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Red Hat Software Businesses

Ask Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik 666

Posted by Roblimo
from the straight-from-the-horse's-mouth dept.
Red Hat has made several changes in how they run their business, notably concentrating more (perhaps one might say "entirely") on enterprise-level Linux users. Some of Red Hat's moves have upset long-time users, and many people seem to have trouble understanding exactly where Fedora fits into all this. Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik has offered to answer your questions and clear things up, so ask away. Please don't ask questions he's answered in recent interviews and statements, and try -- hard though this may be for some -- to ask only one question per post. We'll forward 10 or 12 of the highest-moderated questions to Szulik tomorrow, and run his answers when he gets them back to us.
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Ask Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik

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  • by FraggleMI (117868)
    What kind of a business model is it to lure everyone into using the RedHat Desktop, and then drop support. Seems like the Microsoft model of forced upgrades.
    • SOHO Support? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by soloport (312487) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:39PM (#7465574) Homepage
      I'm not asking for much. Since I've already switched to Fedora Core, I've noticed that up2date still/already works with Fedora. What struck me was that there was no sign-up process! The packages downloaded without a hitch. Will this service continue forever? If your plan is to discontinue up2date support for Fedora, why?! Why not just keep charging for a RHN-like service?

      I have at least a half-dozen entitlements -- faithfully renewed each year. I've offered a few of my paid-for entitlements to clients, for free, as part of my service. My plan has been to expand this to more of my clients in the near future. But now, I feel stuck.

      These are mom & pop shops (in the dozens) who will NEVER be able to afford your Enterprise offer. They wouldn't know how to keep their Red Hat, back-office server up-to-date if it meant saving their business. I make a living by saving these people from hours and hours of servicing Microsoft patches, updates and malware. If you will not be effectively supporting the SOHO market (including my clients), what do you recommend?!

      SOHOs know "Red Hat". I will have to teach them "Mandrake", "SuSE", or perhaps maybe not so much "Novell", instead. I believe today's SOHOs are tomorrow's Enterprise buyers. What do you believe?
      • Re:SOHO Support? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pivo (11957) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @01:31PM (#7466132)
        I make a living by saving these people from hours and hours of servicing Microsoft patches, updates and malware.

        If you didn't make money doing this, would you still do it? RedHat didn't make enough money providing updates for their desktop distribution, so they stopped doing it. Seems rational to me.

        There's no sign up process for Fedora because it's no longer required, not because it's going away. What has changed is who's responsible for providing updates. It's now not RedHat's sole responsiblity, it's a community process just like Debian.

        You need to take a deep breath, relax, and read the information at http://fedora.redhat.com [redhat.com]
  • Fedora (Score:5, Insightful)

    by radixvir (659331) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:04PM (#7465123) Homepage
    Don't you think if more users are using an operating system they will be more implied to use that same operating system at the workplace or recommend it to others. In that case, why did you recommend windows for desktop users?
    • Re:Fedora (Score:3, Interesting)

      Not a question, but a reply to the parent.

      I think the real issue is whether or not he meant "home desktop" vs. "corporate desktop". The corporate desktop is one where the admins have very tight controls over how the desktop works and there is a good deal of consistency across different boxes. The home desktop is a totally different beast. You have home users who want to do silly things like plug in USB cameras, scanners and play the latest games and media content. For those users, sadly, *RedHat* Linux
  • Why (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Pingular (670773)
    did you decide to stop producing the Red Hat 'standard' distro, when it was the leading desktop distro?
    • Re:Why (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mattdm (1931)
      Notice that they *haven't* stopped. It's just called Fedora now, and has a more open developement process.
  • by rastakid (648791) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:05PM (#7465132) Homepage Journal
    Dear Mr. Szulik, where do you see Linux on the desktop for end-users going now, since RedHat decided to focus (almost) entirely on Enterprise-level? I thought we were doing quite fine, don't you think this is a step back in becoming the number one desktop OS for end-users?
  • Question... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by herrvinny (698679) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:05PM (#7465138)
    Mr. Szulik, I have often recommended Red Hat software to people just beginning to learn Linux. Why have you discontinued the Red Hat Linux Desktop line, and what Linux distribution should I recommend to people wanting to learn Linux? Please note, Mr. Szulik, I know very well your comments on how people should use Windows on the desktop, but I'm thinking of people who want to learn Linux.
    • by Jerf (17166) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @01:06PM (#7465892) Journal
      you shouldn't ask(/waste) the question.

      This, and a number of other highly-rated questions where the answer is "Fedora" (followed by what will boil down to some hype for Fedora), should probably be moderated "Overrated" in the interest of presenting questions for which the answers the Red Hat CEO will give are not immediately obvious.

      (Normally I wouldn't question moderation, but in interviews mods are more like votes, so this is a valid opinion.)

      (And of course, in the event this gets rated highly it does not constitute a question.)
  • up2date (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aldousd666 (640240) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:05PM (#7465139) Journal
    Is the up2date service going to continue to work for us end users who still use RH9, or are we going to have to go Fedora treating our existing installations as defunct? I've spent quite a lot of hours configuring my systems, and I think you're going to make a lot of angry users if things change too drastically. I know a number of people who are already shunning the name RedHat in favor of the other flavors.
    • Re:up2date (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jimpop (27817) *
      If the up2date service is NOT going to continue, will a refund be made to those whose pre-paid service agreement is prematurely terminated?
    • Re:up2date (Score:3, Informative)

      by ftobin (48814) *
      The mails RedHat has sent out have made it explicitly clear that up2date will have erratas posted to it until April 30, 2004. up2date will continue to work for the next 8 months, but no new erratas will be posted.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 13, 2003 @01:17PM (#7465983)
      I would like to consider myself a RedHat advocate. It was largely based on my recommendation that 50 RHN Entitlements for updating non-enterprise version of RedHat GNU/Linux. My boss has since been rubbed the wrong way when RHN failed to "work as advertized" on August 29th. The best explaintion that I have gotten from RedHat is that it is "the nature of SSL" that forced manual upgrades of up2date & up2date-gnome for each system. In October, RedHat charged a renew fee on the 50 RHN Entitlements for another year of service. So, now that my boss has gotten the bill, he is asking what type of return on investment he should expect from May 2004 to October 2004. To make a long story short, the question is, are we being charged a full year for only 7 months of updates? If non-enterprise contracts aren't fully honored as advertized (automated updates require manual updates after Aug 28th and a full year charge only provide 7 months of updates) then how does RedHat expect advocates of RedHat to successfully encourage the companies that have gotten burned to pay out even more for enterprise contracts?
  • linux's enemy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by musikit (716987) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:05PM (#7465140)
    Some people (not neccessarily me) don't consider Windows to be Linux's enemy. They are in fact targeting to different markets. However given the fact that you are now focusing on the enterprise level Linux environment, What other products do you feel is Linux/RedHat's enemy? Another way of saying it is, What products do you feel Linux/RedHat is competing against?
  • Timing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jester42 (623276) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:05PM (#7465141)
    With United Linux on the way, don't you think it was badly timed to have everybody using RedHat Linux ponder about which distribution to go for next?
  • by salesgeek (263995) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:05PM (#7465147) Homepage
    Matthew - If you were looking for an opportunity to start a small business (size at peak $25 Million revenue, perhaps 250 employees) in the Linux world, where would you go?
  • Red Hat and Fedora (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mahdi13 (660205) <icarus.lnx@gmail.com> on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:06PM (#7465151) Journal
    There has been lots of talk that Fedora is just a testing ground for the software that goes into RHEL. Leaving the packages that go into Fedora is a state of 'beta-test-limbo' and once the bugs are hammered out, only then will they be moved into RHEL. How true is this?
  • What's next? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr. Sketch (111112) * <mister.sketch@nOSPAM.gmail.com> on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:06PM (#7465152)
    For the average person, RedHat _is_ Linux. Who do you believe will replace you as being the defacto Linux distribution for the average person?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:06PM (#7465156)
    Mr Szulik, you are no doubt aware that there's a gap in your product lineup -- you have a good range of enterprise products, and a hobbyist distro, but there's something missing in the middle. A solid, tested and supported desktop for home users and small businesses, which doesn't carry the price tag of RHEL WS.

    I (and thousands upon thousands of others) felt comfortable with RH's excellent QA and support. Now that this is only available in RHEL, how would you react to the community creating a freely-distributale RHEL variant? In other words, strip out the copyrighted bits, use the errata SRPMs to produce updates, and offer users with a robust, cheap and long-term supported distro.

    This may cause problems with your core business, and I respect greatly the work RH does on GCC, GNOME, glibc, XFree86 etc., but I can see a group getting just enough dissatisfied to create such a distro.

    MSa

    • how would you react to the community creating a freely-distributale RHEL variant?

      Someone's already doing a "white box" version of RHEL. He asked not to post a link on slashdot as the beta ISOs are hosted on a pretty narrow pipe.

      • They might not encourage the Idea but I don't see how they would care. This new 'copy' would have to pickup the slack in support, bandwith. What business in thier right mind trusts thier business on software patched, updated and written by a guy referred to as "Someone"? Not me! And if your goal is a desktop for home users, who wants a slow stable (boring) OS at home? Not most of us. We want exciting new things consistantly. Everytime redhat had a new release routers were being burned out in some places of
  • IBM did this with OS/2. It is far cheaper to support an operating system where you are only dealing with sysadmins then the type of people you have to say, "is it plugged in?"

    Where this differs from OS/2 is that there are others producing end user version of Linux so that small end users are not left in the cold.
  • by j0keralpha (713423) * on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:07PM (#7465162)
    Your diversion to a business oriented model makes a lot of sense, although you dont need me to tell you that. However, RH has long placed a lot of emphasis on helping (and defending) the general Linux community. Will we still be able to depend on RH for their help with both linux development (possibly through Fedora, possibly not) and their commitment to Linux? Or is this a signal of departure to a more closed model?
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:07PM (#7465163) Homepage Journal

    One of the (many) factors leading to Microsoft dominance was that they had, from the user's perspective, essentially the same operating system on the desktop and the server, in that they ran the same software; And recently, Microsoft has provided literally the same software on desktop and server. RedHat began with a general-purpose product, and then moved to an artificial separation between desktop and server as Microsoft now has, and has since moved to providing only the Server. Do you feel that this is a necessary product of the differences between open and closed source models, or is it simply the right position for RedHat to take, and not the rest of the Open Source Unix community?

  • by prostoalex (308614) * on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:07PM (#7465169) Homepage Journal
    Your company has been in black for a few quarters and generally has shown good growth tendencies [yahoo.com] for analysts to give your stock good ratings and Buy recommendations.

    Your exit from the desktop Linux market was an attempt to focus the company on enterprise editions, which bring in more contracts and revenues.

    How big of a business was desktop Linux for you in the first place and what was your revenue structure in that market? How much do you expect to add to bottom line by concentrating on enterprise market?
  • by DragonMagic (170846) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:07PM (#7465174) Homepage
    With the SCO lawsuit, FUD from different companies and investment firms, and the need for businesses to have reliable and cost-effective solutions, will RedHat stick with GNU/Linux as its core operating system, or is there any thought to building more than one kernel-based enterprise suite? FreeBSD, OpenBSD, etc.?

  • My question: Why use the word "Enterprise" when the clearer and simpler "business" means the same thing?
  • by jbeamon (208826) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:09PM (#7465196)
    Please differentiate for us the differences between Fedora Core and its periodic scheduled releases, Rawhide (which used to be a bleeding-edge, "unstable/testing" compilation), and the Fedora Legacy project. I've only heard of Legacy once in an online discussion, and there was a link back to another discussion. This knowledge would be invaluable to those of us who are willing to use a more recent compilation like Fedora, but are uncomfortable going completely without an established system for fishing through updated packages from hundreds of willing volunteers and setting up an install-compatible repository. The Legacy project especially interests me as a gesture toward the low-price entry point for small business servers that Red Hat is abandoning with the death of RHL9.
  • by Alan Hicks (660661) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:09PM (#7465202) Homepage
    Given that your company is backing out of the low-end "consumer" market for linux distributions, RedHat obviously feels that profit margins aren't strong enough there to justify continuing that business model. Why do you feel this is so? Services like up2date seemed to me to be a wonderful method of turning a profit. It seems to me that a linux distriution that offers something like that would be able to make plenty of profit. Could overhead be too high at RedHat to make this possible, particularly given RedHat's history of instability and insecurity compared to other linux distributions (notable Debian and Slackware, and to a lesser extent SuSE)? If that is the case, why do you feel that Enterprise Linux will turn a higher profit margin?
  • by Vilim (615798) <ryan AT jabberwock DOT ca> on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:09PM (#7465208) Homepage
    Although I am not a user of Redhat Linux I am a Linux user who got my first start on Redhat. When I think of your descision to focus on the enterprise I can't help but think that you have done the Linux Desktop user base a great disservice. If it had not been for Redhat selling copies of its operating system in stores I would not have tried Linux at all. Linus himself even stresses that the future of Linux is in the deskop. How do you think you have aided the Linux community by removing the most accessable competitor to Windows from store shelves?
  • Hey Matt (Score:2, Informative)

    by FrankoBoy (677614)
    Hi there... Are there plans to work more closely with other Linux distributors for some kind of standardizing for the OS or even some kind of joint venture like United Linux ?
  • Do you see... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Pingular (670773)
    Fedora as the continuance of Red Hat Linux, or as something completley different? Or something inbetween?
  • by psychoid (568115) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:10PM (#7465216)
    What are your thoughts on the Novell purchase of SuSE and the threat that they will pose to your enterprise business?
  • by Theatetus (521747) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:10PM (#7465218) Journal

    You have mentioned that there would be a sort of quid pro quo between Fedora and your Enterprise line: in return for the community support for Fedora as a "testing ground" for Enterprise Linux, Fedora will get some engineering and management support from Red Hat. It's not that I doubt your honesty, but I'm worried that if I were to contribute to Fedora, those contributions might get sucked into an enterprise distribution I could never afford while Fedora support ends up falling by the wayside. How two-way will the street be, and are there any assurances that it will keep being two-way?

  • by Z4rd0Z (211373)
    Assuming the Redhat vs. SCO case is resolved in your favor before IBM vs. SCO makes it into court, how do you expect it to effect their case?
  • by AftanGustur (7715) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:10PM (#7465222) Homepage


    If you could go back in time with the knowledge you have to day, and live the dot-com years for a second time. What would you change in RedHat's business model ?

  • by divec (48748) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:10PM (#7465224) Homepage

    One of the strengths of Red Hat has always been its emphasis on Free software. Unlike, say, SuSE, which contains significant pieces of SuSE-only infrastructure (such as YaST), Red Hat has always been more careful not to "Weld The Hood Shut". This is one reason we recommend Red Hat to customers at work.


    Will we continue to see this, or will Red Hat start trying to beat the competition with proprietary add-ons?

  • RedHat Fedora (Score:5, Informative)

    by E1ven (50485) * <e1ven AT e1ven DOT com> on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:10PM (#7465226) Homepage
    It seems that RedHat Linux has one of the strongest brandings in the Linux world. While I understand that you want to drive sales of RedHat Enterprise Linux, I must ask why the RedHat name is not tagged to Fedora. RedHat Fedora would be a much more attractive product to many people, who would otherwise be looking at other Linux Distributions.

    In my office, on the news of RedHat ending their desktop distibution, our CTO is pushing for us to migrate the Desktops back to Windows 2000, and look into putting Windows Server 2003 onto the fileservers. While we had moved away from MS to avoid their licensing, we've suddenly found ourselves much less able to avoid it.

    Although I don't doubt that RedHat has done it's homework regarding dropping the Desktop Version, I'm worried about what will happen to many enterprises, such as our own, who had RedHat Enterprise on the Servers, and the Mass Distributed Red Hat 9 on the desktops. Certainly in such cases it will make my job of arguing to keep RedHat on the servers easier if we could "Maintain a homogeneous environment"
  • HP, Dell etc. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pubjames (468013) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:10PM (#7465228)

    It seems to me that the most important thing to gain widespread acceptance of Linux is for the big PC manufacturers to promote and factory install it.

    We used to hear that when companies such as Dell and HP were approached about this, they would be very hesitant about it, probably due to fear of what Microsoft might do in retaliation.

    Is this still the case? Do you think we are ever going to see Dell offering Linux as an option on their standard desktops, for example?

  • by capt.Hij (318203) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:11PM (#7465231) Homepage Journal
    One of the biggest issues for putting gnu/linux on the desktop is more support for hardware. I understand why Redhat is supporting Fedora and focusing more on industrial clients, but I am concerned about the long term implications. What will Redhat be doing to increase hardware compatibility and support? Without an official Redhat "civilian" distribution do you feel that you will have the ability to sway hardware manufacturers to support gnu/linux?
  • by mukund (163654) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:11PM (#7465235) Homepage
    Considering that the software in your distributions are made to a great extent (atleast over 50% of it) due to the efforts of the community, and the name "Red Hat" has achieved its recognition, not only due to its quality but also due to the testing and good-mouthing of members of the community, don't you think it is unethical of you to lock out the quality Linux distribution from Red Hat from that community? The GNU movement recommends charging for service. You could provide the ISOs and package updates to mirrors who'll gladly host it for the community. Think about it. You block out people from using their own hard work, and make it available to only some exclusive money-based segment which is out of the reach of many, you will eventually lose the community's support and popularity.
  • Mr. CEO Guy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RawCode (464152) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:11PM (#7465239)
    I see that you feel that Linux is not ready for the desktop. In that light, what key events need to take place in your mind for Linux to be considered to be 'ready' for the desktop. Key business alliences (a la Novell/SuSE)? Key settlements in a certain IP lawsuit (SCO)? Other milestones? Please give insite into WHY you feel its not ready for prime time.

    AND, if its NOT ready for the desktop, what will you run on YOUR desktop?
  • by reallocate (142797) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:12PM (#7465247)
    Has Red Hat's shrinkwrapped consumer-level product stream ever made a proft? To your knowledge, has SUSE or anyone else over made a profit from consumer sales?
  • Standardization? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sheetrock (152993) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:12PM (#7465254) Homepage Journal
    I've noticed that different Linux distributions take radically different approaches to fairly menial things such as filesystem layout and package management. Lately, I've started using Gentoo, which seems to offer the best blend of configurability and power of the current crop of Linux distributions while remaining simple and fun to use, but still suffers from the pitfalls of compatibility with software designed for other distributions including Red Hat (and packaging such as RPM).

    I think it is inevitable that standardization will continue to occur -- things have gotten much better over the last few years -- but do you see Red Hat changing to fit Linux or Linux changing to fit Red Hat in the future?

  • by codepunk (167897) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:12PM (#7465256)
    I am considering dropping our support contracts over this. The problem is that contrary to popular to his statements about the desktop not being ready, we run a ton of thin client desktops. The client machines run the non enterprise version of the os and use remote X to connect to a clustered advanced server. Their recent moves drops any possibility of support for the client machines. I am highly considering a move to either Suse and or Mandrake on both the clients and the server. I liken their move to not support the client version to Microsofts new licensing stupidity. RedHats clustering is nothing more than Kimberlite and I can download that.

    I am not seeing a roadmap out of RedHat that I am comfortable with.On top of that I am spitting mad about his desktop comments a few days ago!

  • by timothy (36799) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:13PM (#7465271) Homepage Journal
    I've used several distributions (distribution families, really) over the past few years, and the biggest hassle in switching from one to another is not the data (CD-Rs worked for a while, and now external hard drives), not the baseline apps (most non-specialist distributions, including RH, come with a boatload of included apps), but rather package management.

    Since apt4rpm works very well, once installed, have you considered a greater use for apt vs. RPMs in Fedora / future versions of whatever products end up with the Red Hat label? Mandrake's URPMI does a great, similar job, too. I like the automatic dependency checking that this type of package manager brings, and Synaptic is one of the nicest package management front ends I've seen.

    timothy
  • by bigpat (158134) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:14PM (#7465283)
    With Redhat giving up the threat of market share on the desktop, doesn't that give Micrsoft a free hand to focus its efforts on the server market? Just as years of development of Redhat Linux on the desktop seemed to develop into a pleasantly usable state.

  • Some of the loudest complaints about Linux revolve around package managment and installation. Granted this field has improved lately with things like Red Carpet and Synapse, but application installation is still the most cubersome process in linux. With new initiatives by the Linux community to make a bigger dent in the desktop community, does Red Hat have any plans for some type of installation manager, like the wise installer? Some applications like Ximian and Open Office do a pretty good job of making
  • Novell + Linux (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nepheles (642829) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:16PM (#7465297) Homepage
    What do you think are the implications of the Novell purchase of SuSe (and Ximian, for that matter)?
  • public vs private (Score:4, Interesting)

    by larry bagina (561269) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:16PM (#7465308) Journal
    Once upon a time, Red Hat was a private concern. Then .coms and linux became valid business models and Red Hat had a wildly popular IPO.


    Has being a public company altered your business decisions? Obviously, the infusion of cash allowed for greater growth, made it easy to buy other companies, and made unprofitability possible. But has meeting the streets demands adversly affected your business decisions?

  • What are the top issues you feel that need to be sorted out in order for Linux to really compete with Mac OS X and Windows?
  • Will Red Hat make any CDs or DVDs availabel for Fedora at all? I keep getting excellent Downloads, but the damn burning process is giving me fits for Fedora. Severn worked fine - Fedora is being cranky for some reason. All MD5 sums check out - just burining it and making it bootable isn't working like it should. Will Red Hat burn any Fedora Core CD's or DVDs and make them available?

    I like the idea, it just bites when Severn burned fine and Fedora won't.
  • by BigGerman (541312) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:18PM (#7465324)
    Which OS and desktop environments you, your colleagues and friends use every day?
    thanks in advance for your honest and direct answer.
  • What is the best consumer Linux distribution?
  • by Proudrooster (580120) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:19PM (#7465335) Homepage
    Dear Mr. Szulik,

    I have been purchasing and promoting RedHat Linux as a desktop alternative and it appears from recent official statements that RedHat is abandoning the desktop effort. I know the RedHat has recently annouced Fedora as a replacement to the boxed RedHat distribution which is supposed to be community based.

    In my experience as an RHCE, Redhat has done very little to promote a sense of community among it's users or RHCE's. A year ago, RedHat started some online forumns to start the community building processes but, the forumns were very short lived (2 months). Based on all this, where should the users and believers in a desktop Linux solution go next and, what is Redhat doing to and build an effective user/developer community around Fedora? Also, can you comment on the response that Fedora has received so far?
  • I've noticed quite a few questions that have been answered and re-answered again and again on the Fedora mailing lists and the Fedora Project website. Please read the Fedora FAQ [redhat.com] before asking Szulik a question thats been answered a thousand times already by people who actually know what the hell is going on with Fedora.
  • I saw a copy of Red Hat Professional Workstation [redhat.com] at CompUSA this weekend. It's not listed in bugzilla, and the web page all but says, "Don't buy this." What is RHPW, and who should buy it?
  • by Frater 219 (1455) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:25PM (#7465419) Journal
    I work for a world-renowned research institution. We have ~500 Red Hat Linux systems in labs and on desktops, mostly administered by scientists and technicians rather than central IT staff -- so keeping them up to date is a challenge.

    We have twice, over the past few years, attempted to contact Red Hat regarding site licensing or educational volume licensing for access to Red Hat Network. Both times the answer has been that -- unlike Sun, Microsoft, Apple, and our other OS suppliers -- Red Hat has no licensing programs for the education and science markets. For this reason, we have turned our Red Hat Linux users away from Red Hat Network and towards FreshRPMs APT [freshrpms.net] as a source of regular software updates.

    With the discontinuation of the Red Hat Linux product line, we are now at an impasse. We do not expect FreshRPMs to conjure up security and bug-fix updates for a system that will no longer be supported upstream. My clients would prefer a more guaranteed solution than FreshRPMs. However, Red Hat still shows no signs of interest in the education and research market. Fedora is not an option, as we can't expect our science staff to accept major upgrades every 2-3 months -- they are science nerds, not Linux nerds.

    Is there any chance that your plans for Red Hat Enterprise Linux include site- and volume-licensing oriented at the educational and research community? For if not, my colleagues and I will have a hard row to hoe -- migrating existing Red Hat Linux users to supportable distributions such as SuSE or Mandrake.

    • Educational Market (Score:3, Informative)

      by jefu (53450)
      I have to say that as an educator I've come to appreciate the value of an easy-install linux to recommend to students (as well as install on workstations/servers). Unless fedora is as easy to install as redhat has been, it will be much harder for me to recommend it.

      I'd like to encourage RedHat to continue to make an educational/research oriented distribution at a nicely low price that I can continue to recommend to students, as well as to those faculty (both CS and not so much) who might be interested in

    • I am in exactly the same boat. Our reseach group works closely with the both of the major midwest research centers and I'm pulling my hair out deciding what our right path for post-RH will be. The pricing of the Enterprise systems is just prohibitive for us, and for reseach fedora is too unstable to provide a fixed enironment that will last the length of an experiment. My perspective is obviously skewed but with the thousands of linux systems in use in just one of these major labs I would think that the R
  • by dmeranda (120061) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:27PM (#7465444) Homepage

    What makes Enterprise ES more attractive than either WS or AS, or even Fedora? Your website only makes vague short descriptions of each of the variants, and I have yet to find any advantage that ES may hold over its two peers. Even partners like Oracle are reluctant/refusing to support ES.

    One thing that would make a huge difference to us involved in purchasing Linux would be more detailed technical descriptions on your website. Even just having a package listing would I think relieve much confusion.

  • Bitter People... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IA-Outdoors (715597) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:28PM (#7465453)
    What do you say to the bitter ex-RedHat desktop users now left in limbo by your decision to go with RHEL only? Fedora's first release is, IMHO, a bust and lacks what RedHat brought to the table...stability. Be frank, I think it is OK to say "Hey, your segment of the market wasn't generating enough profit" or something of the like. Also, take Fedora out of the picture...in RedHat's desktop marketing research, who did you see as the best player out there in the linux desktop? Be willing to give a name and don't dodge the question as I feel many are interested in your answer.
  • Academics... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PseudononymousCoward (592417) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:28PM (#7465455)
    Mr. Szulik,

    As a professor at a Big-10 University, I now find myself in the curious situation that RedHat, for either server or workstation usage, is more expensive than Windows, owing to the terms that MS offers academia and the new licensing of RH products. Most Universities can _purchase_ Win2k3 Server for the price of one year of RHEL WS support.

    Does academia constitute one more market segment that RH is no longer contesting?
  • licensing issues (Score:5, Interesting)

    by painehope (580569) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:28PM (#7465460)
    when will RedHat have a more reasonable licensing scheme? Your licensing is excellent for corporate enterprise workstations, and I realize that you are moving away from home users, but what about clusters and universities?
    For example, I run Redhat across a rather large ( > 4000 CPUs ) cluster, and have never bothered doing more than buying a few boxed sets due to the fact that I have never been able to get a reasonable price from your sales team. Cluster support tends to be more like dealing w/ a single machine, since the hardware is generational ( if you add 512 CPUs to the system, their hardware is going to be exactly the same if you ordered it that way ). Why should I pay a license for each machine, when I can just get a license for one that is having the same problem as the others ( for example, a bizarre problem we had w/ the eepro100 driver + PVM - and yes, I know PVM is generally used for > 1 machine, but technically I probably could have addressed the support problem w/ 1 license ). I wouldn't have a problem buying cluster support if you had a decent sliding scale ( ex. : 512 nodes @ $50/node, 1024 nodes @ $35/node, etc. ). And of course, have a caching update server for the site.
    And for universities : if you want brand recognition, try offering site licenses or educational discounts. Don't count on all CS/EE students to be clued in enough to install Fedora on their laptop and then debug any problems that come up. Offer a site-wide license to all students for $50k, or a department for $10k, or something like that. That would probably give you a lot of name recognition in the future. You already offer site licenses for corporations, right?
    So when will RedHat come up w/ some decent licensing schemes for those environments?
  • by gamartin (145290) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:30PM (#7465477)

    Question: Why has Red Hat never articulated a strategy appropriate for the small business market?

    Example: My small business has 8 workstations and 2 servers; here's what's important to me:

    1. Moderate release cycle -- small businesses don't care about bleeding edge features
    2. Security/errata updates -- small businesses need someone else to monitor these complex issues
    3. Support available for at least 3 years -- small businesses do care about stability and hate forced upgrades
    4. No per-machine licensing restrictions -- small businesses look to linux for cost savings and will not tolerate per-machine licensing; product must be installable on multiple machines to realize cost savings
    5. Metered support options -- small businesses are willing to pay for actual support services used
    6. No compliance audits -- small businesses do not have time for that type of crap

    I'm willing to pay roughly $200/year for standard support services for these machines plus per-incident costs if they arise. I have been running Red Hat 7.3 with 2 Red Hat Network subscriptions and manually propagating updates to the other machines (which is annoying but tolerable since N is small).

    I have been a paying customer, and I'm basically amenable to any sort of metered service system where payment is for services used. However, now I am being jettisoned as a Red Hat customer: Fedora has no support, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux is too expensive. Red Hat has all the resources already in place to support my needs, yet is unwilling to do so.

    Why is Red Hat unable to support this type of revenue stream which seems perfect for linux?
  • by scons (633185) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:33PM (#7465499)
    One of the significant differentiators between RHEL and Fedora is that RHEL will continue to benefit from Red Hat's QA resources, while Fedora will now rely on "community testing" for QA.

    To what extent is Red Hat part of the "Fedora community" for QA purpose? If Red Hat QA finds bugs in the Fedora Core from which RHEL draws, will Red Hat contribute bug reports and/or patches back to Fedora, so that the community as a whole will benefit from that work? Since Red Hat is naturally interested in maintaining some sort of differentiation to give people incentive to purchase RHEL, what criteria will govern when Red Hat would or would not contribute bug reports and/or patches to Fedora?

  • by jmkaza (173878) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:33PM (#7465503)
    Customers of mine have been hesitant to try Linux. Many still see it as bleeding edge technology, and have developed a 'wait and see' attitude. With the free release of RedHat 9, I've been able to incorporate LAMP systems for small projects, at an incredible price. The stability, reliability, and security of those systems has helped to prove the overall impression of Linux, and in some cases lead to Enterprise Licensing for larger systems. With Fedora being primarily a testing release, without the stability we've come to expect from RedHat, how can I convince customers RedHat is a valid choice?
  • by Sir_Kurt (92864) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:34PM (#7465512)
    Dear Mr. Szulik, We have run Rehat on our office servers since the 4.2 days. We have recently been replacing our desktops (mostly OS/2 machines)with Redhat nine. Now that your company will no longer provide an inexpensive supported desktop solution for those of us who do not need the (expensive) enterprise solution, what other linux distribution would you recommend we use in lieu of Redhat 9?

    Regards
  • Migration (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pjrc (134994) <paul@pjrc.com> on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:36PM (#7465545) Homepage Journal
    In April, I must migrate from "Red Hat Linux 9" to "something else" if I want to continue with the benefit of a distribution that publishes security updates. My paid RHN subscription runs out in March, by the way. I've been willing to pay $120/year (2 systems), but I'm certainly not willing to pay much more.

    So what should "something else" be? Your remark about Windows is legendary by now, but Microsoft is not an option since I depend on the gnu environment and a lot of linux-based software.

    Why should I choose Fedora? Debian certainly looks like the best choice, offering much longer maintainance than the 4-6 month release cycle and 2-3 months of bug fixes the Fedora claims. And Debian is well established and has a strong user base. Even Suse and Mandrake look like better choices than Fedora's extreemly short maintainance cycle. Each of these distributions considers me (even if I download free ISOs) as their "customer", whereas Red Hat's attitude appears to be that I'm a "hobbist" or "enthusiast" if I use Fedora.

    So please answer with your best "sales pitch" for Fedora. This is your chance to sell it to me and thousands of other long-time Red Hat Linux users. Or if you (and Red Hat) really don't care if I switch/migrate to Debian instead of Fedora, please be honest and just say so.

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:37PM (#7465551)
    I recently oversaw the coversion of two offices migrating from Windows to RH 9 Linux. I had three other companies sold on using Linux on the desktop up until this past week. The two offices I set up with RH9 were unquie as they had been using RH linux on servers for years and were able to offer internal support. The Annoucement last week hasn't phased their plans as their current hardware is expected to last another 2 - 3 years. However, now with the future of the other major commercial distro, I have been forced to advice the three clients looking into Linux to purchase new Windows machines and their IT staff decided to replace their Linux boxes with windows server 2003 for a totally intergrated solution.

    Before, it looked as though Linux was poised to make a major push onto corperate desktops within the next two years. Now without any firm support, many companies I have spoken with are ruling out Linux all together and going to other *iux vendors such as *BSD, Apple, and even Sun. With the sudden EOL for RH products, how are company's to trust RH's commitment to their products and services?

  • by duffbeer703 (177751) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:42PM (#7465598)
    How is Red Hat going to deal with the multiple free distributions that are bound to start eating at your market/mindshare?

    The only thing the makes your "Enterprise" sustainable is the support of commercial software vendors like Oracle, IBM, etc.

    What happens when Oracle decides that it's easier to provide their OWN distro for running Oracle?

    It seems to me like RedHat is turning its back on the community and throwing itself to the wolves.
  • by shogarth (668598) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:48PM (#7465661)

    Dear Mr. Szulik,

    I am the IT manager of a large academic department at a California university. I have installed Red Hat linux as the distribution of choice since 1995. I trusted that Red Hat would rapidly make patches available and found Red Hat's default GUI layout to be intuitive when training others. However, I am now in a quandry. I don't want to switch distributions; I'm happy with what I have. However, as the campus negotiated pricing for RHEL, several critical questions went unanswered. Since I am limited to one question per post, I will ask the big one.

    Why does the only level of support available for 4-CPU systems cost between $1,500 and $2,000 per year? Operationally, there is no difference between my 1, 2, and 4 CPU boxes. I get OS patches from Red Hat and support from the Open Source Community. However, the lowest level of support for my 4-CPU box would cost about as much as the whole campus's software support contact with Sun. Why is this a good deal and how can I possibly justify it at the political layer?

    Thank you.

  • by paranerd (672669) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:48PM (#7465662)
    Everyone whom I've heard express an opinion, from freeloaders through customers to industry critics, have said that your recent marketing machinations are poorly thought out. Would you be willing to rethink your business strategy and reverse your current direction?
  • by mapnjd (92353) * <nic@worldofn i c .org> on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:49PM (#7465674) Homepage Journal

    A lot of people here don't seem to have noticed that Red Hat still have a desktop product (RHEL WS 3 [redhat.com]) and if they did would find the pricing intimidating. Sure $179 of x86 isn't much, but it's a lot more than $0! Moreover $792 for AMD64 is out of the reach of non-corporate purchasers. (If my next home box in a year or so is an AMD64 will I be forced to use a different distro for the first time ever?)

    So onto the question:

    Could there be room for a level between Fedora (free, good, etc.) and the RHEL WS 3 pricing: ie. the RHEL WS 3 product, but with updates only via 3rd-party yum mirrors or some such?

  • by winchester (265873) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:51PM (#7465708)
    My current employer will not allow any Linux on the network unless it is evaluated under the common criteria. The minimum EAL is EAL 3+.

    SUSE and IBM got Linux EAL 2+ evaluated, and are currently working on receiving a higher level. However, when this evaluation will be undertaken is currently unknown.

    Is RedHat currently planning to have their Enterprise Linux undergo common criteria evaluation, and if not, please explain your motivation.
  • Cost / EOL issues? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by identity0 (77976) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @12:54PM (#7465752) Journal
    Dear Mr. Szulik,

    I believe that the popularity of Red Hat with business users early on was the promise of a workstation/server that was much cheaper than Windows, combined with decent support not available for the other Linuxes and BSDs. Now, I see [redhat.com] that the 'basic edition' of Enterprise Linux Workstation is $179 and for Enterprise Server is $349. All that for a distro without even web-based support, or a printed manual? While I still believe that RH is a superior OS distro to Windows, I think the price increases and limited support are hampering adoption by businesses, and some that embraced RH earlier might be feeling a bit betrayed. Do you care to comment on this?
  • by bahamat (187909) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @01:15PM (#7465965) Homepage
    Mr. Szulik

    First of all, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. I am (among other things) the SysAdmin for a small ISP. We know that Linux is our best choice for server systems. It's fast, secure, cost effictive and reliable. When making our choice for the next distribution to use on our servers will I be able to obtain a copy of RedHat Enterprise Linux to see if it has features we would like to impliment like I can with other Linux distros? I'm specifically interested in what makes RHEL "reliable, secure, high-performance" (quoted from http://www.redhat.com/solutions/migration/rhl/) and Fedora or Debian not those things.
  • by joestar (225875) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @01:29PM (#7466109) Homepage
    Despite financial problems earlier this year, Mandrake Linux has gained big popularity with their latest Linux distributions, and it seems to go quicker now (see distro ranking at distrowatch [distrowatch.com]). They also have been pionneers of "what Red Hat should have done earlier" (release of ISO images, Cooker community...) and are inventing new interesting business models that seem work now (Mandrake Club [mandrakelinux.com]).

    Compared to Red Hat, MandrakeSoft has very small financial capabilities, very low press coverage, but is still growing and attracting a large user and contributor community. Additionally, they now have a full range of products, from the pure desktop product to the clustering solution. They generally have excellent new technologies (URPMI/RPMDrake/dynamic desktop...), excellent support policy (see http://www.mandrakesecure.net [mandrakesecure.net]) and again with very low ressources. Why? Maybe MandrakeSoft understood something about the Linux community, a way to listen to it carefully (maybe too much sometimes).

    Why wouldn't Red Hat trust Mandrake and let them deal with that? Red Hat could certainly buy MandrakeSoft easily, and the "Mandrake" brandname could become the community Red Hat brandname, by merging with Fedora. The "Mandrake" brandname is already very well known and this would be better for Red Hat than trying to impose the new "Fedora" brandname (this could take years).

    Mandrake has always been a kind of little brother of Red Hat. They know how to do things Red Hat don't know how to deal with or don't want to do - and now they are profitable with this model. It could turn into a great thing for Red Hat and would help to catch a new big part of Linux users, in particular newcomers, individuals and small corporates, from the Windows world. At the same time this would avoid to frustrate millions of Red Hat users that are now considering a switch to another Linux distribution.

    So why wouldn't Red Hat trust Mandrake for the community side of Linux?
  • by jazman (9111) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @01:36PM (#7466181)
    I appreciate that corporate goals change, and after supporting Linux extremely well for many years now you have decided to focus on corporate customers and drop your support for the consumer market. What I don't understand is why you said what you did, that Windows was better for this market? Perhaps it is at the moment, but there are other distributions still trying to change this, and I feel that your statement has now given them a major competitive disadvantage against Microsoft; all Microsoft needs to do is to state to any customer (by which I mean, for example, a PC retailer who sells PCs to the public preloaded with Windows and is now considering Linux as well) that even Red Hat, who should know, don't think that Linux is appropriate for their computers, and the relevant Linux vendor suddenly now has to patch up the hole you just created. Exit a game by all means, but why shoot the remaining players?

    Mods: checked the reports on this for reasoning but didn't find anything; if I missed it please feel free to mod this to oblivion but I would still like to know.
  • by shaw7 (321754) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @01:46PM (#7466288)
    Sir, We have for the past 6 years, been using RedHat on our web servers with great sucess. One of the big benefits was the low cost install base using the free RedHat line.

    Even without the current change in your business plan, we had been seeing the benefit of the longer release cycle, etc of the Enterprise product. However our understanding is that we would now have to purchase a licence for *each* server we would like to install the Enterprise product on. Adding up these costs, it quickly becomes ridiculous and a non-option for us.

    This strikes me as a strange approach. Why has RedHat not offered a more palatable migration path for companies like ours using your OSS? For instance, you could limit the tech support levels and charge a nominal fee for up2date on additional machines, but still keep this under single unit pricing. If there is not a good "middle ground", the jump in costs for us is too great to consider.
  • by dtfinch (661405) * on Thursday November 13, 2003 @01:48PM (#7466309) Journal
    What needs to be done to make Linux ready for home desktops in your opinion?
  • by tstoneman (589372) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @01:57PM (#7466403)
    I understand the business reasons why you would discontinue Red Hat Linux... namely because it doesn't pay. But don't you think you will lose a lot of grassroots support for Red Hat because regular people like me won't be able to "play before you buy"? You will only lose more and more mindshare in the up-and-coming Linux market as time goes on if Red Hat becomes a business-only OS.

    I was solely responsible for pushing and implementing the port of our company's product to Linux. I specifically chose Red Hat because of brand-name recognition, and because it was a distro I could play around with before I actually committed to porting our software to it.

    Now that RH is going completely in the Advanced Server route, I no longer have the ability to play with the OS before I do my development. My company balked at the prices AS was being sold at, as well as our customers, and we are now re-evaluating our push into Linux, at least using Red Hat. The whole point was that Linux was supposed to be CHEAP. Once they start going up in price, why wouldn't I go with a more established vendor with a more mature product like Solaris X86?

    And please don't say that Fedora is the same as Red Hat. It isn't. It will have a different look and feel, different marketing, and different demographics especially as time goes on. People will not pick up Fedora and say, "Oh this is really just Red Hat Advanced Server".

    I know it's not something that pays, but having Red Hat's name out there as one of the premier distros with exceptional quality was one of the things that kept Red Hat's name in the spotlight.
    It's the same reason why Microsoft is pushing for the education market... they want to have the kids already have experience with their products. If you stop the up-and-coming kids who are interested in computers not able to use your distro, you have already lost mindshare.

    Getting rid of the publically accessible distro will relegate Red Hat to the same status and mindset of SCO (before the lawsuit crap), where it was a business version of UNIX but regular people didn't play around with it. It won't be the first thing people will think of when it comes to Linux.

    Please reconsider this disasterous decision because I actually do like Red Hat a lot.
  • by Call Me Black Cloud (616282) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @02:07PM (#7466498)
    Why red? Why not blue or green? Was there a market study done that indicated this was the best color?
  • question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by treat (84622) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @02:19PM (#7466605)
    I'm a Red Hat Enterprise Linux customer, with several AS and a dozen ES subscriptions. We chose to purchase support to allay the fears of those in our organization concerned about using unsupported software. All of the factors that made us choose Red Hat for this are caused by the large installed base. (Familiarity within the organzation, community support, stability, approved by certain software vendors such as Sybase, and ability to run a very similar distribution on important servers, desktops, and home machines). The quality, accuracy, and response time of Redhat's support generally pales in comparison to the quality of web searches and "community" support. Clearly Redhat made a business decision to hire cheaper rather than more knowledgable support staff. As the installed base of Redhat decreases due to recent changes, I worry that the quality of support I am able to receive on my Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems will similarly decrease. I'm also concerned that I will no longer be able to run a similar distribution on both important servers and desktops / test servers / my machines at home. I'm now seriously investigating other Linux distributions due to these issues.

    My feelings are the same as those of every Red Hat Enterprise Linux customer I've talked to. What will Red Hat do to retain the benefits that were caused by its market dominance when it has clearly indicated that it no longer wants to maintain such market dominance?
  • by RevMike (632002) <revMike AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday November 13, 2003 @02:20PM (#7466606) Journal

    Currently there are at least 5 really significant players in the linux industry: RH, Novell-SuSE, United Linux, Debian, and Gentoo. Gentoo fills an important niche, but will never likely play a broader role.

    By terminating your retail products while simultaneously throwing your weight behind Fedora, you seem to want to create a two headed distribution - a fully free community based distribution that maps extremely closely with a fully supported commercial distribution. Essentially your trying to appeal to both the enterprise customer and the Debian user.

    Do you expect that either SuSE or UL will try to align themselves closely with Debian in order to create the same synergy?

    Do you expect that in a few years the landscape will have only two big players - RH+Fedora alliance and another commercial+community alliance?

  • Dear RedHat CEO: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zerocool^ (112121) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @02:21PM (#7466618) Homepage Journal
    I would like to ask why have you not offered any sort of solution for the small scale business owner. Even as your least expensive RedHat solution is $350 per year, per computer, this adds almost 40% to the cost of a dedicated server which can be provided to a customer for about $100/month. In an industry where profit margins are razor thin, are you looking only to cater to companies which have lots of money or extremely high end hardware, in favor of the small guys?

    Sincerely,
    William Dunn

  • IBM and RedHat (Score:3, Insightful)

    by darnok (650458) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @04:43PM (#7468480)
    IBM has used RedHat's products at several of their sites - primarily US-based sites as far as I'm aware. IBM seems to focus primarily on using SuSE for their European-based customers.

    Now that desktop RedHat has been replaced with Fedora, and the consequent loosening of control of the distribution by RedHat, has IBM indicated any change to their business relationship with RedHat?

    IBM is now pushing to have more Linux desktop systems out there, and presumably either is or will be sending that message out through their field consultants. Now that you've dropped desktop RedHat, are you concerned that SuSE, or indeed any other Linux vendor, may step in and establish themselves as the dominant desktop Linux platform by riding on IBM's coattails, and that they may be able to leverage this strength to cut into your enterprise sales?
  • by ka9dgx (72702) * on Thursday November 13, 2003 @05:06PM (#7468777) Homepage Journal
    I'm the entire IT staff for a small business. My strategic plan was to migrate to Red Hat Linux for our servers by the end of next year, to avoid the Windows 2003/Longhorn/DRM trap that Bill Gates and crew are setting up for everyone. I was willing to pay $60/server/year to get bug fixes and some email security alerts to tell me to install them. I was happy, having a nice relaxed pace plan.

    Now I'm faced with your website offering no clue as to the future of "up2date" and my ability to run a stable configuration of Linux without having to either:

    • Pay more for the software per year that the servers are worth for the "Enterprise" rebranding
    • Become a Linux guru, maybe even a kernel hacker, just so that I know the patches are current.
    • Take a big chunk of time and effort, use BasicSoftware.com as a base to build, or help build, a community supported LiveUpdate type system, which would eventually take the place of Up2Date (and RedHat?)
    • Submit to the extortion, and suffer with closed source inferiorware from the monopolists.
    What migration option do you have for your current customers who are willing to pay $50/year/machine?

    --Mike--

  • by ka9dgx (72702) * on Thursday November 13, 2003 @05:16PM (#7468881) Homepage Journal
    How much does it cost RedHat to support the Up2Date channel for RedHat Linux 9? How do these costs break down? I realize it's non-trivial, to say the least, that at a minimum you have to:
    • Sift through all the bug reports to look for real issues
    • Research the problems found
    • Find or build patchs
    • Testing on patches
    • Publish results to the RedHat channel
    • Send out notices to email subscribers, etc.

    While it's tempting to break out the incremental cost of adding one additional subscriber to the RedHat network, I am interested in knowing what the whole thing actually costs, in real dollars? Also, how big a team does it take?

    Perhaps if we knew the real size and scope required to keep RedHat going, we'd feel the need to be more supportive, instead of feeling betrayed.

    --Mike--

  • by Pharmboy (216950) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @06:16PM (#7469533) Journal
    What should customers that run small business networks using your standard product and Up2date service but do not need or cannot justify full enterprise products do now? What distribution would you recommend we switch to if neither of your offerings will suit their needs in the near future?

    Should a 20 year old, rapidly growing business that can project needing enterprise grade services in 2 or 3 years, and currently pays hundreds per year for RedHat services that are about to be discontinuted, and paid retail for RedHat since 5.x days, ever consider using RedHat again?

    --- my editorial behind these questions

    Believe it or not, these are quite serious questions to me. My first RH distro was pre 5.0 and I have always bought the box set just because it felt like the right thing to do, and paid for up2date service since it was offered a little over a year ago. I have been as loyal a customer as they could hope for, but I can't help but to feel betrayed with the "new policies". Either I will have to suck it up and pay much more for service I do not need, or change distros. It would be cheaper to just pay RedHat, but I had the same feeling everytime Microsoft releases a new OS, with a higher price. Its cheaper to just pay the much higher price, but it still leaves a very bad taste in your mouth.

    When you feel that your loyalty has just been rewarded with a slap in the face, you have no choice but to consider changing loyalties. Go google it, and you will see I have always been pro-Redhat, almost fanatically...until now.
  • by Olinator (412652) <olc+sdot.hex@cs@umass@edu> on Thursday November 13, 2003 @07:21PM (#7470051) Homepage
    I work for a large university's CS department, as a network/server admin and resident linux guru. I've been a minor contributor to many RH bugzilla discussions, and may have helped to solve a few esoteric bugs here and there. RedHat's recent move leaves me in the cold; we can't move to RHEL because the cost would kill our IT budget, and I doubt very much that the Fedora model will work for us. Reading upthread, I see several posts whose authors tell much the same tale. For all of us, the Fedora description and proposed release schedule aren't something to which we'll feel able to trust our servers (and our professional reputations).

    In those Bugzilla discussions I mentioned, I've seen a lot of highly-informed, to-the-point correspondence from people just like me -- we have no problems patching driver code, recompiling kernels, parsing debugger output &etc., and I'd hazard a guess that the issues we raise and the bugs we help troubleshoot in the field (the ones that make it past your inhouse QA folks) are part of the reason that RedHat has been so rock-solid. This translates directly to the stability of the server-class packages you sell to our cousins in the corporate trenches. The targetting of Fedora at bleeding-edge enthusiasts and hobbyist installations means that these bugs (remember, these are the ones that made it past the in-house RH team -- have a look at the tg3 driver issues in bug 69920 [redhat.com] for one example) likely won't be caught before they bite your paying server customers. Do you foresee a decrease in stability for RHEL as a result? If not, where do you envision getting your field/beta testing done for the server components of your OS? Isn't it possible that, while taken by itself the "free" version of RH was an operating loss, when viewed in context of overall product line it was actually part of the reason you started operating "in the black"?

  • by Ilan Volow (539597) on Thursday November 13, 2003 @08:17PM (#7470396) Homepage
    (not like this will ever make it to list. But wth)

    Mr. Szulik, I keep seeing Red Hat put out one unusable, confusing and ambiguous interface design after another. Anaconda is a textbook case of what you shouldn't do when designing a user interface for non-geeks.

    A Red Hat employee a while back who went to my campus' LUG told me that the reason why Red Hat software had such bad usability was they didn't have the money to fund HCI folks running a usability dept. at Red Hat.

    Yet when we look at the financial history of Red Hat, we find that the company spent over $700,000,000 buying out other companies like Cygnus (purchased for $650M).

    Mr. Szulik, how would you answer the charge that your company destroyed its chances to gain real home desktop marketshare by not investing a small sum of money that would make your software more accessible to the people you were trying to target, as well as substantially lower the costs you company would have incurred supporting that market?

    --
    Ergonomica Auctorita Illico!

There is no royal road to geometry. -- Euclid

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