Open Source Support

Will we ever be past the point where management, in an almost predictable manner, rejects open source solutions on the basis of “lacking support?”

Just the other day a friend of mine spend a good portion of his day troubleshooting an open source package with, get this, THE DEVELOPER who wrote the code! I cannot recall every having direct contact with a developer from Microsoft or Oracle. I’m not suggesting that open source is always perfect, but concern about support should not be an issue. When it comes down to it, I can look directly at the source code to troubleshoot an issue (if I even need to). Generally, however, I have never had to take it to this level, since all the widely used open source libraries/applications/packages have a community of support that contributes to user forums. I can find all the support I need with Google.

Anyway, this argument is nothing new. When it comes to deciding between Microsoft Team Foundation Server or Subversion/Redmine, I think it is better to consider the needs of the company/project/team and not let concern about “support” be a factor. (And if concern about support is still a factor, perhaps it is the team that is lacking, not the software vendor. Good developers need to realize that they must also be able to understand and support their own tools.)

I don’t say any of this to be idealistic (some open source supporters can get downright religious about it), but my experiences in supporting and using open source software has almost always been positive.