Open Source Support: out in the open

As an Open Source project, PowerDNS works hard to support its users and customers. We also love to work with our collaborators, our community, on projects inside and outside of PowerDNS. This way we’ve contributed to the development of ExaBGP, Luawrapper, Botan, incbin, MbedTLS, Unbound, NSD, BIND, OSX Homebrew, Ansible, buildbot and many other projects we depend on or interoperate with. We also work closely with our downstream distributors (such as Debian and Fedora) to make sure their needs are covered.

If you are a PowerDNS user and you have a question or a problem we’ll gladly help you with that. If there is a bug in PowerDNS, or a ‘surprising feature’, we’ll fix it for you, thus improving the product. In this way, the community contributes to QA and product management of PowerDNS. For this we are grateful.

Meanwhile, we also get a lot of people that simply need help with PowerDNS. There likely is no bug, the features work as intended, the documentation is there. But still PowerDNS does not do what the user wants it to do.

In such cases too, we and the PowerDNS community provide support for our products. And in fact, we should not forget how special that is. Free software with free support!

One thing we don’t offer however: free private support. By providing support in the open, other people can learn, search engines pick up our answers, the community can pitch in with solutions or suggestions. Doing free support this way provides a true public benefit.

Another reason is that PowerDNS needs to live and thrive. As noted before, it takes money to develop quality products. PowerDNS and the PowerDNS Certified Consultants can also help you privately as part of a PowerDNS support agreement, and this is how we pay the rent & our employees.

If you want to be part of the PowerDNS community and get free support from us and that community.. with only a few exceptions everything we need to know to help you needs to be out and in the open.

If you have a domain that does not resolve, we need the actual name of that domain. Not ‘example.com’. If we cannot query your nameservers because you won’t tell us their IP address, we can’t help you. If you wrote a custom script that does not do what you want, but you can’t post that script to the mailing list because it is proprietary, we cannot help you. And in fact we do not want to help you for the reasons outlined above.

(By the way, if you can’t get PowerDNS to compile, or can’t find out which package to install, there is of course no need to tell us your domain name or IP address etc. This post is about the things we need to know to solve your issue).

Here are three things you can do if you or your organization can’t post sufficient details of the issue on our mailing lists or on IRC or on our ticketing system:

Reproduce your problem using details you CAN share

Reproduce your issue with things you CAN publish online. So for example, minimize your problematic script so it still displays your issue, but you feel comfortable posting it to the mailing list. On Stack Overflow, this is known as a “Minimal, Complete, and Verifiable example” and helps us (and others) to quickly determine the cause of the issue.

If your issue affects ‘bigbank.com’ and you want to keep that secret, see if you can reproduce it with ‘mytestdomain.com’. Similarly, if you can’t post the IP address of your servers, rent a small VPS, reproduce the issue there and share that.

Be a contributing member of the PowerDNS community

We realize such reproduction as required above is a burden. So let’s say you or your company have contributed patches, worked on issues, helped improve the documentation etc, work on a project we depend on, we are likely to treat you as a customer and provide support even though you supplied some details privately.

Become a customer

As noted above, we are an actual company in the business of providing support for our software. If your company has a policy of not posting to mailing lists, know that many of the largest telecommunications companies and hosters in the world are already among our customers. More information is on https://www.powerdns.com/support.html.

Take away

PowerDNS provides free support for its free products.. out in the open. If you cannot share sufficient detail of your issue on our mailing lists, IRC or ticketing system, you will need to reproduce the problem using data you can share. If you’ve worked on PowerDNS in some way, we can help you more privately. Alternatively, consider becoming a customer.

Thanks!

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