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One of the most difficult to answer questions in the information technology industry is, “What is support?”. That question irritates some folks, as much as common answers may annoy others.
The most aggravating situation pertaining to support is typified when, as a Linux user, a call is made to an Internet service provider who, instead of listening to the problem to find a solution, blandly replies: “Oh, Linux? We do not support Linux!”. It has happened to me, and similar situations happen through-out the IT industry. Answers like that are designed to inform us that there are some customers that a business just does not want to deal with, and well may we feel the anguish of the rejection that is dished out.
One way to consider support is to view it as consisting of the right answer, in the right place, at the right time, no matter the situation. Support is all that it takes to take away pain, disruption, inconvenience, loss of productivity, disorientation, uncertainty, and real or perceived risk.
One of the forces that has become a driving force for the adoption of open source software is the fact that many IT businesses have provided services that have perhaps failed to deliver what the customer expected, or that have been found wanting for other reasons.
In recognition of the need for needs satisfaction as the primary experience an information technology user or consumer expects, the information provided in this chapter may help someone to avoid an unpleasant experience in respect of problem resolution.
In the open source software arena there are two support options: free support and paid-for (commercial) support.
Free support may be obtained from friends, colleagues, user groups, mailing lists, and interactive help facilities. An example of an interactive dacility is the Internet relay chat (IRC) channels that host user supported mutual assistance.
The Samba project maintains a mailing list that is commonly used to discuss solutions to Samba deployments.
Information regarding subscription to the Samba mailing list can be found on the Samba web site. The public mailing list that can be used to obtain
free, user contributed, support is called the
samba list. The email address for this list
mail:email@example.com. Information regarding the Samba IRC channels may be found on
the Samba IRC web page.
As a general rule, it is considered poor net behavior to contact a Samba Team member directly for free support. Most active members of the Samba Team work exceptionally long hours to assist users who have demonstrated a qualified problem. Some team members may respond to direct email or telephone contact, with requests for assistance, by requesting payment. A few of the Samba Team members actually provide professional paid-for Samba support and it is therefore wise to show appropriate discretion and reservation in all direct contact.
When you stumble across a Samba bug, often the quickest way to get it resolved is by posting a bug report. All such reports are mailed to the responsible code maintainer for action. The better the report, and the more serious it is, the sooner it will be dealt with. On the other hand, if the responsible person can not duplicate the reported bug it is likely to be rejected. It is up to you to provide sufficient information that will permit the problem to be reproduced.
We all recognize that sometimes free support does not provide the answer that is sought within the time-frame required. At other times the problem is elusive and you may lack the experience necessary to isolate the problem and thus to resolve it. This is a situation where is may be prudent to purchase paid-for support.
There are six basic support oriented services that are most commonly sought by Samba sites:
Assistance with network design
Assistance with Samba network deployment and installation
Priority telephone or email Samba configuration assistance
Trouble-shooting and diagnostic assistance
Provision of quality assured ready-to-install Samba binary packages
Information regarding companies that provide professional Samba support can be obtained by performing a Google search, as well as by reference to the Samba Support web page. Companies who notify the Samba Team that they provide commercial support are given a free listing that is sorted by the country of origin. Multiple listings are permitted, however no guarantee is offered. It is left to you to qualify a support provider and to satisfy yourself that both the company and its staff are able to deliver what is required of them.
The policy within the Samba Team is to treat all commercial support providers equally and to show no preference. As a result, Samba Team members who provide commercial support are lumped in with everyone else. You are encouraged to obtain the services needed from a company in your local area. The open source movement is pro-community; so do what you can to help a local business to prosper.
Open source software support can be found in any quality, at any price and in any place you can to obtain it. Over 180 companies around the world provide Samba support, there is no excuse for suffering in the mistaken belief that Samba is unsupported software it is supported.