1.7. Getting Help
First, we should mention that Linux has a rich community of volunteers and participants who need help and offer help for free. A good example of such a community is Ubuntu (http://www.ubuntulinux.org). Supported by a commercial company, Canonical Ltd., that offers low-cost professional support, Ubuntu has a large and enthusiastic community ready to provide old-style Linux support. Ubuntu, a derivative of Debian, employs a number of paid developers who also help maintain the Debian project.
Distributions such as Red Hat, Novell's SUSE, and Mandriva have become quite adept at providing commercial support for their own distributions of Linux and for other open source projects. Following a concept originated by Bernard Golden called the Open Source Maturity Model, Linux companies have done an excellent job in demonstrating their ability to compete using the open source paradigm. They have demonstated the ability to provide:
Additionally, these Linux companies have established community projects to keep them from becoming stale.
Mature Linux companies also provide extended business offerings, including training, professional sales and support (24 x 7 x 365), indemnification, and quality documentation.
In addition to the companies already mentioned, you will find a channel full of their business partners who have considerable expertise in providing commercial Linux support. Their web sites contain ways to find a business partner that can assist Linux users in a variety of ways.
As you become more accustomed to running Linux, you will probably discover many facets that may pleasantly surprise you. Many people not only use Linux but consider the community their home base. Good luck in the coming days.