Getting kernel support

[This is a slight modification of something I posted to the alsa-devel list earlier today.]

One of the biggest surprises that people starting to use Linux seem to run into is that you can’t rely on any particular support level from the community – everything is done on a voluntary basis and the responses will depend on a range of factors, including things like how busy the people involved are. People moving to Linux for reasons other than freedom, particularly those using it commercially, often don’t seem to notice this distinction.

You can normally help getting a response by providing as much information as possible about your problem and the steps you have taken to resolve it – this makes it very much easier for people to reply since, for example, it’s more likely that something will jump out at them.

These web pages contain some suggestions on the sorts of thing to do in your e-mail to help get the best response:

How to ask questions the smart way
How to report bugs effectively (this is targeted at end users more than developers).

With the kernel community it can also help to send direct copies of your mail to people who have worked on the relevant code since people may either miss postings on mailing lists (there is often a lot of traffic) or in some cases not be subscribed to the lists at all. This doesn’t apply to all free software projects – you should check the normal standards for a given project before doing this.

If you need guaranteed responses or more detailed responses than you are able to obtain from the community the usual approach is to work with people with whom you have a commercial relationship – for example, your chip or software vendors, or consultants you have employed.

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