For many years, freshmeat users have been able to use our comment sections and links to mailing lists to reach project authors with questions and suggestions, but such venerable modes of communication mean that minutes or even hours may pass before an answer is supplied. Even IRC and instant messaging services mean throwing a question into a room and waiting to see if anyone with the answer is watching at the moment.
We believe that the next step in communications between software developers and users is, in a way, a step backward -- back to the ordinary use of the human voice. We're putting a system in place to allow any authors or development teams to offer users the opportunity to call them directly at any time. Every project listed on freshmeat, large and small, can now have its own tech support helpline. Calls are routed directly to authors' private numbers (which are never divulged), and routing can be changed easily as often as project members like, allowing the work to be divided among teams in whatever way works best for them.
We call this service "freshmeat fone", and we're excited to be launching this new feature with one of our most popular projects, Linux. Its author has graciously agreed to make a number available for all of the project's users, and is looking forward to hearing from them. He and other members of the kernel development team will take turns answering calls as their time permits during working hours, and will regularly check and reply to voicemail left at other times by users in remote time zones.
The direct-dial number for the Linux line is:
We're only offering phone numbers local to our offices in California, but the lines are also available through VOIP for users in other countries or for those who simply don't want incur long distance charges or use up cellphone minutes. For our Linux line, call this SIP number:
Note that unlike the direct-dial line, 1-747-108-3313 is not a number to be dialed through the conventional telephone system; you need to dial it through a SIP phone of either the hardware or software variety. If you don't have software for dialing by SIP, you might try Gizmo Project.
We hope you're as excited about the possibilities of this new service as we are; please take it out for a spin. Even if you don't have a pressing technical problem to discuss at the moment, the team would love to hear from you just to say hello. After we've tested the system with this trial line, we'll be rolling the service out generally in a couple of weeks. Watch for our next announcement, and we hope you'll consider applying for a number for your project.