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Red Hat Software Businesses

An Open Letter From Bob Young 423

Bob Young, Chairman of the Board for Red Hat has written an open letter to the Community, in response to some of the recent criticism of Red Hat 7. If you've been following these stories at all, or the Linux scene, this is worth checking out.

Subject: Freedom & personal responsibility good, serfdom & tyrannical control bad.

From: bob@redhat.com

Dear Slashdotter,

The wild and heated debate about Red Hat 7 in recent days has been interesting to follow. It demonstrates the strength of the open source model. By comparison (I'm not sure if anyone noticed this) Computerworld had a front page story a couple of weeks ago about how there were problems with Solaris on Sun's Enterprise systems, but that these bugs were not well known because Sun was making their customers sign NDA's (non-disclosure agreements) before helping them fix the problem.

Consider the contrast between a proprietary vendor's unwillingness to debate the merits of their technology with the open debate that Red Hat Linux enjoys.

This discussion is of such value to the users of Red Hat products that we feel little need to even attempt to comment. Informed readers can read all sides of the debate, download our products, test them, and decide for themselves whether our critics or supporters are correct. Of course the readers who post things like "well I haven't tried RH7 but I've heard..." aren't very helpful, but I trust most Slashdot readers to see through that kind of stuff.

There is one recurring comment that I could not resist addressing. Namely the regular habit of our critics of comparing Red Hat to Microsoft. I just don't get it.

There are many things for which we should be justifiably criticised (I have no idea what these might be, but I'm certain they exist ;-) but trying to act like Microsoft is not one of them. Red Hat's business is built on solving the problem thatMicrosoft's business model has imposed on the software user since Bill Gates disagreed with the members of the Homebrew computing club back in 1980.

The software industry that Microsoft has been the role model for is built on the premise that customers are not to be trusted with the technology that they are building their organizations on. The legacy software industry is built on the proprietary binary-only model where not only does the user not get the source code he needs to make changes, but worse he receives the product under a license that essentially says that if you make any improvements to the technology you are using, if you solve a bug that is causing your systems to crash, or add a feature that your users or customers desperately need the vendor can have you thrown in jail. (If you don't believe me, just read any shrinkwrapped software license). This kind of business model, where the customer is completely beholden to his supplier exists in no other industry in any free market that I know of. It harks back to the old feudal systems of 12th century Europe.

Red Hat's business success is owed to one simple benefit our products and services offer that our larger binary-only OS competitors do not. Namely that our commitment to publish the code that we write and distribute under open source licenses enable us to give our customers control over the technology they are using to build their systems. We cannot promise to deliver perfection. All we can promise is to acknowledge the problems immediately and work with you to fix them publicly and in real time. With control over their systems our users can simply build more stable and reliable systems than the binary-only model allows.

This is why the fear that Red Hat is somehow going to wake up one morning and abandon our commitment to open source is so mis-placed. Open source provides us with -the- competitive advantage that enables us to compete effectively against much larger competitors. To abandon open source is simply not in our customers interest and hence not in Red Hat's financial interest.

So if you want to criticise us for shipping gcc 2.96, you have every right to do so - you'd be wrong, but it is at least a legitimate debate and I'd respect your opinion. But to compare Red Hat to Microsoft indicates an ignorance of what is driving our success.

Remember that this debate was begun by someone going to Red Hat's public site and trying to add up all the registered bugs in Red Hat 7. When was the last time Microsoft (or any other legacy software vendor for that matter) gave you access to their complete bug registration system? Which software model do you really want to see succeed? One where you have to trust your vendor (who can and frequently restrict access to information you does need) or one where you are in control of the technology you are using?

We may be making mistakes - that up to you to decide. Some of them may be important to you and while I have no doubt you will point them out to us, you have control over the technology you are using. We work hard to build products that please most of our users most of the time. But if you don't like something about Red Hat Linux you don't have to use that feature or function. We simply are not pursing a business model that bears any resemblance to Microsoft's, so just quit it.

The next slashdotter who compares anything Red Hat does to Microsoft will be punished. The punishment will be to find the nearest blackboard and write "freedom & personal responsibility good, serfdom & tyrannical control bad" seven hundred times.

Cheers, Bob.

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An Open Letter from Bob Young

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    it is exactly this kind of thing (open letter) that makes causes my jaw to drop when i see the MS/RH comparisons. when was the last time such a letter came from redmond? i don't recall ever, EVER seeing an article ANYWHERE pointing me to a letter from bill and friends saying, "we're sorry that some of our customers have trouble with our software. we honestly thought we were improving something, but if you don't like what we've done, you are certainly entitled to disagree with those decisions, that's what makes the next version better." have i just missed that letter, or am i right in assuming that such doesn't exist (obviously, i already know the answer). thank you mr. young for the response, thank you for paying attention to us (all of us, not just the large companies, but also the poor students), and thank you for your belief in the OS model. i've used RH in the past, and i've been trying to decide what to put on my old box. looks like RH wins, if for no other reason than you guys at least take the time to explain decisions to your users. i don't expect perfection, but i like it when the developers can admit that they don't offer it anyway. now, where's that RH7 iso, maybe if i like it, 7.1 will get an order and a new user.
  • Here's an excerpt from Red Hat's CCVS license [redhat.com]:
    5. USAGE RESTRICTIONS
    LICENSEE may not modify, adapt, translate, reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble the Licensed Software. LICENSEE may not create derivative works of the Licensed Software with the exception of the right granted in Paragraph 3 herein to modify the sample source code. LICENSEE may not defeat, or attempt to defeat, the licensing mechanism in the Licensed Software which restricts use of the Licensed Software with a single merchant account number, nor may LICENSEE use the Licensed Software with more than one merchant account number.
    Now, who needs to write "freedom & personal responsibility good, serfdom & tyrannical control bad" on the blackboard?
  • The problem is that what redhat needed was to delay releasing 7.0 and instead come out with a 6.3 releast that fixed all the bugs and numerous security holes of 6.2.

    Installing Redhat 6.2 is a very burdensome process because of the number of fixes required. However, the consequences of RedHat 7 are much more severe because of its incompatible version of gcc.

    What was such a big deal about coming out with a 6.3 release, which would have been stable and useable, instead of just quickly pushing RedHat 7 out the door?
  • C:\WINNT\Profiles\christk\Desktop>ls
    Eudora Pro.lnk docs on 'D'.lnk latin.txt
    bad_ani.txt k1639386.txt mrobbins.txt

    C:\WINNT\Profiles\wilsonkl\Desktop>
    And yes, that was 'ls', not 'dir' :)

    Well, given that this is on your desktop, I bet you don't see the names that way under your DesTop Icons. In fact, you won't see them that way in your Windows Explorer, unless, of course, you have that infamous check box checked.

    The point made, methinks, was that the names you see were not the actual names of the file. WYSINWYG.

  • You may not believe you should be held to the standards that Microsoft is held. I agree with you: I think you should be held to a higher standard still.

    I also agree with you that knowing exactly how bad the bugs are is a blessing. It IS good for us to know if there are problems with a product. And the fact that we have full control of the technology is also a Good Thing; it's the biggest reason to use a distribution like Red Hat.

    Whether you like it or not, however, you are in the business of providing many of the same things that Microsoft provides. The software you ship must work. RedHat 7 dies after three weeks. If Microsoft were to ship code like that they would be drawn and quartered in the press. It would literally cost them billions, both directly in stock price, and indirectly in reputation damage, were they to ship a product in that state.

    I don't think it's unreasonable to expect Redhat to not only do as well, but to do BETTER than Microsoft does. You have a whole army of people working for you for free that Microsoft does not. Isn't it your job to make sure that the bugs are ironed out? You're starting with some of the most stable code running anywhere, and assembling that code into a system for general consumption. If QA isn't Job 1 for RedHat, what is?

    You have frequently compared RedHat to Heinz ketchup. People can make their own ketchup, but Heinz still sells an awful lot of the stuff, because the consumer has come to expect a consistent, quality product. Well, you have just shipped millions of bottles of ketchup that leak. Admittedly, it's good that we know about the problem, but the bottles still leak. What do you think this would do to Heinz' reputation?

    Personally, I am firmly in the Eric Raymond corner of the Free Software world -- what I want is software that doesn't suck. I'm willing to pay for it if I need to. I am a professional system administrator. I need to build systems that run and run and never fall over. The control over the technology is important, but it is a secondary goal for me; having access to the source is good, but FIRST it must work. SECOND the source must be open.

    The fact that you open source everything is not an excuse to ship bad software. Open Source garbage is still garbage.

  • That was 98, and 98 isn't exactly known for reliability. You occasionally hear about machines lasting that long, but it's almost unheard of for systems that are actually doing anything. Yes it was a bug, but it was a bug that didn't matter in practical use for 99.9% of the customer base.

    A problem is, however, a problem if people notice it. Linux crashing after three weeks *matters*.

  • by Ih8sG8s ( 4112 )
    Forgive me, but I have to pick this apart bit-by-bit.

    RH7 is, for lack of a better description, a stinky pile of horse doo-doo.

    heh

    The inclusion of heavily patched, alpha, non-standard components in RH7 was, in my humble opinion, a tragic mistake.

    OK, please tell me which parts of RH 7.0 are alpha quality , heavily patched. I'd especially like your insight on which parts are non-standard.

    Hard-core linux users have been turning away from RH for years because in an effort to make your products easier to use, you have strayed far from the path that is Linux's purpose... stability and accessability.

    Yes, we all know that people are swarming to Slackware because it is bare, raw linux. Sure a distribution with no configuration tools which forces the user to dig in via the console is far more likely to seem accessible to users.

    Making your products accessable to Joe every day windows user by making it easier to use is great, but serves little use when it is done at the expense of those that brought your company to where it is today, the hard-core hackers.

    How are these changes at the expense of hard-core hackers? I have never come upon a task or function that I couldn't make ANY linux distribution do for me. I think you're just being willful, or you are not one of the hackers you mention --in which case, why champion someone's else's gripes?

    You claim that you publish the source that your company creates; where is it? I know it's on RH's site, but finding a patch on your site is next to impossible, even for the advanced user.

    Yes, even hard-core hackers have trouble finding patches, especially on a site as complex as Red Hat's.

    As I write this, I'm downloading the latest revision of Debian to install on the remainder of my redhat servers. Until RH releases another product that conforms more to the spirit of open source, I cannot use its shoddy distributions.

    Why don't you wait until the latest revision of ANY distribution has undergone some tire-kicking by experimenters, and refining by the developers before you go placing it on your production servers. Or why don't you just HACK a distribution together yourself, seeing as hard-core hackers like yourself are what basically gave RedHat what they have today, right? As a disclaimer, I don't use redhat. I did for a while back in the 2.x --> 4.x days. I tried all of the distributions available at the time and settled on Slackware. That is my personal preference. Still, I won't let someone spout uninformed garbage when I see it, regardless of who it's aimed at. Moderate down as needed. ;)

  • The Simpsons are as mass market as it gets. They do feature a large number of "inside" jokes, and obscure references, however. I think you mistake these for esotericism.

    However, Groening's first major accomplishment, Life in Hell ...

    "Akbar and Jeff, brothers, or lovers, or possibly both, whatever offends you the most."
  • Dear Bob,

    I wish I could make it to ALS to grab just 5 minutes of your time, but alas I took a teaching job teaching intro to Unix starting this week.

    Deus Ex Machina said,

    Again, as a Debian user, I feel that there is a hell of a lot WRONG with RedHat's distro - for ME. This more of a personal taste though - and don't anyone dare tell me that Debian hasn't had it's share of crippling bugs....

    So I think we should back off and turn down our flamethrowers here - if you want to criticize RedHat, fine, but at least find a good reason.

    I too am a Debian and a Redhat user. I like the elegance and commitment to structure that is Debian, but don't be fooled that really doesn't matter to most people. They want it to just go.

    Please build or accept somthing like apt-get that doesn't depend on unique ID numbers or "Priority Access." My gut tells me if you don't, one day Linux==Debian instead of Redhat in most peoples minds. What you lose in CD sales you will gain in acceptance of Linux in general.

    Please don't lose your dominance. I appreciate your contribution, and I fear the morality of your replacements. Thanks for listening.

    Matthew Newhall President of LILUG

  • You talked to someone on a booth on a trade show, and you expected to get actual information? Man, you're seriously disturbed!

    --

  • I just thought I'd point out that those .src.rpm files that you see on RedHat sites, in the SRPMS directory, contain all patches that RedHat has applied to that given package. To access them, do a "rpm -i" on the source-RPM, and then check /usr/src/redhat/* for interesting stuff.

    I've been using RedHat since 3.0, and have even spent time rolling my own RedHat-based distro. I also write code and release it as open source. So I think I know what I'm talking about, when I say that I have yet to see RedHat do anything that is against the spirit of the "open source movement". Go pick on SuSE or Caldera...

    Unlike you, I'd like to applaud RedHat for some of those "pointless changes" that they made - I love it that there is SSL support in things like Samba and that they finally dropped inetd for the vastly superior xinetd. These are genuine steps forward - they may increase the learning curve for upgrading a bit, but they have good reasons for doing these things. I'm not sure I'm happy with the gcc thing, but I'm not going to let it ruin my opinion of this excellent company. So what if some of the new stuff has bugs? They'll get fixed, just like they have in the past.

    Unfortunately, no Linux distro has jails... so I'm installing FreeBSD these days. :-)


    --

  • I think that the reason for including a snapshot compiler is because "2.96" is far more compliant with the c++ standard than 2.95.2. It was a way to force compliance with the c++ standard in code that's to be compiled on 7.0.

    The other problem that you mention, exit() being broken, is /not/ a compiler issue. That's an issue with glibc. However, there is an update to glibc available -- 7.0 shipped with 2.1.92-(?), there's a 2.1.94-3 available on your local mirror.

  • What I do not understand is, how can you let a distro go 'gold' with so many bugs? Are they not known? Is the beta period to short?

    Although I would argue that Red Hat at least didn't beta test the distro long enough, given the fact that the update daemon can flatline the whole OS in a matter of three weeks, I'd say that the number of bugs in the distro as a whole isn't that bad, in the scheme of things. My bugzilla search turns up 790 bugs as of right now. Of these, 203 are marked as duplicates, leaving no more than 587 non-duplicated bug reports. It's quite likely that a number of the new and/or non-closed reports are duplicates as well, I'd hazard that about 550 are non-dupes. 302 are marked as "Not A Bug", although a number of these are dupes as well, or are something like "gcc 2.96 is unacceptable for compiling" (I don't like the idea of a snapshot compiler being included in a release product, but it looks like Red Hat is committed to supporting what they're calling 2.96 on their own, and stabilizing it as much as possible. Furthermore, I hardly think that the deliberate decision on the part of Red Hat to include this snapshot qualifies as a bug, no matter how bad a decision one might think it was). In any case, I'd say we're looking at about 400-450 verifiable bugs.

    Now, consider this: Should Red Hat be responsible for fixing bugs in software they did not develop?

    In one sense, I don't think they should be responsible for fixing bugs in software they aren't developing. It would certainly be nice if they submitted patches fixing such bugs, but it's simply not economical on their part to do so. Red Hat is in business, and their aim to make money. Red Hat *IS* kind enough, however, to contribute to the development of certain projects like the kernel, as well as GNOME.

    Furthermore, a Linux distribution is in theory a compilation of software the ultimately makes the Linux kernel useful -- and I wouldn't task the publishers of compilation discs with fixing bugs in software on that disc. (Of course, Red Hat *SHOULD* be responsible for bugs in their installation software, etc.

    OTOH, Red Hat *should* check thoroughly to make sure that the packages they do include in their distro are stable and relatively bug-free (since it's probably well-nigh impossible to produce COMPLETELY bug-free software).

    I would compare this to Linus and co. releasing a new major rev. kernel, it takes a long time, and a lot of eyes.

    Actually, it's a whole order of magnitude past the release of a kernel, since we're dealing with hundreds of seperate software packages relying of all sorts of different libraries, written by a number of different authors . . .

    What can we do to help this? It's not like people are not reporting bugs in the beta, it's more like there's not enough time to address the issues. Or am I all wet here?

    Well, they could do like Debian, and test for years before releasing . . . :-) Of course, you're not likely to be the first on the market with the newest and hotest stuff like that, though.

    DISCLAIMER: I'm a Red Hat user. I do, however, know how to compile my own software. (Yup, I'm one of the three!)

    ----
    "A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind."

  • What I am keen on, though, is for that dominant vendor to say "Here's our product. It will become standard. Here's the source code. Copy and reimplement to your heart's content."

    Yup, that's much better than "Hey, we're the standard, we're not gonna give you the code or the specs, just buy our stuff. And hey, if anybody else figures out how to do it without us, we'll just change the standard again . . .", ain't it?

    ----
    "A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind."

  • 'd have to agree that it would have been wiser to keep the latest stable release of gcc as the default, but Redhat 7.0 does have XFree4.0.1 (using it right now) and GNOME 1.2.

    As far as waiting for KDE 2.0, why bother? No distribution maker is under any obligation to delay their distro for the benefit of an app vendor. I don't see SuSe, Debian or Corel doing this either. Really the best thing to do - imho - is ship the latest KDE stable, offer the development snapshot as an option and provide the 2.0 stable when available as a download. In fact doing this with gcc might have averted some of the criticism.

    Welp, I didn't really mean to imply that they should wait for KDE 2.0 -- more that rather than releasing a 6.3 as a minor update (since 6.2 seems pretty solid in my experiece -- we've got it running on 3 boxen here), release 6.5 as a more major update (with newer release software) while discarding the attempt at making the transition to kernel 2.4 easier (which seems to be the major driving force behind releasing 7.0 w/ "gcc 2.96" and the like).

    In any case, I do think you're absolutely right about releasing a stable gcc and offering the next revision as a download . . .

    ----
    "A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind."

  • However I think that there is something in the worries expressed by many about Red Hat's decision to include a gcc that the gcc people have publicly stated is not up to the standard of an official release due to incompatibilities.

    That product will then only work on either Red Hat 7.0 or another platform that chooses to discard the views of the GCC steering committee.

    However, the gcc folk only released their statement after the release of RH 7.0, so it's not like Red Hat decided to include what they call GCC 2.96 in spite of objections by the gcc steering committee. On the other hand, I think that the inclusion of a snapshot of the compiler in a distro is at best not wise.

    That being said, I do understand Red Hat's motives for doing so. They're caught in a difficult position -- marketing wisdom drives them to try to be the most cutting edge distro (after all, having the newest features first looks good to PHBs), while on the other hand it seems like a much safer move to ship a currently stable compiler (yes, I understand that there are questions about the state of 2.95.5 or whatever it is . . .).

    Personally, I think I would have chosen to keep the stable release of gcc in, wait until KDE 2.0 was out, add in XFree4.0 and the latest stable GNOME, upgrade some other useful packages, and call the whole thing Red Hat 6.5. Then, I'd sit tight and wait until gcc 3.0 and kernel 2.4 were on the immediate horizon, and then start developing what would become RH7.0.

    ----
    "A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind."

  • We work hard to build products that please most of our users most of the time.

    it isn't like MS even gives a fuck about pleasing ANYONE. They kind of just force the software on you and make you like it (b/c there is really no alternative). I want an honest show of hands about who likes that fucking little guy in the corner of Office products that is there to "help" you. When you first started up Win95 did you really like the Start menu or the way that the screen looked? I know I didn't... I hate having the clutter of icons all over my desktop. I don't even like having the taskbar "hidden" at the bottom of the screen.

    At least RH is giving us many options to make our systems the way we want them... Until they start mandating a single WM and a single way to setup partitions and programs, I say that they are superior to the MS model.

    You can flame me all you like for being pro RH, but for someone who is more interested in having his system work w/o much effort (yes, I know how to setup and use other distributions) RH is good for me. I want to burn through the install w/o having to download this and that to make my system complete. RH is providing a service, they are making Linux easier to use for more people, if you aren't into that, fine... Go off and use Slackware or Debian, or whatever, but don't you dare complain about RH..

    Just my worthless .02
    - Bill
  • > I felt people were making the comparison by the stereotype of closed source projects shipping whenever it was in the best interests of the company versus open source's historical "when it's done" ship date.

    Have you ever read The Cathedral and the Bazaar? The whole point of Open Source is to, "Release early. Release often." That's what makes Open Source a colaborative development environment. Linus didn't wait until he had a complete, SMP enabled kernel with full support for every conceivable device. He got something working, pushed it out on the Internet and let other people start hacking at it!

    Now, obviously, the situation with an integrated commercial product is different from a single developer putting out pre-alpha code for others to start playing with. Commercial distributions have people depending on them for stability, But to say that Open Source historically waits until something is "done" before releasing it is to be completely ignorant of the Open Source development model. This is a "point zero" release, and as much as I diskile parroting the mantra that x.0 releases are never stable, I think that RH7.0 is another example of that rule. If you don't want to be on the bleeding edge, then wait until the bugs have been ironed out. If you want all the latest new features, then learn to live with the risks.

    (BTW, I've been using 2.3/2.4 kernels for months. They don't always work on the first try, but they have the new features I need, and I've gotten used to living with the risk. I haven't had any catastrophic failures yet ((knock on wood)), but I make sure I have good backups...)

    --

  • The reason that you can't work out who said it, is because it's a misquote. The well-known sentence is actually "You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." I have no idea where you got the "please" part of it from. I think that the original quote comes from P.T. Barnum, but I couldn't be sure. A slightly drunken Charles Miller
    --
  • by DarkClown ( 7673 )
    So if you want to criticise us for shipping gcc 2.96, you have every right to do so - you'd be wrong Whaadaya mean?! Half of what I'm used to building, won't - if this was a rawhide release, then fine, but 7.0? And has anyone seen any errata pop up for their system on the Red Hat Network? I'd think we'd see them by now....
  • Yes, the gcc was included in the beta. This doesn't change my criticism. Red Hat (and other major distributors) should discuss plans to include snapshot releases with upstream maintainers, not to give them a veto, but so that any problems caused thereby can be worked out in advance.

  • > Um, what if the standards set by the dominant distro happen to be retarded?

    Then fix them. Christ, do you people refuse to step up to the plate because you can't guarantee you'll hit a home run? Redhat isn't telling anyone to go away, but they aren't lying down to give everyone a chance at being great. So they push their product like it's all that matters to them -- because it is.

    What do you suggest Redhat do? Advertise Debian?
  • > I can't remember the last time anyone said 'Slackware? That buggy piece of crap? Forget it, I'm going to Redhat.'

    I have. You can quote me on it. I don't consider it buggy per se, I just found it even more cumbersome to work with than Redhat. Then I found FreeBSD, which I consider to be the best of both worlds. Haven't looked back.

    Guess what, I have different needs than you, and others may have different needs than me. Deal.
  • It's called innovation.

    Yes, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Microsoft considers it an "innovation" that they changed what letter signifies a standard option in a standard utility.

    -
  • Well, it IS true that some people have compared Red Hat to Micro$oft lately. Some because they seem to have a paranoid fear of anything commercial, be it open-source or not. But what has been the most voiced opinion lately, is not that Red Hat's goal, intentions or business methods are Micro$oftish, but rather that Red Hat's .0 releases, and especially the latest, RH-Linux 7.0, has a lot of Redmondish features.

    Which, one might wonder?! Well, for one, the .0 releases seem to have been rushed out before going through enough beating. It is indeed impossible to fix every bug, but if the bugs hit the everyday users rather than "just" the geeks, maybe something is wrong with the quality assurance process?

    Another thing is the handling of the gcc 2.96beta issue. There is no gcc 2.96, despite what the name of the package in Red Hat Linux 7 might be. There was a developmental branch of gcc named 2.96 which hadn't been blessed as finished yet. This branch is now renamed to 2.97 to avoid misunderstandings. The reason for releasing RH7 with the gcc 2.96 beta branch rather than gcc 2.95.2 is, unless I've misunderstood things completely, because of the flakey C++ support in the latter one. This I can understand, support and agree with. What I don't support, however, is naming this compiler anything else than gcc2.96cvs or gcc2.96beta, something it is.

    To quote directly from gcc.gnu.org:

    We would like to point out that GCC 2.96 is not a formal GCC release nor will there ever be such a release. Rather, GCC 2.96 has been the code-name for our development branch that will eventually become GCC 3.0. More...

    The bottom line is, that the handling of gcc in RH Linux 7 was clumsy. And rather than just saying that "You're wrong", Red Hat should admit that something didn't come out right and at least apologise to the community. Do not give those who believe that there's a secret agenda behind the acquiring of Cygnus get even more reasons to be paranoid. They're far enough from the reality already.

    Like it or not, Red Hat has become synonymous with Linux in large parts of the non-initiated computerworld. And therefore it falls on the shoulders of Red Hat to do their utmost to make their product better than any other Linux distribution. Because the verdict of Linux from the "real world" won't be based on the stability and security of Debian Linux or the cutting-edge features of SuSE. It will almost entirely be based on how bugfree, secure, easy to use and easy to install Red Hat is.

    Maybe with time, this will change, but until then, Red Hat must never, ever race to a release or include beta-software that isn't clearly labeled so. And indeed, this should be in Red Hat's own interest more than anything else, right?

  • The compiler not being able to build the kernel is the kernel's fault, not the compiler's.

    If I'm not mistaken, gcc 2.95.2 can't even compile the kernel.

  • I'm not attacking your gender. After all, I'm a man as well. Even if you were a woman, I wouldn't attack your gender. I like women.

    I did attack your claim to womanhood through the nick of Anne Marie.

    Still, your points in this forum a quite valid, and I welcome the diversity a man posing as a woman can bring.

    Got any pics?

  • I second that. Except Anne Marie is a man. Read the posting history.
  • I can totally appreciate the desire he has to explain the situation his company is purportedly contributing to, but realistically, all he acknowledges is the comparison of RedHat to Microsoft.

    The real things he needs to be doing is explaining to us WHY they included gcc 2.96 rather than a stable, proven version?
    WHY are they encouraging the concepts of propriety in the software that they're distributing?
    WHY are they regularly taking software that the open-source community and environment have strived so hard for and creating situations where no one can work with them, and incompatabilities and instability arise?
    One could argue that while they are definately users and evangelists of the open source movement, they are still a closed-shop. If they were truly open source, and constantly contributing back to the community, wouldn't someone have known BEFORE it was released that they were doing some wacky things in their software? I mean, consider it...yes, we get to see their sourcecode, but we only get REAL access to it when they release it, not during the actual development of it. So while we've all been hacking away at the RH6.2 source, making improvements and sharing these to the rest of the community, we couldn't plan for and anticipate the changes that were being made and improvments (AND BUGS) that would be introduced in the RH7 source because we only get access to it AFTER it's released.

    The point is, it's these kinds of closed-office things that create and instigate the comparison to Microsoft. And in the same respect, it is these kinds of responses and letters (The ones that don't really address the issues, but dance around them) that are typical of Microsoft (and any other software/hardware behemoth) to put out, expecting to somehow use marketing-speak to appease us.

    I may be going off too far on one side, being a bit extreme, but I'm simply trying to raise an issue here. I love RedHat... I love the concepts and togetherness of the opensource effort... I just don't want to see them screwed up by any one company just because they become the dominant player in the field (like Microsoft).
  • I don't know what the problem here is. I ran over a month with RedHat 6.9 (the 7.0 beta) with a dual-CPU and dual-headed setup. How many crashes? 0.

    Will my production servers get 7.0? Hell no! Will my production workstations get 7.0? Hell yes! It's stability against features. You have a choice with RedHat ... a free [speech] on at that.

    Learn the RedHat . release ruling: .0 = bad, .1 = tolerable, .2 = stable

    -- Bryan "TheBS" Smith

  • When I found out that RedHat 7.0 was finally coming out, I basically shrugged and made a note not to go to sunsite for a few days. Now, I'll admit that I did look at some of the 7.0-beta packages, but was dismayed when I found out that I needed to upgrade my version of rpm -- and I did not see a way to upgrade it. (Admittedly, I failed to look in the 6.2 updates directory.)

    I'm just going to go on what I have read here and heard otherwise... Apparently, gcc 2.9.6 has issues. Yes, most software has issues, but these seemed to be serious issues.

    I'm going to wait on upgrading my version of gcc, it seems. Although my computer was initially an installation of Red Hat Linux (version 5.2, in fact, which had a buggy-as-hell implementation of GNOME on my box), I decided about the time 6.2 went into beta to move away from the rpm system software methodology. Now, if I can't compile the software packages I want to install, then I'm sunk.

    I have to agree with those that say that Bob Young's letter was long and pointless. No, Red Hat is not Microsoft. Red Hat will never be Microsoft. It is impossible for Red Hat to become Microsoft without breaking the GPL, which most of the software for Linux is distributed under. It's just not going to happen.

    And, for those of you out there who don't realize this, you don't need Red Hat to run Linux. Debian, Slackware, and SuSE are all alternatives if you want major distributions. Or, hey, go hit freshmeat.net [freshmeat.net] for the tarballs and build them yourselves!

    I just have a few questions: How long was 7.0 in beta? How many people tried to download the packages? And was gcc 2.9.6 one of the beta packages?

    If gcc 2.9.6 was amongst the beta packages and there was a long enough review period, then Red Hat had no reason to use a different version of gcc if they did not receive bug reports or complaints. The purpose of a beta is to iron out the bugs before a gold release. But one cannot fix bugs that one does not know exist.

    However, if gcc 2.9.6 was not within the beta packages, the test period was insufficient, or Red Hat ignored the bug reports, then complain, piss, and moan all you want for you are justified.

    And, remember, everyone makes mistakes. If you want proof of this, look at some of the changelogs for the 2.4.0 test kernels. (Okay, maybe this is unfair, but it proves a point.)

    Linux is an open source, free operating system. Most of its software falls under the GPL, which ensures open source software and whose developers choose to release the programs for free. It is impossible for any one distributor to gain a monopoly over it like Microsoft over Windows.

    Linux is a movement; its user base supplies its voice. Yell loud enough and you will be heard.

  • Maybe Bob doesn't get it because he's not really paying attention to what his company is doing.

    Redhat, the company, is going about setting up deals with many businesses, such as Dell [dell.com] and IBM [ibm.com], in ways that cause them to prefer the Redhat distribution over others. What Microsoft has done in the past, and what I compare Redhat with, is the practice of trying to make sure that I have no choice in OS for my computers. In the case of Redhat, it's no choice of distribution.

    This is different than encouraging some company to offer Linux, and Redhat, with their hardware. These are cases where the hardware vendor will refuse to support their hardware problems when the software being run isn't Redhat (or Windows).

    Bob, if you want to be a better member of the Linux community, then work to encourage hardware vendors to not just support Redhat, but to also support their hardware with not just any distribution running the Linux kernel, but other operating systems, such as xxxxBSD, as well.

  • I Do know that last night while hanging out on IRC there we gobs of perople having problems with things specific to redhat. [...] people not knowing about the -n switch for ping (if anyone at redhat reads this PLEASE FIX PING, what it does is unexpected and has sent many people looking for deeper problems in their netoworks)

    You know, it's odd you mention that. I've worked on HP boxes, Sun boxes, AIX boxes, etc. And the only place where ping was different as to that -n switch was with windows, which does 4 pings and stops by it's default. I susupect what is happening is that you're seeing new Red Hat users run ping, and are suprised when it just keeps going...

    Unless you're talking about a different problem with the number of counts produced with a ping, then I think you'd best ask more than just Red Hat to "fix" their problem. :)

  • Well put, Bob. Even if there were 2500 bugs in RH7, I'd rather _know_ they exist, and disable the running code that I can. If you run a Windows 2000 Server, you know there are bugs in the code. But where are they? Microsoft knows about many more bugs, because a SP2 is in the works. But Microsoft will not tell you about a bug if you don't find it.

    Would YOU step up to your boss and say "look, you would have never seen this, and you may fire me because I'm telling you, but I did a half-assed job".

    I run Win2K on non-mission critical systems. And I like it. But I understand the Microsoft Way of business. I also run Red Hat Linux 7 servers for more important stuff. I know what works and what doesn't. Appreciate both sides of the coin. If you don't like, it, say so and say why, but let's stop crying :-)
  • Or use a little perl
    perl -e 'while(){print "freedom & personal responsibility good, serfdom & tyrannical control bad\n"}'
    ---
  • binaries compiled with 2.96 will not necessarily work with 3.0

    Neither will binaries compiled with 2.95.2, so I don't see your point here.
    The GCC Steering Committe have declared that gcc 3.0 matters are still subject to change - so both 2.95.2- and 2.96-compiled stuff won't necessarily work with 3.0. So the "gcc 3.0" compability argument is moot.

  • That may be so, their x.0 releases are still buggy as fuck-all, but that is almost inevitable. They are doing something difficult, and they can't possibly test every part of the distribution (including the hundreds of software packages that come with it) on every possible hardware and software configuration. If some things don't work, they'll be patched in later minor releases, or even better, incrementally in the updates directories. The same people who are bitching that x.0 never runs without hiccup out of the box are also the same people who'd piss and moan to no end about how long it took for the next release if they took longer to do more extensive testing. So, in short, buggy x.0 software has been around as long as software has existed, and people can lump it and deal, it is a fact of life, just like hangovers, conservation of energy, and gravity.
  • >model. By comparison (I'm not sure if anyone
    >noticed this) Computerworld had a front page
    >story a couple of weeks ago about how there were
    >problems with Solaris on Sun's Enterprise
    >systems, yadda yaddda

    I'd have more respect for Bob/RH if he hadn't responded to all this.

    Here's a very basic premise of life in general (IMHO) - "Comparing your own stupid, boneheaded move to someone elses MORE stupid boneheaded move doesn't make yours any better."

    >Remember that this debate was begun by someone >going to Red Hat's public site and trying to add >up all the registered bugs in Red Hat 7. When
    >was the last time Microsoft (or any other legacy
    >software vendor for that matter) gave you access
    >to their complete bug registration system?

    Microsoft giving access to their bug database has NOTHING to do with the # of RedHat bugs.... or does it

    Microsoft _may_ be evil (not a silly debate that i let myself get pulled into), but don't try to make yourself look BETTER by comparison. I mean, we could bring Stalin into it and make RH look amazing!

    j

  • All three of the above categories have different reasons to form opinions about Redhat (and other opensource/linux companies, too BTW).

    Slashdot readers are a combination of all of these. I think it's important that we consider Redhat from a number of different angles.

    1) Opensource developers: well, we'd (I'm one...) probably quit our day jobs and code for peanuts if we had good management, brilliant co-workers, a fun work environment, and good coffee. - Face it, we love to code and we do it in our spare time. We probably don't care too much about a particular distro, since all of our machines are so highly customized as to become almost a custom distribution. BUT... we do appreciate the fact that Redhat and others pay talented developers to write opensource code that everyone can use.

    2) LEECH: - don't care about anything except what they can get for free, complains about anything that doesn't work, makes lots of noise, has more free time than money, doesn't contribute back, thinks Redhat sucks because they're trying to make money.

    3) shareholder: - wants to know that RedHat is looking out for it's business interests. Giving back to the community has yet to prove it's business value to investors.

    it's a difficult balancing act...
  • As one of the people who's posted some of the stories that Bob may be thinking of here, I'd like to put in a quick word about my attitude toward comparisons in general and Red Hat in particular. a) I like Red Hat -- it's one of the 1st distros I ever installed, and the boxed 7.0 is one of the distros that I ve bought and recommended to other people. b) Comparisons *to* Microsoft and not the same as comparisons *with* Microsoft. Not that either of these might not be appropriate in certain cicrumstances, but there is a difference. Saying that MS has bugs and that Red Hat Linux has bugs may sound alike, but which of these would be you trust to be fixed quicker / better? I'd rather bet on Red Hat for most things. Since I'm not hugely interested in Windows, I can't comment on their bugfixes with great knowledge, but there are certain long-standing bugs which I'm familiar with . Red Hat, on the other hand, seems to fix things pretty quick. That's my take on them. I hope they continue to grow and improve Linux at all levels. timothy
  • Of course Red Hat isn't like Microsoft.

    Microsoft is a publicly traded software company which sells operating systems and is currently trading at their 52-week low.

    Oh, wait a minute... :)

    (it's funny, laugh)
  • I don't feel that comment deserved the flamebait moderation, the comment may be wrong, but it wasn't flamebait.

    plastickiwi here feels that Bob Young was wrong in defending his company in this matter. Apparently plastickiwi didn't understand how the complaints people were making about RH7 were going to far.

    People were attacking the company saying that the entire coroporation was at fault for a buggy release, and that Red Hat wouldn't let the situation get better.

    I've never used RH7, but I have used pretty much every release from 4 - 6.2. Some were buggy, some were'nt. But I never saw a major Red Hat-caused bug in two versions in a row.

    I also have used pretty much every version of Windows. I don't think I should have to tell you that I have seen many bugs pass through to the next version unfixed.

    This is the point Bob Young was trying to make, he was not defending RH7, he was defending Red Hat.

    Of course by know this is redundant, doh! slow typing.

    Devil Ducky
  • I don't know actually. Perhaps I should have said "arbitrarily differential pricing". For instance, I don't think it is wrong for insurance agencies to charge for different age ranges and car models. That's plain sense - it's more risk for them. However, something like Amazon charging *arbitrarily* different prices, for no other reason than to gouge, doesn't seem to have much ethical grounds (yeah, ok, they said it was a "test"...hopefully it doesn't become their modus operandi).
  • I'll repost this:

    I don't know actually. Perhaps I should have said "arbitrarily differential pricing". For instance, I don't think it is wrong for insurance agencies to charge for different age ranges and car models. That's plain sense - it's more risk for them. However, something like Amazon charging *arbitrarily* different prices, for no other reason than to gouge, doesn't seem to have much ethical grounds (yeah, ok, they said it was a "test"...hopefully it doesn't become their modus operandi).
  • I'll repost this AC comment in response:

    Check out.. http://www.issues2000.org/ Both want out of war on drugs. Both want to stop policing the world, and offensive military. Both want to stop corporate welfare. About the biggest diffrences they have are on corporations. Libertarians are economic anarchists. The economy is like an ecology, if you allow people to bring in foriegn animals or insects (unregulated), they can destroy crops and fields and ruin the ecology. If you don't regulate trade between economies (like ecologies) then you will ruin the economy. That is things get ruined and then the agents (animals or businesses) in that environment will adapt and eventually stabilize, but only after a lot of problems occure, over population and over consumption. World trade should be eased in to, so that it does not kill our economy, not completely let to go wild or we risk another depression. Libertarians also don't want corporations to have much responsibility, despite the fact that corporations are like governments themselves, and if allowed to become dominate we could all be stuck in a corporate monopoly.

    I think there are some ideas in common between Libertarians and Greens, but they are for different reasons. Libertarians don't believe in the vast wealth and power of some corporations because they hinder the individual's freedom to become vastly wealthy and powerful himself. I think Greens don't believe in the vast wealth and power of corporations explicitly because vast wealth and power gaps are inherently undemocratic and socially unhealthy in general (to paraphrase the quote: "you can have vast concentrations of wealth and power, or you can have democracy; you can't have both").

    And again, on drugs, Libertarians think that the government should stop telling citizens what they can and can't use because it restricts their freedom. The Green perspective is that government should stop the war on drugs, not just because people have some right to get high, but because it is fundamentally a war against *people*, which is helping *nobody* (regardless of the freedom issues). Look...these holy "freedoms" and "rights" we have only exist because someone is there to stop somebody else from infringing on them. Freedom comes from restriction. I think we should have as little restriction as possible to maximize the cost/benefit equation...but I'm not so naive to think that totally abolishing any type of government or regulation or arbitrating entity will land us in some wonderful fantasy land. Without *some* sort of government we are back in the "natural" state that we invented up government to avoid in the first place!

    So, yes I think that Libertarians and Greens share some goals, but I think they do for different reasons. I'm not here to run down Libertarianism. I think it is a worthy philosophy. Certainly better than the business-as-usual Democrats and Republicans. I think we have some decent third party choices here. My pick is the Green party. I don't think there is any reason to bicker over the differences of these parties, as they are already both vastly different and superior choices to the status-quo parties.
  • Bob, what the heck is the point of that letter?? Was it to justify the release of 7.0 or just to divert the attention from the real issue of a buggy release by using the ever_successful "Microsoft" name ??

    I really dont get it when people just tend to use MS anywhere and everywhere. When I read the main page of /. I was expecting a good rebutal, trying to support the decision to release 7.0 and maybe a list of what all is good about 7.0.

    But now, when I have finished reading the letter, I feel cheated. And for all those who are keen to know, I am using 6.2 and not 7.0 .Why ?? Well, I tried to install 7.0 . Everything was ok until the dhcp part. 7.0 ships with a dhcp client with a version 1.3 or so , when the latest is 3.x !! How more outdated can you be.

    That was enough to put me off..

    Thanks but no thanks for 7.0. I am waiting for 7.1 (hopefully I will be able to use it).

  • It's on the second CD, in the /preview directory.

    You have a bunch of 2.4-testXX kernels.

    MAN! Just go to a mirror site and take a look. It takes 10 minutes.
  • By posting you managed to unmoderate it yourself. :)

    --GnrcMan--
  • So if you want to criticise us for shipping gcc 2.96, you have every right to do so - you'd be wrong, but it is at least a legitimate debate and I'd respect your opinion. But to compare Red Hat to Microsoft indicates an ignorance of what is driving our success.

    I am sorry, but the simple fact that exit(0) breaks in certain programs really upsets me. I do not have this problem with RH6.2...

    The GNU team released a statement as to why this is bad juju... defend this one all you want, but I feel the majority of us are fairly unhappy with this move.

    RH's defense on using a snapshot compiler for a better transistion to the 2.4 kernel is not a worthy defense. It isn't out yet... and still has some time to go. Why not address kernel 2.4 issues when, well, kernel 2.4 is out?

    RedHat is not Microsoft, I do believe they are a very good company, but others and myself still believe this snapshot inclusion of GCC to be a Bad^Idea(tm). It may be an opinion, and of course opinions really can't be surmised as wrong or right.... they just reflect our views.
  • I don't think that is valid. It would be 2007 before all the bugs are fixed. No one waits to deliver a "perfect" product, at least not of this size, and they shouldn't. You correct all the major ones, publish all the rest for people to see to let them determine how it would effect their deployment, and put it out there.
    It's all a judgement call, whats major, whats minor, even what is a bug.
    Should they have waited? I don't know, I haven't had a problem with my install.
    Including "beta" releases of components in a final release is very questionable, but hey, they weren't keeping it a secret. You don't have to deploy it. Stay with 6.x or shit go over to Debian, Slackware, SUSE, ......
  • If there was a head on the proverbial nail of Slashdotters, you've hit it. Folks around here just don't to see success from anything other than their select group of interests. While the whole "one click shopping" patent is a little obtuse, Slashdotters instinctively think they should hate Amazon.com. When the issue about Amazon charging different prices to different customers [slashdot.org] came up, most of /. jumped all over it. What's the problem here? If you don't like it, don't shop there. "Amazon.com has sold out!" No shit. They're in business to make money.

    Lately I've seen a lot of pro-Nader posts. I prefer Browne, personally, but Nader makes some good points. But it seems to me that a large number of Slashdotters heard Nader was anti-corporation and jumped on the bandwagon. No, I don't think large corporations should run the country. Yes, I do think that a corporation, no matter what size, deserves to make money if they provide a useful service. I'll spare you the list of companies that /.'ers hate for no good reason other than the fact that they're successful.

    And now we're at a new stage ever since Big Money entered "our" world (meaning OSS). Slashdot is aquired by Andover who files for an IPO, Red Hat goes public, etc., etc. Now all of the sudden it's "Slashdot sucks!" and "Red Hat is too commercial!" Fine. Don't go to Slashdot and use a different distro. It's just a matter of choice and opinion.
  • I agree to a certain extent. One thing that pisses me off is watching all of the duplication of effort in the Open Source Community

    Duplication of effort is what open source software's about though! Well, not quite but:

    • Developers work on what they want to work on. You can't reassign them as though doing OSS development is their job or something.
    • Parallel development is a good thing. The way Open Source development coordinates tens of thousands of developers (or however many) is by saying "go do what interests you", and .. well, no two people write the exact same programme. If it's all open source eventually the best ideas get integrated.

      In fact, I would say that open source development is a good example of mimetic [tuxedo.org] evolution. Multiple programmes sharing the same niche allows more vectors for improvement. The more journaling filesystems that bring ideas to US the better off we are! (given that we're working with a modular kernal that can support multiple filesystems formats easily).
    I percieve that "why are you wasting your time working on similar projects" argument as a whining remark that not every developer in the world is focusing their energy directly on making your life better.
  • Mr. Young is obviously right on track with Microsoft as evidenced by his blatant threats to those who may oppose (i.e. You will be punished - now start writing!).

    Interesting article, but I'm a little surprised that he skirted the RH 7.0 stability issues as skillfully as a politician.

  • I totally agree with bob on this letter. Comparisons with microsoft & stuff like that are just echoes of the way people sometimes do this stuff simply to "play catch up to microsoft", ie, see themselves as something that can be compared with it, and limit themselves and their software by seeing proprietary versions of what they do as some kind of perfect and unobtainable goal.

    Open source is a completely different thing, from the nature of the software to the way it's made and you can't compare the ideal microsoft world to the ideal open source world, because they are in many ways complete opposites.

    Red hat is only trying to do what open source stuff is meant to do: release early and often, get the eyeballs to report (and maybe fix) the bugs, and release a followup version with less bugs. It's not the same as when a commercial company that writes proprietary softwear releases something like that, where in some cases you could argue that they are meant to deliver a working product. Red hat 7.0 users are taking part in the actual process of delivering a good followup to 6.2

    On the other hand, it can sometimes be worthwhile to use our knowledge of the workings of proprietary methodologies when working on oss: that mention of bob's of microsoft's bug database made me think: if microsoft's bug db is consistent with the way they usually write apps, they probably share a lot of the core stuff they're made up of. I'm sure their bug db, and the internal communication tools they have between programmers, and the content revision system they use must be integrated to some extent. Maybe it's all the one app? I have no idea.

    I heard somewhere that cvs is 10 years behind it's commercial equivalent. ALso bugzilla has no strong integration with developer mailing lists or the cvs tree (but please prove I'm wrong here) so when are people like red hat, with large scale stuff going on like distros, going to have a suitable tool to make the debugging process more manageable. I wonder if the tools available now are adequate for things like distros?

    Maybe the communication between developers should be integrated with the code itself somehow, so that people can have an easy way to find out about design decisions and how bits of code evolved over time.... But I ramble...

    Ale

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:05AM (#711585)

    The company's response is, "Well, look how much worse the other guy is! At least we let you see the source code!"

    That isn't what the company did.

    What compelling defense of RedHat 7.0 am I missing here?

    Defense of the bugs within RH7? None. Young isn't defending the bugs. He's just defending against the charges that RH is similar to Microsoft. And his defense happens to be strong.

  • by Phroggy ( 441 ) <slashdot3&phroggy,com> on Thursday October 12, 2000 @08:25AM (#711586) Homepage
    The standards that the dominant linux distro makes should be followed.

    Um, what if the standards set by the dominant distro happen to be retarded? One of the reasons I don't use RedHat is because of the awkward standards they try to set.

    Microsoft makes the dominant operating system. Shouldn't we all just use Windows?

    Intel makes the dominant PC processor. Shouldn't we all just use Pentium IIIs?

    Nike is the dominant producer of athletic shoes. If we oppose their labor practices, we should just sit down and keep quiet about it, because they're number one, and we should buy their shoes.

    McDonald's has more fast-food restaurants than anybody else in the world. What do we need Burger King for?

    Coca-Cola is king of the soft drink industry. RC Cola should just give up.

    --

  • by bmetz ( 523 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:06AM (#711587) Homepage
    I felt people were making the comparison by the stereotype of closed source projects shipping whenever it was in the best interests of the company versus open source's historical "when it's done" ship date. I think a lot of people consider Red Hat 7 to have been knowingly shipped prematurely. I'm not saying I agree, but that is what I gleaned from the discussions that have unfolded on slashdot.

    We're still with you, Bob. We believe Red Hat will stay open source and give us power to control our own software. But a lot of people felt profit was driving this release, and that's a small step down the road to the dark side.
  • by Gunfighter ( 1944 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:28AM (#711588) Homepage

    I agree to a certain extent. One thing that pisses me off is watching all of the duplication of effort in the Open Source Community. For example, if all of the groups out there working on accounting projects would combine forces and agree on technologies (Perl, Apache, PostgreSQL, RPM, etc.), we could soon have an Open Source, modular, scalable accounting package comparable to something like Great Plains Dynamics. If you don't agree with me, browse around sourceforge.net [sourceforge.net] sometime and look at all of the groups working on similar projects. Imagine what would happen if you combined some of those projects and focused that productivity into one kickass line of Open Source applications!! Don't re-invent the wheel!!

    Now... I'm not saying that RedHat should have full reign of Linux standards. However, those of you who have read the book Net Ready [netreadiness.com] know that there are four pillars to success in the modern E-conomy: Leadership, Governance, Competencies, and Technologies. RedHat is providing leadership for much of the community. We should be using the Open Source model not only to support them with the other three, but also to help them with a good system of checks and balances.

    Bob's got some good points, and I think we should stop beating RedHat down and instead stick out a hand to pull him back up. Face it, we're all in this together. We might as well stop pointing fingers and try some "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" instead. Then, and only then, will we truly be on our way to world domination.

    Personally, I'll be installing RHL7.0 as soon as I can purchase a copy. Why purchase you may ask? Because RedHat, for all they've done for the community, deserves $29.95 of my money.

    --Gunfighter

  • by Kenelson ( 4445 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @12:32PM (#711589) Homepage
    I should mention what RedHat did does have some precedence in Unix world. Many proprietary versions of Unix ship two compilers. One is meant simply to have the features to compile the kernel. It supports few dangerous optimizations and tends to be fast and loose with the rules. They then ship an enhanced compiler with better error checking and more aggressive optimizations. This is what RedHat did. They shipped a version modified to be called kgcc and a enhanced version called gcc. So at least on that case, I have no problems. I thing a previous version shipped with gcc 2.7.2 and egcs as well. This is a good way to introduce a new compiler when the kernel is not completely up the error checking standards of the latest compiler.

    What they did wrong was failed to consult the gcc steering committee to get approval for a new stable so that other venders can also use it. They also failed to modify the contact numbers and emails for the compiler such that it directs problems to RedHat rather than the Gcc group. Third, they failed to roll back those changes to the C++ ABI so that their version would be able to generate code libraries which could be used across platforms. This is bad because it makes shipping C++ libraries more difficult and error prone. Some venders may only chose to ship RedHat versions and thus users of other dists are left in the cold. Also they placed the burden of handing the library problems on the free software developers such as myself without a lot of notice. I only test my software against known stable compiler versions and thus this release caused me some problems.

    With all respect to Bob Young, I think that RedHat did make some mistakes. He certainly doesn't deserve the horrible Microsoft comparisons and other flames. However, on issues like shipping snapshots I don't agree with him. Summarily declaring all people who disagree are wrong with him seems quite arrogant. I think RedHat deserves to hear at least on that issue what mistakes they made and where they miscalculated.

    Further, I also disagree with RedHat on the production of Inti rather than supporting the GNOME's current C++ binding, Gtk--. That like shipping a version of Gcc which is not compatible is divisive and intrusive into the workings of the Free Software community. A great many people did not see cloning an existing free product nor moving Havoc away from gtk+ development as good for the community. Obviously, RedHat felt it was in their best interests. I do hope that this situation wakes us up to the fact that what companies do is best for them and not necessarily the best for everyone. After all the point of a company is to make money. We should praise a company that does something in our best interest, and point out why we won't support them when they don't. After all it is in a companies best interest to release as little information about what they will support as possible to maintain competitive advantage. At the same time this is really against our interests as free developers such as myself have little chance to fix the bugs that shipping a snapshot compiler causes. However, flaming them like some people have choosen to do helps no one. Constructive criticism is a better approach.

    --Karl

  • That's interesting. I find most people that bash Redhat are people that have been using Linux or BSD for a long time, way back when the kernel was in its late 1's and early 2's and before. I gave up on Redhat after 4.2, and from all reports, it's a good thing that I bailed before 5.0. RedHat has always been the leader in irritating bugs, and moronic applications that are supposed to help you administrate your box. It's the newbies that *use* Redhat because it's the biggest name in Linux right now.

    Frankly, I think Redhat is giving linux something of a bad name. They're successful, sure, but their bugs always get turned into 'bugs in linux' by the press and the M$ cronies.

    I'm grateful for the money that they bring in so that Alan Cox and folk like him can devote their time to the OS, but they have to do *something* about their buggy releases. I can't remember the last time anyone said 'Slackware? That buggy piece of crap? Forget it, I'm going to Redhat.'

    So, to some up, I'll repeat something that my friends like to use (stolen from Something Awful):

    'Use Redhat Lunix! Lunix si moar fastar!'

  • by buysse ( 5473 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:29AM (#711591) Homepage
    I've said this before on /., and I'll say it again -- if you find a problem in Redhat, post it to bugzilla [redhat.com] so it /does/ get fixed. I've posted a few bugs that people have mentioned like this to bugzilla, but I don't know the particulars of the ping bug you mention, and I don't use linuxconf ;).

    Generally, stuff that doesn't compile is one of three things -- the compiler (possible, but unlikely - I think there's only one confirmed this-code-is-valid-but-doesn't-compile bug), glibc (very possible -- make sure you apply the update to at least 2.1.94-3), or the code is broken with respect to the standard, and /will not compile with gcc 3.0 when it's done/. The most likely of the three, especially if c++ is involved, is the latter.

  • by fireproof ( 6438 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:18AM (#711592) Homepage
    I dunno . . . I'm not so keen on the idea that the dominant powers-that-be should make standards, and the rest of the world should then follow. I know it's a bit idealistic, but I would prefer that competing methods be introduced by different groups, and let the most robust, effecient, and useful one become the de facto standard. The down side to this is that things remain in a state of flux for a while until everything gets acclimated.

    On the other hand, there are some areas where competing standards don't really hurt folks too much, given that the standard is well documented.

    I do, however, like the idea of Red Hat taking charge. At worst, given the manner in which the "community" works, if the standard they attempt to implement ain't no good, it will more than likely get ignored.

    ----
    "A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind."

  • by sachmet ( 10423 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @01:55PM (#711593)
    Five years ago, we had the same problem, only in a different fashion. Then, the debate was over libc5 versus glibc. At that time, RedHat was seen as evil because they 'forced' everyone to use glibc with their distribution. After all the flames subsided, glibc came out on top, and the world went on its merry way.

    Now, granted, this isn't exactly the same thing. GCC 2.96 isn't necessarily the best choice to maintain compatibility with anything else out there. (And that's an understatement.) But without a leader, no decisions get made.

    Maybe the bigger question is, should RedHat be that leader? RedHat seems to me to be the distribution taking the bigger risks and trying to get the biggest lead to show 'how far Linux has come'. So they include patches to the kernel that aren't in anyone's tree yet - AFAIK, that hasn't been a big problem to date. They use bleeding edge software they deem to be stable - hasn't seemed to backfire yet, current issue excepted.

    It just seems to me that people criticising RedHat over this decision haven't taken the time to realize RedHat's overall contribution to the community, in terms of writing software, hiring developers, and taking the lead to bring Linux to the average Joe.

    If you can't stand it, there are plenty of other good distributions out there that you can use. Slackware, Debian, Mandrake, Stampede, to name a few. Just because RedHat makes a decision you do or don't agree with doesn't mean they are the final word. Plenty of other people have worked long and hard hours to bring what they wanted to the table; try their solutions out.
  • people not knowing about the -n switch for ping (if anyone at redhat reads this PLEASE FIX PING, what it does is unexpected and has sent many people looking for deeper problems in their netoworks)

    ping -n has behaved exactly the same for 15 years on every operating system except Windows.

    Tell Microsoft to fix *their* broken ping, and RTFM.

    -
  • by binarybits ( 11068 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @10:34AM (#711595) Homepage
    Engineering is all about tradeoffs. If you're designing an airplane or the power system for a hospital, you can't afford any errors under any circumstances, so you over-engineer everything and spend most of your resources on the debugging to make absolutely sure there are no bugs.

    If you're writing a word processor, you don't want to lengthen your development cycle by a month to fix a problem that only affects 1 in 100000 users. You don't want to double the price of your product so you can chase down the last few bugs that causes poor formatting of certain files.

    In the tradeoff between bug-fixes and cost/time, you choose based on how mission-critical an app is. You'd be crazy to use Red Hat 7 to run an airplane. But if you're running someone's desktop machine, it's just fine.

    It's just not possible to iron out all bugs without astronomical cost. To make that the standard would cripple the industry and make us wait twice as long for already-delayed software. In most cases I'm willing to accept buggy software with new features. If you aren't, stick with an older version. But don't demand that the rest of us be prevented from seeing a release until all bugs are released to your satisfaction.
  • by Jose ( 15075 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @08:32AM (#711596) Homepage
    I trust most Slashdot readers to see through that kind of stuff.

    whoa. I have never seen such misplaced trust.

    ...trusting /. readers to have half a clue...shudder

  • by Kaufmann ( 16976 ) <rnedal@ol i m po.com.br> on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:15AM (#711597) Homepage
    Red Hat's business is built on solving the problem thatMicrosoft's business model has imposed on the software user since Bill Gates disagreed with the members of the Homebrew computing club back in 1980.

    ... except that it happened in 1975. And Bill's letter read:

    Why is this? As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software.


    I don't think that calling an entire community as thieves qualifies as "disagreeing"... :)

    In short, if Bob wants to quote Levy's Hackers, he at least should do it right! :)

  • by dillon_rinker ( 17944 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @08:21AM (#711598) Homepage
    I dunno . . . I'm not so keen on the idea that the dominant powers-that-be should make standards, and the rest of the world should then follow.

    If there is a dominant vendor, whatever they do becomes a de facto standard. I'm not too keen on it either, but that's reality.

    What I am keen on, though, is for that dominant vendor to say "Here's our product. It will become standard. Here's the source code. Copy and reimplement to your heart's content."

  • by exeunt ( 22854 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:33AM (#711599)
    cut and paste dosn't count!
    ---
  • by Bjimba ( 31636 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:05AM (#711600) Homepage
    Okay, Bob, let's deal with this issue, then. You say that those of us that disagree with the shipment of gcc 2.96 "would be wrong". Even though the GCC Steering Committee was strongly opposed to this, and that its existance in Red Hat 7 may cause all sorts of compatibility problems.

    I want to know -- what's the upside of 2.96?

    ---
    question = '\FF'; // optimized Hamlet
  • by bgarcia ( 33222 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @08:01AM (#711601) Homepage Journal
    The inclusion of heavily patched, alpha, non-standard components in RH7 was, in my humble opinion, a tragic mistake.
    Say what!?!? I assume you're talking about gcc. In case you haven't noticed, RedHat, as well as every other distribution, often releases heavily patched components. Have you looked at the kernels included with your favorite distribution? Often they include patches that have not yet been accepted into the official kernel source tree. Yet nobody has complained about this.

    Including alpha components??? If you think this is the first time that RedHat or any other distribution has included an alpha-quality component, then you haven't been paying attention. Right now, I count 133 packages on my system with version numbers starting with "0."!

    Making your products accessable to Joe every day windows user by making it easier to use is great, but serves little use when it is done at the expense of those that brought your company to where it is today, the hard-core hackers.
    They included a compiler that has much better C++ support. If anything, this was done precisely to help developers, and "Joe every day windows user" will never even notice the difference.
    You claim that you publish the source that your company creates; where is it?
    Goodness, what world are you from? Go to their FTP site. They have these things called "source RPMs". They have instructions for installing them. When you install them, you will see not only the pristine source code for the component, but also the individual patches that they apply to them.
    As I write this, I'm downloading the latest revision of Debian...
    Debian is a wonderful distribution, so have fun! I certainly hope that the 2.2.17pre6 kernel that they provide doesn't give you any trouble! [debian.org]
  • by spankenstein ( 35130 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:08AM (#711602) Homepage

    I wouldn't ever compare RedHat to microsoft. I don't particularly like RedHat's distribution, bu that's just personal taste.

    I Do know that last night while hanging out on IRC there we gobs of perople having problems with things specific to redhat.

    Stuff not compiling on rh7, people not knowing about the -n switch for ping (if anyone at redhat reads this PLEASE FIX PING, what it does is unexpected and has sent many people looking for deeper problems in their netoworks), and linuxconf in general munging stuff.

    I applaud redhat for making a mostly easy but flexible distribution... but please try not to break things that people depend on to work (ping, gcc, etc.)

  • by rjh ( 40933 ) <rjh@sixdemonbag.org> on Thursday October 12, 2000 @09:29AM (#711603)
    Consider that Red Hat do engage is a policy of encouraging proprietary vendors to release their software "for Red Hat Linux" offering binary products only.

    This only appears correct; it's not. Red Hat engages in a policy of encouraging proprietary vendors to release their software for Red Hat Linux, yes--but I suspect they also encourage people to consider releasing the source to their software as well, if not going the full open-source route.

    The real incorrectness comes from the implication, that Red Hat encourages vendors of proprietary software to only ship for Red Hat Linux. Nothing could be further from the truth. Red Hat encourages vendors to make sure that their software works with Red Hat, which is pretty sane business advice--Red Hat has an extremely large market share.

    Vendors will (often) choose only to officially support one distro, because QA testing is a long and costly process. Making sure that their software also works on Debian will cost them a small fortune, and the Debian market is small in comparison to the Red Hat market.

    If you want to blame anyone for contributing to the non-support of non-RH distros, blame the software vendors and not Red Hat. Red Hat only encourages vendors to support Red Hat (a policy which is as unobjectionable as it is eminently sensible); they don't encourage vendors to get locked into a Red Hat solution (a policy as objectionable as it is monopolistic).

    The former is the Red Hat way of doing things; the latter is the Microsoft way of doing things.

    Oh, and by the way--I run Debian, and I still like Red Hat a heck of a lot. There's an awful lot of software on my Debian system which came from Red Hat, and one of the books on my shelf is Linux Application Development, written by some Red Hat guys.

    I bought the Deluxe version of Red Hat 7.0, even though I'm a Debian user, just to say "thank you" to Red Hat for the software they've contributed to my Debian system.
  • by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @08:36AM (#711604)
    What's the problem here? If you don't like it, don't shop there.

    Well, except that I think differential pricing is illegal. If it isn't, it is at least unethical.

    And no, not everything can be solved by "if you don't like it, don't shop there". Hey, maybe I don't like the practices of Archer Daniels Midland, or Monsanto. Try and buy food that *hasn't* passed through their hands. You pretty much can't. How can you tell? You can't use that excuse against monopolies. And while there are many corporations out there, many are equally as bad as the others, so there is effectively no "choice" to be made.

    It's a crime that corporations are treated as individuals under law, because in many cases they don't have to hold up to their responsibilities and are unnaccountable for their actions. Yes corporations and businesses should be allowed to exist. But it should *also* be understood that a corporate charter is a mandate given on the good graces of the hosting society, which can pull it when the corporation does not behave well.

    And for the record, I sympathize with many of the Libertarian ideas, but think that "pure" libertarianism verges on irresponsibility. I believe government can and should play a positive role in providing fundamental services to citizens, if it is architected to resist corruption, and open to a real democracy. I feel the Green party, and Nader's candidacy, is the best of many worlds, by mixing some good libertarian ideas, a passion for social justice, and a good helping of civic responsibility and "daily democracy". That's why I'm voting for Nader.
  • by Mneme ( 56118 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @06:45PM (#711605)
    I want to know -- what's the upside of 2.96?

    The upside is that RedHat's gcc snapshot generates better code, thanks to the powerful new optimizations it contains. It also fixes some bugs in 2.95.x and works much, much better on RISC platforms. Hardly surprising given that it contains about a year's worth of development effort over gcc 2.95.x.

    It's all very well for the gcc steering committee to take the attitude that gcc 3.0 will be done when it's done, but for those of us who want both a working compiler and one that has (almost) all the latest enhancements, RedHat's QA'd gcc snapshot is an absolute boon.

  • by alee ( 64786 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:14AM (#711606)
    freedom & personal responsibility good, serfdom & tyrannical control bad,
    freedom & personal responsibility good, serfdom & tyrannical control bad,
    freedom & personal responsibility good, serfdom & tyrannical control bad,
    freedom & personal responsibility good, serfdom & tyrannical control bad
    ... :)
  • by bero-rh ( 98815 ) <bero&redhat,com> on Thursday October 12, 2000 @08:34AM (#711607) Homepage
    There are many applications that don't compile with gcc 2.96. That's almost always not the compiler's fault.

    gcc's syntax checks got much stricter; unclean code doesn't compile anymore.

    If you think you have found something that is really a compiler bug (as opposed to the compiler complaining about broken code), report it [redhat.com] and the problem will be fixed.
  • by bero-rh ( 98815 ) <bero&redhat,com> on Thursday October 12, 2000 @08:52AM (#711608) Homepage
    I installed the Inti class library [...] because the gtk library that got installed [...] is a devel one that's prone to crashing

    Inti is not yet beta code. Neither is the gtk version it uses. And that's quite clear even from the packagename (gtkbeta).

    Red Hat Linux 7 also includes gtk 1.2.8, which is the most stable gtk release yet, and that's the version of gtk that's used unless you want to play with experimental stuff.
  • by bero-rh ( 98815 ) <bero&redhat,com> on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:28AM (#711609) Homepage
    We usually fix any problems reported to
    bugzilla [redhat.com].

    Since nobody can fix problems without being aware of them, please make sure you report those problems rather than just complaining on your favorite message board/mailing list/IRC channel/...
  • by bero-rh ( 98815 ) <bero&redhat,com> on Friday October 13, 2000 @12:33AM (#711610) Homepage
    There has been a problem (check the Qt source RPM for our patch).
    We've had a close look at it, and we think it's non-standards compilant code in Qt.

    With the patch, Qt works without problems.
    Writing this from Konqueror 2.0RC2...
  • ...RedHat Linux is something that his company has created/assembled - and shared with the world. Only to have some people say "you suck".

    His point is that, any innovation is going to have its faults, and that they have to be worked through. RedHat publishes publishes its distro's faults to the world - something that MS and Sun do not fully disclose. That data is being used to say compare Redhat to MS and Sun - an inherently flawed concept.

    Now, comparing RedHat to MS because they are trying to make money from Linux is also wrong (IMHO). RedHat gives a lot back to the Linux community - and heck, they even employ Linux geeks to do just want they want to, add to Linux and open source software.

    People are too willing to throw stones at RedHat - helping them find the bugs, and correct them would be more in the spirit of Open Source, and definitely more productive.
  • by Lathi- ( 156581 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @08:48AM (#711612) Homepage
    By including "GCC 2.96" in Red Hat Linux 7.0 they are creating a situation of vendor lock in for the users of any proprietary software that is released "for Red Hat Linux" and compiled on the latest version.
    As an employee at a company that will soon be shipping a binary-only version of our software for linux, I'm tempted to be offended by this. I see two implications of your statement. One: you think I'm too stupid to know that I can release more than one binary. I'm so wowed by RedHat's "for RedHat Linux" program to see anything else. Two: you misunderstand vendor lockin. I'm going to assume the second. Vendor lockin means that I can't switch vendors. I am logistically prevented from doing it. The gcc 2.96 problem is not that case. My source code works with gcc 2.95.2 and 2.96. Since I own the code, I am free to compile it twice. There's no vendor lockin here. Another point to vendor lockin is that gcc 3.0 eventually will ship. When that happens, any of my 2.96 specific code will work with any distribution that ships 3.0.
  • by haxz ( 160947 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @10:37AM (#711613)
    Well it appears that Red Hat has been hit by the growing popularity of Linux.

    There was a time when this would have been a non issue. If you didn't like what the Distro contained, you'd replace it yourself. Maybe compile some source code and stick it in, or install a new binary. It would be no big deal, something everyone did to use Linux.

    With the growing popularity of Linux, the user base may no longer have the time or skills or both to do this and some definitely don't have the tolerance for any need to do it. Is this a slam against users? No, just recognizing the fact that it's not just the type or kind people it used to be.

    All the rants, open letters, diatribes, posts, etc, against Red Hat certainly starts to look like the reactions against Microsoft. To that degree it starts to look like Red Hat is the next MS. It's not all their fault, it's the demands of all the users. The can certainly fall into Microsoft's error of trying to be all things to all users.

    This is still Linux though. Everything is still open, the code hasn't been hidden. We can still change it ourselves if we need or want to.

    Why not stop all this stuff and start acting like a community of users again. Someone replace gcc 2.96. Then post the code or changes to /., the news groups, a web site etc. So everyone can make the changes themselves if they want. Then Red Hat might even be a leader in the community and post the info or code to their own site for users to get to. Or someone else might just find a new company that does this for them.

    We can act more as a community and realize, on all sides, that this won't be the last time this happens and be better prepared to solve the problem when it arises again.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2000 @06:54AM (#711614)
    I noticed that you used the term "Slashdotter" in your letter several times. This is incorrect.

    The correct term is "Slashbot".

    Please take note of this in your future correspondence.

    Regards,
    AC
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:13AM (#711615)
    I agree with Bob that Red Hat is not like Microsoft.

    However I think that there is something in the worries expressed by many about Red Hat's decision to include a gcc that the gcc people have publicly stated is not up to the standard of an official release due to incompatibilities.

    Consider that Red Hat do engage is a policy of encouraging proprietary vendors to release their software "for Red Hat Linux" offering binary products only.

    Now consider what happens should one of those binary only products is compiled against Red Hat version 7.0 and the product makes use of C++ in it's development.

    That product will then only work on either Red Hat 7.0 or another platform that chooses to discard the views of the GCC steering committee.

    Red Hat is the biggest player in the Linux market. They control the biggest share of the biggest market for commercial Linux use and they know it. By including "GCC 2.96" in Red Hat Linux 7.0 they are creating a situation of vendor lock in for the users of any proprietary software that is released "for Red Hat Linux" and compiled on the latest version.

    I am sure that this is not a deliberate policy at Red Hat - were it deliberate it would certainly suggest a certain leaning towards the position of companies like Microsoft - however the effects remain the same: vendor lock in.

    For Bob to reply to such critisisms with "You're wrong" without offering any explanation suggests arrogance. That is the kind of thing one expects of Microsoft. Red Hat need to offer a better explanation than "you are wrong".

  • by JoeBuck ( 7947 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:36AM (#711616) Homepage

    Dear Bob,

    I admire your company greatly and have had very productive relationships with Red Hat and Cygnus engineers going back many years. I am a member of the GCC steering commitee. I wish you nothing but success.

    However, you do have a problem with openness that you are not acknowledging. There is one sense in which your practices do resemble those of Microsoft: your practice of keeping outsiders in the dark about upcoming plans that will affect them. To be specific: your management ordered its employees, including those who were members of the GCC Steering Committee, not to discuss anything about your plans for Red Hat 7.0 with other members of the committee. Advance discussion could have led to improved quality in 7.0, better relations with the outside developers you depend on, better planning by your customers and a whole lot less anger against you.

    Joe Buck

  • by bero-rh ( 98815 ) <bero&redhat,com> on Thursday October 12, 2000 @08:19AM (#711617) Homepage
    They're shipping 2 compilers because their userland compiler doesn't work

    Untrue. It works almost perfectly. There is, so far, one known problem that fails to compile code that is ok (and that's currently being fixed).

    It can't compile 2.2.x kernels because of bugs in the kernel code (ask Alan), that's why the two compilers are needed.
  • by bero-rh ( 98815 ) <bero&redhat,com> on Thursday October 12, 2000 @09:19AM (#711618) Homepage
    Please send bug reports [redhat.com] on these, including sample code.

    FWIW, all of Red Hat Linux 7, including Powertools and the Extra CDs for the European edition have been compiled with 2.96 using -O2 -mcpu=i686 -march=i386 without problems.

    KDE 2.0 [kde.org] is completely c++, doesn't cause any problems with 2.96 -O2 -mcpu=i686 -march=i386.
  • by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @08:39AM (#711619) Homepage

    Quoted from Bob's article:

    But if you don't like something about Red Hat Linux you don't have to use that feature or function.

    Hi Bob. My name is Lawrence Wade, and I have root on four Red Hat Linux boxes.

    I'm still a relative Linux newbie. Though I was on the Internet (Arpanet) in 1988 and am therefore very familiar with UNIX heirarchy and commands, my first Red Hat Linux system was my first attempt at administering a UNIX(-like) box.

    So, looking around, everyone told me how wonderful Linux is, and how light and easy on resources it is.

    At the time, Red Hat 6.0 was current, and I installed it on a 486DX2-66 that I had kicking around. (Linux doesn't need much hardware, right? One would expect that the geniuses at Red Hat wouldn't expect that knowledgeable computer users are going to give a new OS a spin on their main computer, right? One would *think* then that a 486 would be a reasonable place to try out Linux.)

    My first problem came when the installer detected that I had a monochrome VGA monitor, and set my text to the same color as my background. I plugged in a color monitor, and still couldn't read it. A reboot with a color monitor on, then a swap back to the monochrome monitor after booting, and the installer was still legible.

    Next thing was, RedHat 6.0's installer asked me if I had PCMCIA card slots. This was a VESA-bus 486. I indicated NO.

    The installation continued, and then finished. I restarted the machine:

    "LI"

    Stuck in the rescue disk, booted off that. Eventually found out about the LILO >1024 cylinder BIOS issue. Oops. Not Red Hat's fault, sure, but new users don't understand enough to distinguish that.

    After I finally got the machine to start up, the machine hung at "Bringing up PCMCIA services". Still being a complete neophyte at the time, I had no idea how to go and kill that from the machine's startup. You'll note again that when the installer asked me if I wanted to install support for PCMCIA services, the response was probably sent to /dev/null; the installer apparently did what it wanted to, independent of my input. It took instructions about as well as my cat. With a cat, that's cute. With a computer, it's not.

    Frustrated to all hell by this point, having wasted a weekend farting around, I took my RH6 disk and threw it across my home office. It landed behind a desk. Windows 95B went back onto that old, occasionally-used 486.

    A few months later, I decided to get DSL internet service, and there was no way that I was going to use Windows for my gateway/firewall. So, I hit the Linux websites and got a list of supported network cards.

    I rooted around under the desk, and found my RH6 disk under a dustbunny and an empty coffee cup. This time I knew that the LILO bug really only affected 486-vintage machines. I had a Pentium 133 ready to go. With 2 identical and supported ISA ethernet cards installed.

    I'm not an idiot. First off, these network cards were set properly so that they didn't have any conflicts. Even Windows 95 was happy with them. Yet, every time RH6 tried to use the second card (eth1), a kernel panic happened. This continued until, in frustration, I replaced eth1 with a PCI NE-2000 card. Immediately, things worked.

    After RH6.2 came out, I put it onto that machine, and then swapped back to my original matched-pair of ethernet cards. The machine worked like a million bucks, and has ever since.

    So, Bob, what is this, a rant without a purpose? No.

    I run Red Hat because, from the perspective of a newbie, Red Hat makes the most sense. Information is readily available. And 6.2 has been very good to me.

    And while I realize that you have shareholders who will lose interest if you don't frequently bring out new releases, I'm afraid that most people, upon going through what I went through with RH6, would decide that Linux wasn't worth the trouble.

    All the advocacy in the world isn't worth squat if the impressionable Windows user goes out to the local software store and buy a copy of Red Hat 7 to discover that nothing works as it should.

    It undermines the Linux movement as an alternative to the scourge of Windows. And while I'm very sensitive to the fact that you have to keep your shareholders happy, discouraging new users by releasing buggy software in colorful boxes only serves to hurt Linux.

    We simply are not pursing a business model that bears any resemblance to Microsoft's, so just quit it.

    New users don't distinguish between distributions - they don't know the difference between SuSE, Caldera, Debian, Slackware and Red Hat. To them, Linux is Linux. If Red Hat is flaky ("and golly, they're a big name!"), then *all* Linux must be flaky.

    So, don't be surprised when someone falls asleep at the switch or buckles to shareholder pressure, releases a shitty version of your operating system, and Linux users all around the world start to compare you to Microsoft.

    No one asks for perfection. That's simply impossible. But even Windows 95 Upgrade was more stable, reliable and functional than RH6. If RH7 is anywhere near as bad as I'm led to believe it is from here, let the comparisons begin.

    I run RH 6.2. I like RH 6.2. I look forward to when your firm releases 7.2; until then, I won't be upgrading any systems. And I'll keep on burning CD copies of 6.2 for my friends, with the explanation that Red Hat bowed to shareholder pressure and released 7.0 before getting it to work properly. <sigh> Sounds just like any product Microsoft has ever released.

  • by BluedemonX ( 198949 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:36AM (#711620)
    I understand your frustration with this scenario - many of these bugs are not with your code but with others, but there appears to be frustration all around. I applaud you for publishing your errors and fixing them, as well. However, there are certain things I can't abide by.

    I'll give you a personal example of what's griping me. I installed the Inti class library because I was looking for a decent object oriented framework under which to develop Linux/GNOME apps. I can't even compile a basic tutorial program with it, because the gtk library that got installed with RedHat 7.0 is a devel one that's prone to crashing, deprecation problems, etc. The error message advised me to go and get a different version of the GTK in order to compile a basic "Hello World" style program.

    I'd understand it if I found a complex bug. Really, I would. But what I found was something anyone could have found by taking a blank machine, installing RH7.0 and then trying to compile a program that RedHat has on its website as a tutorial.

    A packaged, paid-for distribution is NOT the place for devel code, for alpha code, use at your own risk code, strange new worlds of compilers that can't even build the kernel, etc. Make that an option if you wish.

    The best way to continue in your business is to get out of the CD world entirely - except to publish one on ISO and at nominal cost as a baseline, and then have a subscription-based service whereby when I log on to my RedHat machine I'm advised of new developments and offers to upgrade given packages.
  • by clinko ( 232501 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @06:59AM (#711621) Journal
    Ok, This Is gonna get a lot of people pissed off. In My opinion Red Hat Is doing the right thing by taking charge. They might end up looking like the new microsoft of the linux world, but someone needs to. The standards that the dominant linux distro makes should be followed. I've made comments before about netscape giving in to IE's standards. Why Not? This would make everything a lot easier for the rest of the world. But Oh Well, Just My opinion.

    Btw, Make A Reply to this, i really want to know other people's opinions.
  • by xyphus ( 242905 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:04AM (#711622) Homepage
    Standards are great--if you define an interface, people can implement whatever they want and it'll all work together. But we have to be careful about who makes the standards. We want the smart people making them, not the powerful people...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:06AM (#711623)
    I have found that those who bash Red Hat the most are often newcomers to Linux who have maybe been part of the community for a year or perhaps even less. I am a bit confused about why they do this, perhaps they think Red Hat bashing is cool. I have been using Linux since 1994 and I think Red Hat is a great company! They pay people like Havoc Pennington to work fulltime on GTK 2.0, Alan Cox to hack on the kernel and many many other. Also, since when does Slashdot represent the community? Most people here don't contribute anything, the core community has always and still consists of the various mailing lists (the kernel, debian, mandrake, redhat and many other lists). Just MHO.
  • by miniver ( 1839 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @10:44AM (#711624) Homepage

    Welcome to leap before looking school. You have successfully leaped to a conclusion without looking at the surrounding facts. To help you better understand your position, here are some facts that you may have missed:

    • CCVS = Credit Card Verification System
      This is software intended to help online merchants interoperate with existing credit card clearing houses.
    • Credit Card Clearing Houses use proprietary software!
      Red Hat (or more likely, the company they bought CCVS from) probably had to sign a lot of NDAs in order to get access to the specifications for those proprietary protocols.
    • Releasing the source code to the resulting application would violate those NDAs.
    • Red Hat is providing open source APIs to CCVS which allows developers to build open source applications that integrate with proprietary protocols.
    • Thus Red Hat has released the software with a license that complies with the legal requirements, but still allows merchants to build Linux solutions. This is a GOOD thing. For details see this [redhat.com].


    Are you moderating this down because you disagree with it,
  • by malkavian ( 9512 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:08AM (#711625)

    It's always nice to see an open letter, and even nice to see that Red Hat are actually watching the flow of conversation on Slashdot.



    When something goes wrong, it's so usual for someone to sit around and say 'not my fault', that it's nice for someone to sit down and honestly say 'We may have made a mistake, perhaps.. But we made decisions we believed to be right, and you're quite at liberty to disagree..', and actually take the time to read the arguments against, and weigh them up.

    I guess there's no progression without controversy and dissent over the paths to follow, and somebody has to spark controversy.

    Maybe I speak just for myself, maybe for many, but thanks Bob, for paying attention to what we have to say, and for letting us know that you are, indeed listening to our many voices.

    Cheers,

    Malk

  • by Deus Ex Machina ( 13901 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:19AM (#711626)
    Well, there is a lot here to digest, both in terms of what Mr. Young wrote, and in terms of the larger debate about RedHat. Personally though, I feel that there is, in fact, a lot of paranoia in the Open Source Community - and rightly so, for we effectively LOST our community back in the early 80's. So here we are, in fear of RedHat becoming another Microsoft, or at the very least, a Sun (which I find to be an infinitely more likely situation, and a totally different debate altogether). Well, I can say in all honesty that I have used RedHat's products before, and I have kept up with all the various claims against them - and as a Debian user, I can say that I believe RedHat has done NOTHING to deserve the kind of claims against them that people have levied against them.

    Now, this issue is moot in my mind - Young, in effect, seems to be feeding the trolls more than anything else here. No one who had actually researched this debate would claim RedHat to be acting like Microsoft. Again, as a Debian user, I feel that there is a hell of a lot WRONG with RedHat's distro - for ME. This more of a personal taste though - and don't anyone dare tell me that Debian hasn't had it's share of crippling bugs.

    In the end, this is all just incredibly silly for me, and I have finally made my decision about RedHat. RedHat is a company, like SuSE and the Turbolinux guys... they are selling a product. RedHat has supported it's product admirably, and though it isn't in my decision the product that I want to use, that doesn't mean that when something goes wrong we should all point our fingers and scream "REDHAT IS BECOMING MICROSOFT!!!" RedHat, as a company, had done a great deal of work for the Linux community and for the acceptance of Linux in places that in turn have made Linux a better OS (IBM, Dell, etc...). So I think we should back off and turn down our flamethrowers here - if you want to criticize RedHat, fine, but at least find a good reason.

  • by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:05AM (#711627)
    Most of the criticism of RedHat seems to be coming from college students with a selective dislike for what they see as large, successful businesses. I say "selective" because these same critics also fawn all over corporately produced mass market products, like Mountain Dew, The Simpsons, and anything Star Wars related.

    One great thing about Linux distributions is competition. Don't like RedHat? Buy SuSE or Turbo or Corel or Stampede or Debian or one of several others. If you want to jump on corporations, then there are some pharmaceutical companies and food processing companies that really need public vehement public criticism of their practices. But don't bother pointing the same kind of fire at RedHat.
  • by The Pim ( 140414 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:17AM (#711628)
    What compelling defense of RedHat 7.0 am I missing here?

    You are missing that any large software development effort, if they are honest and have high standards, must admit that they have zillions of "bugs". Most don't make the product unusable or even bad; instead they are things that could be done better, or that some person doesn't like based on taste, or are just notes worth keeping around to think about. (This isn't even counting the many bogus, incomplete, and duplicate bug reports.) There is in fact good reason that most organizations call it an "issue" database instead of a "bug" database.

    The 2000 (or whatever) "bugs" in RedHat's bugzilla is a meaningless number, and by itself is no cause for alarm (by users), shame (by RedHat), or criticism (by sanctimonious know-nothings). Go count the bug's in Debian's database. (Don't bother telling me when you get finished, because you won't.)

    I think Bob was trying to say that counting the bugs is a silly response to the availability of RedHat's bug database. A more "enlightened" response is to appreciate the value that the mere existence of a public database gives you.

  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:37AM (#711629)
    [click, click, click]

    From: bob@redhat.com

    Dear Slashdotter,

    ...when all of a sudden, the PaperClip winks at you and says,

    "it appears that you're trying to write an Open Letter. Would you like some help in choosing defensive words and phrases?"



    --

  • by Lathi- ( 156581 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @08:31AM (#711630) Homepage
    I admit I'm not on the inside of the GCC steering commitee stuff. I don't know if anyone had any gag orders or not. However, even I new RedHat 7.0 was going to be shipping a "bogus" gcc 2.96. Even before the 7.0 beta release, I had upgraded my gcc from rawhide. This was back in early July. How much lead time did you want? Is three months not enough? BTW, I upgraded because directed me to in responce to bug #13547 (a problem with g++ and iostream). I don't see how anyone can criticize RedHat for not disclosing their plans. As soon as they start on the next release, they put the whole thing in rawhide. I don't see MS putting NT64 pre-releases up on the net. I don't see them putting their working copies of anything up on the net. I agree with Bob Y. You can't make legitimate comparisons between MS and RH. The only exception might be that RH is successful in the Linux world and MS is successful in their nitch.

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