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OpenSSL Software Foundation, Inc.

OpenSSL Support

A message from the OpenSSL Software Foundation president

The OpenSSL project, and the associated community of interested OpenSSL users and contributors, provides free support in the form of the OpenSSL mailing lists. Many queries there are answered promptly and accurately. Some are not answered completely or at all; there are only a very limited number of people qualified to answer some queries, and they may simply be too overwhelmed to respond. Those queries that are answered are archived indefinitely in multiple locations.

My colleagues in the OpenSSL Software Foundation (OSF) and the OpenSSL project frequently receive private requests (through E-mail or phone calls) for free technical support. Some of my colleagues have become conditioned to simply ignore those private queries, understandably so when you realize they receive hundreds of E-mails a day. Since OSF is in the business of providing technical support, albeit on a paid basis, I respond to such queries with a statement like:

That would be a good question for the OpenSSL user mailing list: http://www.openssl.org/support/community.html. The question and answers will be seen by, and benefit, the entire user community and will be preserved in various archives for future reference. While we do provide commercial consulting services through the OpenSSL Software Foundation -- the only significant source of revenue supporting the OpenSSL project -- I'm sure you'll understand that we're not in a position to provide free private consulting services. If we did we'd do nothing else as we are a small organization serving a very large user community.
Most such correspondents immediately understand that there are only a few of us with limited time, facing a huge demand for free consulting, and that it would be logistically impossible to adequately respond to even a fraction of such queries. Even leaving aside the question of how my colleagues would survive financially if they spent all their time providing free support, the routine maintenance and enhancement of OpenSSL requires a great deal of time (most of which, incidentally, is uncompensated). The periodic feature releases and the security releases that appear promptly when vulnerabilities are discovered don't write themselves, nor do the significant number of answers to the mailing lists.

Unfortunately a few correspondents don't take the hint, either pestering us repeatedly or expressing various degrees of outrage that we would have the effrontery to labor for years to produce a product that is given away for free, and yet not provide free private consulting for their particular issue.

To those who think we are being unreasonable I suggest the following experiment: try calling or E-mailing a commercial software vendor like Microsoft, Apple, Red Hat, Oracle, etc. and asking for free private technical support from a senior software engineer who actually wrote the code in question. Do that without any paid support contract1 in place and you'll be lucky to get anyone to take your call, much less a senior technical resource who can actually provide a useful answer.


The personal opinions of the author expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the OpenSSL project or community of users
Steve Marquess
President, OpenSSL Software Foundation


1 Note we also provide commercial support contracts, and your query as a subscriber will receive attention from a senior resource.

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