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How Long Should an Open Source Project Support Users?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the no-implied-support dept.

Linux Business 272

Ubuntu Kitten writes "Since October the community-generated database of cards known to work with Ndiswrapper has been down. This is apparently due to an on-going site redesign, but right now the usual URL simply directs to a stock Sourceforge page. Without the database, the software's usability is severely diminished but this raises an interesting question: Is an open source project obliged to provide support for its users? If so, for how long should the support last? Web servers cost money, especially for popular sites. While developers can sometimes find sponsorship, is it possible to get sponsorship simply for infrastructure and user services?"

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272 comments

No Obligations, Take What You Can Get (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746229)

Disclaimer: These are my experiences & opinions only.

It seems you are looking for a list of cards supported by Ndiswrapper, nothing else? Is the software development not keeping up with cards or something? I'm more concerned that I can no longer access their wiki. I'm not sure how the lack of a database of cards it works with would cause its functionality to "diminish" but you are right that this raises an interesting question.

Without the database, the software's usability is severely diminished but this raises an interesting question: Is an open source project obliged to provide support for its users? If so, for how long should the support last?

No. Although from time to time I notice that Maven2's repo1 [maven.org] is sometimes down which irks me a bit when I'm using new packages. And that's why I have a local repository on my list--in case the bandwidth I steal from Jason van Zyl of Codehaus [domaintools.com] ever dries up. And if it should, I realize there's not a lot I can do about it ... although I can always keep downloading packages (or even building them myself) and installing them on my local network albeit tedious. I am lucky though as Maven2 is well thought out in this respect, always defaulting through a whole list of repos (indeed if repo1 went down, there are others).

I appreciate Mr. van Zyl's work and efforts but he and I have signed no prior contract guaranteeing the length of time his service should be available to me. And I, of course, expect nothing from him. He's doing me a great service at the moment but the service--though rarely spotty--doesn't have to last past this second.

Say, where's your local repository of Ndiswrapper's database?

Web servers cost money, especially for popular sites.

This is correct. And by that logic, it may benefit you to send the sourceforge developers a simple message asking them if a modest donation of funds could ail this predicament? Every so often I anonymously throw $10-$20 at a project that I use heavily, I really wish others would do the same.

While developers can sometimes find sponsorship, is it possible to get sponsorship simply for infrastructure and user services?

I'm really not sure although I do realize that if Ndiswrapper is talking to this database on the backend, there's probably no eyeballs looking at ads to the left and right of this database. Which makes it kind of hard for magical ad revenue to come in (similar to the codehaus repo1 scenario listed above). I think you'd be better off appealing to some distribution that may hinge heavily on Ndiswrapper but I'm pretty sure the developers would have exhausted these resources before letting this site lapse into oblivion.

Re:No Obligations, Take What You Can Get (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746679)

Every so often I anonymously throw $10-$20 at a project that I use heavily, I really wish others would do the same.

I don't know how anything this informal and erratic can be made to work long-term.

Re:No Obligations, Take What You Can Get (5, Insightful)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747067)

Every so often I anonymously throw $10-$20 at a project that I use heavily, I really wish others would do the same.

I don't know how anything this informal and erratic can be made to work long-term.

Snowfall is informal and erratic. Chaotic and unplanned. And yet every year I manage to wake at least once to an entire world covered in snow.

Random simply means you need a large number of participants.

Re:No Obligations, Take What You Can Get (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25747237)

Yep, then it melts and you go nine months without being able to use it. I think the analogy is perfect.

Re:No Obligations, Take What You Can Get (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747459)

That would happen regardless of the nature of the falling snow.

Just as donations for a project can dry up regardless of whether or not they are done randomly or via a regular schedule.

But to stretch the analogy, order requires effort. Therefore, which do you think would end first? Something that happens naturally on it's own accord or something that someone has to organize first?

Re:No Obligations, Take What You Can Get (5, Insightful)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747357)

Even if you did, sending money in no way puts the author into your debt such that he needs to offer support. You do it as a reward, not a binding contract.

Fundamentally, open source is centered around the design, not support. In the long run, you will need to pay for support from one of many people capable of doing so. If you see a program so many people use, which lacks the support you think you need, I hear business opportunity knocking at your door.

I think I found your problem. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25746239)

Ubuntu Kitten writes

I think I found your problem.

Pick your nose and eat it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25746675)

Pick your nose. Get a nice big blob of half-solid sticky snot. Then eat it. Yum yum!!

How Long Should Open Source Project Support Users (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746271)

As long as its users support it, duh.

Re: How Long Should Open Source Project Support Us (5, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746423)

Exactly. If you want support from an open source project, you need to help that project out. Whether that's in the form of development work, testing, documentation writing, helping uses in the forums or lists out, or good old fashioned cash depends on what the project needs. Most projects are more than happy to list what they need, and if they don't, e-mail the project's lead(s) or e-mail their support list -- they'll be very happy to hear from you.

You get out of it what you put into it. Like anything else in life.

Re: How Long Should Open Source Project Support Us (0, Troll)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746469)

In other words, if you don't have a git repo, you don't warrant support? Actually, I'm kind of sympathetic to that train of thought. Open source is driven by volunteers, not big centralized servers. Corporations certainly do their bit, but open source is about bazaars, not cathedrals.

Re: How Long Should Open Source Project Support Us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25746557)

Where the hell does this comment about git come from?

Re: How Long Should Open Source Project Support Us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25747229)

don't feed the trolls.

Re: How Long Should Open Source Project Support Us (5, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746759)

Not exactly. Here's some examples where a non-technical user might help out, even if it's not in the form of cash:

I have a couple of open source projects that are sorely in need of translators. I don't speak any languages other than English, and a little bit of very broken French and Spanish. If someone wants to provide me good translations of UI strings, help bubbles, messages, dialogs, etc., in their native tongue I'll gladly add good i18n and l10n support to the projects.

Neither of these projects have good end-user documentation. I need someone with good technical writing skills to write the user docs for them. You don't need to any programming, just how to use the program.

Evangelism: one project has existed for two years now, and the other is just about to have its first release. I need people to help get the word out about the projects.

You see what I mean? You don't need to be a programmer to help an OSS project. You just need to care.

Re: How Long Should Open Source Project Support Us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25746823)

If you post a link to any of your projects needing translation I am happy to perform the Spanish translation for you.

Re: How Long Should Open Source Project Support Us (4, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746935)

Corporations certainly do their bit, but open source is about bazaars, not cathedrals.

Is it really? I sometimes wonder. The marque projects of open source - OpenOffice.org and Firefox, for example - look corporate to my eyes. The Dirac video codec emerged from the BBC, and you can't get more high church than that.

Re: How Long Should Open Source Project Support Us (4, Insightful)

SkunkPussy (85271) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747407)

I'm not 100% sure what "marque" means but I would suggest that gcc is the marque project of open source and has been for about 20 years.

Re: How Long Should Open Source Project Support Us (2, Insightful)

Binder (2829) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746671)

Open source projects don't support users... they are the users.

If the main groups no longer wishes to participate in the project then other users need to step up.
This is one of the greatest things about OSS.

Software for the Users, by the Users!

Project not required to provide support (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25746305)

No, an open source project is not obliged to provide support for its users. They're giving you the software (and sometimes documentation) for free. They weren't even required to do that (even if you use GPL components you can keep your modifications to yourself as long as you don't go handing out binaries to the rest of the world).

The people responsible for the project have absolutely zero obligation to help you with anything. If they want to help, good for them (and you). If not, you have the source - read through that to figure out what it does. Or pay somebody else to do that for you.

There are companies that provide support for open source software, but unless you're paying them for it, they have no obligation to help you.

Re:Project not required to provide support (2, Insightful)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747399)

No, an open source project is not obliged to provide support for its users. They're giving you the software (and sometimes documentation) for free.

It depends on what you mean by obligated. Certainly, legally they are under no obligation. But if you want a userbase (again, the something that other people develop with their time), testing, and relevency outside a small circle of people willing to do their own debugging, then yes, they do.

OSS cannot just take that libertarian attitude and be expected to be taken seriously. Call it one example of the "RTFM n00b"-type mentality. For most people outside of school, time is more valuble than money. So, feel free to rest on the "free as in beer" mentality, and don't get surprised when Microsoft continues to dominate the OS/Office space.

I guess, what I'm saying is, if you want users, you have to support them.

When beer is free... (5, Insightful)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746309)

When your beer is free, someone still paid for it.

The difference between purchasing software and choosing whether or not to donate to a F/OSS organization is that you choose how much the software (or service) is worth to you, should you actually decide to pay for it.

Disclaimer: I'm a huge advocate of F/OSS, just not Linux... I honestly wish my interests aligned with reality :P

Re:When beer is free... (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747233)

If I need the software, and I don't plan on selling it, then giving away copies costs me nothing. If I give away the code too, then it may help you and if you send me patches then it might benefit me too. Supporting your use of my code, however, does not benefit me in anyway, and does cost me in terms of time. If you want me to do this, then you should provide something in return, whether it's code, beer, or even bug reports or documentation.

Users of software are not automatically entitled to free support. This is true of all software, free or proprietary, although if you bought software then you may have had a small - or large, if you paid enough - amount of support included in the price you paid (again, this applies to free and proprietary software).

Uh...No. (2, Funny)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746323)

One of the hazards of the trade is that some software may cease to be supported. This goes double for OSS, where the developers are often unpaid.

The source is available. If you have to have it, pick it up yourself and keep the project going.

Re:Uh...No. (4, Insightful)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746439)

One of the hazards of the trade is that some software may cease to be supported. This goes double for OSS, where the developers are often unpaid.

I think your premise is faulty. It has been my experience that commercial products become unsupported far faster than open source projects. Of course, with all aggregate generalizations there are specific instances that counter the general trend, but I think it is safe to say that you are safer banking on open source support than you are commercial support for a few reasons:

(1) As mentioned, generally speaking, support is longer term with open source.
(2) Unlike proprietary solutions, the code is generally available, it is less likely that a useful project will ever *really* become unsupported.
(3) If it is a marginal project, you have the source, you can pay someone to support you.

Re:Uh...No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25747223)

This is one of the bigger advantages of open source, but it only applies to larger corporations that have the ressources to hire developers just to maintain a few applications, something which smaller businesses just can't afford.

If support is available for longer - i don't think so. OSS projects are far more likely to tell you "just get the newest version before we even try to talk about your problem", which is easier in OSS because getting the newest money doesn't cost software maintenance or a license upgrade.

While in the commercial, you have very clear timelines which software is supported from when to when - for example, you can still get support for older versions of Microsoft products, like Exchange 2003.

Re:Uh...No. (1)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747327)

If support is available for longer - i don't think so. OSS projects are far more likely to tell you "just get the newest version before we even try to talk about your problem", which is easier in OSS because getting the newest money doesn't cost software maintenance or a license upgrade.

Obviously you aren't a long term Microsoft customer or are having a memory lapse. With the exception of Windows XP, Microsoft's M.O. had always been "buy an upgrade"

While in the commercial, you have very clear timelines which software is supported from when to when

Complete fantasy. Some systems *may* promise a support schedule, I have not seen this in any way a common practice. I have lots of hardware in my basement that runs on Linux, but does not run on Windows because the OEM companies don't support their hardware.

Re:Uh...No. (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747339)

To add support for your premise, albiet in a limited niche, I've yet to see a commercially produced closed source game outside of Valve's products and MMO's that was supported more than a year from it's inital release date.

Again though, that's a limited niche.

Not unless.. (1)

zappa86 (1288842) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746331)

Open Source Projects are not required to support any users, unless they have agreed to. That isn't to say that they should NOT go about supporting users, and in fact, if they did not, the FOSS world would not be as successful. Most projects do support their user base, and do it very well, but, of course, are not required. An author of a book is no more required to help people comprehend their words than a driver writer is to help people use their code. But we all help each other out because its better that way.

My biggest pet peeve... (4, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746337)

Ugh. People who take down the existing page because they're redesigning the site.

Generally you only see this mistake from 14-year-old "web developers" whose qualifications all come from adding animated GIF background images to MySpace profiles. Of course, these "web developers" always severely doubt the amount of time it'll take to finish the page and put it back online, so "check back in a couple days" typically turns into months, years, or "kiss that page goodbye, sucker!" Saying the term "staging server" to these type of people will usually garner the response: "caging what? I was too busy picking my nose to listen."

If you're lucky, it was actually a hostile admin pulling down the site and holding it hostage to the project for (pinky-in-mouth) one-hundred-billion-dollars! and they didn't just recruit an incompetent idiot to run it. In the former case, at least the pages will come back once the FBI breaks down his door and holds an assault rifle to his head, in the latter case they'll be "under construction" until the end of time.

So, uh, yeah. The question here isn't "how should open source projects support users?" But more along the lines of, "should open source projects do intensely retarded things with their websites?" (The answer is no.)

Re:My biggest pet peeve... (1)

rgviza (1303161) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746881)

You should offer up your mad skillz and extra servers/hosting capacity you have laying around to help them increase their site availability if it means that much to you.

I know I would if I cared. As it is I don't use NDIS wrapper so apathy got the best of me.

-Viz

Re:My biggest pet peeve... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747333)

Most of the time you are stuck with Idiots for clients that force this.

I have a current one that is complaining WHY I did not take their old one offline and then build the new one live on their website. I gave up answering and quoted him $1500.00 a day for online live editing.

he shut up after that.

Re:My biggest pet peeve... (1)

Infernal Device (865066) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747383)

Should they? No.
Are they free to? Yes.

Their project, not yours. Their rules, not yours.

Re:My biggest pet peeve... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25747511)

If you're interested in web pages developed by 14-year-olds, you've got bigger problems than you think.

Obvious answers (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25746371)

Is an open source project obliged to provide support for its users?
A. No

Web servers cost money, especially for popular sites.
A. Advertising can pay for this, especially for popular sites

While developers can sometimes find sponsorship,is it possible to get sponsorship simply for infrastructure and user services?
A. Yes if there is actual significant demand.

Where's the dump? (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746397)

Seems to me that there is no reason that a snapshot dump of the database can't be released, and subsequently "forked" into another web site. (The problem of synchronizing submissions once the original site does come up again is left as an exercise for the reader.) It doesn't matter that the live site scripts won't work as long as you share the database. The flatter the format, the better. It's the information, stupid.

As for the original question, I would say "until they can't", which is a point that may have been reached here.

Re:Where's the dump? (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747473)

Just because the software is free does not mean the website is. A typical OSS website takes a lot of effort to develop. I've noticed the following common characteristics for OSS project websites.
  • Must have a completely meaningless name.
  • Nowhere on the website is it allowed to tell you what the software actually does.
  • Has installation instructions, but no instructions for either upgrading or removing the software.
  • Documentation consists of a skeleton outline in wiki form with no actual content.

Answer: no (2, Insightful)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746421)

Is an open source project obliged to provide support for its users?

No.

A project itself is not obliged to do anything. In the case of non-commercial volunteer projects (which not all open source projects are), the people working on the projects aren't obliged to do anything either. And by the very nature of Open Source, even the users of the project aren't obliged to do anything (except when it's GPL and they want to distribute their own changes to the project).

Ofcourse successful Open Source projects are often very well supported. But that's because the people working on it want it to be big and not because they're under any kind of obligation.

Re:Answer: no (2, Insightful)

Jeff Hornby (211519) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746573)

But if that's the case, then OSS becomes worse than useless for businesses. If the software is a key component of my business it's got to continue to be available. Attitudes like "it's not my problem if my software no longer works" can only hamper the uptake of OSS. This attitude is fine if you believe that OSS should be relegated to hobbyists but the Slashdot community tends to trumpet OSS as a business solution. If there are people depending on your software, then you've made a commitment.

Re:Answer: no (0)

AceofSpades19 (1107875) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746643)

the thing is, since the source is available, then a business can just hire someone to work on it. If a proprietary solution became unsupported then you are SOL

Re:Answer: no (4, Insightful)

Jeff Hornby (211519) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746985)

And how much does this cost?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: anybody who says that a business can just hire someone to work on open source software if it becomes unsupported does not understand the first thing about the nature of business.

Re:Answer: no (1)

AceofSpades19 (1107875) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747191)

It would probably cost less then paying for support from a proprietary solution. I think its better then the alternative that a proprietary solution could go belly up and you would _have_ to switch to a different product

Re:Answer: no (4, Insightful)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747411)

And how much does this cost?

Depends. When you rely completely on proprietary software that suddenly becomes unsupported, switching can become very expensive. When it's Open Source, switching is a lot less expensive, since the software isn't a black box. And in fact, it may not even be necessary to switch, because someone else can take over support of the software.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: anybody who says that a business can just hire someone to work on open source software if it becomes unsupported does not understand the first thing about the nature of business.

It's a lot easier than hiring someone to work on proprietary software that isn't yours.

OSS provides fallback solutions that proprietary software simply doesn't.

Re:Answer: no (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25747439)

Exactly, open source projects leave you in an ambiguous state if you need support when the open source developer decides to do something else when you don't pay them. At least when I stop paying my Cisco, Microsoft, Dell, etc contracts, I KNOW, UNambiguously, that I'm not getting any support. Want to run OS9 natively (no emulation) on an intel quad core? Too bad.

But with open source? Who knows, someone else may support it for free! I hate that kinda of zero cost potential upside. It makers it so much harder to shit on other people's parades.

And how much does this cost?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: anybody who says that a business can just hire someone to work on open source software if it becomes unsupported does not understand the first thing about the nature of business.

Re:Answer: no (4, Insightful)

david.gilbert (605443) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746733)

If there are people depending on your software, then you've made a commitment.

No. THEY'VE made a commitment.

Re:Answer: no (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746747)

But if that's the case, then OSS becomes worse than useless for businesses.

Not at all. If there's profit in supporting OSS, then usually someone will step up and do it. Lots of business OSS projects are supported by the very businesses that make use of it.

If the software is a key component of my business it's got to continue to be available.

Then pay someone to make sure it is. It's open source. As a business, you can do with it as you like, and it will continue to be available if you make sure it is.

Attitudes like "it's not my problem if my software no longer works" can only hamper the uptake of OSS.

If nobody cares that it's no longer working, then clearly nobody is using it for anything meaningful.

This attitude is fine if you believe that OSS should be relegated to hobbyists but the Slashdot community tends to trumpet OSS as a business solution. If there are people depending on your software, then you've made a commitment.

If they have a support contract, then yes.

Re:Answer: no (3, Insightful)

Jeff Hornby (211519) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746911)

When an open source project is first released, there is rarely any talk of cost. In fact the reason businesses go with open source is because the cost is lower. Now you're saying that there is a cost, and potentially a huge one. The difference being that in open source you don't know the cost until after you've been using the software. I know we joke about "the first one is always free", but is that really the sort of business model that we want? The same business model used by drug dealers and payday loans?

And before you bring out the tired old argument that the sopurce is available, you can just hire somebody, think about how much that costs. Maintaining software is expensive. Very expensive. Forking your own version of a major open source project would cost in the millions of a dollars per year. It's ludicrous to expect any commercial enterprise to do that.

Given your and many other arguments regarding lack of support for OSS, I would have to say that OSS is still far too risky for any commercial uptake. Commercial software is still the better way to go. Enterprises that have critical systems depending on OSS really need to rethink their strategies if there is such a big risk that a key component of their systems will just evaporate overnight.

Re:Answer: no (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747147)

When an open source project is first released, there is rarely any talk of cost. In fact the reason businesses go with open source is because the cost is lower.

It often is, but the real advantage is in the freedom it provides.

Now you're saying that there is a cost, and potentially a huge one. The difference being that in open source you don't know the cost until after you've been using the software.

Depends on whether you negotiate your support contract up front or not.

And let's fact it, with proprietary software there's just as much chance of the developer abandoning the product, or going in a different direction than you want. There, you've been paying money and suddenly you're out of luck. With OSS, you can support the software yourself, or pay someone else to support it for you.

I know we joke about "the first one is always free", but is that really the sort of business model that we want? The same business model used by drug dealers and payday loans?

I don't know what kind of business model you want, but I'd like one where you're not tied by your hands and feet to a single vendor. That's something OSS can provide.

And before you bring out the tired old argument that the sopurce is available, you can just hire somebody, think about how much that costs. Maintaining software is expensive. Very expensive.

But that's no different from proprietary software. That's also expensive, and you get less control in return for your money.

Forking your own version of a major open source project would cost in the millions of a dollars per year. It's ludicrous to expect any commercial enterprise to do that.

A lot of commercial enterprises have done just that.

Given your and many other arguments regarding lack of support for OSS,

What lack of support? There's lots of support, exactly because there's more open competition for it.

I would have to say that OSS is still far too risky for any commercial uptake. Commercial software is still the better way to go.

If you like vendor lock-in, it is.

Enterprises that have critical systems depending on OSS really need to rethink their strategies if there is such a big risk that a key component of their systems will just evaporate overnight.

Software doesn't evaporate overnight. Not if you made backups, anyway. And any critical enterprise systems will have backups.

The software won't evaporate overnight exactly because it's open source. You've got equal access to it, and can keep using it when licenses or contracts expire. When the vendor goes belly up, you've got options that you wouldn't have had if it was proprietary software.

My previous employer used lots of software from abandoned OSS projects. Usually they didn't need much support, and when they did, we did it ourselves.

Re:Answer: no (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747497)

The cost is still lower than Closed source. as all the drawbacks are the same for Open source as they are for closed source.

Oh wait, if all my devices depend on linux and linux disappears I still have it and continue to ship the product.. yet if windows CE,QNX,etc goes away, I'm screwed.

I'll stick with OSS, less risk, and a far lower TCO. the education and skill levels to support OSS compared to CLosed source is identical if you hire competent and properly trained personnel.

If you cheap out and hire low wage MCSE's and use hope as your method of operations? your fault that you dont understand that real IT and DEV people cost money.

Re:Answer: no (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746827)

Redhat has a solution to this problem. If you want guaranteed access to their time, you pay for it.

Seems like a pretty good idea.

Re:Answer: no (1)

Jeff Hornby (211519) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746959)

I agree. But don't argue that Redhat is not a commercial company. I see no difference from a commercial perspective between deploying RedHat Linux to my servers and deploying Windows to my servers. In fact the last time I checked Windows Server was cheaper (that was a few years ago, I don't know the prices now).

Re:Answer: no (3, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747291)

You say, somewhere above in the thread, that people adopt open source because of cost. I don't think this is the case. I think they adopt if because of quality and value. I think this is the case for all software (That is, when using a computer saves $15,000 over not using a computer, $1,000 or even $10,000 of licensing costs will not impede the decision). So projects like the Linux kernel, Apache, Perl, Python, etc., are adopted because they deliver a great deal of value, not simply because they are cheaper than the alternatives.

In that context, OSS is a development model, not a cost model, and any decision to use software is going to include examination of the quality of the software and the quality of the support available for the software, and so on. Grouping software by the license it happens to be available under is a false argument (because no one would buy proprietary software that came with shitty support).

Re:Answer: no (2, Insightful)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747503)

I agree. But don't argue that Redhat is not a commercial company.

Why would anyone argue that?

I see no difference from a commercial perspective between deploying RedHat Linux to my servers and deploying Windows to my servers.

Then I'll explain the difference to you. If Microsoft ever decides not to support the Windows version on your servers, you've got a problem. You're at their mercy. And don't think they'll never do that; Microsoft has abandoned services that people paid for. Those people are now out of luck, lost their money, and don't have any alternative.

If RedHat ever decides not to support the OS on your servers, chances are someone else is willing to do it. They might not be as good as RedHat, or they might be more expensive. Or maybe your own server administrator knows enough about it to do it. In any case, you've got options.

Re:Answer: no (3, Insightful)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746975)

No, other people deciding to depend on my software does not create a commitment on my part.

It would be more correct to say, if someone decides to depend on my software without first securing a commitment from me (or from a third party capable of providing support based on the source code), that someone probably isn't a very good business-person.

So, if an individual project wants to be commercially viable, that project would be wise to think about a support model that offers its business users some assurances; but the answer to the general question "is an OSS project obligated to provide support" is still no.

Re:Answer: no (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747419)

Oh jeebus. if your OSS program becomes a key component to your business and you dont have an in house expert on it that can run with just the source then you dont know what you are doing and you need to get away from computers right now.

I know of 2 companies that rely heavy on a couple of abandoned OSS projects. they were smart enough to mirror all the information and grabbed copies of all the repositories weekly. Oops the Devs got pissy and deleted everything in the CVS and closed up shop, we still have a copy and continue without problems. Yes this does happen - I've seen it where they tried to eradicate the project from sourceforge.

If you depend on a OSS project and you dont make sure you have the resources copied in house and have the in house technical skills to support it if the devs go away, it is 100% your fault for failing.

Re:Answer: no (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747535)

Isn't it essentially impossible to eradicate something from Sourceforge? The final check-in to version control can be a non working mess, but it is always possible to step back to the last working version, correct (finding that version might be a pain...)?

you got free software, now you want free support? (1)

Uzik2 (679490) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746441)

They're not obliged to do anything for the public. What an ill thought out question.

No support is needed (3, Interesting)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746483)

You should read any open source license, a project does not have to support you at all and I think that it's kind of selfish that you expect it.

there is no warranty for the program, to the extent permitted by applicable law. except when otherwise stated in writing the copyright holders and/or other parties provide the program âoeas isâ without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. the entire risk as to the quality and performance of the program is with you. should the program prove defective, you assume the cost of all necessary servicing, repair or correction.

Simple question, simple answer: (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746493)

Maybe they should just post the .sql dump of the database for anyone to download...

Sounds silly, but the best proof that an OSS project is worth keeping alive is the willingness of someone else to pick up where the original maintainer leaves off.

Besides, ask yourself this - how does the submitter's question differ WRT closed-source projects? Of course there's the money angle, but vendors are equally willing to dump proprietary projects once the income no longer equals the resources put towards distributing them.

The big (and IMHO useful) diff is that at least with OSS, when a project dies you can still do something about it if you think it's worthy of keeping alive (besides nursing increasingly outdated binaries, that is).

/P

It depends what kind of project it is (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25746499)

My fellow Americans, let me be the last to retail slanderous rumors. I have great respect for Mr. Obama and his family. But when our nation and our GOD-given rights are at risk, no patriot can remain silent. It has coem to my attention that our worst fears have been confirmed. "Barack Obama," whose real name is Giuseppe Franconi, is an agent of the sinister Italian power! Americans, imagine the not-so-far future: government agents violating the sanctity of our TV-rooms, our base ball parks, and our children's schools and churches, confiscating our GOD-given hot dogs and replacing them with salamies! Is this the "change" you believe in? Is this your "hope" for the future? I for one will not remain silent as nefarious Italian agents use the cover of the freedoms that we love to spirit their nefarious ices into our Democratic sanctuary.

Now let me say I have nothing against the Italian people, who are a peace-loving people with a noble and historic culture. Their language, Mexican, is shared by many proud, upstanding hispanic citizens of this great land. But the hot-dog conspiracy is war, by a small secret cabal of Italians who hate freedom and our GOD-given meat products, and our freedom to eat hot dogs in our tv rooms must be defended. As long as I am the president, this administration will take the fight to the enemy and defeat the Italian menace. Thank you and GOD BLESS AMERICA.

Open Source Support (2, Interesting)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746527)

As an open source author, this is a difficult question. I can't "support" people who don't pay me. Period.

If I had a bigger project that had some sponsors, maybe I could. As it is, I can't even work on my projects on a regular basis. Currently, I just make what I need for my own purposes, and make it generally available to others. The community support we hope for is almost non-existent on most of the open source projects.

Sure, the Apache, PostgreSQL, MySQL, et. al. get lots of attention and some funding, but the vast majority of projects are just one or two guys (gals?) writing what they need and sharing.

Support for open source? No. However, I see no reason to take down an existing site to create a new one. Even if you have only one machine, you can still handle two sites.

Re:Open Source Support (2)

Conor Turton (639827) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746735)

Currently, I just make what I need for my own purposes, and make it generally available to others. The community support we hope for is almost non-existent on most of the open source projects.

I don't actually think that a lot of people using OSS actually realise this. I get the impression that the recent comers to Ubuntu for example, have an image in their mind of teams of people working on the software and that if you told them it was one bloke doing a bit of coding on something he fancied having a go at every now and again after work, they'd call you a liar.

As you said, many projects are basically things people are writing for themselves and have put out in the wild as a "Well it's useful for me, I'll stick it up on the interweb in case anyone else finds it useful for them"

What kind of question is that? (3, Insightful)

qoncept (599709) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746537)

"Is an open source project obliged to provide support for its users?"

Of course not. If I give you a car, are you going to expect me to change the oil in it every time its due? Sure, people that spend their time developing software for free may be inclined to help you out to an extent, but they don't owe you anything.

Take the issue I found in Pidgin. It was crashing seemingly randomly, and debugging showed it had something to do with playing sounds. I opened a ticket, someone marked it as an actual defect, and 14 days later, since no one had looked at the ticket again, it automatically closed. Annoying, but I still have a Windows XP disc laying around somewhere (for which there are a number of IM clients that run just fine for me).

Good side-effect.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25746539)

The less ndiswrapper users there are, the better!

Where has my slashdot gone? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25746547)

There's far too much agreement on this thread so far. Somebody please make some ridiculous arguments supporting the opposite position. We need pedantry! Where's the petty bickering? I demand more petty bickering!

Re:Where has my slashdot gone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25746787)

I completely disagree with you. There's no agreement of any kind on this thread. Cheese likes to wear hats.

Obligatory car analogy (1)

natarnsco (1340979) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746555)

If I built a car and gave it to you for free along with the specs and blueprints, would I then be "obliged" to teach you how to drive and perform all the maintenance and repairs that may be needed in the future? No.

No, they're not. (1)

Carik (205890) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746559)

At least, they're not required to provide support as long as they don't care if no-one uses their project. After all, I, and many other people, are unlikely to use a piece of software when I don't know whether it will work with my hardware, or do anything that aids me in any way.

Now, that doesn't say they should provide infinite support forever with no compensation, but they should, in my opinion, consider whether they want people to use the product before deciding to, say, remove the web page and all the existing support documentation.

One of the major OSS problems (3, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746579)

There is a view with OSS that "you should be greatful with what others have done otherwise code it yourself" Which to some extent is true. You should be thankful that these hubs and support sites are provided or supported by the authors.

Unfortunately this can only run so far. If you're a business and you've spent 100 hours installing a piece of software across a network only to find updates and support drops a week later, that can work out to be very expensive.

Likewise if you're a student and a paper is due but you can't complete it due to a bug/error and the support section for the program you've used no longer exists, it's a big issue.

This is even more of a problem if there is a leading OSS solution that is so well known, no one wants to write competing software for it so when development and support stops, there's a gaping vaccuum in that area.

Open Source has to compete with commercial software and usually commercial companies will give you support for the lifespan of a product or until it becomes obsolete (not always, companies go bust, get taken over etc.). It's no good software being free if lack of support means you waste a fortune on wages trying to fix issues.

Two possible solutions: OSS developers give in and run ads on their sites (it's not hard to find unobstrusive ads with acceptable rates nowadays) or owners of sites are given incentives to hand over control of their sites to a central OSS archive where you can at least get snapshots of support forums and wikis, as well as the downloads and source.

Re:One of the major CSS problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25746719)

Is that you should be GLAD they let you pay money to them. If the product should work as advertised, or even be in the box, this is merely a happy coincidence.

And do you think that's YOUR code you're running?

Re:One of the major OSS problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25747053)

usually commercial companies will give you support for the lifespan of a product

Um, what the hell are you talking about? For commercial software, the "lifespan of the product" is usually defined as the length of time the maker supports it. So you are saying that commercial software is supported as long as it is supported?

Re:One of the major OSS problems (1)

TUOggy (1253848) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747189)

If you are deploying unsupported software across a major network, then YOU are taking the risk.

Yes, you are correct, it can be very expensive if support stops, but what you forget, is that you don't have guaranteed support to begin with. They wrote a piece of software (usually for their own purposes). If you find a use for it... GREAT!!! If, at some point, they no longer need that software, then all you get is what they originally wrote. This is the risk you took when you downloaded the the software.

FOSS is amazing and I happily donate to those projects that I use. I absolutely love it, but I also understand that I may not always have support. It's at those times that I either figure something out for myself, or try to get the advice of the community.

If you're afraid that you're going to lose out on a risk, then take more time initially to decide if the risk is worth taking. In the real world, we have to live with the consequences of our decisions.

Re:One of the major OSS problems (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747415)

Look. This is Slashdot, get it right. Open Source is not the opposite of Commercial.

Re:One of the major OSS problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25747555)

No, here's your solution: Go buy a commercial program, if you're worried that you can't get away with downloading a free program PLUS getting "lifetime" support from a developer who isn't even paid to do it.

If you're a business and you are so short sighted that you spend all this time setting up an open source program with 100 hours (100 hours? get real) without maybe setting up some sort of support w/ the developer, that's your problem, not the developer's.

The Bazaar (2)

S77IM (1371931) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746629)

I thought one of the strengths of the Open Source model was that it blurred the line between "user" and "project team."

If your project has a crucial dependency on some Open Source software (Ndiswrapper, or whatever), and the original developers of that software can't keep up with your needs, you should help them out, take it over, fork the source, or whatever. The project team is as obligated to you just as much as you are required to use their stuff -- not at all. Because once you take it and use it, it effectively becomes your stuff.

In this particular case, if the list of cards is community-generated, it's likely somebody has a backup (or enough of one for the community to re-generate the list without too much trouble). I would treat this as a valuable lesson about an improper (eggs : basket) relationship.

Re:The Bazaar (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747263)

If your project has a crucial dependency on some Open Source software (Ndiswrapper, or whatever), and the original developers of that software can't keep up with your needs, you should help them out, take it over, fork the source, or whatever.

Your view is far too software dev centered. Not everyone who uses a particular tool or application is, or has access to, a dev team. Legions of people, while they may use an OSS application, have absolutely no idea what the words 'source code' mean. Nor what to do with it if it was on their screen.

Re:The Bazaar (1)

Exitar (809068) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747421)

If my project has a crucial dependency on some Open Source software, maybe I don't have time to contribute to it, cause I'm busy enough to work on MINE.

Imagine something like this:
"Hey, I'm working on FOSS project A and using your FOSS project B. Can you give me support?"
"Sorry, don't have much time, FOSS project B uses FOSS library C whose online docs aren't updated, so I'm trying to figure out how does it work. Developer of FOSS library C told me that he could not update it cause the FOSS web server D he's using is constantly crashing, so he's fixing bugs in FOSS web server D. FOSS web server D developer isn't updating it anymore, cause is waiting for FOSS OS E new release, but it's unsure when cause some bug report he submitted are still open. Probably it's due to the fact the producer of FOSS OS E right now is..."
*goes out and buy a commercial product*

I see you are an author.... (1)

wiresquire (457486) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746723)

At first I thought you could have been an MS troll, but I see that most of your books are about 'beginning' something [ubuntukungfu.com] .

Welcome to the real world. Beginning is the easy part. The world of the typical consultant and author is for now, and implementation, and not for ongoing support - or to look back at what was said, and how you ended up in this mess.

Maybe all those 'beginning' customers are coming back and wondering why they can't get support for, say ubuntu 7.10 (vs say 8.04)? Maybe you need to explain in your books that the beginning is only a start of a journey.

The short answer is that you need to do your homework (or research if you are an author) up front. And totally understand the contract terms and conditions. If you don't, you deserve everything that you get.

ws

PS: Yes I have cleaned up a lot of sh!t from incompetent people.

Why did you chose open source in the first place? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746739)

It's a serious question for you to consider... If you're not willing to support it yourself why go open source?

Re:Why did you chose open source in the first plac (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747431)

Self support isn't some implicit requirement of open source.

How about (1)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746763)

Forever, and ever, and ever.

Re:How about (1)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746947)

On a side note, how many of you ever use something like httrack to make a static mirror of a website?

Re:How about (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747507)

"Come and write code with us, Danny..."

responsibility (3, Informative)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746807)

I run a free online game. So I'm also on the "provider" side. My take is this:

What I provide free of charge is a present and should be taken as such, i.e. no obligations. On the other hand, I'm a responsible person and my players can count on me not simply pulling the plug one day without prior announcement and saying "party's over, go home".

So how do you answer the "how long" question? You can't. As long as I want to, the stuff I provide will be available, be it my game, my website with its papers, mirrors, etc. - and if I don't want to anymore, I'll be responsible in shutting it down with enough time and ahead warning.

But if you as a user rely on a free service, then you must take into account that it could go away any minute. If your business or your happiness depends on it, make sure you can launch a local copy.

I don't think any free (as in beer) project, Open Source or not, has any obligations to provide support at all, much less for any specific period of time. The people behind it, however, probably want a good reputation, and providing support and not going away suddenly is part of that.

It's a lot of soft factors, and that's why all things considered, I'd say the question isn't adequate.

Donate (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746847)

This is apparently due to an on-going site redesign, but right now the usual URL simply directs to a stock Sourceforge page

Doesn't the FIRST link at the top of the "stock sourceforge page" tells you anything?

hmm well ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25746921)

while user.has_payed_for_support():support.provide(user)

You get what you pay for (1)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746939)

OSS developers do not owe their users anything - they do not have a formal support agreement, binding them legally to support whatever they created.

If you really depend on something, you'll need to ensure that you have the proper legal agreements in place to ensure continued support.

If you're a single person, this is practically impossible, unless you have really huge amounts of money or understand every piece of OSS software you use, neither of which is very likely.

If you're a corporation, the only way to do this is to either hire people with the necessary technical knowledge to maintain a given project (which is the big advantage over most commercial software, for some commercial software you can get the source code, which is easier the more specialized an application is).

Or you do it the old fashioned way - you purchase support agreements from another company that supports the available OSS products - Red Hat and Novell offer this.

It's not an open source issue (1)

matt_morgan (220418) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746967)

Whether you're an open source project or not, you're only obliged to support your users if you want to have them. If you're OK with not having users, you can probably choose not to support them.

TANSTAAFL (1)

Brass Cannon (882254) | more than 5 years ago | (#25746997)

There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. You get only what you pay for. No more, but sometimes less.

No backup? (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747089)

Didn't anyone back up this database so it could be put back up if something happened to the original hosters? Anyway, if they were planning on stopping support, it would have been nice for them to have made some notice of it beforehand so that someone else could take it up. Something as simple as a database should be easy enough for someone else to volunteer to host.

Support or STFU (1)

slittle (4150) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747103)

The only time I would feel an obligation of support is if I've had to put up with endless whining about the superiority of open source and how there's no possible reason I could want closed source software, until I caved.

The Question Is Wrong (3, Insightful)

Rantastic (583764) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747143)

This has nothing to do with Open Source. The question should be "Should projects that give software away for free be obligated to provide support?"

There is plenty of closed source software that can be downloaded for free. There is plenty of open source software that can be purchased with support.

The answer, by the way, is no. Just because software is free does not mean that the makes of it are obliged to give you support. Support costs money. Businesses who use software (open or closed source) pay for support, either through a support vendor or in house talent.

GPL says "ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25747175)

Assuming this is GPL software, what part of "ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY" in the GPL don't you understand?

It can be better to support than not to (1)

morgauo (1303341) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747221)

Open source developer should support his/her users within reason. Not because there is a moral obligation but because users do provide a service to the developer, they provide testing and feedback. Also, what's the point of developing something if no one is going to use it? I can see if it's some obscure program which is usefull only to the author but if for example ndiswrapper disappeared compeletely tomorrow then somebody else would start a new project and replace it. Who wants to put all that work into something just to see another group come along and make it irrelevant? What good is it? Bragging rights? Still, this is the developer's choice. There was never any agreement to maintain support and no one paid for it.

If the developer has accepted contributions of code however... it could be argued that the contributors do in part own the code. If the developer is going to abandon or close source it then there is probably an obligation to keep all source and documentation accessable for a while to give others a chance to fork it.

Now, as for taking down the list. I'm not sure why they would have to do that just to make a new site. If it were static pages they could just keep the old version up till the new one is ready. I'm sure in this case though they are not dealing with static pages, rather it's a database being accessed by some sort of framework, probably PHP based.

Good practice would be to do this new development on a separate copy of the site, probably on a development server. Using a code versioning system such as SVN and keeping all server specific config stuff in one place it should then be trivial to update the live site all at once from the development copy only when it is ready.

This would be ideal, however it's probably a bit much to ask every developer to develop their site in an ideal way, after all not everyone specializes in developing websites. It is much better that a person specialized in developing device drivers run a project like ndiswrapper.

If the author(s) of ndiswrapper do not want to use a separate development copy of the site while the rebuild it but do want to keep their users around there is another way. They could just dump the card compatibility database to a static spreadsheet file and just post it on their (under construction) page. It's not nearly as convenient but it would be much better for the user than just not giving access to that information at all and it would only take a few minutes.

Open Source responsibility (2, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747285)

    Unfunded hobbiest resources have absolutely no "responsibility" to stay in operation.

    It would be nice if they made an effort for someone else to take over the project, but in the end, it's their pet project to do with (or kill off) as needed.

    It's the same as a commercial product, except when the company can't fund it any more, they can simply drop it and the users are really SOL. They don't necessarily open it up for the general users.

    Of course, when something happens, people complain. One of the things I do is run a news site. We ask for, and appreciate donations, which remove the ads from the page. We get a few (a very few). If/when things happen, people complain. If they don't get their nightly newsletter, they complain. If they can't get to the site, they complain. If something happens to the server, they complain. The revenue from ads and donations don't cover the most basic of costs. They wouldn't even cover the power consumption of the server, much less bandwidth, hardware upgrades, SSL cert renewal, domain renewals, etc, etc.

    The biggest reason that I keep running it is because it's parked on my personal web server. I have quite a few things tucked away on there, that I use frequently from wherever I may be sitting. If one day I decided to stop running the news, and put up a notice saying it's all gone, then that's the way it is. There is no "responsibility" to open source my code, redirect my domain to another source, or anything like that. Luckly, I run it because I like it. My thousands of readers like it. Maybe someday it will even support itself, but until then, if I decide to shut down the server tomorrow and never turn it back on, I have no obligation to do anything.

Having the site available is not "support". (1)

sinserve (455889) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747361)

I'm a FOSS developer myself but I would never be rude enough to take an entire site off line for "maintenance", specially for important stuff like NDiswrapper. This is unacceptable. You make the new site and propagate the changes when you're done; shouldn't take more than ten minutes tops. People will take ugly-website over unavailable software any day.

With OSS, You are a User and a Developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25747409)

With open source software, users are developers and developers are users. There is no distinction.

If an open source project fails you, you have failed the project. You need to pick up your share of the weight and improve the project.

As others have pointed out, contact the developers and ask how you can help out. Perhaps you can donate money, or -- often more importantly -- donate your time and work out hosting for the database yourself.

So what's the alternative? (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747483)

Is an open source project obliged to provide support for its users? If so, for how long should the support last?

Since many closed source suppliers who charge you money for their products typically include an EULA that purports to excuse them from any sort of responsibility whatsoever, criticizing "free beer" projects (open source or not is irrelevant) for failure to provide lifetime support seems a bit rich.

I hope ndiswrapper isn't dead, though - or has the state of the art of native Linux wireless drivers now advanced to the point where it is no longer needed?

As long as practical, and provide the data (1)

BoneFlower (107640) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747565)

Open source developers have jobs, families, expenses, other hobbies. While long term support would be ideal, and I suspect most developers probably want to give it, it isn't always practical.

If they've got the spare time and can afford the expense, I'd say providing support to a comparable duration of similar commercial products is ideal.

If that isn't practical, or was but no longer is, dump all your support documentation into the tarball so people can find their own way or someone else can take up the support job.

Most projects situations will probably land in between those extremes.

Just be glad you have the software. The bulk of open source development and support work is on a volunteer basis. Don't forget this.

For this database you need, perhaps you can email the last maintainer and ask for a copy of the last version? Then you can host it yourself, they will probably be quite happy to see someone help them out on that.

What Are You Doing About It? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25747567)

> Is an open source project obliged to provide support for its users?

They are not obliged to do anything, including creating the project in the first place.

> If so, for how long should the support last?

For as long as the contract you paid for says it will. Software is free. Support is not.

> Web servers cost money, especially for popular sites.

Yes. How much is it costing you to mirror the site? You aren't doing so? Why not? Did you contact the project principals and ask them how much it it would cost to induce them to put the site back up? Why not?

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