Broken Trust

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

"The long and short of this is that we not only paid Red Hat for the OS, we paid it for support—and if they had no intention of providing support, they should not have sold it. "If they had, then they should have felt some obligation to make good on the monies that they took in good faith. That offer of a discount on RHEL [Red Hat Enterprise Linux] or WS or whatever the hell it was makes the whole thing look like one big bait-and-switch scam," he said.
"They didnt earn the monies I had given them, why on earth would I give them more for what was essentially what we paid for in the first place?" he asked. "The trust is now and possibly forever broken. I know they will get no more of my money, that is for certain. And will this engineer ever recommend them for anything important? Puh-lease!"

Tom Huber, a software architect at a Fortune 500 company, said he thinks it is matter of "purists" versus the establishment. The purists would rather see Linux remain "free" from commercialization, he said. Unfortunately, Linux would never mature under those conditions to become a viable enterprise—or even home—alternative to other operating systems, Huber said.

"There is a certain nostalgia associated with the early days of computing," he said. "I really think the whole open-source movement is a throwback to that time, and Red Hat represents a threat to the freedom people enjoyed back then.

"Unfortunately, Red Hat is the least of the threats, and the sooner that our Red Hat haters learn that, the better. ... But human nature, being what it is, will likely not change. The real threat to the future is the current scramble to acquire IP through patents and copyrights," Huber said.

But Charles Rutledge of small Linux integrator Centauri Computer Works said he "cant fault Red Hat for moving exclusively into the enterprise server space, since thats where the money is. [Its] certainly not among the propeller-hat Linux crowd."

"Linux has grown up, and companies like Red Hat need to make money to survive," Rutledge said. "But they also give back to the community by funding development of open-source projects that otherwise might not be. "And personally, if they want to concentrate on the bigger corporations, they can be assured that consultants like myself will be around to support Fedora (or Slackware or whatever) on the mom-and-pop network servers. Which in turn keeps us all making money," he said.

"Yes, theyve boggled things, and most of my clients wont pay for the Red Hat Enterprise Server, but Linux needs Red Hat to show us what we can become," Rutledge said. "Theyve done good, and I wish them well. "And the people who liken them to Microsoft should remember theyre not trying patent all core standards so that you cant move off their platform," he said. "After all, the first word in open source is open. There should be room for us all."

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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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