Sell support? Why not give it away for free?

A common answer to the question

How do you make money with open-source?


You sell support!

Could be, but it’s well worth noting there are many volunteers who aren’t in this for the money. Though you can always get the code for free, it turns out you can in a growing number of cases get support for free.

For example, I just checked Ubuntu Forums and picked a recent thread. Take a look at How can my son upload/download files from overseas to home PC?. It starts off with:

My teenage son soon heads out on a year-long student exchange to South America. He will have regular access to high speed internet. He would like to have access to our home LAN both to transfer images from his trip and to get mp3’s his brother wants to send him.

Our home LAN consists of:

* XP gaming desktop (newer)
* Ubuntu 7.04 laptop (older)
* Ubuntu 7.04 desktop (old)
* Ubuntu 7.04 server (really old)
Note: This is not a server in the truest sense of the word. I’ve installed the server version and have essentially used it as a local repository (music, images, homework) so the family can access their files from any computer in the house. I had SAMBA setup so WIndows boxes could access files and this setup worked like a charm within the home.

What is the easiest and most secure way to setup my “server” so family members can access files from outside of the home? I don’t intend on using this computer as a web or mail server nor will it be public. Just a basic box with files that can be accessed remotely
by the family.

How did the community respond? Read on at How can my son upload/download files from overseas to home PC?.

I noted five responses within twenty minutes! They are on the mark, show concern, have links to related material and — in every post — give evidence of a community that wants to help.

Maybe you knew about this kind of support. I know I didn’t, but seeing it in action has made me much more optimistic about the prospects for Linux and open-source.

It’s also made me a member of the Ubuntu community. I use the userid “daveshields” and have started to add to the ever-growing hill of beans.


  1. Justin (Ek0nomik
    Posted August 22, 2007 at 00:37 | Permalink | Reply

    Glad I could be part of this blog post, haha.

    Think you can get me an internship at IBM? 🙂 I’m an IS major looking for opportunities.

  2. Posted August 25, 2007 at 14:29 | Permalink | Reply

    This is absolutely true; I’ve had great responses on my blog even for a video problem that I had – the community is the best part of LInux. There are many Ubuntu users out there willing to help – other platforms too. The Gentoo forums are great as well.

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