Linux, Linux, where for art thou?

From Chris Benson <>

Trevor Jenkins wrote on the linux-uk-discuss list:

> Whenever the common man buys something, e.g. washing machine or 
> fridge, they expect to get service and support from the manufacturer. 
> If we are to see Linux accepted outside of the Linux-cognitia then 
> consideration must be given to the provision of professional support. 
This is digressing from the above, and is a bit of a rant, but ...

A washing machine or a fridge is very different from a computer or an operating system: they are limited to particular functions, there is limited facility for reconfiguration (try getting maintenance on a washing machine you've reprogrammed into a cement mixer), people know how to use them (in theory :-), ...

The difficulty that Linux shares with most PC-class computer products now is paying for support and training. When computers cost £millions IBM & Co. could afford to keep dozens of be-suited flunkies to keep the customer happy.

Now Joe Bloggs can see the adverts offering a Linux CD for £20, he (usually, he) doesn't understand why he can't get the same treatment, and usually doesn't want to pay the going rate.

Employing a yoof with some ability (and some office space, a desk, a phone, some admin time) is going to cost a minimum of £20,000 p.a., more like £30,000 if they have enough experience to actually handle a lot of support. That is an awful lot of Linux CDROMs: => anyone offering "free" support for Linux is going to go under or stop supporting PDQ.

If the youth does 40 hours/week chargeable support his break-even rate is £10/hr, £20/hr is more realistic. £15/hr or £30/hr for someone with some experience. This excludes profits, the costs of selling the service, and so on. Say £45/hr with these in. (A friend sells his technicians time at this, only perhaps a third of the businesses he deals with are prepared to pay that for ad-hoc support, he can't afford to charge less [This is supporting Netware & accounts software]).

What chance individuals/end-users paying a realistic rate for support?

Chris Benson
"When will they ever learn, when will they ever; learn."