I'm Caldera tech support (part of), and here's my opinion

I'm Caldera tech support (part of), and here's my opinion

Post by Kevin Ge » Tue, 21 May 1996 04:00:00

> >NOTE, I am not speaking at the moment as an employee of Caldera, since
> >I am writing this at 12:20 a.m., and am not being paid to be logged on,
> >even though I am writing this whilst logged into my account at work.

> Thanks for pointing that out.

> >> My question is: Isn't all this somehow a violation of the GPL?

> Huh! Where does the GPL fall into this. I'm sure there's no violation.

Of course there isn't.  When I wrote my epistle, I simply included
his previous posting.  I certainly don't think there's a violation of
the GPL (at any rate, I had my personal lawyer give me his personal
opinion of the GPL, and he says he wouldn't even touch a lawsuit that
tried to sue a company on GPL violation grounds -- and this is a man
who successfully sued DEC on copyright and trade violations).

Quote:> >Note, I have had absolutely nothing to do with the entire concept of
> >Caldera coming to light.  I just work here, providing technical support,
> >and frankly, if we DID have a policy to support WP and other Caldera-
> >specific packages on every conceivable kernel revision, hardware,
> >etc., I wouldn't be working here.  I don't need that stress, and neither
> >does anyone else I know.  Quality tech support would be next to
> >impossible, and I've seen it from the other, more controlled side, which
> >is hard enough.

> I understand that. But one question (I perceive you to be a support expert):
> What is the general trend if a product is offered without support? Do folks
> bug ithe support lines anyway? Is there a pattern?

Certainly.  Here in support, we get a ton of calls/emails asking for
basic tips on installing WP on Slackware, et al.  They all know that
it's not supported, but all want to be the exception to the rule.
When I was an analyst/consultant at IBM (AIX), it was the same thing.
We didn't support certain versions of the operating system, but you'd
still have individuals who'd try to sneak by.  At least with IBM, they
had the structure in place to filter out the "qualified" customers
(Caldera just isn't big enough to do that).  Still, I would have 1-2
customers a week trying to sneak in by calling my personal number asking
for support on very old versions on the operating system, to get
off-the-shelf software to work (which was advertised to run on AIX;
it would, in fact, run on the very old versions, but the customers
would expect us to know how to use those versions also).

I'm starting to ramble, but the point is that tech support generally
has two models:  the focused version which can get very in depth on
a limited set of platforms or characteristics, or the general, which
is more to the style of helpful hints spread over a large set of
configurations.  In general, Linux lends itself better to the latter
(think of all the video cards).  At IBM, there were a lot of third-
party hardware that MAY/MAY NOT work.  If it didn't work, we'd just
say, sorry, get a known, tested, version.  Yes, the beauty of Linux
is the freedom to simply write a driver or whatever for a new piece
of hardware, but that is simply * on testing and support.  IBM
spends millions of dollars annually to test AIX on a rather limited
product base.  They can afford that, as they also charge thousands of
dollars for a license, contrary to the general Linux goal.  It would be
prohibitive to test every piece of Linux software on every possible

We already see certain instances of this:  certain video cards running
Accelerated-X (another product licensed by Caldera) in 16bpp crash
when loading WordPerfect.  Not all cards, just some.  For those cards,
you can run "mwp -maxColors 216" to invoke WP with fewer colors, but
still run X in 16bpp.  That's just one instance why the Novell/Corel
and other commercial companies are wary to provide apps for Linux;
it's easy to guarantee functionality on a limited product base and to
provide good, in-depth support, but it's next to impossible as the
number of possible configurations exponentially increases.

Quote:> >You can't have it both ways (quality support and freedom of platform).

> Absolutely. I've said all along is ridiculous to expect Caldera (or anyone
> else) to support anything on a non-CND platform.

> I'm just wondering what the impact of sales with no support is.

The entire issue isn't whether Caldera has the right to support WP
on non-CND distributions of Linux, but whether Caldera has the right
to require the purchase of CND in order to purchase WP.

Again, I work in tech support, so I'm not familiar with ALL the
details of the licensing contracts with Novell/Corel, etc., but it
seems to be pretty clear.  We are required to require others to
purchase CND in order to purchase WP.  I'm sure that there are a
myriad of ways around that policy (ethically, it's your call.
Practically, my mouth is shut).  Note that both WP and CND serial
numbers need to be provided when requesting support (which incidentally,
is NOT the same phone number or email address for support for CND

If you don't want support, fine.  Most people don't have a problem
with it.  The whole issue is the purchasing of CND:  it's done, it
was the only way we could get WP ported to Linux, and it can't be
changed anytime soon.  Keep in mind that this is one of the first
commercial apps to be ported to Linux; the entire community will have
to bear these initial pains until commercial companies have more faith
in Linux/the Linux user in general.

As to a business analysis of sales without support, I'm the wrong
person to ask.

Kevin R. Gee


1. Can't boot Caldera -- LILO stops at 'LI'

I bought 'Complete Idiots' guide that came with Caldera's
OpenLinux 1.3

Install from CDROM works great but I can't get LILO to
work.  First, my system has:

- Pentium II 350 Mhz
- 64k RAM
- ATAPI capatible CDROM
- 8.2 Gig DISK - one big partition - Win98 installed
    * /dev/hda
- 1.6 Gig Western Digital DISK - OpenLinux installed
    * /dev/hdb1 - primary
    * /dev/hdb2 - swap of 68Meg

1) First I tried putting LILO on the /hda drive. When
I tried to boot I got as far as "LI" and then nothing.
I couldn't boot Win98 either so I ran fdisk /mbr to fix.

2) Next I reinstalled and wrote LILO to hdb1 instead.
I changed my BIOS to boot from 'D' first.  On booting
it did work. I forget exactly but I don't believe
that it even did 'LI' but rather CANT FIND SYSTEM
ON HDD or some similar ALL CAPS error.

3) The Caldera Knowledge Base suggested putting the
word 'linear' in the lilo.conf.  I booted from CDROM
using the 'boot root=/dev/hdb1'.  I tried adding
the 'linear' to /etc/hilo.conf but when I ran
/sbin/hilo it complain of a syntax error on this
line.  So I read some HOWTOs and added some a line:
append = "hd=787,64,63".  I ran /sbin/hilo. Tried
booting 'D'.  Didn't boot.

4) I reinstalled and told the installation to put
HILO on a floppy.  Booting from floppy I either
got the 'LI' or ALL CAPS error.

a. If linear is the solution to my problems, why
do I get a syntax error if I add it to my hilo.conf?

b. Does the 'linear' keyword go in the image=/vlinuz
block or in the disk=/dev/hda block?

c. Do I need the append='hd ....' with or instead of

d. When I boot sucessufully from the CDROM boot: prompt
I see that /dev/hdb uses 787/64/63 but when I run my
BIOS it shows me the device as 1010/16/51.  I used
the 787 config since this seems to work for booting
from CDROM.  Which hd config should I use in hilo.conf?

e. I was going to punt and use 'loadlin' instead but
it doesn't seem to be on your linux distribution. If
I copy /vmlinuz to my C: under Win98 should I be
able to use 'loadlin' with OpenLinux 1.3???

- Thanks for any help out there!!!


2. Voice recognition software..

3. You know you've been in tech support too long when...

4. decompress a file

5. There's nothing when i use 'man',which part do i miss?

6. ppp problem

7. Borland Int' Client/Server Tech support, Scotts Valley, CA

8. NVidia driver v1.0-3123 patch for 2.5.44

9. BBS for Tech's Support Issues

10. My host's tech support is no help

11. Bill Gates' tech support (ex rec.humor.funny, worth reading)

12. Let's tell vendors about crappy tech support

13. thanks to all linux 'tech supporters'