Thursday, 20 October 2011

Does Linux Tech Support exist?

I recently had some trouble with my internet broadband connection. I changed to another provider while overseas, and when I got back, discovered that something I'd installed had broken my at-home internet setup... so I was bereft of teh intarwebs[1] for day while I figured it out.

As is usual in this kind of situation, I first tried getting it working by myself. I googled, read forums and generally faffed about installing and uninstalling various internet and USB-related packages in an effort to get things working...

but I'm not really a sysadmin, so you could probably describe my attempts as "well intentioned flailing"

I tried all the things that people said to try - but more in a voodoo/cargo-cult kinda way... because really I don't grok these packages intuitively and don't really want to spend the time learning. I just wanted to get it running again so I could get back to work.

So I eventually gave up, and rang tech support.

Or I should say I tried.

I googled about to find about 5 or 6 "linux tech support" companies in England. I checked out their websites and dropped a few off the list (for saying they only supported setting up LAMP stacks), and called the others. Two of these also said they only supported servers fairly quickly, and the third did so also - but only after they tried to tell me to go speak to vodafone or Mac (like either of them would support linux!).

and I was left with the strange sensation of being totally and utterly alone.

Back in Sydney I have ties with the linux community, and no doubt I could find half a dozen people willing to offer help for real cash money. I'm sure that figuring out a dodgy device-connection is not their usual bread-and-butter... but it's still linux support.

So, why, in this country of so many millions of people is there not a single company that does not provide this service?

Or if it does... it needs better SEO. :P

Does anybody know of a not-just-servers linux tech support company in England?

PS: in the end, a totally non-linux-sysadmin friend from Sydney suggested (via a facebook chat) that I reinstall network-manager, and as I did so I noticed there was a "recommended package" for it that was not installed... no idea which fixed it, but I owe that friend a big hug!

[1] I wouldn't normally do this, but:
Thank you Starbucks for being there when I needed you!
I think your coffee is way too milky, but when I needed some free wifi and a warm place to endlessly reboot after reinstalling package-after-package... you were there for me!


Anonymous said...

Network manager is a bad evil thing. It eats config files and spews "Well maybe the user actually wanted this totally unrelated X" garbage everywhere.

It sounds like your dhcp configuration was broken or your ethernet adapter was not set up. a quick ifconfig -a and cat /etc/resolv.conf would have shed light on the situation.

--A linux tech support drone

Taryn said...

Hi Anonymous - thanks :)

My resolv.conf was ok - it's one of my voodoo fixes to recopy a good version of that to /etc/ and I tried that during this process. ifconfig is a new one to me - I'll keep that in mind for next time my dhcp is behaving badly :)

The problem was that network manager wasn't recognising that there was even a modem device of any sort even plugged in :(

It turns out that while installing the guff to get betavine working I'd somehow managed to uninstall modem-manager. So the modem wasn't ever being recognised as an actual modem (just as a USB storage device). Reinstalling network manager did the trick - but I kept putting off trying that one as I was terrified that if I borked the reinstall I wouldn't even be able to get the wifi connection via starbucks (which was the only thing allowing me to continue working).

Everything eventually turned out fine and now I'm back in business... but it took me two days to get there by myself. I'd have happily paid for a couple hours of proper tech support to get it done quicker.

Do you have any recommendations of tech support services for the future?