Linux Users Detail Their Red Hat Gripes

 
 
By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2004-05-20 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Responding to a recent column, the readers speak, and it turns out there are many reasons to hate—or praise—the Linux distributor.

After writing my column on why Linux users hate Red Hat, I got numerous articulate letters on the topic. It turns out there are many reasons why some Linux users hate Red Hat Inc., while others think Red Hat is just fine. Here are some of the thoughts our readers had to share with us.

"Its not commercial success or having to share Linux with the masses, or even that Linux is becoming a Windows clone" that bothers Linux fans, said Curt Wuollet, a Minnesota-based control engineer and father of the Linux programmable logic controller (PLC), aka the Puffin Projects.
Instead, its that "Linux is about community, Red Hat is about Red Hat," he said. "No one had really big problems—remembering that Linux folks are a diverse lot—with Red Hat making money. Its when they split with the community that the screaming really started.

"Its about fundamentals," Wuollet said. "Now, theyve got this special Linux, quite in the spirit of proprietary extensions, which is frowned on in the community. Its proprietary value-add, whether it violates the letter of the GPL [GNU General Public License] or not. And its a manifestation of exactly what killed Unix. Thats an issue some of us are quite sensitive on."

Davin S. George, operations manager at Xtempus Ltd., a U.K.-based service provider for the mobile-phone business, seemed to speak for many when he said that those who hate Red Hat do so because the company has abandoned its first customers.
"Red Hat is a great company with a great product in general and one of the most successful out there, but not the only one," George said. "SuSE has a similar product but unlike Red Hat hasnt ditched the low-end version for the common man."

Click here to read about Red Hats new desktop Linux offering. John Robb, a senior software developer at a biotechnology firm, took a purely business angle on why Red Hat is so disliked. The company, he said, "basically ruined their name in certain corporate circles, or at least in ours." "You see, we worked really hard to convince management that we should use Red Hat—or any well-supported, free-as-in-libre OS—that it was a safe bet, that we could purchase security updates and apply them to this server in a timely manner," Robb said. "They didnt care how inexpensive it was, just that it would be there when we needed it. My colleague and I thought we had this thing beat with Red Hat and Red Hat Network."

Then, he said, things went wrong. "So, we get this really expensive machine from Dell with Red Hat SMP installed. I immediately registered the box with RHN and signed up for a year of support; Red Hat happily took the money even though they only were going to support the distro for another couple of months—this arrives at the heart of what they did wrong. "Then, we get the news that Red Hat was dropping support, and I had to explain to management what had happened and why we now had to figure out support for ourselves. This was prior to Progeny getting in on the act; by the time they did, it was too late. "To make this short, the project died right there. Every bad thing management had heard about FOSS [free and open-source software] had come true," Robb said.

Next Page: "The trust is now and possibly forever broken," Robb says.



 
 
 
 
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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