OpenLogic has launched a scheme designed to tackle complex support issues by offering a bounty to high-level open-source programmers.

OpenLogic Expert Community is part of the company's broader aim of giving enterprises a single place to go for technical support for more than 150 popular open-source tools. These include Eclipse, MySQL, Apache, JBoss, Ant, Hibernate, MyFaces, Spring, Struts and Tomcat. The company handles lower-level problems with in-house staff, but is aiming to give customers a way of tackling highly complex problems without having to refer to obscure Usenet newsgroups.

The answer, the company believes, is to farm the toughest problems out to the best and brightest of the open-source world, paying them either in cash or rewards. OpenLogic will also contribute to a fund intended to help further development on particular open-source tools.

As an added inducement, the first 75 developers to join the community will get an Xbox console, presumably giving them something on which to practice their Linux hacking skills.

OpenLogic, a company which offers customised open-source software and technical support, claims already to have more than 50 experts to call on. New members must either have "committer" status, meaning they're highly regarded enough to commit code to a particular project, or be referred by a committer. The company claims its model is unique in allowing developers to solve tech support issues without having to do it as full-time employment.

Ironically, the availability of free tech support, albeit informal, has long been one of the draws of using open source. OpenLogic says putting support on a more structured basis should help enterprises feel more comfortable with introducing open source into important corporate roles.

"We have heard loud and clear from our larger enterprise customers, some of whom are using more than 400 open source products, that they want one throat to choke for open source support," said OpenLogic chief executive Steven Grandchamp.

OpenLogic in 2004 launched itself with BlueGlue, a suite of more than 100 open-source developer tools, for which it coordinates upgrades and provides technical support. In March last year, the company netted $4m in venture-capital funding.