I read a brief article that raises some important issues:
- How does one survive consulting if the user gets such a reliable product?
- How does one survive consulting if the product is open for the user to fix?
The first problem is only an eventuality. For the near future, GNU/Linux and FLOSS are expanding rapidly in user-base and we will not run out of customers any time soon. Where I work, I converted most of the systems in-house so I have less work to do along those lines but I have only made a small dent in the user-base in the community, perhaps less than 10%. The community is a target-rich environment. Eventually, GNU/Linux will get the share it deserves and a different emphasis will have to be placed on consulting: doing ever more fancy things with FLOSS rather than just introducing it.
I had an interesting conversation with the school’s secretary yesterday. In spite of my suggesting each customer make a donation to the school, no one has… Our plan for next year is to require a donation up-front. While there is value in installing GNU/Linux the customer may spend time using it rather than being grateful.
The second problem is illusory. Most people do not fix their own PCs. Hence the build up of dust, malware and problems. GNU/Linux tends not to have most of the problems of that other OS, but dust, fan-failures etc. still happen.
So, being a GNU/Linux consultant has no special problems except the present small user base, which is a temporary but rich source of customers if one works at it.
Guiding and documenting change for the customer is a normal part of consulting and those who feel threatened enough to gripe about GNU/Linux and FLOSS should get off their butts and create some opportunities.