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Paid Linux Support For Individual Users?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the everyone-needs-a-little-help dept.

Linux 19

Frustrated and Disappointed asks: "I have been using Linux for a decade, but sometimes I just don't know how to solve a problem. What's more, I don't have the time (or interest) to teach myself enough about some obscure subject to debug it myself. Are there companies or freelancers out there willing to provide paid support for individuals on a problem-by-problem basis? I don't need yearly maintenance or weekly support, just a couple times a year. This time around, for example, I can't get a desktop box to play sound. The HOWTOs are years out of date, there are no man pages, the mailing lists are silent, and the #debian channels were nothing but insults. While I don't mind doing some of my own problem solving -- I'm a very technical person -- I have a job and other responsibilities, and I'm not interested in hacking sound drivers to begin with. I don't have the option of installing a whole new distro just to qualify for a vendor's support plan."

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I recommend... (-1, Troll)

Mike Hawk (687615) | more than 10 years ago | (#8910273)

This distro. [] Excellent audio hardware support, a free searchable knowledge base maintained by professionals, and support for 5 years for this low one-time fee. It comes with lots of free software too including image and text editors, a web browser, video and audio player, lots of good stuff. Check it out.

Re:I recommend... (1, Offtopic)

Xaymot (754751) | more than 10 years ago | (#8910610)

Skrew XP, I recommend DOS. Its a new program that many people haven't heard of and there are great books out there to help you learn it, like DOS for Dummies.

But yeah, it's way more complicated and confusing than XP and you look like a hacker to all your friends even when you're just checking your disc drive.

And a lone idea shall lead them to the Holy Lands (4, Insightful)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8910292)

Actually you hit the nail on the head - this highlights the one thing standing between Linux the obscure 'haxor leet' operating system, and Linux the mainstream operating system : peer level support, and a learning environment where you can have problems and get shown the answers without the insults from the debian IRC script kiddiez.

I hear a lot of people asking what they can do to contribute to Linux / the open source movement. Hold cheap one on one or one on a few classes and bring people up to speed, make yourself available to answer these 'silly' questions and whatever you do don't be malicious or demeaning ... it only takes one CFO being told as a joke to type rm -rf or whatever to pretty much poison the well at any company he does business with - the first time you use anything it isn't intuitive, people are not going to figure it out without being shown first at least once. Go out, show them.

Re:And a lone idea shall lead them to the Holy Lan (2, Insightful)

wasabii (693236) | more than 10 years ago | (#8911286)

this highlights the one thing standing between Linux the obscure 'haxor leet' operating system, and Linux the mainstream operating system : peer level support,

it only takes one CFO being told as a joke to type rm -rf or whatever to pretty much poison the well at any company he does business with

So what do YOU define as peer level support?

I define peer level support as opening up a mailing list of some sort, and asking a question, and having a few people ask you furthur questions and perhaps get the problem solved. By my peers. Now, there is nothing stopping anybody from telling anybody to rm -rf anything... in any PEER model. Heck I've had people from peer Windows support forums suggest format c:. So I don't see your point.

Have you ever actually tried to get linux support?

Re:And a lone idea shall lead them to the Holy Lan (2, Insightful)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8911839)

Peer level support would be a small group of people similar to myself getting together in real life, all sitting around in the same area installing and basically dicking around on a few computers, sharing insight, experience, knowledge, and ideas. Perhaps I used the wrong term, but envision the small study groups that got together a few times a week in college doing exactly that for Calculus, Physics, Statistics, various parts of Engineering, different programming languages, etc.

I used the term peer to indciate a group of people that have a bit of a connect, enough that each member has a positive influence - sort of like the green-lighted members here (your friend/fan list.)

Also, I used the word peer to imply guys that were there because they wanted to be there, not because the were charging you $150 an hour (see below.)

Re:And a lone idea shall lead them to the Holy Lan (2, Informative)

NateTech (50881) | more than 10 years ago | (#8917503)

Hmm, actually what you describe is peer support.

Paid support could never act like that.

Peers will never have rules of conduct on how they treat their "customers" and shouldn't.

What stands in the way isn't the peer support going on, it's the lack of a really good quality paid support company.

Example: RedHat's paid support pretty well sucks, and they're probably one of the "better" ones around. Granted I only had to deal with them on a single issue on the phone, one time -- but that was enough to make me realize I'd never recommend them again for service.

fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8910312)

fuck puck!

New Company forming... or not? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8910622)

Believe it or not, I presented a business proposal for a company specializing in such information gathering, just a few weeks ago. Ultimately, we rejected the idea because we couldn't find an acceptable price point.

The real issue is that there are simply too many distributions (and to a lessor extent, too much variation in hardware). Err... let me be more clear. I could choose to support Debian, RedHat and SuSE. Those happen to be the ones with the most available documentation such that we couldn't reasonably charge oh say $150 an hour, or per solution or whatever unit of measure. Keep in mind we would need to be able to cover our expenses and make enough of a profit to pay off the business loan or quit our day jobs. That price would be ok for distros such as Slackware or Yellow Dog, but guess what, there's not enough people out there running those distros to ensure demand.

The only way we could even come close to developing a workable plan would be if we severely restricted distributions and hardware. Guess what? We then start competing with Apple.

You are probably much better off contacting your local community college or university and seeing if there's some bright college student who would be willing to solve your sound problems as a school project (or for some spending money).

debian help (2, Informative)

abrotman (323016) | more than 10 years ago | (#8910701)

if you try again in #debian you may get different results .. it depends on the time of the day and if everyone had a good lunch :) ...

Also []

Re:debian help (2, Informative)

yuri benjamin (222127) | more than 10 years ago | (#8912202)

I find local LUG mailing lists are most helpful. Plus you get to meet the other subscribers to the list from time to time - and you'll discover it's a small world when you start to see names of people you've been acquainted with in other circles start showing up on the local LUG mailing list.
Then there's the annual installfests that many LUGs run, and a good LUG will also run a workshop every few months where you can bring along your PC to get a tricky sound card or other peripheral configured properly.
This is peer-to-peer support at its best.

Google Answers! (3, Informative)

JusTyler (707210) | more than 10 years ago | (#8911141)

Google Answers [] can be your friend. There are a number of Linux-head researchers over there, like myself. You also tend to get reliable help for way cheaper than you could anyplace else.

You bet, give me a call (1)

djweis (4792) | more than 10 years ago | (#8911158)

My company, Internet Solver [] offers email, phone, and onsite Linux support.

LUGs (3, Informative)

Zaffle (13798) | more than 10 years ago | (#8911479)

I've found the best place for Linux support is either google, or failing that, Linux User Groups (LUGs). There are local LUGs everywhere. The LUG mailing lists can be very helpful, especially if you explain your problem properly. I know LUG guys who'll fix your PC problem (if they think they can) if you bring it over to them, for free.

I've had potential clients ring me up and ask if I do personal linux support (as opposed to supporting a company). I say, yes I do, but I charge so much it would be far cheaper just to ask on the LUGs. I pointed out that I read the LUGs, and may well end up helping you, but I do the LUG thing for free.

I'll be curious ... (1)

Etyenne (4915) | more than 10 years ago | (#8911590)

... to see his IRC log of #debian.

Email, Not IRC (2, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 10 years ago | (#8912020)

> ...the #debian channels were nothing but insults.

Try the debian-user mailing list. Go to to subscribe. While you are there take a look at the consultants list. Some of us are quite willing to do the sort of work you want.

Re:Email, Not IRC (3, Informative)

DumbparameciuM (772788) | more than 10 years ago | (#8913704)

Thats the smartest thing you could do, other than changing your Distro. It's well documented that many Debian users tend to insult people (The former Debian users excluded =) that are new, or have questions, which is quite a shame.

TOTALLY agree! (3, Insightful)

no_such_user (196771) | more than 10 years ago | (#8919062)

Wow -- insults on IRC couldn't be more accurate. Couple weeks ago, I went onto #fedora (?) to get some help installing FC2T2 onto my laptop. With a USB CD-ROM drive, no FDD, and not enough time to download the full ISOs, I needed help. In a nutshell, I wanted to boot off USB CD-ROM, then install via FTP. This is harder than it sounds - something about the kernel of the minimal boot cd not having USB drivers, or similar. Instead of getting helpful advice, the only one answering anyone, some l33t d00d spouting off insults, would only say 'can't be done!', 'why won't you f#@*%() listen to me - it can't be done!', and the classic 'you shouldn't be looking at linux if you already have questions like this!', etc. Of the two other people hanging around looking for help, one went as far as to say 'if this is what linux community support is all about, screw this!' In the end, I found my own solultion, with ZERO help from this joker.

So, what's the solution? The only thing I can think of right now is to create a semi-official IRC channel/forum, where volunteers are peer-reviewed and ranked.

(BTW - If anyone cares, the install went like this: Created a boot CD with DOS USB CD-ROM drivers to boot Partition Magic 8, to resize my Win2k partition and create ext2 and swap partitions. Back in Windows, I installed VMWare (free trial) and gave it direct access to the partitions I created for linux. Downloaded the minimal ISO (few MB) and "booted" from it, emulated in VMWare. Did a minimal install. Did the trick to let you use the NT bootloader to dual-boot. Rebooted into linux, installed the extra packages I needed.)

Re:TOTALLY agree! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919585)

I like Partition Commander 8. It can run entirely off the CD-Rom, and it will resize Linux partitions including Reiser-FS. Don't know if Partition Magic can do those things, but from what I've heard, maybe not.

Is this a Troll? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8919760)

Is this a troll? I'll bite. You been using Linux for a decade, don't have time to troubleshoot your box, but are willing to waste time posting on slashdot, and waste time and money on some mythical Linux tech support?

If you've been using Linux for a decade, you must have encountered hardware config problems before and you should have realized things have gotten much better than they were back in 1994 when you still had to roll your own XF86config.

If you have the money to spend on Linux phone support- which will probably be as bad as any support you could get for Windows- you also have the money to go to compusa and buy a better-supported sound card or a motherboard with built-in sound.

If you really don't have the time to go to compusa, go to and buy an eMac. In addition to working sound, you'll get Quicktime, flash, java and lots of other things that just work.
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