)

Ox0065 (1085977) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535901)

I have been using Linux since ~97-98. I now use a built from source distribution (Gentoo) because I know I will never be prevented from doing something I want to do by choices my distribution has made for me.

With that said, Ubuntu is outstanding. It is far more convenient and easy to setup than Gentoo, but is still very close in terms of it's flexibility. I regularly check out new versions of Ubuntu to see what they are up to & am almost always impressed by the leaps & bounds they've made since I last looked them up. They seem to have moved on from the preachy, patronising and counter-productive attitude that has been a boat anchor for debain for as long as I can remember. Many of the basic functionality issues that caused me to move away from binary distributions (crippling packages with a global distribution because of twisted & crippled IP laws in one country that I couldn't care less about) are resolved or readily worked around by Ubuntu. I always recommend it to people who ask: 'what is linux?'

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (5, Interesting)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535155)

because after installing some other linux distros and having a horrible time getting anything to work right, i gave ubuntu a shot, and everything just worked right away.

why ubuntu?
because it works.

i want my time on the computer to be wasted reading slashdot, not wasted by pointless driver/hardware issues.

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (1)

VoyagerRadio (669156) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535163)

So was Ubuntu the first distro that "just worked right away"? Is that why people flocked to Ubuntu in the first place?

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535189)

RedHat is too corporate and server oriented.
Debian is a big bunch of bureaucratic nerds.
All the other distros are too small.

When Ubuntu came along it offered the technical prowess of Debian, without the bureaucracy, a big financial backer, and a focus on the desktop instead of the server. That's why it took off.

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535221)

And up-to-date software.

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535669)

Your post got me thinking... That's not always a good thing.

When Ubuntu came out it wasn't really all that common for broadband speeds in the USA, at least, to be readily able to easily download and burn an ISO quickly.

Ubuntu offered free install disks *and* a CD that you could run without messing things up. (Knoppix ate the MBR a couple of times for me, I didn't learn after the first one 'cause I'm dumb like that.)

Free installation disks available via post.


Just an additional thought.

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (1)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535529)

it was the first distro that 'just worked right away' for me.

i had tried other distros out of curiosity, but found them unable to do the things i need to get done.

after being frustrated by Vista, I downloaded Feisty. but I was late to the ubuntu party, so I can't speak for the stability or ease of use of the earlier versions.

I think that there are a lot of people out there who strongly support the idea of Free software, but like me, they are not programmers, they are not IT professionals, so other linux distros are too much work to configure, too difficult, or too much bother to be worth while.

Ubuntu is appealing to this group because its Free software, its free, and it comes bundled with a great selection of software that lets me get to work right away. i don't have to do any hunting for programs. everything i need is right there.

Ubuntu offered me a Free OS that worked for me
It does 100% of what i need it to, and about 80% of what i want it to.

I'm not trying to bash any other distros here. I'm sure they are very useful to people more skilled and knowledgeable than I, and thats the great thing about linux, there are so many options. for my own needs, ubuntu works.

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (1)

chthon (580889) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535309)

It is called marketing, and, while considered a naughty word on Slashdot, I do recommend Marketing for Dummies [amazon.com], which I find puts things in perspective about what marketing really is (not every company is a lying, cheating, robbing Microsoft).

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (3, Interesting)

nschubach (922175) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535359)

I just bought a Lenovo Thinkpad T61 with SLED10 ($50) and I wiped it for Ubuntu. Why? I use Gnome. I didn't like the "XP/Vista like" application menu. I didn't like the package manager... I tried using it for a few days, but went back to Ubuntu figuring that I just spent $50 to give Linux one more OEM sale instead of Windows. Sure, I had to tweak the Thinkpad buttons a bit, but after that everything just worked.

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535375)

Oh, and for the record, I tried Mandriva 2008.1 Spring before going back to Ubuntu. Same deal. My hardware wasn't working without some major fuss. I wanted to try another distro, but none of them seem as dedicated to setting up the multitude of config files to make their distro work out of the box.

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (1)

chubs730 (1095151) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535517)

I just did the exact same thing as you. (Typing on my T61 with ubuntu now). I also used the same reasoning when i wiped it, but also knowing that all the hardware was Linux compatible when it came pre-installed was nice. Mine came with gnome installed, and it looked very KDE'ish. Maybe you didn't even realize that it was in fact gnome, but it was very awkward and uncomfortable. The package management was a bit of a disaster (reminiscent of openSuse 10.1), so I quickly went for ubuntu. I think it's great, and it's a shame Dell is the only manufacturer that's embracing it. SLED was a bit of a disappointment, and I wished that what would be some folks' introduction to linux after a new computer purchase would be a more pleasant one.

Oh, and which buttons did you tweak? Everything seems to work fine for me, so I'm curious.

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (1)

homerhomer (669677) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535439)

I think that Ubuntu started with Community in mind vs price plans. And it help to have a guy with millions spearheading the project.

Yet still: why Ubuntu? (3, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535461)

Why? It's easy to install. It's easy to administer. It's Open, available and Free. It's secure by default (no open ports). It has repositories for thousands of useful and free apps that you can get from their repositories instead of downloading them from random Internet sites. It supports nearly all the hardware you've ever heard of. Server is free. Client is free. Thin client with servers is free. Clustering is free. Did I mention that client licenses are free? You can boot it from nearly any readable media. Boot time is swift even in ways you wouldn't expect it to be (pen?). It's easy to upgrade and paths are easy too -- and free. With Open Office it reads all the common Office formats, for free. It's extensible, adoptable, and free. The BSA will not be beating your door down over this one because they want you to use it.

The better question is: "Why not Ubuntu?"

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (4, Insightful)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535603)

That's easy, it's polished Debian. Debian Stable is absolutely wonderful for server environments. Security support tends to last years, most everything "just works", packages are thoroughly tested, and apt cures dependency hell, but packages aren't always very recent. Ubuntu essentially was taking Debian's unstable branch, stabilizing it, and releasing it every six months to act as a desktop OS. It's kind of a best of both worlds situation, up to date and stable packages.

I maintain that the single largest advantage that a Linux desktop has over a Windows desktop is package management. With synaptic (and apt) you can easily and quickly search for and install software. This is the killer app. Ubuntu does, imho, more right than any other desktop linux has before, although I still think there's a bit more work to do to be ready for prime time.

People like free shit! (1)

njdube (965445) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535623)

Giving away free disc in the mail could be a big contributing factor. I'm mostly a openSUSE user (not a real ubuntu fan) but I still have free disc sent to me when new versions come out.

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535663)

I used to love redhat, RPM's made quick work of things.. (I hated Configure;make;make install and keeping it up to date). At the time, redhat, with its up2date program rocked. However, on the desktop at home, I got fed up with dependancy hell. Was talking to a friend that worked at ximian (now novell) he said he was using ubuntu, and liked it.. I started playing with it. It has now been my main desktop at home for quite some time. (I dual booted XP for a while.. Felt really good to delete that windows partition!). I still have RedHat EL servers at work, mainly cause they are already paid for (and being a school, its only like $50/year). However, the ease of use of ubuntu, followed by the very nice apt-get and debs makes me think my next server will run Ubuntu Server. I'll need to check on its 64bit support, and If I had a critical DB server, running dozens of gigs of ram, lots of CPU's, and only the DB program, I'd probably still stick redhat on it, cause it is rock solid.. but anything else, I'll look to Ubuntu.

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24535703)

Ubuntu is the most functional Linux distro out-of-the-box and it's also the distro Linux geeks love to hate on, which gives it publicity from both sides. Windows users can safely try it and not like it, current Ubuntu users can lead newbies through any minimal configuration requirements, and longtime users of other distros can declaim responsibility for installing a highly networked OS with Windows 98-style permissions by default. It just works and this makes everyone happy.

It's debian for the desktop (1)

daffmeister (602502) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535945)

For me, and I think a lot of others, it's because it was effectively debian for the desktop. Stable and up-to-date. On the desktop most people want the latest shiny packages and the six-month release cycle of ubuntu gave them a stable debian distro with that.

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (1)

jopsen (885607) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535975)

They shipped free cds to a lot of windows users... This marketing thing boosted their userbase and community.

There's alot of other minor factors that count in as well, but the Ubuntu success probably started because of free cds... And then the community came and now is mostly running on hype... :)
(I'm a Ubuntu user, but if got to be blind not to see the hype).

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (1)

Pink Fandango (1336947) | more than 5 years ago | (#24536047)

I would go with easy of use. My dad is computer illiterate as they come, and he could use it from day 1.

Re:How did Ubuntu get it's community? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24536057)

I think because it was the distro that finally seemed to bring it all together for the Linux-aware-but-not-converted. Good hardware detection, good app support, a clear pro-style future development path, synaptic, a well organized community support arm. They had that by around 5.10.

I mean I started with the Commodore PET for pete's sakes. I began AC'ing here within months of /. starting. I definitely knew Linux existed, and yet I didn't run it. And why not? Because I didn't want yet another geek project. I had plenty else to do. I was waiting for desktop Linux to mature to the point that converting would be nearly hassle free.

I burned LiveCD ISOs for years -- are we theeere yet? -- finally with Ubuntu 5.10 we were. I converted, and no doubt a hell of lot of others in the same boat did. And that was reflected in the forums. Ubuntu got an influx of experienced computer users who were happy to help new users with advice that did not treat CLI use as a rite of passage.

I work at a 900+ seat Red Hat shop (5, Interesting)

Jailbrekr (73837) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535095)

And while we *do* pay for support and it has come in handy on occasion, I have found that google is a far more valuable tool than their support services. First off, it doesn't take 2 days to get a response when you are using google. Second, you aren't forced to do a sysreport by some 1st tier keyboard jockey in Bangalore before they will even consider thinking about the problem you are reporting.

Now, having said that, when you manage to escalate your problem to someone high enough up, you do get quality support. you just have to jump through hoops to get there, which really does IMO make the value of the paid support rather questionable.

Re:I work at a 900+ seat Red Hat shop (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24535793)

I am a 1st tier keyboard jockey in Bangalore, you insensitive clod. THANK YOU, COME AGAIN!

Re:I work at a 900+ seat Red Hat shop (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24535913)

(AC for obvious reasons)

That's funny, because I work at Red Hat, in Raleigh, and sit right next to the L1 bullpen for RHEL support. I know Raleigh is in the South, but it's not Bangalore. So at least some of the time, you're talking to an actual American. Most of them are pretty cool and know their shit, and there isn't a script in sight. And, oddly, not a one of them is south asian. So YMMV by timezone. Welcome to the global economy...


from the Maximum-Verbosity dept. (3, Funny)

Nymz (905908) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535103)

Why buy the milk and eggs bundled, when you can easily feed the chickens yourself, thus making the bundle price, overpriced, when compared to the cost of milking the cows yourself.

Pro Support Is Only Needed For Showstopper Issues (2, Interesting)

fyrie (604735) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535109)

As a professional programmer and hobbiest computer builder, I've found that support is almost always done better by the community except for true core bugs/issues that don't have a work around. When there is no work around, the vendor is becomes the sole source of support in most cases.

Re:Pro Support Is Only Needed For Showstopper Issu (2, Interesting)

Lennie (16154) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535831)

That's why I think some company should offer a per-issue support for Debian/Ubuntu. Not cheap, but good. Not just per phone, but by e-mail too. Maybe a webbased-ticked-system with e-mail updates ?

cheaper to employ (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535131)

frankly this is because business has cottoned onto the fact it's cheaper to just hire an expert than pay consulting fee's to redhat/novell. to get 24/7 support plus programming and systems training your looking at $50k from redhat for a medium sized business. that hardly measures up to inhouse support which will be faster at solving your issues.

Re:cheaper to employ (3, Insightful)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535207)

It really depends on the business. However, the advantage that Linux has is that it has become 'common'. Linux admins and programmers are fairly easy to find these days; as opposed to, say, HP/UX (and others) that is harder, arguably, to find competent people to admin and program for. On the flipside, if you're a large enough business to pay for several sysadmins and programmers, then I would guess that the annual support fee is worth it--in effect the paid support is an ex-situ 'employee' that is available 24/7 and is not ONE employee but a team of employees. The ex-situ employee is not going to decide to go work for somebody else either...

Paid Support Not Critical For Linux Adoption (2, Insightful)

emaname (1014225) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535245)

...and if I might add this to the abstract above, they also don't need Microsoft support.

But the fact that these companies have chosen to use FOSS and GNU/Linux has given them that edge. They are not subject to lock in and some proprietary code of questionable quality. So they can go it alone.

People supporting Redhat supports community distro (5, Insightful)

xdancergirlx (872890) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535257)

Don't forget though that the ability of bigger enterprise-driven companies like Redhat and Novell to pay full-time linux programmers has had a tremendously postive effect on community distros.

It is hard to imagine what the linux desktop would look like today without the contribution of Redhat and Novell programmers during the last 5 years.

Re:People supporting Redhat supports community dis (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24535447)

So how do Red Hat and Novell pay full-time Linux programmers in the future when no one needs paid support any more because community support is better going forward?

Re:People supporting Redhat supports community dis (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535535)

Mod Parent up!!

At last someone asked the obvious question.

Novell and RedHat have all but moved out of the paid boxed set linux distro, hoping to make money on the high-priced "Enterprise" versions (with paid support, which mostly means downloadable upgrades).

But when Opensuse and Fedora provide every bit as robust and reliable software and the high priced packages, (to say nothing of Ubuntu), who but the most risk-adverse bean counter will buy them?

With declining sales, who pays developers?

The paid boxed set had better make a strong comeback, and quickly.

Re:People supporting Redhat supports community dis (2, Insightful)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535601)

This outcome will be inevitable as Linux adoption grows and users become more comfortable with it.

Further proof that making money off of FOSS by offering "service" is not a viable long-term strategy in most cases.

Re:People supporting Redhat supports community dis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24535737)

The boxed set is obsolete, as more and more customers prefer to just download the latest ISOs and go. Physical media is almost obsolete... just point a kickstart at a package tree and install your OS remotely.

Red Hat's sales aren't declining, as their public figures show pretty well. Also, remember that RHEL != fedora, package-set wise. RHEL ships older versions of a lot of libraries, and doesn't (well, very rarely) re-base libraries within each release, allowing ISVs to have a "known configuration" that won't change out from under them. No corporate ISV will certify their product against fedora, or Ubuntu, et al. And companies care about running software that's "certified to run on distro X".

There's still a place for RHEL and even for paid support. Forums decline in usefulness the more corporate the setup gets. Ask a question about setting up openldap, or configuring an HBA, and the replies often become less useful.

Re:People supporting Redhat supports community dis (5, Informative)

wrook (134116) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535767)

Support is not where the money is for free software IMHO. And actually, although I'm not in the loop for these companies I don't think either of them make most of their money from "commercial" style support.

The big money is either in custom distribution builds or in custom software development (or both). Usually you sell a "support contract" with it too, but it's more of an extended warranty than a real support contract.

I once had an interesting talk with a salesman from Novell (who is a big free software fan). He told me that he doesn't try to sell support contracts for Linux. Instead he's more interested in providing upgrade paths for existing Netware customers. These products run on Linux and to compete against Microsoft's offerings they need a full package deal (office suite, email, etc, etc). In fact, from his description of what they were doing, I got the impression that the support side was still being run as a "loss center" rather than a "profit center".

To make a long story shorter, successful free software companies will make money providing specific solutions to customers. Those that rely on "generic" (IMHO, useless) end user support will die an ugly death. However, I don't believe that any of Red Hat, Novell, Canonical, IBM, Sun, etc, etc are trying to base their business on end user support.

So we can expect to see more of the same.

Great news! (1)

johannesg (664142) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535377)

Although it won't be news to most of us - how many here have actually ever tried getting vendor support on a software application? I've had to call support for obscure hardware and software, but never for an operating system.

And once business see that Linux runs reliably and problems can be solved efficiently by the people they already pay anyway, the choice to migrate ever-larger systems to Linux becomes not only easy, but natural.

Re:Great news! (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535721)

Then where is the incentive for continued growth in the Linux development arena?

Re:Great news! (1)

johannesg (664142) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535775)

More business running on Linux --> more software needed on Linux. Development on the kernel will be more the concern of those that need new kernel functionality, like hardware builders.

Wow, How Timely (2, Insightful)

CrankyFool (680025) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535457)

I work at a Fortune 500 non-tech company, with responsibility for, among others, the UNIX side of the house which has been Solaris until now. After months of discussions, we finally got the go-ahead yesterday from our CIO to move forward with Linux support; the intention is to have Linux be our #1 choice for UNIX[ish] deployments, with Solaris only being used when we absolutely, positively, can't use Linux or Windows.

For us, we're going with RedHat primarily for two reasons:
1. We're very conservative -- the whole "supportable platform" thing scares the crap out of some of my coworkers, especially on the applications side, so we absolutely require commercial, neck-on-the-line support;

2. We intend to primarily use Linux as the underlying infrastructure for commercial applications, so one obvious question we had to ask was: What Linux distro is most likely to be supported by our vendors (DB2, Oracle, various Symantec products, etc)? It came down to SLES and RHEL, and ... well, I don't like SLES :)

It's worth noting that while I've got really smart Solaris system engineers working for me, the standard I use is: Can my engineer support this system at 2AM, with one hand tied behind their back, blindfolded, having been woken up from a drunken, drugged stupor? We're not quite there yet with Linux, so it's helpful to have robust support. I've had experience with RHEL support in a previous company and was duly impressed.

I suspect that, 2-4 years from now when we've developed the skill level to support Linux very well without having to rely on Support much (and the good news is, in this environment it's likely most of my well-performing engineers will still be here in 2-4 years), we'll reconsider the commercial support necessity and revisit this. But application compatibility will still be key, so unless mainstream enterprise vendors (see names above) start supporting dists such as Ubuntu, chances are we'll still stick with one of the big commercial distributions.

Re:Wow, How Timely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24535565)

Ubuntu does have paid support.

It's the collapse of American morality! (0, Troll)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535583)

Next thing you know they will be letting the gays adopt Linux!

Re:It's the collapse of American morality! (1)

Meumeu (848638) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535873)

Next thing you know they will be letting the gays adopt Linux!

Too late... I'm already using Linux.

Not "Buying" It (4, Insightful)

br0k_sams0n (848842) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535697)

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.

3rd party certified (1)

tom1974 (413939) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535741)

I have many RH systems with support contracts around our datacenter running voip gateways, SS7, databases etc. Why? because all that 3rd party applications are certified to run only on RedHat with support contracts. That's the main reason companies get support contract which also includes official updates and patches.

Since the cost of 3rd party apps. runs into tens of thousands, cost of RH support is negligible. Besides, you can't beat the warm and fuzzy feeling you get supporting the cause ;)

Why pay? (3, Interesting)

br00tus (528477) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535747)

My shop has several hundred Red Hat boxes. What do we do with the money we pay Red Hat? Primarily it is to have access to their web site and get the ISOs for different Red Hat versions, as well as individual packages if needed. Or we use up2date/yum on the machine itself to grab packages.

One thing I can say in favor of Red Hat. I used to use Debian at home (now I use Gnewsense, a knockoff of Ubuntu, which is a knockoff of Debian). For many months, the "search the contents of a package" feature was disabled on Debian's website. So if I wanted the program "sftp" but didn't know it was in package openssh-client, I could search there and discover that. But Debian just decided to take it down for a few months. Red Hat would not do that for so long, if at all, and if they did I could call and complain.

One problem with Red Hat versus Sun is if a kernel panics or whatever with Solaris, I can send the core dump to Sun and that's it - the control the OS, they control the architecture (except for Host Bus Adapters and the like), and that not only makes core dumps easier (netdump seems to be preferred on Red Hat, which I think blows), but makes them easier to diagnose - it is all coming from one source. With Red Hat you don't know if is Red Hat that did something, or your hardware vendor (Dell/HP/etc.) Which means they can point fingers at one another, with Sun can not do as it is all coming from one source. OS and hardware all from one source has its advantages. Also, the usual answer from Red Hat and the hardware vendors is we should have everything patched to the latest version, which we never do, so reporting it is pointless. Even if we had everything patched, since unlike Solaris it won't be dumping core to a local disk, we would have to go through the effort of a project where all machines could netdump somewhere. As we only have a few systems go out a year, and do not have the resources to keep all machines up to the latest patch levels, system crashes are often a mystery, which irks me, but due to our limited resources and the shortcomings of the Red Hat model, is just how it is.

The altruistic comments mentioned are silly I think. My boss is not going to shell out money to Red Hat because it goes to "the greater good". If I could get my company to send money somewhere, it would be to the Free Software Foundation.

One thought that occurred to me is companies like Red Hat might be transitional in some ways. Companies wanting to move to something open want hand holding at first. I can think of many examples like this in my career. I worked at a company where we hired Java developers and started using a professional Java application server, which we became unhappy with and then began using Tomcat. The developers said their confidence with being able to develop for the professional server is what let them try Tomcat, which worked out very well for us. The move from Solaris to Red Hat to free as in beer Linux is another example. I see another example with MySQL recently - looking to save money, a division is going to use MySQL for a new project as opposed to Oracle, which they traditionally use. After a few years, might the DBAs drop professional MySQL and go with a non-supported MySQL? Who knows?

I think the companies like Red Hat and MySQL, if they are adaptive and fine tune their business strategies, can survive this transitional stuff. The more traditional companies, the Microsofts and Oracles and Suns are who should be worried.

Just Try To Get What You Pay For (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535795)

I ran and supported my own Linux box for Matlab for a while. It took a fraction of my time to keep things running.

I also ran one for a lab that paid for migration, OS and Java Desktop support, because I was supposed to be a researcher, not an admin. It took about the same fraction of time to keep things running. A quarter of that fraction was waiting for answers. A quarter was spent getting non-answers from clueless drones reading problem-solution flow charts and having to find a cluefull support person. A quarter was trying to understand support people who knew what they meant but weren't good at communicating it. And a quarter was divided between figuring out what the poor communicators meant (luckily I already spoke *nix) and fixing things myself anyway. I spent the same amount of time not doing science both ways, and the latter lab was out a relatively small support payment. On the other hand since I was sometimes just following instructions rather than problem solving, I understood the system less. I'd rather they just let me do it, and since I couldn't pass along as much knowledge to my successor, they probably ended up wishing I'd done it myself also.

Luckily it was only Linux. Now Matlab, you can pay a bundle for support, and another bundle for a rotating plate full of grad students, or you can pay through the nose and still need a hybrid engineer/coder to make your flops flip. In the first case, I supported the Linux and the lab supported a doctoral student by paying him to code Matlab. In the second, we had ample grad students, each with ample knowledge, but so much turn around that things went only half as fast as at the first lab.

I should also mention that just before I got there the first lab was running Matlab on Irix and was hemoraging support money. Those huge SGI boxes ended up as great end tables.

Of cause (1)

codeforprofit2 (457961) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535871)

The whole idea that the open source community would be able to be financed with service and support is ridicolous.

Service and support is low-end, low-margin business.

It really depends on where linux is used. (2, Interesting)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 5 years ago | (#24535879)

If linux is used by someone like me that likes to make my own decisions and research problems paid support isnt critical in most cases. I do like the possibility to get support if i should get stuck but that has only happened with commercial code so far. Linux transparency makes it possible to solve almost any problem by myself.

But, most shops i know is consultant based. When you need a solution, toss out a hook towards some consultants and when someone bites you buy their solution. Support is a must since you dont know much about the systems you have. Theese people are the ones that need readymade nice packages with turnkey solutions. You dont sell them Linux, you sell them specific solutions to specific problems.

If you want to make money the people who rather pay than think are the ones to sell support to.

"Linux" support really not possible (2, Interesting)

superskippy (772852) | more than 5 years ago | (#24536087)

I remember talking to a Solaris lover about Linux support once, and how he thought it sucked. This was in the City of London.

The difference between an old-skool Solaris, or even Windows, is that if you have a bug, if you've got enough money you can persuade the company to get the guy who wrote the code to stop what (s)he was doing, and fix it, right now. Or in other words, most of the code is written by someone who works for Sun/HP/Microsoft/whatever.

A Linux distribution, as we all know, is software pieced together from all over the place. Fair enough, RedHat do employ a lot of programmers, but most of what comes on that RHEL DVD is written elsewhere. So if you go to RedHat and say "there is a bug in X", they can't often help- they have to go to a third party project and try and persuade them to deal with it. Or they can get a generic programmer, try and get them to look at the code and work out what is wrong. That really doesn't help you above and beyond what you could do yourself.

What I am trying to say is the "Linux" support (where Linux is a distribution) is not really a thing that is possible in the traditional sense.

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