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Red Hat Software Businesses

No More Free Updates For Red Hat 233

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the at-least-debian-still-does-it dept.
An anonymous user wrote in to tell us (and Timothy called RH and confirmed, this change was made a few weeks ago) that you no longer can Freely and Anonymously use Red Hat's Update Agent to download updated package DBs, and update packages. You must register, and pay $9.95 for the service. Of course you can still update manually, but how long before other services pop up to take its place? And Debian still does apt without me having to tell them where I live. This is unfortunate, but not unsurprising. I want RH to make a buck too, but this seems like a pretty crappy way to do it. Update: 03/19 03:21 PM by T : An unnamed reader points to this FAQ on the change, too.
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No More Free Updates For Red Hat

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  • No, RH isn't stupid. You are for failing to grasp a simple concept called signatures. Every file is signed with the RH GPG key and the program compares the RH public key with the key that was used to sign the file.

    In such a way, the origin of the files can be verified.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Though I agree that this initially appears to fit well with RedHat's desire to make money off of service, I think it is incredibably shortsighted. Most automated update tools are made because they help offset service cost for known issues especially in consumer space where there the cost overshadows the potential revenue. RedHat is in the public eye as well and they need to ensure that people are upgrading promptly when new security holes are found. The Ramen worm could have easily been avoided if people had kept up with security updates. I personally don't have the time to keep up with security advisories and also compare whats on my system with every new update. I'll use red-carpet for now but I may consider switching back to Debian.
  • And you think that Red Carpet will remain free? then think again...

    Ximian will give some free updates of course, but their major updates will cost money. Same with Eazel..

    Go read their business plan...

  • Call IDC, Giga or any other firm that check market share and ask them about Mandrake VS Redhat in corporate market share...

    I'll save you the phone cost:

    Redhat: 70%
    SuSE: 10%
    Caldera: 7%
    Mandrake: 3%
    Turbo Linux: 3%

    The rest - other distributors..

    The numbers are from the latest IDC pulication..
  • Oh really?

    Lets check what you get with typical Windows installation:

    Windows OS, maybe few freebies applications that your hardware gave you, and if you paid for - Office

    Linux: OS, X windows, KDE, GNOME, compilers, editors, games, multimedia applications (players etc), languages (python, perl, etc), and the list goes on...

    You know, when you install SuSE - you can use the "CUSTOM" option to select what you want to install - and get less then 300MB disk usage. Just read the damn instuctions!
  • This is something I've been kinda expecting for a while now. Redhat is a bit like a .com, and are searching for new revenue streams. Originally it was enough to say "we'll make money off of service", and they probably did quite well at this. However, now, because of unpopularity, or drying up of *other* revenue streams (ads, partnerships, .coms), they've been forced to go this way.

    My company just did something similar. After saying that upgrades will always be free the salesguys (note this, it wasn't the developers idea) decided they wanted to track things better, and the only way to do it was to sell upgrades on a yearly basis. Now in some ways it gives us great things, ie: a way of tracking who is up to date (and when you're producing a security device this is a good idea) as well as a revenue stream. Of course, as a Open Source guy, I'd much rather have seen things stay always free.

    It'll be interesting to see how redhat does, and if they are more or less popular. I'm a debian user and as much as a zelot as I seem, apt does rock. Redhat is probably heading towards a similar system, the question is, will it be free? :)
  • The problem is that they're disabling the anonymous pull method (done by up2date). It's unclear why they're doing this. Even Microsoft allows you to update your system from their web site without hassles. A pull-type updater is necessary if you are going to be taken seriously as a consumer OS. Obviously, Red Hat is not interested in that market. That's okay, other distros will take up the slack.

    Personally, if up2date quits working, it's that much more motivation to go with Mandrake or Debian or some other distribution. The notion that I should be contented downloading patches and manually applying them is one that would have been fine in 1995, but this is not 1995. I am currently beta-testing Red Hat 7.0.91, but I can easily use any Linux distribution without any big hassles (my systems are set up so that I can change Linux distributions at will).

    -E

  • The issue is not RHN. RHN is irrelevant to the vast majority of Slashdot readers, who don't need the services provided by RHN. The issue is up2date no longer working anonymously. Even Microsoft gives you free updates via their update agent.

    So let's see: Red Hat is going to make themselves harder to install security patches on than Windows. Duh. Like that's smart. (Insert sound of Red Hat putting pistol to head, pulling trigger).

    Apparently Red Hat believes that, since they have so much marketshare, they can make their Linux harder to use than competing Linux distributions while retaining market share. That doesn't make sense to anybody with half a brain, but (duh) nobody ever accused Red Hat of anything except a lot of luck.

    -E

  • Posted by nachas:

    Why not? I'd like to see RedHat alive and well 10 years from now and this is a small price to pay to make that happen.
  • Posted by alci:

    Question : What about Debian ? IDC : Deb..., what ? How much business do they make ? We don't know them ... they don't have a market share, they don't exist cause they have no turnover... Question : it's a free distribution, operated by volonteers. IDC : It's free, and people contribute to it, but still one of the best solution... I don't understand what what are talking about !
  • Posted by alci:

    Well... I understand that, that's exactly my point.

    The 'all is money' paradigm does not apply to free software.
    Nobody can sell it, so nobody can make money out of it.
    It's a tool out of which you can eventually make usefull and non free products (that is the sense of GPL). That's why IBM or Sun go for it. Their core business is elsewhere.

    That doesn't mean that free software it not worthwhile...

    Is science worthwhile, is education worthwhile, are arts worthwhile, philosophy, poetry, feeding poeple that can't buy their food, teaching children to read and write..? What is the market share of CERN, MIT, UNESCO, Medecins Sans Frontieres, Heinrich Heine, ...

    That's what free software is about : giving people tools to live freely in a computerized world, and not to depend on some few western major companies.

    People did 'invest' money in Red Hat... Well, then RedHat will have to produce really value added products, not just try to make a monopoly and bother everybody. Cause then free software will live elsewhere.
  • MSVC, as in C and ONLY C.

    If you want support for the other languages that the IDE itself supports you're going to be installing a few more CD's.

    DevStudio has been a multi-CD monster for YEARS. Just when is the last time you even used the bugger?
  • How precisely are the Windows variants of what gets shipped with a 1.5 Linux distro any better than the Linux equivalents. Also, just WHICH formats are mising from the Linux media players.

    Codecs that require extra downloads from Microsoft or Apple don't count.

    Also, if there's quite a bit of stuff that "mere mortal users" would have no interest in then one cannot really say that a Linux distribution is "bloated".

    It contains many tools that a random user may or may not want or need. Those tools can be safely removed or not installed in the first place.

    This isn't what "Bloat" means.

    Adding a Simtel CD in a WinDOS box doesn't automagically make WinDOS any more bloated because of it.
  • MORE flexible while still not confounding novice end users? You've been exposed to Microsoft propaganda for too long. The more options you expose to the end user, the more confused the total novice is going to be. There's just no getting around it. The more choices you give the end user, the more intelligent that end user is going to need to be in order to wade through those choices.

    You can already pick and choose every package. There is already documentation available for what all of those packages do. There are also canned installations available for those that don't want to do any thinking at all.

    The system is not going to be "flexible" without the potential to "confuse" people with multiple options like vi versus pico versus emacs.
  • With Linux (or Unix in general) such "features" would be nothing more than a new device driver or kernel patch. The transition between Win98 and Win99 does NOT constitute a major version upgrade or anything else that might justify soaking end users for new licenses.
  • You could do the same thing with Linux since at least 1994.

    Microsoft is soaking you for something that we've been able to do for free for half a decade already.

    Besides, if you have to pay extra for the functionality what is the point of avoiding the purchase of a 3rd party addon?

    Infact, the fact that those 3rd party addons exist soundly refutes the notion that this is the sort of thing that deserves an OS version change.
  • by Frodo (1221)
    Here I mus note that if they would spend the same thousands on getting code right and QAed on the first run, they probably would not need so much updates...
  • Well even if you have a unix guy on staff it might be worth it, Unix guru's are not cheap. If you can free you admin up from this he can do other things.

    Remember that is a business setting people's time costs money.
  • by Frater 219 (1455) on Monday March 19, 2001 @09:04AM (#354194) Journal
    Priority updates - RedHat could hypothetically decide to offer updates via the update agent service before they're available via FTP. Depending on how this gets done, it could be delibrate (such as it appearing on the update agent a week before FTP) or just an artifact of bandwidth and priority (it may appear on the FTP site as soon as the update agent starts pushing, but connection limits and mirroring delays may mean it's not readily available until a day or two later).
    The majority of released updates to Red Hat Linux are fixes for security holes. Since the release of Red Hat 7.0, Red Hat has released 39 security fixes [redhat.com], 15 other bug fixes [redhat.com], and one package enhancement [redhat.com].

    Many would find it ethically questionable for Red Hat, or any other software manufacturer, to deliberately withhold known-good security updates from the majority of its users for any length of time. Red Hat, of course, has no financial or legal obligation to non-paying users; the question is one of good will. Red Hat receives updates from upstream software maintainers at no cost, because the upstream maintainers want their products to be secure and useful. To refrain from passing along the good will, in order to maintain the value of a paid service, seems inherently to be an act of questionable, if not ill, motive.

    Furthermore, there is the matter of reputation. Many security-conscious users and sysadmins already hold Red Hat in less than the highest esteem -- because Red Hat's releases have a history of installing unnecessary and potentially risky software by default; and because Red Hat appears to trade off security for ease-of-use for the novice, when novices are the users in greatest need of help with security. Some outside the Linux user base take these problems to be marks on the reputation of Linux at large. Any move on Red Hat's part which further worsens the security of Red Hat systems on the Net -- even poorly-maintained ones operated by novices -- will do Red Hat's reputation, and Linux's, more harm.

    All in all, I suspect that Red Hat would do more good for its product's reputation, its users, and for the Internet at large, by making it as easy as possible for all its users to make and keep their systems secure. So far, Red Hat has not -- I repeat, has not -- withheld security updates from non-paying users in order to promote a paid service. That is a good state of affairs; not the best possible, but certainly not a bad one. Let's hope things get better, not worse.

  • http://www.redhat.com/products/network/service_cha nges.html

    "Software Manager is a subscription offering priced at $19.95 per month for each system. "

    "special introductory offer: every system subscribed before April 6 is only $9.95 per month until September 1. "

    It's only $9.95 if you sign up now, and then that only lasts thru September.

    Odd thing is, Windowsupdate.microsoft.com is still free. :)

    Guess it's a case of pay me now, or pay me later. If Redhat can't make money off this subscription service, then what's left for them to try?
  • I think you are a bit confused.

    It says you receive one free subscription per customer. It doesn't say one per boxed copy.

    A big corporation is considered a single customer, not 4,000 customers.
  • You don't consider $240/year to be exhorbitant?

    Those prices you quote are one time charges, not recurring fees.
  • I guess that all depends on RedHat.

    I think the obvious intent RedHat had was to allow a home user who purchased a RedHat boxed set free access to the updates service.

    But it's certainly a value add to a company, and RedHat does have to make money off services to be profitable. So I rather suspect they would prefer it if you paid a subscription fee per desktop.

    A boxed set sells for only like $40, obviously RedHat would prefer the $20/month stream of income over single boxed sets.

    In a sense, this new RedHat service/upgrade model of business is the software leasing plan Microsoft(and others) have been talking about over the past year.

    Unfortunately, for Redhat, I don't see this business model making that much money either. It is rather expensive, and I would be more inclined to investigate providing the same service internal to my company if I were actually using RedHat Linux on desktops.

    On the server side, the last thing I would want was some service automatically updating software. I would prefer to apply these changes by hand anyway.
  • Boiled frog story [fastcompany.com]

    Which of course doesn't invalidate what you said, it just makes it a poor simile.

    Vermifax

  • frogs are smarter than your average redhat user.

    Vermifax
  • by KFW (3689)
    Sure, it could be bad grammer, but it be an apt use of litotes for effect. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.
    >K
  • " By charging for incremental update services, Red Hat is implicitly admitting that it's business model has some serious flaws. Linux is explicitly free; anyone with a modem or a CD-burner can have Linux for the cost of some time and effort. Why would people pay for something that is -- by intention -- free?"

    Simple, really. Businesses will happily pay through the nose to be able to have guaranteed access to the latest software updates and releases _right now_, rather than whenever the public ftp servers have a space free. And for 9.95/month, it's very much so within the budgetary reach of both small business and Sysadmins wishing to maintain their home systems.

    What we are currently seeing is the cost of being a popular distribution. RedHat's public ftp servers are constantly operating at close to capacity, and all those bandwidth costs add up very, very quickly.

    RedHat's not admitting to any business model flaws either. It's entire business model is based off of providing paid support for the software distributions it releases. I don't see how this either differs in any way from they're trying to do, or how it shows any flaws. RedHat is expanding its subscription service (in the direction they _told_ us at the outset it would go), and that's life. You're very likely to see more distributions doing things like this as they become more popular and come into more wide-spread use.

  • "All the incremental updates from 98 to 98SE were free. There were, however, some new features added that could justify a new product."


    Oh really? New features, huh? Name some. Please. I'd like to know what all these "New Features" are that justify an entirely new release of their operating system.

    And no, bundling a newer version of IE with it by default does not count as a feature. :P

  • "Don't just nay-say Microsoft because it's the cool thing to do on Slashdot. Throw in a pinch of reality.


    Microsoft does NOT call it's incremental updates "new OSes." They call them service packs. They did not even call Win98SE a new OS, they called it a new version of the OS."


    Don't nay-say the nay-sayers of Microsoft because it's the trollish thing to do on Slashdot. :P

    I dislike Microsoft for many valid reasons. I don't nay-say them 100% of the time, but I _do_ nay-say them when its valid. This is one of those points.

    Funny, though. For something that wasn't "a new OS" they certainly charged people the "new OS" price for it.

    "Look, I have no love for Microsoft. I just get tired of hearing the same old lame arguments about Microsoft continually rolling out new versions and forcing the customer to upgrade. That's bull. If you are using Windows 95, there is no one forcing you to upgrade."


    And your point? Of course you're not forced to upgrade. Nobody's holding a gun to your head.

    HOWEVER. if you want security patches and upgrades, you sure as hell are forced to upgrade. Funny that we don't see security or bugfix announcements for your beloved Windows 95 anymore, huh?

    Amusingly enough, this isn't the case in the Linux community. RedHat, for example (since it's also sharing the slashdot front page at the moment), is currently maintaining its distributions all the way back to 5.2. That's right, 5.2. For those non-historians among us, 5.2 was released in _1998_, and is currently _5_ versions behind the leading one. If you take into account that all of the 5.2 upgrades are perfectly applicable to 5.0 and 5.1, that number becomes _7_ versions and the date becomes November 1997.

    Hmm, lets see, how many versions back does Microsoft support Windows 9x? How about NT/2000? Hmm... I leave the math to the reader, as I don't want to start a war over details. But no matter how you slice it, it certainly isn't 5, and 7 puts you back into the days of Windows 3.x...

    "Sure, maybe Microsoft should slow down it's release of versions so that you won't feel the need to upgrade from Windows 95 to Win98 to Win98SE to WinME. That's FOUR versions release over the period of FIVE years. How many versions does the average Linux distribution go through in the same time period?


    Hell, Mandrake and RedHat are fighting each other to see who can release the most version upgrades over the course of a single year. Why? TO MAKE MONEY. They are hoping that you and I won't have the bandwidth available to constantly download the latest version so that maybe, just maybe, we'll purchase a shrink-wrapped copy."


    I don't know what software industry you live in, but I know that here at my job we like to get bugfixes and security updates promptly. "Promptly" seems to be missing from the Microsoft dictionary.

    As for Mandrake and RedHat "fighting" each other, you really ought to do some brain-checking first. Exactly how many releases of Mandrake and RedHat have occurred so far this year? Oh, that's right. 1. Not much of a war, huh?

    And as for the 4-to-6 month cycle time on distributions, I hate to break it to you, but that's the pace that the software industry moves at. New software is released all the time, and since your average Linux distribution is a _huge_ collection of software packages that _far_ exceeds the out-of-box content of any OS Microsoft has ever offered, I think a higher refresh time is perfectly valid. And as you said before, nobody is forcing you to upgrade. Only in this case, nobody's is forcing you to upgrade at all, even for security and bugfix releases. Funny thing, that open-source software stuff. It's so easy to get security fixes when the code's available for anyone to use...
  • by Palin Majere (4000) on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:28AM (#354205)
    "Even Microsoft doesn't charge for it's incremental updates..."


    Sure it does. It just calls them new OSes. What do you think Windows 98 SE was?

  • For those who are even more paranoid about disk space, one can use the Slackware Zipslack [slackware.com] installation. It fits in under a hundred megs. It doesn't come with much beyond a basic Linux installation, but it's nice to start with something small and efficient, and add only what one needs.
  • No more free updates for Red Hat

    Bull. freesoftware.com and all the other mirrors will always have "free updates" for Red Hat. It's just that you might have to click 4 times instead of once. And if you've seen Helix^wXimian's "Red Carpet" software, it just might end up working better than up2date.

    And isn't up2date source code available? Run your own up2date server if it's that important...

    ---

  • Fine, same deal. The source is there. You got the bandwidth? Run a server.

    ---

  • I don't know what business plan you think you read, but you're wrong.

    You will always be able to update Ximian GNOME, at no cost, through Red Carpet. If this is not what you mean by "major updates", please let me know so that I can address your concerns.

    --
    Ian Peters
  • Yes, Red-Carpet rocks, and still works. Just used the redhat 7 channel with no problem.
  • Crikeys! Red Hat's not blocking access to updates. They're not preventing anyone from running AutoRPM or any of the other half dozen or so Red Hat-compatible updaters, either. They're charging for their own version of the service, with bandwidth and uptime guarantees, automated distribution to multiple machines on a network, and their pretty GUI tool, as opposed to Eazel's, Ximian's, or whoever's.

    If you want to get your updates straight from Red Hat, off a Red Hat-run server, and want to have an easy time connecting and have good speed when you do connect for those updates, this is your friend. If you're happy getting updates from a mirror site not maintained by Red Hat, using a tool that Red Hat's paid tech support people won't help you much with, as plenty of us are, that's fine, too.

    Sheesh.
  • Oh really? New features, huh? Name some. Please. I'd like to know what all these "New Features" are that justify an entirely new release of their operating system.

    Okay, howabout Internet Connection Sharing? It elminated the need to purchase a proxy server for many people interested in sharing their cable/DSL/modem connections between two computers. Sure, you wouldn't want to run a corporate intranet through it, but if you just want a second computer for your wife/kids to surf the web on, it's a great solution. Yes, I know you can do the same thing with a linux box, etc.


    ---
  • Exactly; in fact, on a larger network, I could have my test boxen connect to their service, and then see what it wants to do before I use my own script to do it.

  • by banky (9941) <gregg@@@neurobashing...com> on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:24AM (#354215) Homepage Journal
    $9.95 is considerably less than I charge for one hour's time. Pretending that downloads of files over either their network service or plain ol' FTP, then a single weekly invocation of this program is far, far, far cheaper than having me do the work by hand.

    I would never *personally* use this, as I prefer to do things "my way" but you can bet in a minute I would reccomend this to clients. If there's a problem, they're going to have to call me anyway, but why bother if it works? I set up a cron job and let it be.

    I say, good for Red Hat. Let's give this a fair shake.
  • There're two things that I can think of that make RedHat's business model potentially viable:
    • Lack of information - John Q. User will probably go with the quick-and-easy update process that's readily visible after installing

      RedHat.


    [snip]

    Remember that "lack of information" is a pretty good description of why a lot of people buy windows (instead of Mac, of course :). So it's believable that this will result in a reasonable amount of revenue.

    Also, this is the sort of thing that will get pushed in by third parties--"Yeah, we'll come in and set you up, and then for this low fee you can get updates every month from the Big Fedora", and then the big fedora kicks them back a few bucks for adding a subscriber.

    I would venture to say that most of the money made in the computer industry is a result of "relative ignorance".

    Not unlike a lot of the postings on slashdot...
    --

  • Sorry, I just had to say it.....
  • I've been running Red-Carpet on my RedHat box since it's release and have found it very useful. It still is having some troubles on my Mandrake box but I was told how to fix this and just haven't gotten to it yet. It'd be nice if this was handled by some installer as I doubt newbies (the target audience?) would like switching apckages in and out to make it work. Haven't had a chance to try it under SuSE yet but I will someday soon. :)
  • Not unlike the "volunteer" work that some high schools are forcing students to do to graduate.

    Contributions must be given freely, or they are not contributions. You can't force someone to consent to having sex with you.

    I don't think that RedHat doing this is that big of a deal. As long as one can still FTP updated RPMs, then you are paying for the convience for easily installing updates.

    Also, I'd like to see someone modify the MandrakeUpdate code to do RedHat updates.

    LK
  • What is Taco smoking? The business model generally suggested to make money of of Free Software is through services. This is a service that RedHat is offering. They're trying to make money for their service. Which part doesn't make sense?

    I've wondered for a while, but it really seems like Taco is one of the tiny minority who's giving Free Software a bad name because he's too cheap to pay for anything.

    Giving the source to software that you distribute is one thing - it's a good idea, and benefits prettymuch everyone at very little real expense to the author(s). Allowing these tools to be circulated and improved is also good as it benefits nearly everyone again at very little real expense to the author(s) (I'm not concerned with lost potential income. also, I'm talking about once the tool is written, not using a write-for-distribution-only model).

    However, giving away processor time and bandwidth benefits everyone but at a high real cost to the person who's doing the giving. It's completely right for someone to ask for reimbursement in exchange for things that cost them. With GPL software, it's goodness on the part of the author to give it away, but it's also economically viable. Giving away free bandwidth is in general not economically viable and to acuse someone of doing something wrong because they're asking for money to use their service is the height of stupidity.

    Without the source, you can get locked in to a vendor. Without automatic updates by redhat, you have to go and do the updates yourself from a mirror. Also, RedHat isn't prohibiting people from rolling their own service (many do), they're simply asking for money in return for what they do. They're not trying to restrict the flow of information or ideas.

    Slash should institute a system whereby every editor does a writeup about the news story and we get to choose in our slashbox which ones we want to see (randomly selected from among our pool of acceptable editors). This way none of us would ever have to listen to the childish wrants of Malda. Grow up, Taco. The world doesn't owe you everything.
  • I don't know why it should be any more lame and dangerous for Red Hat to do this than for Debian, and this is the basis of their famous apt-get, with a bit of extra security added (which I understand Debian is planning on adding in their next rev.).

    The difference is that Red Hat is a commercial firm. Ximian is trying for exactly the same piece of the pie. Could be interesting.


    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • Huh?
    1. IE4 and USB support installed with the OS - $90
    1. Bug fixes to repair the broken IE4 and USB update - $90
    1. Dumbing down the interface even more and being able to call your software "Me" - $100
    1. Reliablity update to fix everything that was wrong with the previous "must-have" updates, particularly the BSOD - $170


    --
  • by augustz (18082) on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:17AM (#354231) Homepage
    With all the folks who can't manage to put their money where their mouth is, I'd just consider $9 my contribution to open source.
  • by mindstrm (20013) on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:30AM (#354233)
    This is what's called a SERVICE.
    They are *not* charging you for updates, new versions, etc. THat's still free.

    They are charging for a specific SERVICE they are providing to keep your systems updated automatically. If that service isn't worth money to you, and you'd rather do it your own way, that's absolutely fine.
  • I don't understand how Red Hat can withdraw the free system update feature seeing as more and more competing distros have the same feature without the need for registration etc. Mentioning Debian is not necessary of course, but the upcoming Linux-Mandrake 8.0 will come with the choice of apt-get and urpmi. It will also have the Mandrake Update Robot (not sure of the name) that can do automatic upgrades non-interactively (like in cron jobs etc). All of this for free and decentralized. Oh well.
    --
  • by jilles (20976)
    This will mean less home users will use red-hat. This is a problem, because this is also the type of user that convinces their employers to adopt linux. And which distribution will they recommend? Exactly, the one they use at home. Red-hat won't get rich from this small fee. However, they will loose a lot of customers who will simply use something else since they don't like to cough up the money. It seems like a stupid thing to do.

    The main source of revenue for Red Hat should be support contracts. A secondary source is retail sales of Red Hat CDs. Asking money for updates (a potential third revenue source)will harm those two revenue sources so it is a bad idea.
  • That's fairly lame. I mean, even Microsoft provides the Windows Update service for free...even to people who pirate Windows.

    The technology for auto-updaters is there and the source is available, so it's not like there aren't a million examples to refer to when implementing your own.

    This just seems like a way to squeeze more money out of the consumer and nothing more. I would rather pay $50 for a boxed software set and be able to receive free updates online.

    -David
  • What I don't understand, if the original poster of this thread is correct, is why someone at said "client" doesn't just set up a single server (and a single license with RedHat), set up for free updates, then use that machine to update all the other machines on the network running a copy of RedHat (it isn't necessary for each machine to auto update - talk about a waste of bandwidth)? This shouldn't be that difficult to set up, and bypasses the monthly fee - right?

    It would bypass it, and it would be perfectly ok as I understand it. But you have to consider that RHN is more than just doing a rpm -Fvh on every system - it lets you tailor the upgrades and upgrade policys for every machine, tell exactly what should be upgraded when there's upgrades and how and when, and what upgrades should be notified upon, etc.
    So you'd have to implement a "RHN" of your own on your local net to replace all of that functionality, even with that single master that uses RHN "for real".

    Hey, I am all for RedHat to make money - and I agree that this is a value added service, and should be charged for. No problems here with that. But they better hope their normal business users are all dumb, or have incompetent admins (running Linux - hah - probably some MCSE who picked up a book on RedHat and now thinks he knows something - that or a management type trying to get ahead)...

    Don't confuse convenience and simple economics with being dumb. For some companies it might be cheaper to use RHN than hire a code monkey to implement an equally competent update-distribution mechanism (yes, RHN is more than just the functionality of apt-get).
    Most of the services that Red Hat offers can be had for free (in fact, all I know of). You can download the OS free of charge - but many people don't have the bandwidth/time/patience/burner or want the printed manuals/support. Consider this a similar thing - it's a ready-to-go update deployment/tracking system for those who need it and don't want to or have the time or resources to implement it on their own.

  • all of a sudden the cost of one movie ticket and a soda

    I don't know where you live but here in New York, Sony recently anounced a hike in the Movie prices from $8.50 to $9.00. I WISH that it was the cost of a movie ticket and a soda, but it barely covers the cost of a ticket.
  • You're right, but it's not only the linux arena in which software versions exist.

    The whole commercial `venduh' world has thrived off it, or rather off victims' laziness, for decades now; updatability is something that comes with all software, but awareness of the need for updatability is particularly prevalent in the open-source world.
    It's the "release" phenomenon that I've been harping on against for the last couple of years now; all software gets improved over time (and occasionally forked): all a distribution does is to slice specific versions of the software, compile the lot together, do some testing and say "this works".
    This is why unsubstantiated talk like "RH7.0 is unstable, it's a 7-point-0 release, I'm going to avoid it" is bogus: the release is as good as any other and in terms of upgrading from there to the current bleeding edge, you've got less far to go than if you start from 6.2.
    ~Tim
    --
    .|` Clouds cross the black moonlight,
  • by jpowers (32595) on Monday March 19, 2001 @08:49AM (#354247) Homepage
    They're a company, they're no longer in a situation where they are being handed free money whenever they need it, and all these downloads cost them money. MS can afford not to charge because they take all their money up front. RH gives you the stuff for free to begin with, but that auto-update service must be a real killer for bandwidth, so you pay for the privilege. I'm guessing this isn't a profit-generating move so much as a play to break even on the bandwidth costs for this service.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the institutions we use as mirrors for distros didn't mirror this service as well, eventually, some of them for free, because it's still legal for them to do so, but you know how crowded their connections get. So you'll be paying for speed with your big bad ten bucks.

    The local trolls are right, the wording of the story is a classic troll itself: social engineering to incite a negative reaction.

    -jpowers
  • I disagree. I like Red Hat as a company, and respect their need to make money. However, I am suspicious of the "hey, we have to make money somehow" justification. I did not accept this article at its face and assume that RH were being bastards. Instead, I thought good and hard about it.

    Here's what I came up with:

    1. Yes, they should charge for this service.

    2. They should also make a VERY public show of giving free access to anyone credited with developing any part of their software. This is good policy AND good press.
  • by cr0sh (43134)
    You're not, AC - if this is how it works, it doesn't sound that safe. I would much rather the process is a user process, and root has to go in every now and then and manually run the update, selecting which packages to update. Maybe the system uses sudo or similar to give access to a user process only to certain areas - who knows?

    What I don't understand, if the original poster of this thread is correct, is why someone at said "client" doesn't just set up a single server (and a single license with RedHat), set up for free updates, then use that machine to update all the other machines on the network running a copy of RedHat (it isn't necessary for each machine to auto update - talk about a waste of bandwidth)? This shouldn't be that difficult to set up, and bypasses the monthly fee - right?

    Hey, I am all for RedHat to make money - and I agree that this is a value added service, and should be charged for. No problems here with that. But they better hope their normal business users are all dumb, or have incompetent admins (running Linux - hah - probably some MCSE who picked up a book on RedHat and now thinks he knows something - that or a management type trying to get ahead)...

    Worldcom [worldcom.com] - Generation Duh!
  • I keep hearing this--hearing that bugs are inevitable, and that bug-free software is impossible...Check out this article for proof to the contrary.

    Even the shuttle software-meisters - fantastic job though they do - aren't 100% bug free. According to the linked article, "The last 11 versions of this software had a total of 17 errors." Fantastic, amazing, well-done, but not perfect.

    We have become FAR too accepting of bugs in commercial software. It's only because we accept it that the companies can get away with it.

    It's not just a question of accepting it...it's a question of paying for it, in time and dollars.

    They say "Fast, cheap, good - pick two", but it's more like pick one. The Space Shuttle avionics code has taken an enormous effort of time and dollars. They're still using machines with ferrite core memory, because a hardware change would mean massive software changes; try floating that idea to your boss - "We can't upgrade the server because doing so might introduce bugs. We have to stick with that 25 MHz '486 running NetBSD 0.9."

    Admittedly, a lot of the upgrading going on is for the sake of flash, not substance; if we could beat it into PHB's heads that reliability is more important than special effects and dancing paperclips, we could proceed with greater focus.

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms | http://www.infamous.net/

  • There's always Red Carpet [ximian.com], as well... I wonder if it will continue to work for free.

    I would encourage people to pay free software companies when possible, so that they stay in business. It's good for us all.

    - - - - -
  • It was free during the trial period while they worked the bugs out. It was never going to be a free server. I knew it was going to be $10/month ages ago.

    But, each person gets one free system on the network. So if all you run is a Red Hat workstation you don't have to spend anything. Only people with multiple systems do.

    I can see the benefits of RHN. I like the single console view, and I like being able to push updates to clients, but at $10/month/workstation that can get pricey if you have a lot. Then again, I'm sure if you have 500 or 1000 workstations you can work a better deal with them.
  • They are selling a support service. You can either get the updates yourself and apply them to your systems, or use the easy push method from Red Hat Network.

    What's the problem? They have to make money somehow, and supposedly support is the way it should be done with open source. Support them.
  • People should remember that you are commenting on market share, not installation share. IMHO, I don't think there will ever be reliable numbers regarding installation statistics.

    --

  • It's just a special introductory offer for every system that subscribes before April 6. If you get your system logged in before that date, it's 9.95/month until September 1.
    Regular price is $19.95/month. Much like paying for another dial-up service. A casual user might find this service useful enough to be willing to pay for it. They may be trying to get business customers to use it, but I have a feeling that most business customers have a *nix guru that takes care of their systems already.
  • As for Mandrake and RedHat "fighting" each other, you really ought to do some brain-checking first. Exactly how many releases of Mandrake and RedHat have occurred so far this year? Oh, that's right. 1. Not much of a war, huh?

    Class, by now some of the brighter among you may be realizing that we have yet to pass the quarter mark this year.

    -----------------------

  • by Arker (91948) on Monday March 19, 2001 @07:15AM (#354275) Homepage

    Oh no... someone said Money in the same paragraph as Linux, someone better prepare for the onslaught of free software fanatics from Slashdot...


    ...who are also going to try and mod this down.

    Yikes, wake up guy. Free Software is about Freedom, not money. Lots of "Free Software fanatics" posted before you did, and we're saying that this was exactly the sort of thing Redhat is supposed to do to make money and keep working.

    How well it will work remains to be seen, but I wish em the best.

    Cmdr Taco is trolling again... *yawn*

    Taco:

    I want RH to make a buck too, but this seems like a pretty crappy way to do it.

    Just why is this a crappy way to do it, Taco? Huh? What the hell is wrong with selling optional services to support the company? What better ideas do you have for a business model?

    With Editors like this who needs trolls?


    "That old saw about the early bird just goes to show that the worm should have stayed in bed."
  • I've never gotten up2date to work well for me. Instead, I've been using a script that parses rpmfind.net output and automagically installs stuff for me. Considering this news, I'm releasing the script to the public (something I didn't want to do because if rpmfind changes, the script breaks).

    Here is the link to the script [2y.net]. Please mirror, etc, as this is a cable line, and my wife's website (the reptile shelter in my sig) will go down if this site goes down.

  • "Anyways, the only bug-free program anymore might be hello world...."

    OK, time for a personal rant.

    I keep hearing this--hearing that bugs are inevitable, and that bug-free software is impossible. This leads to the development of software with bugs, because "we can't catch everything!"

    Hogwash!

    Check out this article [fastcompany.com] for proof to the contrary.

    We have become FAR too accepting of bugs in commercial software. It's only because we accept it that the companies can get away with it.

    OK, rant over. Back to watching the snow.

  • Yeah, I knew this argument was coming. It's got some validity to it, although only some.

    You're talking about writing bug-free software from scratch. How about taking Office97 and spending three years debugging it? That's what Office2000 could have been, instead of even crappier, buggier, "web-enabled" bloatware shite. How many programmers does MS have working on Office?

    As for the price, it's already nearly $700 for Office-Pro, and it's got _thousands_ of bugs in it.

  • Well the space shuttle guys are now using radiation-hardened 80486's. That's a step forward.

    But consider this: If we look at the Wintel platform in the business world, we're trading off pure performance for a certain level of hardware abstraction. We don't write for the hardware, we write for Windows. Now if Windows (any version) was bug-free and stable, and our app was bug-free and stable, then we would be able to upgrade our hardware without any concern. From '486 to Pentium (except for the one with the FP bug!), to P-III.

    The real point is this: If we had a bug-free platform, then buggy software/hardware/drivers would stand out like a sore thumb. Since we live in a buggy world, vendors can get away with more bugs.

    Or more succinctly: Buggy software promotes buggy software. Bug-free software promotes bug-free software.

  • Staples has the _upgrade_ to Office2000 _basic_ for that price maybe. Current price for complete O2k-pro is $850 Canadian, which comes out to about $550 US.


  • No no, forget about parallel development. Forget about new features that no one uses. Forget about the @#$$@ paperclip.

    This is what we should see: "Office 2000: Faster, smaller, better. Increase your productivity by reducing your down-time...to zero!"

    If word got out (and it would!) that this was a bug-free, tightly coded rerelease of Office97, I bet that it would sell like mad!

  • And how about:

    3. They should give it free to all non-profits and charities.

    They should charge such a low price that everyone should be happy to pay it! e.g. $10/annum/machine. $120/annum/machine is hefty and many people will run RH and not buy and many others will choose another distro or even OS. At $10/annum how many people would think it an unreasonable deterrent for choosing a distro?

  • Exactly right. Unfortunately, from what I read, a lot of people only pay lip service to the different OSS philosophies and the ideal "business models" suggested or tried by the linux world...underneath all they care about is getting everything for free. It IS sad, especially (it has been said before in this discussion) when you can just download and apply the updates yourself at no cost still.

  • Also, if there's quite a bit of stuff that "mere mortal users" would have no interest in then one cannot really say that a Linux distribution is "bloated".

    Ummmm:

    Also, if there's quite a bit of stuff that "mere mortal users" would have no interest in then [sic] one cannot really say that a Microsoft Office distribution is "bloated".

    So what's your definition of "bloated" again?

  • by SpanishInquisition (127269) on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:18AM (#354311) Homepage Journal
    The choice is difficult: beer, update redhat, beer, update redhat, beer, mmm... Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

    --
  • by prisoner (133137) on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:20AM (#354314)
    Since the poster doesn't like the charge for update agent, what other ways would he/she have them make money? Look, the redhat update agent is the very definition of "Value Added Service" and it seems very reasonable to charge for it. They noted in the post that the old way of getting the files and applying updates still works just fine. Why not charge a (in my mind) paltry 10 bucks to make it easier? Look, not everyone has their linux server hacked together from 486 parts and hooked to a cable service. Some folks are trying to push it into the enterprise and services like this are great for that.
  • Have one machine that connects to RHN. Roll out the updates to the other 49 machines from the first one. Costs only 20 bucks and is a lot faster than having each machine suck from RHN individually

  • by MongooseCN (139203) on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:29AM (#354321) Homepage
    Oh no... someone said Money in the same paragraph as Linux, someone better prepare for the onslaught of free software fanatics from Slashdot...


    ...who are also going to try and mod this down.
  • What better ideas do you have for a business model?

    Issue an IPO and rake in the cash!!! ;)

    Oh darn, that doesn't work anymore...

  • > Right, then they lose much of the user base thats using RH, as they try out Mandrake or Debian or ___.

    Like when you boil a frog. They have to make it slowly more and more difficult to upgrade.

    > Doesnt sound like a good business move.

    Well, they _have_ to make money one way or another.

    They are market leaders, the have a slightly incompatible product (as everyone else), and they represent the _real_ "linux" in the eyes of US corporates. All commercial software that runs on "linux" runs mostly on redhat GNU/Linux. They are taking advantage of this, but will try to keep they barrier of entry as low as possible (like microsoft does by encouraging so-called 'piracy') by chargin only automagic updates. They will probably have a scheme so non-commercial users can still update.

    So maybe it is a good business move...

    Cheers,

    --fred
  • 1) Microsoft supplies software with bugs
    2) My software crashes and there's no way I can find the bug.
    3) I mention this bug to Microsoft and they blame someone else
    4) I pay for the upgrade just in case only to find that the same bug exists in the new version and Microsoft are still blaming someone else.

    Why am I happier using Linux?
  • Just as a matter of interest, isn't Windows.NET going to be available on a subscription basis? And aren't Microsofties the world over going on about how brilliant it is, even though it's still semi-vapour at the moment. Of course if you actually read the Changes FAQs [redhat.com] you'll find the following words:

    Starting February 26, you can try the full version of Software Manager for free, but only on one system.

    So basically for every RedHat box you buy, you get free updates. It's only if you use the one box set to set up several PCs that you have to pay. This is obviously aimed at businesses, but for those of us with more than one PC at home there are still plenty of distros to choose from.
    BTW if this change happened nearly a month ago, why has it only just become news?
  • "
    Microsoft does NOT call it's incremental updates "new OSes." They call them service packs. They did not even call Win98SE a new OS, they called it a new version of the OS.
    "

    The difference between 98 -> 98SE is about the same as 98SE -> ME

    How come ME is a new OS and 98SE isn't?

    Because market research says that 3 years is the correct interval between OS's.

    If Microsoft thought they could maximise their profit by releasing a new OS based on each internal build they would.

  • $10 / month for guaranteed high bandwidth, guaranteed connection server.

    Yep, I can see companies paying for that.

  • Huh. There are other update services already, and have been for a long time. autorpm is the first I saw (and tried) - and Ximian's Red Carpet is also perfectly able to provide update services for Red Hat Linux.

    http://rpmfind.net/linux/rpm2html/search.php?que ry =autorpm
    http://www.ximian.com/apps/redcarpet.php3
  • E4 and USB support installed with the OS - $90

    Bug fixes to repair the broken IE4 and USB update - $90

    Dumbing down the interface even more and being able to call your software "Me" - $100

    Reliablity update to fix everything that was wrong with the previous "must-have" updates, particularly the BSOD - $170

    Having a penguin for you OS Mascot: Priceless. Bill Gates wants all your money. For everything else, there's Linux.
  • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:20AM (#354345)
    For nearly two years major linux firms said they would one day charge for services related to their software, and for nearly as long /. users have been touting this as a viable business model. Now that it is implementation time, all of a sudden the cost of one movie ticket and a soda is too much to pay to a company that lets you download their principal product for free.

  • "maybe we should make some money"
    They are a For Profit business are they not. Furthermore, this isn't anything new, it's called Value Add and it was always their intention to make more money on services than on product. In fact, that's the whole point of the Open Source _business_ model.
    p.s. Don't expect Eazel's or even Ximian's services to be completely free for long either. Mostly because all three companies stated early on in their founding that this was _exactly_ how they planned on making money. When they take away your source and dominate the computer industry with an iron fist, then you can say they're becoming MS. Until then, chill out and realize that if they don't make money and go out of business a lot of damn good programmers who work on Linux full-time will be out of work.
  • Does your script evaluate the necessity and/or possible damage that an update might cause?

    Nope. However, the process is split across two scripts: One to grab the new files and another to do the actual update. I manually trigger it and keep an eye on what it's doing. However, there is a certain degree of "might as well just mindlessly apply the update", especially when there're no errata details to give me a clue as to what was changed. Also, if it's something major, I'll generally do a quick check afterward to make sure it's still working. And I still have to manually fix any config files that get moved to .rpmsave. But it's certainly quicker and easier than manually grabbing the updates (especially in the case where there aren't any).

  • by Erasmus Darwin (183180) on Monday March 19, 2001 @07:38AM (#354355)
    "Nix gurus" don't necessarily have time to check for, download, and install every single RPM.

    What kind of a Unix guru doesn't script this process? It's really just a matter of grabbing any updates in Redhat's 'updates/(versionnumber)/(arch)' and 'updates/(versionnumber)/noarch' directories and then applying an 'rpm -F (downloaded rpms)'. Not necessarily doable by the stereotypical RedHat user, but certainly not a problem for a Unix guru.

    I've even got my own ugly, ugly, homebrew, hacked-up solution that, while not 100% automated, lets me do an update (for my desktop machine and all 3 servers) in the background with only ~30 seconds of manual intervention. Automating the last little bit wouldn't be too much harder.

    The fact that RedHat's charging money for such a service amazes me. I understand that they provide value, I understand that it costs them money to provide this value, and I wish them the best of luck at making a buck, but it seems that their business model in this case can be devasted by someone willing to do a bit of scripting. Even Kirk Bauer's autorpm [kaybee.org] provides a free alternative (that has existed since before RedHat's update agent.

    There're two things that I can think of that make RedHat's business model potentially viable:

    • Lack of information - John Q. User will probably go with the quick-and-easy update process that's readily visible after installing RedHat.
    • Priority updates - RedHat could hypothetically decide to offer updates via the update agent service before they're available via FTP. Depending on how this gets done, it could be delibrate (such as it appearing on the update agent a week before FTP) or just an artifact of bandwidth and priority (it may appear on the FTP site as soon as the update agent starts pushing, but connection limits and mirroring delays may mean it's not readily available until a day or two later).
  • by mizhi (186984) on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:48AM (#354356) Homepage
    I see absolutely nothing wrong with this. It's not like they're still not providing the source code, and the ability to modify it... they are also not preventing you in anyway from distributing it. They're charging for the acti of downloading a distribution they've put together. Notice too, that unlike a certain OTHER company, they actually have competitors for what is generally the same product. Now, I like free things, and I am a RH user, but it's not like you can expect RH to survive on charity. Notice, that this is completely within the spirit of opensource software. Charging for a service.

    /. is a great site, and open source is wonderful, but sometimes the opensource community can be a bit whiney.... esp when no crime has been committed.

    On the other hand, I do hope RH understands when I start using another distribution. :-p
  • The issue is not RHN. RHN is irrelevant to the vast majority of Slashdot readers, who don't need the services provided by RHN. The issue is up2date no longer working anonymously.
    I don't see how they can monitor the service to prevent people from upgrading more systems than they've paid for and still allow anonymous access.
  • Did you forget this Mr. Taco.

    Isn't this what America is all about right now, convenience = money?

    You can still get the updates for free. It's like buying a Mandrake distro at Wal-Mart. You could download it for free (not including broadband costs), or your could spend $25 to get it right away.
  • by Peter Dyck (201979) on Monday March 19, 2001 @09:23AM (#354362)
    But aren't this kind of extra-value services (packaging, customization, documentation, etc.) just how free software / open source is supposed to make money. Even if you ask RMS [gnu.org].
  • I don't know why anyone is whining. You can still download Redhat for free, so if you have to set up a box, no problem. Redhat is a company filled with people who have to eat, pay rent, etc. $9.95 is not too bad when you consider the M$ option. If you're going to use Redhat software and expect updates, don't be such a leech by demanding everything free. If you don't like it, then use another distro.

    Besides, I feel that if one actively supports open-source software, then they'll be decent enough to put some money into it. Eventually, no money == no open-source software.

  • Don't just nay-say Microsoft because it's the cool thing to do on Slashdot. Throw in a pinch of reality.

    Microsoft does NOT call it's incremental updates "new OSes." They call them service packs. They did not even call Win98SE a new OS, they called it a new version of the OS.

    Win98SE was, in reality, what Microsoft wanted Windows 98 to have been from the beginning, they just could no longer hold-up the release date for Windows 98 due to PR concerns.

    Look, I have no love for Microsoft. I just get tired of hearing the same old lame arguments about Microsoft continually rolling out new versions and forcing the customer to upgrade. That's bull. If you are using Windows 95, there is no one forcing you to upgrade.

    Sure, maybe Microsoft should slow down it's release of versions so that you won't feel the need to upgrade from Windows 95 to Win98 to Win98SE to WinME. That's FOUR versions release over the period of FIVE years. How many versions does the average Linux distribution go through in the same time period?

    Hell, Mandrake and RedHat are fighting each other to see who can release the most version upgrades over the course of a single year. Why? TO MAKE MONEY. They are hoping that you and I won't have the bandwidth available to constantly download the latest version so that maybe, just maybe, we'll purchase a shrink-wrapped copy.

    Let's see, to upgrade to the latest consumer version of Mandrake you'll pay... somewhere between $30 and $130. To upgrade to the Latest consumer version of RedHat, you pay... between $30 and $80.00. To upgrade to the latest consumer version of Windows, you'll pay $90.00. Only with Windows, you won't have to upgrade to a new version every 4 to 6 months. And yes, I realize that you can download RedHat and Mandrake for free, but since most people don't have the bandwidth, they are going to end up buying it.

    And what does running Windows get me? It saves me from all that time spent downloading, compiling and tweaking software so that I can get a poor implementation of something that works great under Windows. (Ever try using Linux to watch VCD's? The frame rate is terrible, and there is just NO WAY for my laptop to provide fullscreen video.)

    Running Windows gives me access to services like Net2Phone, which, to date, has saved me several hundred dollars in long distance charges (my family lives on the other side of the country.)

    Look, I love Linux. Linux is great, awesome, and wonderful. But before Linux can ever compete with Windows, the developers and users are going to need to take some time away from their Linux Boxen and sit down to a Windows Box and judge it fairly and acurately. Windows still provides better functionallity and services (client side) then Linux does. Linux has a LONG way to go before it becomes a viable "everyman" operating system.

  • Software developers are extremely expensive people. I should know, I'm one of them. You don't think the people that work at RedHat and write software work for free do you?

    It costs thousands, nay, millions to develop big pieces of software. This kind of cost cannot be made up by selling "support" (unless you're software is so shitty it requires users to sit on the phone with you for hours everyday) nor distribution costs.

  • by rebelcool (247749) on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:18AM (#354385)
    you mean, after spending thousands and thousands of dollars for developing updates..they're going to charge?? How dare they follow economic reality!
  • Hi. I work at Ximian on Red Carpet. We will not charge for updates to Ximian GNOME or to the user's distribution. We will charge, however, for commerical third parties to add software channels to Red Carpet, and at some point in the future, we would like to have the ability to sell software through RC, but we'll never charge for the basic service.
    -----
  • This is unfortunate, but not unsurprising.

    Did CmdrTaco ever learn about double negatives in school? If it's not unsurprising, doesn't that make it surprising? in this language anyway?

    I guess he's free to use double negatives if he likes. That don't make me no never mind.

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