Foss Support Webinar0108
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Transcript

  • 1. NOSI/NTEN Webinar The Key Is the Community: How to Get Support for Open Source Software Michelle Murrain, Coordinator Nonprofit Open Source Initiative
  • 2. What we'll cover
    • Models of support for software
    • Models in FOSS vs. Proprietary
    • Paid support for FOSS
    • The Key is Community
      • Types of community support
      • Strengths and weaknesses of community support
      • Examples of FOSS community support
      • How to find community support
    • What you need to know now
  • 3. Software support models
    • If you look at every type of software or online service, there are varied types of support, although not all are available for all software.
    • This can depend on the type of software, the cost of the software, and the company or developers
    • It is almost always possible to find some support for software – but the timeliness and appropriateness of that support may differ
  • 4. In-person support
    • This type of support is most common when an organization contracts with a hardware/network support consultant or company, for support of their servers and desktops. It generally includes both hardware and software support. Some large-scale software installations also offer in-person support. This is the most expensive kind of support available.
  • 5. Phone support
    • This is being able to call someone on the phone, speak to an actual human being, and get help for whatever the problem might be.
    • This might be support directly from a software vendor, or it might be support from a consultant or company
  • 6. Live Chat support
    • This can be an individual chat with a support person via a website or instant messenger
  • 7. Email or ticket system
    • Many companies, developers and consutants have ticket systems. An email to them, or a form on a website, will enter a ”ticket” system, which tracks support requests
    • Some work just by email, without a ticket system
  • 8. IRC
    • IRC = Internet Relay Chat
    • IRC is community chat – many people are in a channel, and can provide answers to questions
    • This can be run by developers/companies, or independent
  • 9. Email list
    • This can be official, or unofficial. It can be just a community of users, or it can include support from the developers/company
  • 10. Web Forum
    • This can also be official, or unofficial.
  • 11. FOSS vs. Proprietary
    • At this time, all of these methods of support are available for both types of software.
    • Historically, support for FOSS was based in the community of users and developers of FOSS projects.
    • Because of this, it is often easiest and most direct to get support from the community for FOSS
    • However, it is possible to pay for support for FOSS
  • 12. Paying for FOSS support
    • Linux vendors, such as RedHat, Novell (SUSE) and Canonical (Ubuntu) have plans where you can get phone support.
    • IBM, Sun and others provide paid support for their FOSS products
    • More and more companies are getting into the business of providing support for FOSS in the private sector
    • Increasing avenues for support in the nonprofit sector, including NTAPs
  • 13. How to find paid support
    • Buy a version of Linux from a commercial vendor which comes with support
    • Buy a version of a FOSS application (database, CMS, CRM, etc.) from a commercial vendor that comes with support
    • Find a vendor that supports FOSS (see http://snurl.com/1y3h6)
  • 14. However ... Although it is possible to pay for support for FOSS, getting support from the community is not only a viable, cost-effective source of support, but it has other positive side-effects
  • 15. The Key is Community
    • History
    • Types of community support
    • Strengths of community support
    • Weaknesses of community support
    • Becoming a part of a community
  • 16. History
    • circa 1995: Just about all open source software was used by enthusiasts and academics. If you needed help, you had to find others that had used the software – support communities were born.
    • circa 2000: Use of FOSS broadens beyond enthusiasts and academe. A few companies were beginning to offer support – like RedHat for Linux, MySQL AB for MySQL, and others. Community support matures.
    • circa 2008: Hundreds of companies provide support for FOSS. FOSS is used by large and small companies and organizations. Communities of support thrive.
  • 17. Types of community support
    • Support by application or Linux distribution
      • User groups (in person)
      • Email lists
      • Web forums
      • IRC channels
      • Developers/company staff are often present
  • 18. Types of community support
    • By interest area or other
      • Educational users
      • Nonprofit users (like NTEN-Discuss, NOSI-Discussion)
      • Other groups
      • Linux User Groups (LUGS)
    • These cut across different software applications. More applied to a particular kind of use, but less specific.
  • 19. Strengths of Community Support
    • Can get answers almost immediately
    • As you get to know a community, you get to know individuals who can help in particular situations
    • Communities of popular applications are large, and have users with a wide variety of technical savvy.
    • There are usually multiple avenues of support (IRC/Email lists/Web forums)
    • It is almost always possible to contact a developer
    • Support by issue area can be very friendly and useful
  • 20. Weaknesses of Community Support
    • Unpredictable whether or not your problem can be solved
    • Unpredictable how long it will take
    • A very few communities are unfriendly to ”newbies”, or reply to questions with ”RTFM” (Read the ****ing Manual)
  • 21. And remember ...
    • When you do a Google search on a problem you are having with FOSS software, most of the time what you get is a result of someone else using community support
  • 22.  
  • 23.  
  • 24. How to find community support
    • Use communities you are already in
  • 25. How to find community support
    • Go to the website of the application you are using
  • 26. Examples of community support
    • OpenOffice.org forums
    • ProjectPier forums
    • Ubuntu IRC
    • Joomla Forums
    • Joomla Wiki
    • Mailman mailing lists
    • Linuxchix.org
      • Mailing lists
      • IRC
  • 27. Becoming Part of a Community
    • The key to community is contribution and collaboration – a good general rule is the more you give to a community, the more you will recieve.
    • User communities really need contributions by members of all levels – this provides support for the widest range of users.
    • You can influnce the direction of the software
  • 28. NPTECH examples
    • NTAPs and Consulting firms getting involved in FOSS communities (Drupal, Plone, OpenACS, Joomla)
      • Provide organizational support for the community
      • give back code and resources
      • get back support that helps clients
      • FOSS communities benefit
      • providers benefit
      • ulimately, clients benefit
  • 29. Rules to make it all work
    • These are people who are, generally, doing this out of generosity and their own interest. Don’t treat them like you are paying them.
    • For IRC, don’t ask to ask your question – just ask it.
    • When answering others questions, a great rule is: ”be polite, be helpful.”
    • Give back as much as you can.
  • 30. So what you need to know now...
    • You can find helpful support for most FOSS applications
      • paid support is becoming quite common
      • community support is very rich
    • Check out the support during your evaluation process
      • Read mailing list archives
      • lurk in IRC channels
      • Read forums
    • Join a list/forum immediately – it’s amazing how much you can learn by osmosis, even before you have a problem