Fresh Rumors Erupt over Red Hat-Oracle Buy

Opinion: Open Source industry watchers are weighing in on Oracle's Linux moves, a potential Red Hat buyout and other related rumors.

First, rumor had it that Oracle was buying JBoss.

Didnt happen.

Then Larry Ellison reportedly was dissing Red Hat support and making noises about Oracle stepping in to provide that support.

Oracle went (typically) mute about any supposed plans put forth by its free-wheeling head, Mr. "I-dont-check-with-no-stinkin-media-relations-before-I-open-my-mouth" Ellison.

Then there was last week at LinuxWorld, with all the anticipation about Oracle supposedly on the brink of putting out an Oracle flavor of Linux.


This week, the rumor mill is churning about Oracle buying Red Hat. People were contacting me Aug. 22, asking about the possibility.

Since Oracle always checks with me before it buys a company (yes, that was sarcasm), I assured people that no such purchase was imminent. I mean, cmon, they would have called.

OK, so Red Hat was absent at LinuxWorld. Maybe preparing for the wedding, maybe because it figured out that it wasnt worth the money or wasnt generating enough leads.

But then this interesting pitch from a rep at a Sun third-party PR firm came out. To quote:

"Is it possible that Red Hat is quietly readying itself for acquisition by Oracle? The rumor mill is hinting at it, and so do the bloggers. Just type Red Hat Sucks into Google, and watch the slams against Red Hat and its poor-quality support pile up."

(I did just that, and as of Aug. 22, the first thing that popped up was a complaint; the second hit was the first, mild response to that complaint; and the third was a rant from… oh, lets see… yes, the year 2001, that would be. "Piling up?" Uh, no.)

It continues: "There certainly seems to be an increasing level of frustration against the former darling of the Linux world. To add insult to injury, Red Hat was barely present at Linux World.

"If theyre not readying themselves for a sale, theyd better figure something out—because if they alienate their customers with poor quality support, and their developers by ignoring their big show, theyre not going to have a lot of supporters to help them hold out against an industry giant who comes knocking.

"Support/service contracts are the way RHAT makes its money, so if that revenue is eliminated, they become a company in trouble.

"Sun prides itself on an open-source software business model that also features world-class support. If youd like to hear some competitive perspective on how Red Hats weak support offering makes it vulnerable not only to takeover, but to customer defection, please let me know."

There goes Sun, spreading FUD, trying to sow doubt in the minds of would-be Red Hat customers, sounding the siren call of open-source Solaris, right?

Well, nah. Like the other rumors and innuendos, this one was kind of, well, bunk. Turns out it wasnt authorized by Sun, just a self-described renegade flak.


Next Page: The watchers weigh in.