Are enterprise Linux distributions

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2003-12-15 Print this article Print

doomed?"> This doesnt mean enterprise Linux distributions are doomed; they do offer benefits and assurances that free distribution projects dont, including organized support, IHV and ISV certifications, training, and reliable network access to updates and fixes. However, the popularity gap, particularly as it applies to software package availability, may become a problem for enterprise Linux distributions.

One way to make enterprise Linux distributions more mainstream would be to make them freely available, with the option of paying for subscriptions. As long as vendors provide subscribers with services they want, paying customers will show up—starting with the ones who are paying for subscriptions right now.

It would help if vendors could provide a clear link between the number of subscriptions purchased and the amount of services received. Companies with larger numbers of subscriptions could have the bugs they file looked at more quickly and have their e-mail queries addressed more quickly.

Vendors could take a page from the Linux software company Transgaming, which lets subscribers vote on which Windows games Transgamings WineX will be made to support next. Subscribers to an enterprise Linux distribution could vote on which packages to include in future versions, which features to address and which bits of documentation to be written next, with the number of votes a company maintains tied to the number of subscriptions it pays for.

By tweaking the somewhat-rigid enterprise Linux strategy under which Red Hat Enterprise Linux and similar distributions are sold, vendors can make the most out of the open-source model, thereby building value for their products through popularity while giving customers more reasons to buy subscriptions.

Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at

As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at

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