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Red Hat Software Businesses

Alan Cox to Leave if RH AOL Buyout Happens? 722

According to MartinG, Alan has posted to the LKML and said "Im insulted that anyone believes I would continue working for RH if aol/time warner owned them. " This of course refers to the Red Hat/AOL Buyout Rumors that we have been talking about all weekend.
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Alan Cox to Leave if RH AOL Buyout Happens?

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  • Good for him (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It's good to see that *someone* on the Internet isn't so willing to sell out. It certainly won't prevent him from working on kernel stuff, and AOL can buy their credibility somewhere else.
    • Re:Good for him (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SuperDuG ( 134989 ) <(kt.celce) (ta) (eb)> on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:52PM (#2876945) Homepage Journal
      Well leaving just because you don't like your boss is cocky ... and well at least Cox has a well-known name that would let him score a job somewhere else.

      I don't think anyone really likes their boss ... I mean you can get along with them, but you're not going to want to grab a beer after work with them and shoot the shit about all the pens you stole the day before from the storage closet because you're too lazy to take your kid school shoppin.

      Then there's the wonderfulness of ... AOL HASN'T BOUGHT RED HAT YET ... and throwing out these kinds of attitudes can definantelly cause you to loose your job even if there is no merger.

      AOL has yet to put massive controls on a company that they've acquired ... they're just looking for a solid investment ... AOL = online ... redhat = server ... these are just IT buzzwords ... and are recognizeable buzzwords ... hell I know quite a few people who will ask me if I run linux 6.2 or 7.1 ...

      But Cox really needs to look at who puts food on the table ... I know if I had a nifty little job where I could do what I enjoy ... I'd work to keep it ... with or without slashdot's approval.

      • Re:Good for him (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gmack ( 197796 ) <> on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:59PM (#2876998) Homepage Journal
        There are times when how much you enjoy a job depends on who's bottom line your contributing to.
      • Re:Good for him (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MartinG ( 52587 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @02:07PM (#2877059) Homepage Journal
        I get on very well with my boss.
        I regularly grab a beer after work with him.
        I also often tell him to fsck off if he gives me work I don't like.

        It's a good thing and its based on honesty and mutual respect.

        If you don't have that, then you have to realise that many bosses will do whatever they can to exploit you as far as possible, and that old bullshit "putting the food on the table" is one of the buggest reasons It keeps on happening. Can't you see that if people weren't such cowards as to cave in to the "but how am I gonna pay the bills" argument then bosses would be forced to do more of what made their employees happy. All you "food on the table" bods are part of the problem allowing companies to become greedy and exploitative in the first place.

        If your employer knows that you fear leaving them, they are suddenly in an extremely powerful position over you.
        • Re:Good for him (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ( 184378 )
          If your employer knows that you fear leaving them, they are suddenly in an extremely powerful position over you.

          Let's not forget, though, that the majority of workers are underqualified for their job, don't understand their job at all, or are completely incompetent. Now put yourself in their position and see if the "food on the table" argument makes sense. If they lose their job are they likely to be re-hired? And let's not mention the fact that not everyone is saving a portion of their income each month for that "rainy day" when they decide to tell their boss to go to hell. There is a time for standing up for yourself, and there is a time to realize that you're not the decision maker.
      • Re:Good for him (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MisterBlister ( 539957 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @02:11PM (#2877085) Homepage
        Leaving your job because you don't like your boss may be cocky..But leaving your job because you don't agree with the policies of a company that has aquired you is completely different.

        Would anyone bat an eyelash if the potential buyer is Microsoft and Alan Cox said this?

        Well, many people feel that AOL/TW is just as bad as Microsoft... Microsoft is trying to control the computer OS and application space, AOL/TW is trying to control virtually EVERYTHING you see, hear or do ALL DAY EVERY DAY. Both have extremely questionable business practices, both abuse their positions of power. Which is worse?

      • Re:Good for him (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Arkham ( 10779 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @02:25PM (#2877197)
        It's crazy to think Alan is "cocky" for saying he would not work for AOL. I worked at when AOL bought Time Warner, and I left before the deal could go through because I didn't want to work for AOL.

        Lest you think I'm just another lunatic, about 15 of the 20 developers I worked with also left around that time. Of the developers that remained, only one of them was a developer of any quality, and he was big into MS tools.

        My point is, working for a faceless conglomerate is one thing. Working for one with significant philosophical differences from your own is another thing entirely.
        • Re:Good for him (Score:4, Offtopic)

          by Jay L ( 74152 ) <.mf.yaj. .ta. .hsals+yaj.> on Monday January 21, 2002 @02:34PM (#2877270) Homepage
          Just so I'm following...

          You left *TIME WARNER* because you didn't like *AOL's* philosophy?

          I'd love to hear more about that, in private if you like.
          • Re:Good for him (Score:4, Offtopic)

            by Arkham ( 10779 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @03:28PM (#2877648)
            > Just so I'm following...
            > You left *TIME WARNER* because you didn't
            > like *AOL's* philosophy?

            I had no problem working for CNN (which was owned but not managed by Time Warner). CNN was committed to providing unbiased news, and I felt they delivered on that promise.

            I was there from 1998 to 4/2000. CNN employees felt like Turner employees, not Time Warner. You would have had to have been there to understand that. CNN was like a family.

            Well before AOL even began to talk "merger" (which is what they told us it was), we were in talks to provide them with news feeds (CBS's contract was expiring). I got a glimpse into their idea of technology working as a developer on that project, and it was truly frightening how bass-ackwards they did things. The project eventually got canned and I gained some insight into their management during that debacle.

            When the deal was announced I was wary of working for AOL, but I took a wait-and-see attitude. When I started seeing the changes they were making before the merger even went through, I saw all I needed, and I left in April 2000.

            If I look at the CNN web site today, I feel it's worse today than it was 2 years ago when I worked there. I blame the acquisition by AOL for those problems, and I am glad I don't work there anymore.

            As to your implication, the DMCA did not exist back then. The RIAA was not making headlines. From my perspective, Time Warner was mainly a company that made movies, DVDs, CDs, and books. I did not associate a political philosophy with them. I'm not sure if I would feel the same about them now (but maybe I would). AOL on the other hand is just as bad as Microsoft when it comes to dirty business practices. They're just not quite as good at it.
            • Re:Good for him (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Zeinfeld ( 263942 )
              I can see why a CNN person would object to AOL. Since the takeover there has been a deliberate policy of shifting the news coverage to the right. This move appears to be comming from inside CNN however rather than AOL.

              What I hear from CNN people is that the top level execs are terrified of Fox News. For some reason they believe that Fox is beating them because of the rightwing bias in all their reporting. In fact the reason CNN is loosing the cable news battle is obvious if you are a viewer, they don't do news, they do soap operas. Over last summer CNN became the Gary Condit channel. CNN had saturation coverage day after day even though nothing new had come out, the world had already decided that Condit probably didn't do it but has been exposed as a hypocrite, a liar and a fool and thus not fit for re-election. Before Condit we got the Florida recount (which actually was a compelling news story for a change), but also the Monica Lewisnsky saga, Jon Bennet Ramsey, all the way back to the O.J. Simpson saga. The idea seems to be that if there is no blockbuster story that will drive the ratings, go out there and manufacture one.

              This weekend I tuned in for reliable sources, only to find that it had been switched for a half hour 'documentary' to PR 'Black Hawk Down' in a theatre near you. The problem with the 'synergy' idea is that each time you use a news organization to plug your own products you loose credibility. Murdoch is much cleverer in that regard, he does not often shill for his own products in his quality newspapers, he does in his tabloids.

              In the early days of the Internet boom, Time-Warner did try to sabotage the Internet with their cyberporn smear. The background to that story is that Time-Warner were trying to kill the Internet because they still believed that their Interactive TV model with centralized control would win. But shortly after Time-Warner switched tracks and decided the Internet was what they had been about all the time.

              AOL Time-Warner does not appear to be quite as clueless on the DMCA and the Hollings bill. In fact it appears that Hollings is off in a world of his own along with a bunch of lobyists who are trying to make policy for their clients rather than present and purchase it in the legislature.

              I don't personaly see much of a fit between Time Warner and Red Hat. The idea is probably that they are somehow going to compete against Microsoft in the computer market, just as Microsoft is competing against Time Warner in the content market. The Video Game market now execeeds the film market, Microsoft is a major distributor in games software and owns the X-Box platform.

              What I suspect and fear the buyout might be about is AOL Time Warner getting Microsoft paranoia. It is never a good idea when a company stops thining about how it will make money for itself and instead concentrates on blocking a competitor.

      • Re:Good for him (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jedidiah ( 1196 )
        Alan Cox has his professional reputation to think of. At his level of visibility, and responsibility, he simply can't afford to be associated with a fiasco.

        You're right, he does have to worry about keeping food on the table. He's much more likely to endanger that objective by staying onboard an AOL assimilated RedHat.

        His management needs to know these things as much as they might need to know that they're grievously endangering the security and robustness of their CRM system.

        If his management at Redhat is already past the point where they can't tolerate such truth, then perhaps Alan needs to seriously consider moving on anyways.

        Management should view Alan as a highly accurate PR barometer.
    • Re:Good for him (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Erasmus Darwin ( 183180 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:54PM (#2876962)
      "It's good to see that *someone* on the Internet isn't so willing to sell out."

      Is getting financial benefits, in and of itself, really selling out? In my mind, selling out comes when you actually start compromising your art for the sake of cash.

      Whether or not it's selling out is something we can't really decide until we know what AOL's plans are for RedHat. If, for example, it's part of an effort to displace Microsoft, it's feasible that AOL might be content to just throw extra money at RedHat to get some of the classic Linux desktop usability problems solved.

      On the other hand, it's possible that AOL might turn RedHat into one giant AOL ad. Just as they've done with ICQ and Netscape, they could coat RedHat in an annoying layer of ads designed to increase their user base.

      Overall, though, I don't think it's fair to call it selling out just yet. It's possible for AOL to benefit from this action without compromising RedHat.

      • Is getting financial benefits, in and of itself, really selling out?

        No, but who you are getting the financial benefits from does matter. Many slashdotters have sgort memories as is evidenced by the fact that one day a story on how evil the MPAA is being by pursuing the SSSCA and the DMCA can run and the next day a movie review gushing about the latest overpriced, overhyped crap from George Lucas or one of his cronies is run.

        AOL Time Warner is directly responsible (via lobbying) for laws that restrict the freedom of their customers to utilize the products they have bought in a means which is generally considered to be fair (the DMCA). They are responsible for cops breaking into a teenage hacker's home (Jon Johansen's) and treating him like a criminal for writing a program that would make viewing DVDs under Linux easier. They are responsible for proposing laws that would force all electronics and computers to ship with copy protection (the SSSCA).

        Given the fact that the actions of the Time Warner branch of AOL/TW are orthogonal to the beliefs of anyone involved in Free Software I am stunned that people on Slashdot can question Alan Cox's decision. I guess that the adage "be careful when you fight monsters lest you become one yourself" applies in this case with regards to Slashdotters looking for a way to defeat MSFT by any means necessary.
  • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:31PM (#2876763) Homepage Journal
    Linux out in the open, with big company backing?

    Or, are we going to start up with the "elitest want Linux to stay small"?

    Linux (even the RedHat distro) has the GPL protecting it. Even AOL/TW's big lawyers can't break it. Why is it such a bad thing??
    • Isn't IBM a big company? Just because AOL/TW might buy RedHat doesn't mean that they want to enter the desktop OS market.
    • by sporty ( 27564 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:41PM (#2876849) Homepage
      Its evil and good apparently. Let's take a look at the facts.

      * provides free IM
      * provides API (though not the nicer one) for writting your own client
      * provides us with everything for OSS of Mozilla + opensourcing netscape

      * overzealous marketing
      * won't open up oscar
      * "you've got mail" - the movie and the sound
      * they are a big company, not like MS but not running around buying ISP's

      I think people are taking the evil way out of hand.

      Perhaps Alan wants to stay a home-spun, I don't need to wear a suit type of guy. That's good for him and all. Just wish people wouldn't assume that we all know what's in his head.
    • by Multiple Sanchez ( 16336 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:41PM (#2876857)
      To an outsider like me, it seems like RedHat has created a major role for itself as the most "mainstream" Linux distribution, the "big one", the vanilla flavor that corporations migrating from NT can trust. If they're bought by AOL, suddenly their role may diminish to being simply a weapon in AOL's armory, a tool to chip away at MS'/Windows' dominance in the industry. On the other end of the spectrum, they'll likely lose the trust and allegiance of lots of die-hard, anti-corporate Linux users. Non?
    • by __past__ ( 542467 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:42PM (#2876859)
      Linux (even the RedHat distro) has the GPL protecting it. Even AOL/TW's big lawyers can't break it. Why is it such a bad thing??

      Maybe because you're wrong.

      First, nobody knows if lawyers (or judges, they still exists, you know) could "break" the GPL. Right now, we only know nobody tried it yet.

      Furthermore, the important part of Red Hat are not protected by the GPL. Neither their name and credibility, nor their customer base is GPLed. (In fact, I don't even know if all their software is - AFAIK SuSEs Yast is closed source, e.g.)

      • First, nobody knows if lawyers (or judges, they still exists, you know) could "break" the GPL. Right now, we only know nobody tried it yet.

        This is a legitimate worry, but I'd like to say it's probably not too much of a concern. If M$ or some other megacorp thought they could break the GPL, they would have tried by now. Running "strings" on some of their command line TCP/IP utilities tells us that M$ has no problem using open source code, so if they REALLY wanted to steal GPL'd work, they would have done it by now. Destroying the validity of the GPL through legal precedent would be a big win for them, but if they were going to do it, I think they would have tried by now...

        (In fact, I don't even know if all their software is - AFAIK SuSEs Yast is closed source, e.g.

        Actually, I'm not sure that RH includes *any* closed source stuff anymore. I think Netscape 4.x might be the only thing, and with RH's next release, that's going to be replaced by Mozilla completely. That's one thing I have to hand to RH - they really are "dedicated" to Open Source.
      • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @04:16PM (#2877962) Homepage Journal
        First, nobody knows if lawyers (or judges, they still exists, you know) could "break" the GPL. Right now, we only know nobody tried it yet.

        Sigh. The GPL grants rights to copy that ordinary copyrights don't. If the GPL does not hold no copyright holds. The GPL has been defended and no one has dared go to court because they knew they would loose.
        Furthermore, the important part of Red Hat are not protected by the GPL. Neither their name and credibility, nor their customer base is GPLed. (In fact, I don't even know if all their software is - AFAIK SuSEs Yast is closed source, e.g.)

        As far as I can tell, you have never used Red Hat or looked at any of their source. Most is GPL. Show me one "important" piece that is not.

    • by Karma Star ( 549944 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:46PM (#2876896) Journal
      I really don't know why people are complaining. To me, this seems like a good thing.

      First of all, this isn't AOL/Time/Warner buying out Linux, this is AOL/Time/Warner buying out Red Hat. Linux will be alive and well, and Red Hat will become whatever AOL wants it to become.

      Second, AOL can provide the $$ to make RH a contender against Microsoft. Right now, Microsoft is (for all intents and purposes) the only operating system out there aimed for middle-income home users. AOL can help break that monopoly into a duopoly by introducing a user-friendly version of RH. Sure, far from ideal, but certainly better than having Microsoft still control the home market.

      As long as there's Slackware/Caldera/Debian/* Linux distros, Linux will survive w/o Red Hat.
    • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:52PM (#2876941)
      Linux out in the open, with big company backing?

      We already have that, with IBM no less, not to mention a plethora of lesser giants. GNU/Linux will do fine without AOL/Time-Warner, and arguably better.

      Or, are we going to start up with the "elitest want Linux to stay small"?

      It's not about elitism, it is about the dangers of an industry which has as a stated goal the eradication of free software (at least for playing DVDs, and by extention managing digital data of any kind), has attempted to legislate exactly that, and is unlikely to change its ways anytime soon. Remember, this is AOL-Time-Warner we're talking about.

      Is the evil of AOL/Time-Warner exaggerated? On the AOL side perhaps, on the Time-Warner side it is understated, if anything. Keep in mind that old-school copyright cartel content providers have been the most zealous, and most effective, opponents of free software (remember the DMCA, deCSS, SSSCA, the Hague Convention, etc.)?

      OTOH the loss of Red Hat to the "dark side," if that is in fact how it turns out, won't really impact GNU/Linux all that much. Some other distro (Suse, Mandrake, Debian, Sorcerer, or Slackware perhaps) will take up the slack. More likely all of them will to varying degrees.

      Hopefully the talented programmers such as Alan will find gainful employment elsewhere doing exactly what they love to do: working on Linux. IBM comes to mind as an immediate candidate for sponsorship of this kind, as do about a dozen large universities in the US alone.
    • by Spy Hunter ( 317220 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @02:00PM (#2877000) Journal
      The way I see it, Alan doesn't want to work for a gigantic media conglomerate that supports the DMCA and such. It goes against his principles. His decision probably has nothing to do with how Linux or RedHat itself will be affected by an AOL buyout of RedHat. So all you people are getting the wrong idea here.
    • I think AOL getting into the Linux business is a great thing. If anybody can bring Linux to the masses it's AOL. But why do they have to buy RedHat?

      RedHat is doing well as a server OS company, not a consumer company, and it doesn't need any help from AOL in order to succeed.

      Other more consumer oriented distributions like SuSE and Mandrake are struggling, could use the boost from AOL, and are a much better fit anyway. Besides that, they'd probably be much cheaper takeover targets.

    • It might be a good thing if someone like IBM bought Redhat, but not a RIAA lacky/SSSCA/DMCA lackey like AOL.

      IBM has corporate respect, it is serious rather than frivolous (like AOL). It already in in the linux market, and helps linux. It would be better than AOL and, of course, it isn't in bed with RIAA...

  • by LordOfYourPants ( 145342 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:33PM (#2876774)
    Alan Cox develops a kernel for an OS which is exchanged on the Internet. The Internet was invented by Al Gore. Al Gore uses AOL. Who's your daddy?

  • I wouldn't think AOL would move unless they had secured Alan for. So I would think this means it's a rumor. Who would by RH without Alan signing on at least for a while?
  • RedHat has no value other than the employees working for them. Employees are not something that you can guarantee to purchase in a corporate buyout. It's just like any other consulting firm. After the buyout, if the employees don't feel like they were treated well they'll walk... Soon AOL will be held holding an empty bag.

    This is the stupidest move AOL has made since the Netscape acquisition and seeing how they ran that one, a RH buyout is guaranteed to fail.

    But then since I don't particularly like RedHat, I am 100% supportive of this decision! Go for it AOL! :)
    • "RedHat has no value other than the employees working for them."

      *cough* name recognition *cough*...

      "Soon AOL will be held holding an empty bag."

      An empty bag with the name "Red Hat" on it, for them to fill as they please.
    • Its trite new-economy dogma to say that "the company is the employees", but the sad fact is that large-scale corporate development is all about factoring out individual employees. How many people are absolutely indispensible at AOL/TW? Probably less then five. Everyone else can be switched out at almost any time. Red Hat will be the same.

      They have market share, they have revenues, they have contracts. These all exist outside of the contributions and dependencies of individual employees.

  • Good for you Alan (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CDWert ( 450988 )
    I wondered, begining with the first rumors, how many key RH employees would stick around. Key develpers like this arent the 7 dollar an hour lackeys that would keep a job with anyone just because they cant afford to move.

    It has seemed for quite some time the RedHat team has a certain chemistry not found elsewhere. As a RedHat user since 2.0 I can say it is by far my favorite distro, it has its shortcoming but they are they least where it matters to me most.

    I can see it now, AOL buys RedHat the whole crew jumps ship and starts over again, AOL is left with a rotting hulk that smells, like......NETSCAPE

    Charachter is something seldom seen in business anymore. Regadless if you like or dislike someone, it takes charachter to make a stand, This wouldnt be the first time Alan has done it.
    • Re:Good for you Alan (Score:2, Interesting)

      by the gnat ( 153162 )
      RedHat seems to be doing better than ever, even to the point of making a profit. On the other hand, by the time AOL bought Netscape, that company was already pretty much dead in the water. Therefore, such comparisons aren't especially apt. What makes Alan and the Slashbots so sure that AOL will fuck this up?

      I agree, that column on O'Reilly made a lot of sense. But it didn't sound like Alan was citing creative differences as a reason for leaving, because he certainly can't know what the fuck AOL plans for RedHat. Does he think AOL execs will tell him which parts of the kernel to patch? No, it sounds like Alan is being a big crybaby, again. Stallmanesque hysteria serves no one- WTF is Slashdot posting this guy's drivel, anyway?

      I haven't given this much thought- I'm a technical user, not an open-source/free software fanboy, and as long as I can avoid running Microsoft's excrement on my computers I'm happy. I tend to agree that AOL will find a way to fuck RedHat up in some fashion- maybe making Linux popular at last while producing a distro that's unusable for my purposes. But Alan's claim of feeling "insulted" is just dumb- thank god Linus is the "voice of Linux", not Alan.
  • by sluggie ( 85265 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:34PM (#2876791)
    but you forgot to give a reason.

    AOL bought ICQ, AOL bought Winamp.
    Did anyone notice that one of those products did really change to the worse (besides the ads in ICQ, which is ok I guess because they are not that annoying)?

    No, no one noticed, because they didn't.

    But what changed is that the coders of ICQ and Winamp got nice paychecks.

    So, Alan where is your problem?
    Don't like opensource OS coders who dare to make money?
    • by BCoates ( 512464 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:42PM (#2876862)
      So, Alan where is your problem?
      Don't like opensource OS coders who dare to make money?

      Not to put words into his mouth, but maybe he doesn't want to work for AOL/TW because they're pushing for all the laws/technical solutions to not allow people to do what they want with their data and equipment (DMCA, SSSCA, SDMI, etc...)

      That and the fact that AOL is nothing but dorks. I mean, ya gotta have some self respect.

      Benjamin Coates
      • Not to put words into his mouth, but maybe he doesn't want to work for AOL/TW because they're pushing for all the laws/technical solutions to not allow people to do what they want with their data and equipment (DMCA, SSSCA, SDMI, etc...)

        Show me how they could implement that into an opensource os...

        That and the fact that AOL is nothing but dorks. I mean, ya gotta have some self respect.

        Yes, they might be dorks. But you can't buy food/house/car with self respect, neither send your kids to colledge...
  • by sinserve ( 455889 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:35PM (#2876793)
    Cuz the guy must be a star!

    Seriously, I salute the man for standing up for his
    principles, but I don't think his "pre-judgement"
    should receive such an attention.

    He already works for a corporation, if the new
    parent company promises to continue supporting the
    spirit of the old company, and remains commited to
    open source, then ACs comments are unjustified.
    Atleast in my humble opinion.
  • by crow ( 16139 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:36PM (#2876801) Homepage Journal
    Not only will Alan Cox probably leave Red Hat, but much of the userbase will leave. While Red Hat is a for-profit company, it is generally respected within the open source community for being solidly supportive of the community. AOL/TW, however, despite its good works regarding Mozilla, has no such reputation. The TW side of AOL, in particular, is very much a part of the traditional copyright establishment; the same establishment that opposes open-source DVD players and is pushing for additional copyright protection measures that would exclude the possibility of open-source support.

    So if Red Hat is bought by AOL, I expect much of their user base will move to Mandrake, Debian, and Suse.
    • So if Red Hat is bought by AOL, I expect much of their user base will move to Mandrake, Debian, and Suse.

      Mandrake I could perhaps understand, but I doubt Debian or Suse would pick up a large share. Remember that there's a large number of people who are running Red Hat on servers because it has a reputation for being user friendly -- many (most?) servers are run by people who really haven't a clue.

      I wouldn't be surprised if quite a few people (gasp!) return to using Windows.

    • You're forgetting that most of RH's userbase (the ones buying the software, not the dorm kiddies downloading ISOs) are corporate types. When you work in a big corporation, it's always easier to "sell" something like Linux to the bosses when it's backed by a big company. This is something that neither Mandrake, Debian, nor SuSE can provide.
  • by felipeal ( 177452 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:37PM (#2876805) Homepage
    Jamie Zawinski left netscape, as shown here [] and here [] shortly after it was AOLized. Here are some highlights from those pages:

    April 1st, 1999 will be my last day as an employee of the Netscape Communications division of America Online, and my last day working for

    I think AOL still has all the stigma that it always has, as far as image goes. My friends keep saying ``'' and then laughing uncontrollably...

    AOL is about centralization and control of content. Everything that is good about the Internet, everything that differentiates it from television, is about empowerment of the individual.
    I don't want to be a part of an effort that could result in the elimination of all that.
    • by hatless ( 8275 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @05:29PM (#2878404)
      It was good for Mozilla and Netscape 6.x when jwz left. It was under him that the project scope kept changing, the notion of scheduled milestone releases went out the window, and most of the good longtime coders left.

      It was after he left that the team began releasing frequent milestone builds, stopped adding major new features to the project plan, and.. showed signs of having a plan.

      The Mozilla/Netscape 6 project is still a mess, with bug fixes and addition of missing features slated for a given milestone pushed off to infinity on a regular basis. But without jwz, it at least resembles a project and has produced what is now a decent browser and mail/news client.

      Mr. Zawinski is now running a bar, and the world of software development is blissfully free of his project management "skills".

      Alan Cox--who unlike jwz is a really sharp coder and a good project leader--is showing himself to be just as much a child, spoiled and twisted by too much time spent in academic computing, shooting his mouth off before he's got a real situation to evaluate. Hey. If AOL turns Red Hat into an unpleasant place by changing its focus in distressing ways, or by engaging in massive, traumatic waves of layoffs, of course he'd be right in leaving. If Red Hat lets him pick his projects and AOL instead wants him to port the AIM stock ticker to KDE or sit in meetings all day, of course he'd be justified in leaving.

      But this knee-jerk aversion to a parent company just because it's a big company? Or because of AOL's commitment to actual ease of use that Cox, jwz and RMS all abhor?

      What if AOL is trying to assemble all the pieces necessary to go after Microsoft with Free Software? Doesn't Red Hat also employ some Postgres maintainers? If they bought Staroffice/Openoffice from Sun, they'd be on their way to something mighty compelling. If an AOL-owned Red Hat lets him continue working on low-level kernel pieces and device drivers while they fund an aggressive desktop-oriented Red Hat, why wouldn't he want to come along for the ride? Because they also own an old-line record label and film studio with rabidly protected intellectual property? Okay.

      I wish the best of luck to any company, school or organization that wants these guys on its payroll.
  • by SimplyCosmic ( 15296 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:37PM (#2876807) Homepage
    AOL/TW is up there with Microsoft in terms of average Linux community member, for even if most people don't outright hate them, they think of them as the haven for the spammers and the clueless.

    As I said it's a matter of perception.

    Now, while AOL/TW wouldn't care one bit about all the Linux users ceasing to use RedHat products (their goal in buying the company, after all, would be to use its knowledge to create a AOL-OS) it cerainly could help on RedHat's end, as they'd lose any and all goodwill that they have from the community.

    And when a significant amount of work is saved for a Linux company by having the community on your side and contributing various things, this certainly would be nothing but a pain for them.
  • by AugstWest ( 79042 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:37PM (#2876809)
    It is now a brand. Like Coke, or Tommy Hilfiger.

    Thank you, AOL, for pointing this out to us.
  • Not that surprising (Score:2, Interesting)

    by archen ( 447353 )
    Sort of reminds me of Jamie Zawinski leaving Netscape a while after the AOL takeover... I'm not sure I disagree with Red hat being bought out, but it seems to me once a big time corporation takes over that they would probably lose focus. (On the other hand Winamp seems fine {unlike ICQ} so maybe things wouldn't be so bad).
  • by Verteiron ( 224042 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:38PM (#2876812) Homepage
    If he does leave, he loses his chance to put the resources of an enormous company like AOL/TW behind the development and acceptance of Linux. To me this doesn't seem like the smartest move he could make.

    There's plenty of time for him to leave afterwards if it looks like AOL/TW is going to do a Bad Thing, but up to and until that time, I think it's in his best interests, and Linux's best interests, to take advantage of the possible benefits of being backed by one of the largest, richest companies on the planet.
    • by slashbrent ( 102855 ) <sfbrent.users@sourceforge@net> on Monday January 21, 2002 @02:38PM (#2877298) Homepage Journal
      If he does leave, he loses his chance to put the resources of an enormous company like AOL/TW behind the development and acceptance of Linux. To me this doesn't seem like the smartest move he could make.

      Nope. Perhaps you have not worked with/for AOL/TimeWarner, or any Very Large Corporation (tm)?

      There is no way on God's green earth that Alan Cox will be put in the position of Project Manager or any position of real power. Therefore, the assertion that he is giving up this imaginary position is untenable.

      Only Steve Case and the other executive committee/steering council weenines decide what goes into RedHat and what its primary focus is - Alan has *much* more influence as is. After the merger he will be at best a small fish in a *big* pond.

      I would seriously run for the door if i was him - we can use his talents to more productive use than being a lackie for AOL.


  • AOL only RedHat? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by estoll ( 443779 )
    CNN was reporting this morning that AOL's intention is to possibly create an AOL-only OS. Is it possible for them to create a new branch of RedHat that supports only AOL Internet service? Possibly a home user desktop only distro?
    • by alecto ( 42429 )
      Sure, it possible. But to do it legally, they'd have to do one of the following:
      1. Write it from scrtach, possibly using a cleanroom approach

      2. Release the source when they send out the coasters with this new "AOL OS."
      I think either of those is less likely than that they would develop a closed AOL client targeted to Red Hat's distribution. But then, that doesn't require them to buy Red Hat.
  • by dbretton ( 242493 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:38PM (#2876817) Homepage
    The fact that Alan Cox would leave RH if bought by AOL/TW is not a big deal. RH != Linux. That is, he wouldn't leave the kernel project altogether to pursue a life as a skydiver or the like.

    A good question is: who would pick him up?

    I could definitely see IBM bending over backwards to get Alan, but would he work IBM, given IBM's overwhelming Linux support?
    Mandrake might be a good fit, seeing as their distro is similar to RH. Then again, the fact that they have centralized their development out of France might not be a good deal for him...
  • I'll just assume for the sake of argument, that the thread is genuine and that Alan Cox is torqued ... or at least appears to be torqued.

    I mean after all, if I just bagged a nomination as the top young technology innovator by Technology Review, I too might make a fuss ... considering AOL's deep pockets, it seems to me risky, but effective means of negotiating a hike in one's salary. []
  • what if (Score:2, Insightful)

    by -ryan ( 115102 )
    If slashdot could maintain "editorial independence" from VA Linux when they were bought, why couldn't Red Hat negotiate some kind of persistence of it's vision? If Red Hat kept it's vision and motivations, but had more money, why then wouldn't Alan want to stay?

    Now I'm not naive enough to forget that with money comes advice but... let's say AOL wants to create version of Red Hat Linux more targeted for Windows lusers. So now Red Hat might have a product line like: Embedded, Standard, *Home*, Professional, Deluxe Professional, Data Center, etc.. How is this bad for the community and Red Hat in general? I know alot of people don't want to see Linux beginning to pander to Windows lusers, but does anyone in their right mind think that Linus & Co. would pander to Windows users or Red Hat for that matter? Is Lindows going to destroy our beautiful Linux and wonderful community? NO! Then why do people think that Red Hat will allow itself and it's goals to be destroyed by a lesser evil than Microsoft?

    I believe the stability of Red Hat is important to the future of Linux becoming mainstream. One more thing.... necessity makes for strange bedfellows.
  • by dbretton ( 242493 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:44PM (#2876875) Homepage
    If RH is acquired, then you better believe that AOL/TW would drive RH to become a company that supported the AOL/TW initiative (i.e. world domination by AOL/TW).

    AOL/TW is an 800lb gorilla.
    MS is an 800lb gorilla.

    The RH acquisition would be like giving one of them a dart-gun: while it may hurt, it would stil only be a little weapon.

    As a consequence, RH's gameplan would change from Red Hat Domination via Linux to AOL/TW world domination. Linux is dropped from the big picture, and only becomes a little piece of the puzzle.

    Having Alan leave for a company that would support the World Domination thru Linux initiative (like Mandrake or SuSe, or Debian) would be a good thing for Linux.
  • What a martyr! (Score:4, Flamebait)

    by SuperRob ( 31516 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:44PM (#2876876) Homepage
    Way to go, Alan. Rather than make sure that Red Hat REMAINS what you've strived to make it, you'd pack up your bags before you know what AOL's plans are. You'd rather leave than be associated with the company. You'd help contribute to RedHat FAILING under AOL rather than make it what it SHOULD be.

    Standing up for your ideals is one thing, but by leaving, you're tossing those exact same ideals out the door.

    I'd much rather suck up my pride and tell people that I was employed by AOL, but trying to make it better, then tell people I gave up rather than try.
  • IF this happens I hope that they don't fade away like Netscape did. Now that I got that out of the way, AOL buying RH might work out. If Linux is going to have a chance in the desktop war with M$, then the leader in the industry has to do just that...LEAD! If Linux is going to fight for market share against M$, they will need resources. AOL has plenty of cash for research and product development and Steve Case has no love for Bill Gates.
  • Enough dissing AOL (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:48PM (#2876906)
    This is not a troll, just something I wanted to get off my chest. I don't work for AOL (heh, or Red Hat) or use AOL.

    I'll post anonymously, and nobody will see this unless it gets moderated up. Moderators, this post is at your mercy.

    AOL has done a lot for the net by getting a lot of people online in places that would not otherwise have had access. Sure, many of these people are lamers who ask stupid questions. But they learn. And then they can come to contribute. Diversity is a GOOD thing, but in order to have diversity, we do have to put up with a bit of noise. That's life. The real problem with AOL is not the users, but the fact that AOL builds a kind of fake internet that tries to contain its users inside a mall full of commercials. But give them a break. Noone else has as many dialups for the little towns out in the boondocs. In that respect they are doing a great thing. Even if they are making money at it.
  • I don't understand these who are bitter and say that "in no case we can allow money to flow in some linux distro". I think there are also some morale decisions every time you accepts someone's money. Its like not buying wares produced in sweatshops or trading with countries supporting terrorism. If you cannot identify with the ideas your employer stands for, then taking just the money really makes you into a whore.
  • Damn... (Score:3, Funny)

    by voodoo_bluesman ( 255725 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:49PM (#2876924) Homepage
    Now I'll be getting Redhat at least three times a week in my mailbox...

  • Ma and Pa Kettle on AOL don't know who Alan Cox, Linux Torvalds, Theo de Raadt, Jordan Hubbard, or any other GPL/BSD software luminaries are. AOL is a brand to which Red Hat may make a nice addition with its products. If Mr. Cox thinks AOL or Red Hat will pass up a deal because he might leave, I would suggest he will be in for a shocking reality-check.
  • Why RedHat? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:53PM (#2876957)
    My biggest question is, "Why RedHat?"

    If AOL is making a push into the desktop OS market, like some leaked memo's said before, why RedHat? Someone else mentinoed reading about AOL pushing into the web appliance market like the WebTV boxes.

    In either case, why are they looking to buy RedHat? They could very easily hire 1/2 dozen talented admins and programmers to put together their own distribution in 6 months or less. I'd personally be more than happy to be collecting a nice steady paycheck from a company I know is going to be doing well no matter what.

    The scenerio we've come across that seems to work logically is that RedHat is having financial problems, and they're looking for a buyer. If this is the case, Alan is screwed anyways.

    If they don't find a buyer, he's out of work.

    If they find a small buyer, he'll take a paycut, or potentially loose his job anyways.

    If they find a big buyer, he'll cry that a big company got him.

    I think Alan is trying to cry like JWZ . He doesn't know how to handle the whole thing, so he knows another hacker cried about the same type deal years ago. Not saying JWZ was right or wrong, but that was years ago with a different scenerio.

    AOL adopting Linux is a great thing. He should recognize and embrace it. I'd rather see them develop their own distribution though. The more big companies that start working with Linux the better. That's how Micro$oft got into the market, they got everyone to start working with them.

  • It would mean AOL could sponser community effort, and multiple developers rather then a single person. Sure the -AC tree has some nice patches, but imagine what could be done with Linux in a company who has money to produce a product as well as a HUGE market share of people to capitalize on already! AOL-Hat 8.0 will be free with Cereal, Movie Rentals, Magazines and everything else.

    Its not like Microsoft has Bill coding the kernel all day long all by himself, and they sure as hell don't have one person making fixes.

    I'm sure of AOL buys up redhat, they could afford to do what they wish. Infact I bet the AOL purchase would force Alan Cox out to begin with. I can't imagine a company of such keeping someone onboard who hates the companies idealogies 100%. I hope Alan quites and starts his own company or goes over to Mandrake.


  • by sethadam1 ( 530629 ) <(moc.ebuttsrif) (ta) (mada)> on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:55PM (#2876969) Homepage
    The point here is that AOL wants 1) an established Linux name 2) a solid base for their own interactive OS that can be web-enabled and coupled with their service 3) a product written in a language that many can already program. They don't give a shit about Alan Cox or current Linux users and, frankly, they shouldn't. The existing code is GPL'ed anyway, so we have nothing to whine about - they can't kill Linux. My guess is by the time AOLLinx or AOLos hits the streets it looks and feels nothing like Linux and doesn't even attempt to compete with Linux as we know it today.
  • by ishmalius ( 153450 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @01:59PM (#2876997)
    If anyone recalls, AOL needed Netscape so that they would have a cross-platform player for their content, especially on their planned Internet devices. Wouldn't they also need an OS on which Mozilla-based products could run?

    Yes, this could be a corporate dilution of a community-supported company. But it might also be an awesome opportunity to expand Linux's presence infinitely.

    Certainly a corporate giant such as AOLTW is not a philanthropic patron, but maybe they will support Linux the way they have supported a profitless project like Mozilla for years. Not for charity, but enlightened self-interest.

  • by Rahga ( 13479 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @02:05PM (#2877041) Journal
    ...honestly though, my only real beef against the entire inbred megacorporation is their cable division. I don't believe that "utilities" which are granted government monopolies should have any ties to outside industries from inside that utility. If you hold government-granted control over a certain crop of power lines, you shouldn't be able to push for a patented power outlet that directly links you to other products you produce.

    Remember when Time-Warner cable said "Disney took your ABC away?" in New York... Those problems will only get worse as AOL Time Warner push more of their own content down "their" pipelines.
  • Who says... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xonker ( 29382 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @02:08PM (#2877062) Homepage Journal
    that the deal is about Red Hat's Linux assets, anyway?

    Red Hat has some pretty nice embedded stuff going on, and a big name in the market. AOL may very well want Red Hat to provide some type of embedded Internet appliance that will allow them to bypass M$.

    Think about this:
    AOLinux/Red Hat appliance that uses a Mozilla front-end (like the OEOne device) to connect to Sun Liberty Alliance systems and utilizes Sun's Star Office and stores files on AOL servers (powered by Sun or Linux...).

    Alan doesn't figure highly into such a plan, but eCos and other Red Hat technologies would.
  • Reasons Why (Score:5, Funny)

    by briggsb ( 217215 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @02:13PM (#2877116)
    Here are 11 reasons why [] AOLTW might be considering buying Red Hat.
  • by mlg9000 ( 515199 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @02:14PM (#2877122)
    Sure AOL bought Winamp, ICQ, and Netscape and left them mostly unchanged... but that's the problem! Can anyone honestly think of any real improvements made to any of these pieces of software since AOL bought them out? Winamp added that useless browser and that's it... ICQ added "cute" icons and turned into the first spam IM service... Netscape, how long did it take to come up with a new browser that still can't compete with IE? AOL also bought out the cable companies and look what's happened there. Prices are going up. (Read the $230 a month ./ story from last week) Service levels are going down. AOL\TW will just use Redhat as leverage against Microsoft, they aren't going to bring Linux to the desktop! Get real people! As far as I'm conserned AOL is a MUCH bigger threat then MS ever was.
  • by MisterBlister ( 539957 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @02:22PM (#2877177) Homepage
    Why is everyone so hostile towards Alan Cox about this?

    AOL/TW (The TimeWarner part is very important, this isn't your daddy's AOL anymore, where elitest-non-AOL-attitude might be the primary driving force in Alan's decision) is not just any old large company.

    As I mentioned in another post (a reply, actually), if the company considering buying AOL was Microsoft, nobody would bat an eyelash about Alan Cox saying this stuff. Well guess what? AOL/TimeWarner is just as bad, if not worse, than Microsoft. Not only are they wanting to control computer use as much as Microsoft does (just doing a poorer job of it), but they want to control virtually everything you do! Do you have any idea how much of everything you see at the movies or on TV or on the web is eventually controlled by AOL? In many ways they are much more powerful than Microsoft has ever been.

    AOL/TW (again, TW being important) is directly involved in much of the backassward technology & lawmaking that Slashdotters decry every day: DMCA, copyrighted CDs, SDMI...

    If you REALLY disagree with those laws and the very idea of huge media conglomerations controlling everything we see, how could you possibly suggest someone should just shut up and be happy working for AOL/TimeWarner?

    I'm one of the people who often attack Linux users and programmers for their stupid elitest attitudes, but in this case I say bravo, Alan.

  • by nagora ( 177841 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @02:24PM (#2877191)
    Wake up! AOL are in so way, shape, or form, interested in Linux. What they are interested in is control of content. They will quite happily move "their" Linux (and the general public will quickly see AOL Linux as being Linux) into a nightmare of propriety changes and patches and no one other than MS has the cash to do anything about it. not Linus, not Alan Cox, not the EFF, and not the FSF. These guys will go through the GPL like an elephant through rice-paper.

    AOL will not be happy to have competing version of Linux and they will do what is needed to "standardise" Linux after they have bought it.

    And that will be their attitude - they will not act as if they've bought just one distro. Think about why they want to buy RH. They know that, to the extent that the public know about Linux at all, they think of RH (at least in the US). So they are, in the eyes of the general public, buying Linux. For god's sake, how many posts have there been on /. over the years complaining about people equating RH and Linux!?

    With this approach, what do you think AOL's attitude to SuSe and Mandrake will be - a spirit of healthy competition? Does they sound like AOL/TW to you?

    AOL's one worry in the world is losing the content control war to MS. They will want, and try to make, one, standardised, non-MS, copy-regulated, platform for their content and that is why they want Linux - because they can't have Windows. Standardised means not letting "little guys" do their own Linux and they will do what it takes to get rid of them.

    Do not fall into the Charybdis of AOL just to avoid the Scylla of MS!


  • AOL/TW == !Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @02:31PM (#2877244) Homepage

    What a strange assumption I keep reading, that AOL-Time Warner actually have any interest in Red Hat Linux in particualr, or GNU/Linux in general. What advantage would that give them, distributing an OS that actively encourages its users to get a clue and consider alternatives?

    What I'd expect to see is for them to buy up a bunch of developers (Red Hat or any other) and set them to work in the bowels of the AOL/TW Death Star producing something based on a Linux kernel, with most of GNU stripped out, no daemons, no package manager, no compiler, a brand new GUI, AOL-only apps with built in copy restrictions and automatic billing (already got your credit card number), and a daemon that hunts down and kills non-AOL approved processes, all for your security and convenience. I expect it to ship branded as "AOL", not "Red Hat" or even "AOL Linux". Possibly "Secure Linux" if they want to resell it as a perfect Son of SSSCA compliant implementation.

    Impossible, you say? How much would it cost to develop? Ten million? Twenty? Fifty? A hundred million? A billion dollars? To control the desktop and the distribution and billing of content before Microsoft get in there first with Blackcomb and Homestation, that's pocket change.

    They don't need any particular distro to do that, they just need developers. So run Alan, run for the hills, and take as many as you can with you.

  • by Eagle7 ( 111475 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @02:36PM (#2877286) Homepage
    IANAlan Cox, but what 99% of the people in this discussion fail to realize is that this probably has nothing to do with the future of Redhat/Linux, but with the principles involved.

    Fact: Alan Cox has serious issues [] with the DMCA, both practical and philosophical.

    Fact: AOL/Time-Warner, being an industry leader in the area of movies and such, is a proponent [] of the DMCA and other similar laws.

    Alan, being a man of principle, probably feels that the merger would be a bad thing becuase of this, and his working in the resulting company would comprimise things that he believes in. Unlike many people in this world (and, it seems, on slashdot), he feels the finding a new job is the proper course of action in this case.

    As an aside, the non-Alan consequences of this are interesting - AOL/TW owns RH, in order for RH to play DVDs (which is an important feature of a modern desktop OS) it needs to violate the DMCA, AOL/TW supports the DMCA. So with AOL/TW owns a product that endorses breaking the DMCA, or they give RH (and by that, perhaps all of Linux/x86) a "legal" (if not open) method to play DVDs.
  • Give me a break... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mustang Matt ( 133426 ) on Monday January 21, 2002 @03:04PM (#2877460)
    That's just plain and simple narrowminded.

    I hate AOL as much as the next person, but for all you Netscape fans out there, if it weren't for AOL, netscape would not be around. (This would actually have been a blessing to those of us developing websites.)

    AOL has a lot of money. Who's to say that they won't offer Alan an agreement such as, "We won't interfere or tell you what to do, we'll simply keep paying your bills."

    Maybe even give Alan more resources than he currently has to get things done.

    I thought linux was suppossed to be for the openminded person who can think past windows. Shouldn't the development be the same way?

"Remember, extremism in the nondefense of moderation is not a virtue." -- Peter Neumann, about usenet