12

A simple yes or no question:

Are questions about legacy products inherently off-topic?

For instance we regularly get new questions about which ran out of extended support in July 2015.

If even the vendor no longer provides support, why should our community?

47

No, each question should be judged on its own merits.

Although we all agree that life-cycle management is important, its is also difficult.

Good questions about legacy products are welcome.

  • 15
    I have to +1 this. We can "best practice" and "unsupported version" every such question to death... but that won't change the fact that as a professional, one may face having to provide support for legacy products. – jscott Oct 5 '15 at 9:33
  • 2
    As much as questions on Windows 2003 or prehistoric Red Hat distros might make me cringe, I think this has to be the answer. A system that was running on Monday doesn't magically turn into a pumpkin on Friday because a support date goes by. Having said that, how willing will the people asking questions be to hear "you need to upgrade" as a (sensible, when there's reason to believe it might help) answer? – Rob Moir Oct 5 '15 at 10:37
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    I would agree - we all know legacy is an ongoing headache that we'd like to be rid of. But sometimes additional constraints apply that the IT guy in the middle has no control over. Even if the answer is simply "Upgrade, because this problem isn't present in X" - that's the start of a business case that helps me get the funding to do it. – Sobrique Oct 5 '15 at 12:02
  • I agree, as often old answer can be re-used in newer version. Not to mention support from company is a debate. As even XP is still supported if you paid by contract with MS, even if in fact it's EOL 1 year ago. – yagmoth555 Oct 5 '15 at 15:21
  • Some people are required to keep data for X years for compliance reasons, unfortunately. (Virtualize them all onto non-network-connected VMs! er, if possible.) At the same time, well. Sometimes the answer is, "Sorry, man. Upgrade." If it's not a legal compliance thing and is instead management being stingy or whatever, well, maybe that's a legit argument for them to spend, like Sobrique said. – Katherine Villyard Oct 5 '15 at 19:21
  • I had actually made the comment in my answer (serverfault.com/questions/726785/…) that I thought it was likely that folks on SF would potentially close a question about XP these days. But I agree with your answer overall, as well as Falcon's. – TheCleaner Oct 7 '15 at 13:11
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    While Server 2003 has gone out of Extended Support, it still will see some use in long-living product lines where an upgrade is not feasible without significant changes to the overall infrastructure (like in industry automation where you would need to throw away half of your production line just to be able to upgrade to 64-bit Server 2012). I would consider it still to be on-topic. Especially since the number of knowledgeable people and publicly available resources is going to decrease rapidly, hope for an answer from a Serverfaultee might be the last straw to clutch at. – the-wabbit Oct 7 '15 at 16:11
  • As a Freelancer, around 80% of my work involces legacy systems, one kind or another... and in private: No, I am not updating my Win7 anytime soon, nor my still paid-once Photoshop, nor ... – Frank Nocke Oct 14 '15 at 11:05
11

The appearance of EOL stuff in a question is clearly not dispositive.

On the other hand, if the use of EOL things in the case given is unreasonable or even stupid, such as when the asker is setting up something new with EOL things that are clearly wrong for the job, we have a close reason for that. The use of EOL junk can totally be the lack of "reasonable" practice, barring some justification.

Either way, it's very often appropriate to leave a comment:

Old! $technology went out of support on $date - if you can, you really should upgrade. Your security and maintainability will be greatly improved.

We don't purge questions about something just because it went out of support, so there is clearly no reason to prohibit new ones altogether.

Sorry to interfere with the poll!

9

To be honest I'm kinda torn by this.

I know people who are still using WfW 3.11, they will continue to do so for the next decade or so too. They knew this would happen when they started the project and took appropriate actions. From a hardware perspective they bought sufficient extra to last them the lifetime of the project. From a software perspective they got stable with the platform and developed their programs against it. Any bug that may turn up will get fixed against the same platform or the program gets migrated (at considerable cost) to a newer more supported platform. These guys are good - we will never see a question from them.

If someone asks a question about maintaining a legacy environment then it's helpful to answer it.

If though, someone is developing with a legacy environment then it is not helpful to answer it because using a legacy environment for something new is the wrong thing to do. It should be closed off topic with the reason: Questions should demonstrate reasonable business information technology management practices.

We are not the internet's support safety net.

2

No, I think the concept of "legacy" is too nebulous to make a strict rule on this.

End-of-life dates are not the same for everyone. For example, even Windows XP is still supported by Microsoft -- just not on desktop machines. Windows XP Point-of-Sale Edition still gets regular updates.

  • If so, it's still in support, and not actually EOL. support.microsoft.com/en-us/gp/lifewinembed – Falcon Momot Oct 7 '15 at 20:05
  • While I agree with the statement that there should be no strict rule, I very much disagree with the idea that EOL is a nebulous concept. Nothing is ever 100% foolproof, but I think we can safely say that if someone comes on ServerFault with a problem related to the usage of a Legacy product, they probably don't have extended support. I would be amazed if anyone payed the vast sums required to receive extended support and still come to a Q&A site as a matter of first resort. – Reaces Oct 8 '15 at 8:22
  • @Reaces EOL is nebulous. As I still got update for xp, and i dont talk xp pos. How? Special contract, but xp is tagged eol, unlike xp pos. Nebulous isnt it? – yagmoth555 Oct 8 '15 at 12:05
  • @Reaces You dont get my point, extended support is an valid option. If you cant migrate 2000 pc in example in times, or such. While your opinion would close the question as the product would be eol. It's that point, that make eol date nebulous. – yagmoth555 Oct 8 '15 at 12:31
  • @yagmoth555 No??? I never said EoL was off topic! I simply said end of life is not a confusing statement, whether you have extended support or not your product is end of life and as such any assistance you may get here is probably not as good as it would be for a newer product. But you still deserve an answer if one is possible, and your question should not be closed! You should just expect to get comments about the lifespan and suggestions involving upgrading. – Reaces Oct 8 '15 at 12:32
  • @Reaces ok, misread, but I edited, to show what I mean by nebulous – yagmoth555 Oct 8 '15 at 12:33
  • @yagmoth555 I deleted some of the comments, as it was getting out of hand. I stand by my statement that no matter what, a product that is EoL can and should be treated differently. Extended support or not, your question is a lot less likely to receive good answers as the amount of uncertainties surrounding it increase. As such there is nothing nebulous about the statement. Support or no, the circumstances around your product vary from peoples past experiences when combined with newer products. And a suggestion of upgrading is often very likely. – Reaces Oct 8 '15 at 12:37
-6

Yes, legacy products are off-topic.

We even have a default close reason for those:

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  • 4
    I don't agree - whilst "good practice" means "don't keep legacy" - there are plenty of places where additional constraints apply, meaning that you do have "legacy" sticking around far longer than is optimal. – Sobrique Oct 5 '15 at 11:59
  • I think it's valid to leave some legacy products up for discussion. I've worked places where they kept some pretty old stuff running because it just works... and would be a huge deal to upgrade. While this is a bad idea in my opinion, my opinion doesn't always count. Sometimes directors/CEOs refuse to budge on decisions like this. In which case professionals like sysadmins are forced to deal with this equipment. And sometimes we need help. – Ryan Babchishin Oct 5 '15 at 12:35
  • Of it isn't off topic, why do we have a close comment saying so? The reason for this close answer is that historically nobody answers them. – Jim B Oct 8 '15 at 13:19
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    As of 2014, 95% of ATMs were supposedly still running —and I kid you not— Windows 95... – Frank Nocke Oct 14 '15 at 11:08

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