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.