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Red Hat Nears $1 Billion In Revenues, Closing Door On Clones 201

Posted by timothy
from the playing-within-the-rules dept.
darthcamaro writes "Red Hat is almost at its goal of being the first pure-play open source vendor to hit $1 billion in Revenues. Red Hat reported its fiscal 2011 revenues this week which hit $909 million. Going forward, Red Hat has already taken steps to protect its business by changing the way it packages the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 kernel, making it harder for Oracle to clone. 'We are the top commercial contributor to most of the components of the Linux kernel and we think we have a lot of value and we want to make sure that, that value is recognized,' Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst said. 'In terms of competition, I don't think we necessarily saw anything different from before but I'd say better to close the barn door before the horses leave than afterwards.'"
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Red Hat Nears $1 Billion In Revenues, Closing Door On Clones

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  • Well that's ominous (Score:5, Interesting)

    by subreality (157447) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @07:40PM (#35606528)

    TFA doesn't specify what this actually means, so let me speculate. They're not going to go closed-source; they'd be lynched. I think this is a reference to the fact that they're distributing their source prepatched now, to make it harder to just take their patches and apply them to other distros.

    IMO that's kind of sleazy. They got where they are standing on the shoulders of giants. The deal was: here, have this free stuff, build on it, make money with it, but you have to keep giving back. And they got their value out of it, but now they're trying to give back only the minimum they're contractually obligated to do. It's legal and not purely evil, but still moderately scummy.

    I don't really see it being that good for them, either. Oracle isn't going to have much trouble reverse-engineering the patches back out, but RedHat now ends up in a more difficult position: fewer of their patches will be incorporated upstream, so they have to spend more work porting them into each new release; they'll have less community review and bugfixes in their patches; and they're going to alienate the community.

    On the other hand RH users won't end up in the worst scenario: stuck using RH's buggy crap and unable to do anything about it. The source will still be there; they can still dive in to figure out what's wrong and fix it instead of dealing with a black box. I know I had to more than a few times when supporting RHEL systems.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 24, 2011 @08:46PM (#35607098)

    Take a look at Novell's "RHEL support" offering. It's turned out to be complete crap, repackaging RHEL packages and alleging to offer one-stop support for SuSE customers, and blaming any problems on RHEL to convince customers to switch to SuSE.

    http://www.novell.com/promo/suse/free-30days-expanded-support.html

    It's complete bait and switch.

  • by somenickname (1270442) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @09:07PM (#35607214)

    I'm really surprised that this comment was modded up. Oracle is responsible for btrfs (negating the "filesystems" argument), Novell was the catalyst for the modern linux composited desktop with compiz/Xgl (negating the X argument), and if I thought about it for more than 10 seconds, I'm sure I could come up with a shitload of other examples where these two companies that you've "cherrypicked" have been a driving force for good in the linux world. I do agree with your sentiment but, you sound bitter for these companies not having contributed to technologies that you don't realise you are using. But, most likely, the have. And in a big way. I'm all for hating companies like Oracle but, hate them for the right reasons.

  • Re:Diff? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Burdell (228580) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @11:36PM (#35607932)

    The only "downstream" of RHEL that is significantly affected is Oracle, a company that rebuilds RHEL, sells it as their own "Unbreakable Linux", and then tells database customers that they really shouldn't run RHEL, they should run Unbreakable instead. A bunch of those customers run Oracle DB on RHEL from when Oracle was a Red Hat partner (before they started trying to poach the big DB customers). Oracle does much less for Linux (and Open Source in general) than Red Hat. Oracle throws a little bit of code over the wall when they have to, while Red Hat has bought other companies closed-source software and Open Sourced it.

    I haven't looked yet (because I rarely need to see individual patches; I mostly just care about the end result), but Red Hat has said that customers will have access to the patch information, so cutting Red Hat out because they restrict that would be dumb (since as a customer you'd get it anyway). A lot of work in making the Linux kernel "enterprise-ready" has been (and continues to be) done by Red Hat.

    Basically, Red Hat forks the kernel for each major RHEL release and then maintains it on their own. They backport patches from upstream as well as develop patches for their kernel (which they submit upstream). Do you think LibreOffice should be required to distribute every individual patch they've made to OpenOffice, or X.org vs. XFree86?

  • Re:Diff? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Xtifr (1323) on Friday March 25, 2011 @02:03AM (#35608446) Homepage

    Red Hat has said that customers will have access to the patch information

    So what's to stop Oracle from becoming a customer? :)

  • by _Shad0w_ (127912) on Friday March 25, 2011 @04:09AM (#35608854)

    I think the bit of Oracle Linux which bemused me was the fact that installing Oracle 11g on it is is still non-trivial; it requires you to install a bunch of packages and tweak kernel settings. If you're going to distribute your own brand of Linux, you could at least have an installer option for "This is going to be an Oracle RDBMS server, please install everything I need and configure the kernel as needed". Giving you a script to run as root part way through the RDBMS install process doesn't really cut it.

  • by McKing (1017) on Friday March 25, 2011 @10:29AM (#35611272) Homepage

    Redhat is allowed to do exactly what they are doing. Nothing in the GPL requires them to make their changes available upstream (although they usually do), it requires them to make any changes available to their customers. They still release their changes to the kernel source code, but they changed the way those changes are distributed to their customers.

    They used to make these changes available as a patch set that could be applied to the vanilla source from kernel.org. "Enhancers" like Oracle and others would take the vanilla source, cherry pick the patches that they wanted to apply out of Redhat's patch set, and compile the kernel, possibly adding in their own patches. Now Redhat is making the changes available in a single large pre-patched tarball, which means that if Oracle doesn't want to apply all of the patches, then they have to hunt down the changes themselves which is more time consuming and error-prone.

    Say Redhat comes up with a patch that tweaks the filesystem code in a way that in some cases makes an Oracle DB 10% slower. In the past, Oracle would just apply all RH patches except that one. Now they have to take the vanilla source, diff it against Redhat's patched source, hunt down all the changes related to that filesystem patch, back those changes out manually, and hope that they got it right.

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