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Let's say I write a computer program for Linux. People pay me, they get this computer program and my support staff will "support them" using it.

There is different (well, actually many) different Linux distributions, such as Debian, Ubuntu, Gentoo, et cetera.

  • I build and test my software on Debian. I know for a fact that it works, and I will guarantee that. My support staff will help you resolve any kind of problem, even if it means that I have to fix my software. Legal obligations and everything. So, the combination of Ubuntu and my computer program is supported. Debian supports my computer program.
  • I do not test my software on Ubuntu, but due to the similarities between Ubuntu and Debian, I can reasonably assume that it works. So, Ubuntu supports my computer program. My support staff will do their best to help you, and we have every expectation that this combination works, but if it comes down to it, we can't guarantee this combination to work.
  • Gentoo is very different than Debian, and my software is not expected to work on it. So, Gentoo does not support my computer program.

Much appreciated!

The confusion is about the first two scenarios here. What terminology can I use to distinguish the two? Currently, I often end up describing the distinction in a longer sentence, and I would love for there to be a more succinct way to indicate these.

  • 1
    You may differentiate: recommended (Debian), suppported (Ubuntu) and unsupported (Gentoo) environments. – Graffito Feb 28 '16 at 10:48
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    You should modify the business perspective customers have of your product. 1 - Fully guaranteed support. 2 - Community support. Community support is a mode of support whereby a software producer will depend on the community for a lot of the answers and solution. It is a mode whereby it is understood you are under no liability or obligation to provide that support - except out of good faith and community spirit. – Blessed Geek Feb 28 '16 at 11:47
  • "... the combination of Ubuntu and my computer program is supported. Debian supports my computer program." --> "My program runs / is designed to run under Ubuntu. My program is supported when run under Ubuntu (only)." – Kris Feb 28 '16 at 13:10
  • This looks like more of writing advice kind of question, though. – Kris Feb 28 '16 at 13:11
  • You have supported "configurations" or "environments" where customers can run your code and expect a concerted effort from you to maintain functionality. (But, alas, often those environments are only, in truth, "propped up in a few spots" by their vendors.) – Hot Licks Feb 28 '16 at 13:37
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The second one is called supporting on a "best endeavours" basis.

A slightly lower level would be a "reasonable endeavours" basis.

This article discusses it from a legal perspective.

  • After reading the article, I would instead think: the first one is "best ...", the second one "reasonable ...". No? – Sander Verhagen Mar 3 '16 at 8:19

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