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Red Hat Software Businesses

Is Red Hat the Microsoft of Linux? 694

RadioheadKid writes "This article featured on eWeek asks the question 'Red Hat: Next Redmond?' It quotes an IBM VP who says, 'There is a backlash against Red Hat from many consumers and government agencies, who fear it is increasingly becoming the Microsoft of the Linux world with respect to its dominance and attitude,' while Red Hat states: 'Our commitment to open source remains absolute, no matter what our competitors are saying.' Is this just some pro-UnitedLinux spin, or a valid concern? What do you think?" Such characterizations are nothing new, but a response on NewsForge from Red Hat's Jeremy Hogan supplies a counterpoint to make the eWeek article worth reading. (Has anyone really seen a Red Hat backlash?)
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Is Red Hat the Microsoft of Linux?

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  • by RoundSparrow ( 341175 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @09:57PM (#4145467)

    They don't have the money that Microsoft has, and given that they aim for low prices... and not to "lock in customers" then

    Can't you guys accept that RedHat might want to make money and still have _some ethics_?

    MODS: We were ASKED what we thought!
    • you're stuck with their OS. If you don't like RedHat there are 5-10 other good vendors OR you can make your own distribution.

      Personally I think Apple is more like MS than RedHat. Seriously, look at the financials (for example):
      MSFT 40billion in cash 90% of market
      AAPL 4billion in cash 4-5% of market
      RHAT 0billion in cash 1% of market

      Apple is just a smaller scale monopoly than micosoft. Don't think for a minute if Apple were in the drivers seat that you could tell the difference between Microsoft of today. That being said, Linux is the true O/S with choice. And that is what makes RedHat NOT Redmond of linux.

      BTW I love Linux, Apple (OS X), and Windows (not a fan of solaris however).
      • That's all blatant speculation and assertions with no supporting facts. Why not think that Apple wouldn't be like MS? Apple is a monopoly over what?

        And what do cash reserves have to do with behaving properly?

    • What do you call rpms?

      I am totally serious here... I've seen several companies that make software for linux and just automatically assume that any Linux install will use rpm's -- which of course, will fail to work correctly due to dependancy issues if a person has typically gone with installing system software via tarballs.

      rpms's are frequently assumed to be almost as universal for Linux as the .doc format is in the windows world. I can see some validity to the comparison between RedHat and MS. Of course, this is all just IMHO.

      • Yeah, because rpm is a closed source program with no published information, and is protected by a variety of patents which RedHat use to ruthlessly stamp out any attempts to use rpm on anything other than their own authorised distribution.
      • RPMS are universal (Score:3, Informative)

        by amorsen ( 7485 )
        The Linux Standard Base mandates that all compliant distributions must be able to install software that comes as an RPM. There is more information here []. RPM's are universal.
  • No, no, no... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @09:57PM (#4145468) Homepage
    RedHat pretty religiously releases its code under the GPL and works with third parties to make sure standards get implemented. They will be LSB compliant, for instance, in their next release.

    Don't hate them because they're popular and (somewhat) successful; they are not evil, or power-lusting, etc. They do a pretty good job, and are good community citizens.

    • Re:No, no, no... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Libor Vanek ( 248963 )
      Exactly - some people likes to hate popular things, no matter how good or evil are they (things, not people ;o)))
    • by FooBarWidget ( 556006 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @04:00AM (#4146983)
      Checkout the LSB website. RedHat 7.3 is LSB compliant.
    • Re:No, no, no... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mgv ( 198488 )

      Don't hate them because they're popular and (somewhat) successful; they are not evil, or power-lusting, etc. They do a pretty good job, and are good community citizens.

      Red Hat makes money from providing service to companies. They follow the underlying GPL philosophy that the software should be free as in speech, (and cheap as in beer).

      You pay for what you get with Red Hat. The truth is, making a copy of a CD is cheap, for Red Hat, for Microsoft, for anyone. Microsoft has made billions selling $1 CD's for >$100 each. Its a great business model. If you actually use M$ support, you pay alot more (although this may actually be worth it, depending on your needs).

      Ok, so now Red Hat is aiming right into M$ territory - the corporate desktop. Which is also pretty close to the home desktop for most people.

      That means that their software is starting to look superficially like windows. Its time that the Linux command line zealots got over this. If you like your command prompt, thats fine by me (its a fantastic tool). But Linux is moving into corporate territory for people who don't do dos, or bash, or anything much else like that.

      This is a GOOD thing. Linux has needed a good GUI user interface and powerful desktop apps for a while, and now they are starting to happen. (Obviously many of them come from outside of Red Hat - like Evolution, Mozilla, Open Office)

      Just because Red Hat is supplying people that sort of stuff doesn't make them Microsoft. The more corporations Red Hat services, the better things will be for Linux. Their fundamental model is that of selling service, not software. And that is fair enough. If you want to have time on a phone getting help from someone, that really does cost money - its economically rational. If you want to get some software, it shouldn't cost a weeks wage for a bulk replicated disk that comes with an EULA denying any implied functionality.

      And this is a key difference. With Red Hat, you pay for what you get. With microsoft, you pay an arbitrary amount which gets ratcheted up yearly to maintain a good EBIT on the microsoft balance sheet.

  • by Nick Driver ( 238034 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @09:58PM (#4145476)
    As long as SuSE and Mandrake stick around, then Red Hat will never be able to achieve all-out dominance in the world of Linux distros unless they suddenly come up with some neat features that really kick everyone else's butt... AND they give it away for free with no strings attached.
    • Well, if they did come out with some killer feature, and "[gave] it away for free with no strings attached" what would stop the other distros from simply incorporating that feature themselves? Unless it was a closed-source addition that, without the source code, could *not* be integrated with other distros, there wouldn't be anything stopping SuSE, Debian, Mandrake, etc. from doing so.

      I'm pretty agnostic when it comes to distros. I've used extensively Slackware, RedHat, SuSE, Debian and RedHat (again) in that order on dozens of my machines over the years. I even used Yggdrasil and InfoMagic way back in the day. My switching around distros hasn't really been because I wanted to "get away" from a bad distro. It was pretty much always just, "I need to install Linux on another machine... which set of discs is closest?"

      As far as RedHat goes, I've never felt like they were becoming the Microsoft of Linux distros. I've enjoyed using machines loaded with RedHat and will probably continue to do so -- assuming the RH discs are the closest ones to the next machine I set up. I think my current office workstation is running RedHat, but it's kind of hard to tell. I tend to bastardize my own installations by doing too much by hand instead of using all the new tools that have been coming with more recent distros. Old habits from my early Yggdrasil and Slackware days haven't completely died yet.
    • by rodgerd ( 402 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:36PM (#4145681) Homepage
      It's ironic you mention SuSE, since RedHat have a much better record on releasing their tools under the GPL than SuSE.
      • A little history. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by emil ( 695 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @08:30AM (#4147615)

        Some of you might remember Red Hat's resistance to KDE over Qt licensing issues. The only reason that we have Qt under the GPL (and Gnome is general, which seemed to be developed as a reaction to a closed Qt) is mostly the actions of Red Hat. This sole act should be enough to justify their standing in the community, regardless of the quality of their distribution.

        Red Hat also now lobbies legislatures on a local and national level (at least on UCTIA, and perhaps on other issues; I don't know).

        Red Hat has remained true to the GPL, and in so doing they have gravitated toward the consumer in most issues. Even with very bad management, it would be extremely difficult for them to wield the kind of power that is being grasped by Redmond.

        There are many things about Red Hat that I don't like, both about their distribution (inetd, no XFS, and other disagreeable directions the development is taking), and about the company (Raster's termination, failure to influence commercial UNIX to adopt GPL components, subdued efforts for interoperability with other distributions/platforms [which will be Microsoft's undoing]), but I am willing to overlook these grave faults because Red Hat usually lands on my side of most contentious issues within the software community.

        Other UNIX distributions, flashy though they may be, are unlikely to replace Red Hat. Red Hat's dedication to the GPL is the cornerstone of their strength.

    • What you really meant was "cheques and balances", as in bank account balances. Microsoft turns an enormous profit. RedHat barely survives as a company: do you think they're the same?
  • by koreth ( 409849 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @09:58PM (#4145477)
    I like RedHat's Linux. It does what I need, it's organized sensibly, patches are usually released reasonably quickly, and I can look at the source code. If one of those things stops being true, I'll switch to another distro with minimal pain and keep using the same apps I was using before. That ability alone means RedHat will never be another Microsoft.
  • by brad3378 ( 155304 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @09:58PM (#4145478)
    Must be a slow news day!
  • Seems to me that Gates must've read The Art of War.
    • Seems to me that Gates must've read The Art of War.

      Perhaps you're right. It looks to me, though, that since the original (slightly oddball) comments came from IBM, that the old saying about them needs to be updated. Here it is for those who have forgotten:

      IBM, we're in the computer industry, but that hasn't stopped us from bringing you the very very best in F.U.D. since 196x.

  • by GreenPhreak ( 60944 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:02PM (#4145497)
    This is sensationalist journalism. Just because RedHat is in the OS business, and it happens to be somewhat successful does not automatically mean that it is becoming the next Microsoft. Journalists that have little idea of the architecture and licensing behind the two OS's are the only one that could propose this specious metaphor.

  • They are powerful in the distribution market, they are innovators, they use powerful marketing, and they run an EXTREMELY popular shop.

    Do I believe that they try to inhibit freedom and choice? Do I believe that they are looking to corner the Linux market solely for themselves? Do I feel that they are ending my ability to use Linux as *I* see fit? Do I believe that they are going to create terribly expensive and prohibitive licensing?

    No. I don't think that they are going to do anything of the sort. I believe that they are creating a positive spin on Linux and I believe they are doing it properly (at least for now).

    Once they start pissing EVERYONE off, breaking the law, and breaking the GPL then I will think again. Until then I will happily stick w/Debian and let RedHat do their marketing thing with the "suits".
  • The only common thread I've seen regarding Red Hat has been along quality lines.

    I am not certain that arguing these particular points is relevant here, but they are generally of a high level decision making nature, more than a low level goof-up nature.

    They have gotten minor kickback here and there for making decisions that some people feel are 'loose cannon' type things. Examples include early deployment of glibc 2.0, and the original rollout of "gcc 2.96".

    None of this, however, paints them in the light of a controlling "Microsoft" position.

    As a strong SuSE partisan, I would be very very happy if my favourite distribution engineers would take a page from Red Hat's book and GPL their extremely effective build system for the benefit of all.

  • There are other Linux distributions that are built with the LSB in mind that are not made by the red machine. Why would going away from RedHat be a good thing for United Linux? I would run from RedHat right to Mandrake. :)
  • Priorities? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kragg ( 300602 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:05PM (#4145517) Journal
    So, despite the fact that the open source movement is a baby bird that can barely fly, already the infighting begins.
    Why on earth are people criticising redhat (who have made many contributions to the stability and usability of Linux? Shouldn't they be working on getting something that 99% of the population don't freak out over??
    Ah well, I guess it's inevitable. Someone smelt money in opensource and so the crappy politicking starts.
    My opinion : This isn't news, it's pulp journo-jism. Slashdot editors - do you have to throw this rubbish in our faces?
  • by hagbard5235 ( 152810 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:06PM (#4145521)
    I switched from RedHat to Debian about 2 years ago, largely because of a series of technical decisions that RedHat made that I didn't want to have to put up with anymore ( gcc-2.96 anyone ).

    I did not switch from RedHat because I question their ethics. To the best of my knowledge they have always opensourced anything they've done. They have eventually open sourced anything they've acquired. All under the GPL. I don't see how we can fault them for that.

    RedHat has done things that I feel are stupid ( gcc-2.96, recent behavior towards KDE ). But NONE of these things are in anyway unethical. Some of them have been handled badly from a PR perspective. But I have yet to see RedHat do anything that even slighly had nefarious intent.

    RedHat provides a very valuable service. They provide a familiar interface to the commercial world. Large companies want a standard distribution with support contracts to help them sleep well at night. Large commercial software producers who right rather overly rigid software NEED a platform to implement to ( because they can't implement to standards, or deal with minor variations ). RedHat provides all of these interests with what they need.

    People should really leave RedHat alone on the Microsoft comparison front. Kick them around over some of the dumb technical decisions they make if you like. That's fair and decent criticism, but don't FUD them.

    • by X ( 1235 ) <> on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:23PM (#4145613) Homepage Journal
      Actually, your whole critism about RedHat is why I love them, and why I love the fact that they GPL/LGPL their work. Personally, I was REALLY glad to have 2.96. It was the best, most stable g++ at the time. I'm not saying that people were wrong for hating it, I'm just saying that it suited me. And that's the great thing.... if you didn't like 2.96, you could do one of several things:

      • Install kgcc and just don't use 2.96 at all. Don't worry about the C++ issues.
      • Use another distribution... remember they have access to the same software
      • Build your own version of RedHat from the SRPM's and compiling it with gcc/g++ 2.95.x.
      • Do #3, but SELL your distribution.

        • Much like what happened back in the day when RedHat didn't bundle KDE and Mandrake did, the open source nature means that when RedHat fucks up (or more accurately makes choices that don't suit your needs), you can go with something else. The switching costs are minimal. How can you NOT be happy as a RedHat customer?

          The day this stuff stops being true is the day I'll stay up at night worrying about RedHat taking over the world. In the mean time, I think the risk of say Gillette taking over the world is much more significant. ;-)
      • Personally, I was REALLY glad to have 2.96. It was the best, most stable g++ at the time. I'm not saying that people were wrong for hating it, I'm just saying that it suited me.

        Why not? I'll say it: people were wrong for hating it. RedHat made the best decision. Their one mistake was not explicitly marking the compiler as their own - people thought it was an official gcc release.

        Anyone who thinks the gcc 2.96 compiler is buggy should read this page [].

    • If you are talking about the GUI changes that Redhat will ship with Redhat V8.x then you should know they made the same kind of changes to Gnome 2.x.

  • by VistaBoy ( 570995 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:06PM (#4145524)
    Red Hat is a Linux distribution. It must follow the free software licenses that it is built on or it can easily be taken down for copyright infringement. Through the GPL and other licenses thereof, we have Red Hat by the horns. If it ever gets out of line, (not releasing source code, etc), we can slap them in the face with the GPL. Also, nobody is forcing you to use Red Hat. If you don't like what Red Hat has to offer, use Debian, Mandrake, Slackware, etc.

    The main point, though, is that if Red Hat tries to become a closed-source deal, it will have thousands, if not millions of hours of code to rewrite.
  • Uggghhh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bogie ( 31020 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:07PM (#4145528) Journal
    1998 Is Redhat becoming like Microsoft?
    1991 Is Redhat becoming like Microsoft?
    2000 Is Redhat becoming like Microsoft?
    2001 Is Redhat becoming like Microsoft?
    2002 Is Redhat becoming like Microsoft?

    How many times can you ask the same stupid question and how many more years can you be wrong?

    Redhat continues to put out GPL software year after year and like it or not is the poster child for linux. Which commercial linux vendor from back in the day would you have rather have won out? Suse, Caldera, Turbolinux?

    Redhat does not have a monopoly on linux and never will. It's just not possible. Now maybe they will be the leading commercial linux in the corporate world, but dam it they have earned it.

    I know I like many other long time linux users have always wanted linux to make it big. World domination was always the joke, but really there is a bit truth in there. Why oh why did anyone think that all 450 linux distros would equally share in the fruits of commercial linux's success?
    • it IS possible and it IS happening. As you said, "in the corporate world, but damn, they have earned it".

      While I agree that their marketing is exceptional (compared to other vendors) why are you letting it go? Why aren't you pushing for another vendor? Are you letting them slip in like MS did?

      They went unnoticed as a bully.

      (note: Check my previous post, I am not against RedHat, I am just against your particular comment about them).
  • by Sheetrock ( 152993 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:07PM (#4145530) Homepage Journal
    The deal with making Linux palatable to businesses is what makes Red Hat look so bad to people who aren't looking at Linux through corporate eyes. Red Hat, for better or worse, has become the Linux standard for business. Software companies that want to target applications to Linux are frightened by the type of support headaches that dealing with several distributions entails; so they target Red Hat instead. Hardware companies run with it because they've got proven support solutions that beat searching for a HOWTO anyday (provided you can afford them).

    Basically, Red Hat is the perfect hybrid of commercial/open-source -- they can take advantage of the pool of free developers to get the bulk of their product developed, then work over the result in-house to make the various pieces work together seamlessly (well, mostly), and finally provide direct support to businesses implementing their solution. They are proof that the Microsoft strategy can be made even more effective with open source. Do they step on toes, as with the KDE/GNOME fiasco? Only where necessary to improve the user experience and to aim towards making a product better than Redmond.

  • As much as I personally dislike Redhat's distro (we all know Debian is The One True Distribution =P), I think Redhat holds an important place into open source world. The only way I would equate them to Microsoft is that they are the most business oriented distro, which is a good thing, and they have made many great contribution towards to acceptance of Linux in big business (many of these stemming from their relationship with Amazon and one of the best Linux migration sucess stories yet).

    I really don't see how Redhat's attitude and dominance can be equated to Microsoft's. Somebody has to be number one, and Redhat's dominance is of a far smaller margin that Microsoft's. Microsoft is closed source, Redhat is not. Period, end of story.

    If any distro approaches MS style arrogance, it's United Linux.
  • This must be about the third time this sort of story has appears on Slashdot. It's almost too bad that the GPL makes it impossible for any Linux distributor to be as evil as Microsoft. All GPLed code must remain open. As long as it is open, consumers always have the option to switch to a different but equivalent distribution or to make their own. This eliminates any possibility of the monopolization of Linux.
  • by back@slash ( 176564 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:09PM (#4145551)
    I guess so. Not much back up in the article but the headline is sure catchy.

    The situation remains that changing between Linux distributions is like changing your underwear while changing from Windows to Linux (depending on what services you are running) is like a sex change. I know this i've done both. Changed a small server farm between linux distros and changed over from windows to linux that is, not a sex change. I do change my underwear though. I'll just stop typing now....
  • My opinion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheQuantumShift ( 175338 ) <> on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:10PM (#4145552) Homepage
    Unless they stop selling GPL'd Linux, and move to their own blend of proprietary Unix... In my opinion it seems that the GPL's main purpose is to keep software vendors from doing the MS shuffle. Just because RedHat is seen as the corporate Linux solution does not make them MS. MS got that way by being the only solution due to their marketing juggernaut. I just don't see this possible with open source products. RedHat sells services, and last I checked there was no monopoly on services... Not even MS can do that. But the business world can't seem to function without finger-pointing...
  • by r_j_prahad ( 309298 ) <> on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:10PM (#4145554)
    1. Is Redhat a convicted monopolist?

    2. Is Redhat a convicted monopolist yet again, after ignoring the court the first time?

    3. Has Redhat's license agreement recently morphed into legalized extortion?

    4. If Dell and HP and Compaq stop pre-loading Redhat will Redhat be able to drive them out of business?

    5. Does Redhat force end-users to agree to license audits as part of their EULA?

    6. Has Redhat ever descended on an end-user demanding unnecessary and duplicative license payments the way the BSA has?

    I could go on, but there is just no comparison, none at all, there is no similarity whatsoever, by any stretch of the imagination. None. Zilch. Zip. Nada. Microsoft is in a league by themselves here.
  • by pnelson ( 411151 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:15PM (#4145573) Homepage
    When MS was sending out audit letters to schools [] in OR and WA the first phone call I got was from Red Hat to see if they could help. When Eric H. was having trouble hacking RH's install code to modify their distribution to make it easier for schools he called RH and got all the help he needed. I'd like to see what would happen with a call like that to Redmond! RH has helped send us to conferences and provides free support to schools using Linux.

    Time will tell if other distributions will be as well managed and forward thinking but for now I don't think we should slam RH because they got off to a good start and hired some smart people. They are working hard to produce free software for us and just happen to be doing it very well.

    At [] we base our distribution for schools on RH for all of the above and the fact that over time, it's been one of the easiest and most stable versions of Linux for us to use in schools. They have been 100% supportive of us hacking their distribution and redistributing it to schools. That's about as far from Redmond as you can get. There are some good folks there in NC! Let's give some credit where credit is due.

  • I knew you could. RedHat, despite the upstarts around it, have succeeded. Mandrake aimed straight for the Desktop, and is in financial trouble, while RedHat went for the big bucks in the server market first, and will move to the desktop later. In no way has RedHat used the tactics that MS did to gain their position of dominance.

    I use RedHat sometimes, but I prefer Debian. The only way that I could see that RedHat could be compared to Microsoft is that they aren't the best in everything, but they're decent in everything. If you want to set up a server, a RedHat CD works. If you want to show Linux off to a newbie, RedHat works.

    You could probably say the same about SuSE....the only difference is that RedHat had a head start being based in the US. European software manufacturers have always been at a disadvantage in the US market (which is the majority of computer users, like it or not).
  • by Kiwi ( 5214 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:15PM (#4145577) Homepage Journal
    I don't much to say besides what the articles already went over. Basically, RedHat, unlike SuSE and Caldera (and some other distributions) is 100% free. There is no difference between the RedHat ISO images that anyone can download off of various FTP sites and the CDs for the core distribution which come from official RedHat. Unlike Mandrake, RedHat also makes official ISOs of the source. Mandrake only offers binary ISOs; people have to make their own ISO cd images from their source directory.

    Unlike Debian, the stable release has recent libaries and binaries; they also have a much more formal SQA methodology than what Debian has (Debian testing works, of course, but it just takes longer for Debian to declare something stable). Unlike gentoo/sorcerer/etc., no one has to wait while all of the programs compile. While this is an excellent learning experience, a.k.a. Slackware (another great platform for learning the internals of Linux on a very intimate level), it is, in my opinion, not necessary for daily production usage.

    I like knowing that I can buy (or download; the two are 100% identical) RedHat and not have to upgrade my system for a year or two; RedHat will "freeze" on a given release and release only critical bug fixes (mainly security updates) for a period of two years for a given release. This is very useful; it allows people to use systems without having to be on the constant upgrade treadmill.

    I am very pleased to see RedHat merging KDE and Gnome; having different applications on the desktop having different user interfaces looks, IMHO, unprofessional and I am glad to see RedHat resolving this.

    RedHat has always strongly belived in free software. They took a stand aginst the old Free/Qt licensing by strongly supporting Gnome; their actions undoubtably contributed to QT's decision to allow the free versions of their libraies be GPL'd.

    If you don't like RedHat, you are free to make your own fork of RedHat which fixes the things you don't like. Mandrake did this because they wanted a RedHat with KDE five years ago; they are a RedHat fork which still exists today (knock on wood; I hope they get past their financial problems). I think the person at [] is still selling RedHat-derived distributions (RedHat + whatever updates he feels are needed).

    I have been using RedHat for over five years, since RedHat 4.2, and have been very happy with RedHat. I feel that they have made an excellent compromise between making the settings configurable with a GUI or with a text editor--I happyily use a text editor to configure my RedHat box (currently only one: A laptop with 7.2). Some old Sun greybeards (too lazy to learn a new tool) complain about Xinetd; I think RedHat is remarkably conservative about intorducing new things which force users to relearn; I think replacing the old, crufty inetd.conf with Xinetd is perfectly reasonable. Now, if only Microsoft were so reasonable about keeping the UI so consistant between releases.

    Speaking of Microsoft, RedHat, as the articles pointed out, can not be the next Microsoft. The GPL protects us from that.

    - Sam

  • by El ( 94934 )
    You can't become a Micro$oft without acheiving customer lock-in. Red Hat is easily replaced by other Linux distributions, thus they are forced to compete on the quality of their product where they are only as good as their latest release. Until they start deliberately breaking compatibility with other distros, I certainly wouldn't accuse them of being anything like Micro$oft. Half the pens sold in the US are made by BIC, does that make them an evil monopoly? You can't have a monopoly on a commodity market!
  • Redhat has a strong market position, I don't think they have the best or strongest distribution. Their upgrades between major releases or dependancy tracking isn't best.
    They are quite concerned with what the market wants, not what the best solution is.
    They have a pretty strong market position and use it to expand into weaker areas.

    But they don't limit interoperability. They release improvements. They don't really interfere with their competitors, just pretty much fair honsest competition.

    So no, they aren't MS, they compete fairly and openly on the technical merit of their solution. Not artificial lock in.
  • by konmaskisin ( 213498 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:19PM (#4145590) Journal
    Over the years Red Hat has stifled the competition so effectively that the number of Linux distributions has "declined" from 2 (Red Hat and Slackware) to 42 with new distributions arriving on the scene every week (Gentoo, Lycoris). Now they are actively sabotaging other projects by *gasp* changing their color schemes and graphics and paying developpers to work on projects that are used in dozens of their competitors products. ... Sheesh .... In other words: there is *no* evidence RH is "bad". They are an OSS company living by the GPL.

    The only thing bad about RH is *.rpm (which is what's bad about SuSE and Mandrake etc. etc.). The weakness of RPM is why competitors like Gentoo, Debian and FreeBSD are so damn uhh ... competitive ...

    The KDE project's leadership being all over the age of 25 and somewhat more mature don't to lose sleep over this: they distribute RPMs built for 7.3 and limbo: both official and "unofficial" builds.

    • Could you be more specific about what's bad in *.rpm? File format (cpio archive)? Dependancy tracking? Name (RedHat Package Manager)?

      Personnally (but then I only used RH, since 4.2, circa 1998), I like that format. It's easy to download and install bugfixes or security updates from RH. It's easy to bundle something myself, if I need to. It's easy to upgrade the whole distribution (even though I usually don't do that the "recommended" way).

      A little more precision would be helpful for me, to understand what you dislike in it, and maybe have a different look on the packaging system.
    • Over the years Red Hat has stifled the competition so effectively that the number of Linux distributions has "declined" from 2 (Red Hat and Slackware) to 42 with new distributions arriving on the scene every week (Gentoo, Lycoris).
      Good points, but on they list 184 [] different distributions. Also, RH & Slack were never the only distros.
  • by pbryan ( 83482 ) <> on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:19PM (#4145591) Homepage
    Make no mistake, Red Hat is a commerical organization, whose sole purpose is to make money and increase its value for its shareholders.

    However, what could keep RH from devolving into another-business-that-has-achieved-market-dominanc e is the GNU General Public License. RH was founded on the GPL, which places significant constraints on distributors.

    I'm sure if RH finds a dangerous loophole, it'll be quickly shored up by RMS, and unless RH decides to fork all of its packages and take on development itself, will be obliged to adhere to the terms of the software it distributes.

    Finally, there is a bellweather I would watch to determine whether RH has become too powerful: Alan Cox. Cox seems a man of principle, and wouldn't stand for too much BS from his employer.
  • Of course RedHat wants to make money, everyone does. However this is sensationalism of the highest sort. RedHat is one of the *only* publicly traded companies that even feigns support for free software. Compare RedHat to IBM, Sun, and Oracle. All support free software and I think we appreciate their contributions, but only one seems to be in it to "keep the faith". And this while being a publicly-traded company, not easy! I think the guys deserve some credit. As does the GPL which would make any attempt to screw us out of our beloved OS utterly futile. Kudos to both...
  • ... I wish. Blasted flamebait.

    First, is there actually any locking in being done by Red Hat? No, it's been discussed before: they're adhering to the GPL, so if they make a change, you can get the source and change it back.

    Secondly, are they making money off the sales of Linux? Not really; if you want Red Hat 7.3, you can download it and burn it to 3 or 5 CDs for connect time/blank media. If you buy a boxed set, you're getting printed documentation and support in addition. I may be oversimplifing, but it seems that the product for sale must be the printed docs and support. Red Hat does, I suppose, have a virtual monopoly on selling Red Hat-specific information... but, at a guess, most of the information in the docs and obtainable from support staff are also availible somewhere on the net for those with clues.

    I'm sure just about every entity that people think is good and wholesome has its detractors, but just because you're a detractor doesn't mean you have to call Red Hat a monopoly.
  • incomparable (Score:3, Interesting)

    by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:23PM (#4145616)
    I think the comparison is absolutely silly. Not only does RedHat sponsor a lot of GPL'ed projects, they actually make their ISO images and distribution available for download. I have seen no evidence that RedHat has done anything to threaten open source software.

    Here are the companies I'd rather worry about:

    • SuSE does not make available their distribution as ISOs (do they make their installation and maintenance tools available under the GPL?), although at least you can download the FTP tree.
    • Troll Tech has tried to monopolize the market for Linux based handhelds by replacing X11 with a framebuffer-based system (which is less efficient to boot). Authors of GPL'ed software using Troll Tech's system are OK, but other kinds of free software, or commercial developers, need to pay more than they would for GUI development on just about any other platform. If Qt/Embedded catches on widely, you can kiss handheld Linux as an affordable commercial platform goodbye. And if Qt catches on on the desktop, it will harm Linux as well.
    • Apple tries to move developers to a proprietary windowing system, incompatible with open source applications. At least, unlike Troll Tech, you can develop commercial GUI apps for Apple without paying anybody an arm and a leg. I doubt Apple will succeed with this--if they did, it would be bad for open source. More likely, however, they'll just be shooting themselves in the foot, until finally someone integrates X11 into OSX more smoothly than XDarwin.

    But the solution is simple: if you don't like what a company is doing, promote and use something different. I wouldn't use Qt or Apple's proprietary windowing system even if I liked their design.

    • Re:incomparable (Score:3, Informative)

      by jfunk ( 33224 )
      SuSE does not make available their distribution as ISOs (do they make their installation and maintenance tools available under the GPL?), although at least you can download the FTP tree

      So where in the GPL does it mention anything about ISOs? I find it scary how many people think a distro is required to be in ISO form. Some of us hate ISOs, actually. I can get a distro on my computer in a fraction of the time directly over FTP/NFS and they save on bandwidth costs.

      As everybody around here has beaten to death, YaST is under the YaST license, which allows you to anything you want with the freely-available source, except profit when you make changes. (ie: no rebranding) What hasn't been pointed out though is that the installer is not just YaST. The first piece is Linuxrc, a nice little program written by Hubert Mantel of SuSE, which is GPLed and was used in DemoLinux. The hardware detection part, hwinfo and the libhd library, is very comprehensive, and even detects TV cards and braille terminals. It is also GPL. The base of the OS, a collection of programs and files contained in the aaa_base package, is also under the GPL. That includes SuSEconfig, fillup, and a bunch of other utilities.

      You seem to be only concerned with installation/maintenance tools, though. That's good for me, because I don't want to be here all night listing software :-)

      Troll Tech has tried to monopolize the market for Linux based handhelds by replacing X11 with a framebuffer-based system (which is less efficient to boot). Authors of GPL'ed software using Troll Tech's system are OK, but other kinds of free software, or commercial developers, need to pay more than they would for GUI development on just about any other platform. If Qt/Embedded catches on widely, you can kiss handheld Linux as an affordable commercial platform goodbye. And if Qt catches on on the desktop, it will harm Linux as well.

      These statements have no basis in reality. They're bad even for Slashdot. How do you come to the conclusion that simple framebuffer access is less efficient than X11? Do you even know how these things work? Your monopoly accusation is also preposterous. All of Trolltech's competitors are using the framebuffer as well. That's not what I call a monopoly.

      Trolltech, in using the GPL, are encouraging more free software. If you do want to make commercial software, Trolltech's prices are very cheap, especially considering how quickly you can write apps in Qt. Ask any developer using Qt and they will tell you that it more than pays for itself. Also remember that there are no distribution licensing fees, so it will not increase the price of a device/piece of software, only decrease it.
      • Re:incomparable (Score:3, Insightful)

        by g4dget ( 579145 )
        So where in the GPL does it mention anything about ISOs?

        Where did I say that SuSE was "required" to distribute ISOs? I didn't accuse SuSE (or Apple or Troll Tech) of a GPL violation, I merely pointed out that I believe that their policies are bad for open source if they succeed.

        How do you come to the conclusion that simple framebuffer access is less efficient than X11? Do you even know how these things work?

        Yes, I do. More importantly, I have used X11 on platforms less powerful than what Qt/Embedded requires. There is no technical or efficiency reason for Qt/Embedded--X11 has a longer and better history of running efficiently on embedded devices than Qt/Embedded.

        Your monopoly accusation is also preposterous. All of Trolltech's competitors are using the framebuffer as well.

        iPaq Linux and most embedded UNIX GUI apps use X11.

        That's not what I call a monopoly.

        You need to read more carefully: I said Troll Tech has tried to monopolize the market for Linux-based handhelds. They will probably not succeed in the long run because their strategy makes no sense for anybody than themselves: they don't offer anything lots of other toolkits don't offer as well, but Qt/Embedded is considerably more limiting than an X11-based solution. Unfortunately, Troll Tech will do a lot of damage in the process by making platforms like the Zaurus less attractive for commercial development.

        Trolltech, in using the GPL, are encouraging more free software.

        Linux has become successful because it is a reasonable platform for both free and commercial software and allows people to publish software for it under a wide variety of licenses. Without the ability to create commercial software for Linux without having to pay some sort of tax to one company, Linux would have been a flop. Just because something is, or forces something else to be, GPL doesn't make it good for open source software.

        Troll Tech wants to be the gatekeeper and toll taker for commercial applications on Linux. Why should we give a single company that kind of control over GUI applications on Linux?

        If you do want to make commercial software, Trolltech's prices are very cheap, especially considering how quickly you can write apps in Qt.

        Yeah, right, that's what people say about Windows as well. And with Windows, people don't even have to pay Microsoft to develop commercial apps.

  • by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:23PM (#4145619) Homepage
    RedHat's default install is not the one I use, ever. However, if I want to install GNU/Linux on a computer, I use RedHat. Reason? I can pop in a Net Install floppy, boot the box, and choose a mirror site for Redhat. About an hour later, I have the basic building block on the server I need. I do this both for x86 and Alpha -- never need to remember to bring software. A couple of trips to RPMFind.Net [], a tweek of rc3.d and an update -u...that's it. You have a functional, decent performance server for your need...NFS, Samba, AppleTalkIP, HTTPD, WebDAV, FTP, POP3, SMTP, RTSP, X11, etc. Just go nuts tightning down the default install and you have a box that can stay up 365+, no problem.

    RedHat has good name recognition for a reason, they make getting Linux on your box simple. I am sure you can on and on again about your favorite distro and you will have valid points. I just love quick and simple net installs--free of charge--Microsoft ain't never gonna do that for me!!!

  • Yeah right... (Score:2, Insightful)


    MS has money. MS has marketshare. MS is an established name. Regardless of how you feel about Microsoft, how can anyone POSSIBLY relate RedHat and Microsoft this way?

    Quite simply RedHat just doesn't have the power to be a Microsoft-like company. They don't have the money, they don't have the resources, and they sure as hell don't have the marketshare. Maybe they're the leader of the commercial Linux pack, but so what? Don't get me wrong - I like Linux. I use Linux. But don't expect me to believe that RedHat is going to be able to force computer companies to bundle Linux with them. Last I heard, the PC companies we're cutting back on bundled Linux!

    Maybe RedHat is adding some proprietary stuff, or plans to in the future for whatever reason (clusters etc - I don't know). Well all I can say about that is 'DUH!' News flash folks - their business model revolves around a free OS, they've got to pay the bills somehow. And I don't know about you, but I certainly don't work for free.

    But anyway if RedHat is able to become successful, then more power to them. And if you don't like it, give your money to someone else.
    • Last I heard, the PC companies we're cutting back on bundled Linux!

      Wasn't this because Microsoft was again choosing for the customer what they should buy?

  • by ukryule ( 186826 ) <slashdot&yule,org> on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:32PM (#4145662) Homepage
    From Jeremy Hogan's reply in Newsforge:
    It seems like a week can't go by where someone doesn't fling the "Microsoft of Linux" accusation at Red Hat. ... Why not "The Starbucks of Linux?"

    Now *that* is a much nicer analogy:
    • They have a recognisable brand
    • You can buy from them almost anywhere nowadays
    • The cost of the ingredients is a tiny part of the overall price
    • It isn't much better than the competition, but it's nicely packaged
    • If you know what you're doing you can make a much better version yourself
    • I can stop using them anytime I want (hah! At least I tell myself that ...)
  • by da3dAlus ( 20553 ) <dustin,grau&gmail,com> on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:33PM (#4145666) Homepage Journal
    Gather 'round and listen kiddies, I'm putting up some karma points on this one. Seeing as how this SEEMS to be an article to generate FUD about RedHat, I'm putting my neck out here and saying "get over the distro wars". Now listen...

    I'd like to tell a short story about a conversation I had with a fellow linux enthusiast at one of the ALS conferences years ago. (This was back when it was still the ATLANTA Linux Showcase, but I digress). Anyway, I was speaking to someone at the Debian booth, as I had told him that I was curious about switching to Debian. He asked, "why do you want to switch?", to which my best reply was, everyone else on Slashdot is doing it, why not I? Given that there seems to be the fairly LARGE camps of Debian users vs RedHat users I wanted to see what was so great about the other side (btw, other distro users, please don't flame me that I left you out). This fella (sorry, forgot his name) asked me what I currently used, and how well I knew it. I said I've been using RedHat since roughly a year after I started with Slackware linux, and I had gotten to know RedHat pretty well. He then told me that there's no reason to switch if I'm comfortable with what I'm using.

    That's actually the bulk of the story. I never ended up trying Debian, but I did think about what he said, usually whenever these discussions arise about who's got the better distro. The point I think I'm trying to make here, is that it doesn't matter what other people think of the distro, as long as it's what you feel comfortable with. If Debian (or whatever) works for you, then keep using it. Don't go switch because so-and-so says theirs is better. At least you're running Linux--you've shed the shackles of Redmond, so why keep bitching about what's better on this side of the fence? Honestly, RedHat still seems to listen to it's user base, and that's what matters. The day that any distro developers stop listening, is the day they trully become like Microsoft.

    I can say more, but I'll see what kind of response this generates first.
  • I-don't-get-it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mgeneral ( 512297 )
    What is it with the bashing of successful companies???
    Ok, so at one time, Microsoft was a little startup...without much technical inguinuity...albeit...but they were the underdog against the bohemeth IBM. Now they are they enemy.
    So another underdog comes to the table, and they are becoming enormesly successful in their industry. And we have to bash them? Calling them the "microsoft" of their industry?
    This is riduculous.
    Redhat is a great company. They adhere to standards. They continue to release GPL code. They have introduced more people to Linux than probably all other players combined. In fact, in my industry (systems integration), 3 or 4 years ago, my customers wouldn't touch Linux. Now, when I tell them I'm installing RedHat, they can put a name behind the product and somehow they feel better about it. Today, in certian situations, I can bring Linux in-house to organizations that would have otherwise balked at my proposals a few years ago. In fact, I attribute this to the success of Redhat for creating a solid organization that backs the very code so many of you are working on. A company that the "C" people (ceo's, cfo's, etc) can identify with and trust.
    Just because they are successful doesn't mean that they are evil.
  • After reading both articles, I think that Red Hat's arguments make more sense. Given that both points of view are obviously biased, and both are stated fairly well, my opinion is based on the points as presented. And FWIW, I use Mandrake on most of my boxes and have used SuSE and Caldera fairly extensively in the past. While I like a lot of things about SuSE, and liked Caldera's distro in the days I was using it (Network Desktop 1.0 to 1.3 distros), Red Hat certainly has had more of a history in allowing free downloads of their software and releasing their software as open source than either of those two. I've also not seen any credible allegations of anti-competitive or other illegal or unethical actions on Red Hat's part, so until I see otherwise I think it a bit unfair to compare them to Microsoft.
  • by Mandi Walls ( 6721 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:49PM (#4145744) Homepage Journal
    Well, I think this is just more proof that Linux is moving up on the radar. Suddenly we have large companies generating talk about linux.

    Now, since this is slashdot, and most of the users here have never had a full time job that didn't include subsidized cafeteria food, let me shake some people into the Real World (TM).

    Not everyone has the time to compile every package for every server they run. Not everyone wants to sit around and wait for years for their distro to catch up to new-fangled software. Not everyone is willing to work with companies that don't GPL their installer.

    Having said that, many companies and governments want SUPPORT for the things that they buy. We've been through this before. They also want to get support from third party software vendors for the software they run on their platform of choice. It's one thing if I call up Legato or Oracle and say "I'm running your product on SmellyJoe's Linux and I get this error: " and another to call someone like TogetherSoft. Those vendors are not going to waste their time and resources to support every distro.

    Hence the LSB. IBM is countering with UnitedLinux. Would there be UnitedLinux without IBM? Probably not. Do they have a financial stake in getting their initiative recognized? Probably. Is Red Hat an easy target? Yup. The continuing discussion that RedHat is just waiting to become the M$ of linux has ensured that any silliness that IBM or others want to throw out there will get time and attention from the peanut gallery, even though the horse has been dead for years.


  • Oh come on... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JustinHoMi ( 471764 )
    Gimme a break! Redhat is competing primary against MICROSOFT, not other linux vendors. They're doing what they're doing for the best of the linux and open source communities. If we have division b/n these communities, then it's only going to hurt ourselves.

  • From the newsforge commentary:
    Microsoft tried, and was forced to become criminal in its activities to do so. Who would willingly do that again? What true long term gain is there in feeding your own girth without advancing your product line or its merits? What fruit is there in eating at your own customers?
    Um, let's try huge piles of cash. You can criticize the morality and legality of what they've done but it's hard to argue the fact that nobody's going to jail and all the big players have made immense fortunes. And do they have trouble sleeping at night? No, I guarantee you that they all feel that having a unifying unquestioned platform for all people to run on their computers is a wonderful service for humanity (and that point does have merit).
  • by jpl ( 58317 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @10:58PM (#4145805)
    Let's show those evil (evil I say!) bastards at RH. Everyone post an ISO image of their software on the internet! Make copies or said ISOs and sell them for profit! Ha!

    Then, use their software on *all* your machines at work, and don't pay them a red cent! Ha!

    Oh, wait a minute...
  • Comparing RH to Microsoft sounds to me a bit harsh for the hats, but...

    My company has recently been involved in several projects using Linux -- some from quite unlikely customers, such as the long-time Microsoft buddy that has The Way Out... but that's another story. Anyway, their consultors were pretty much learning to use Linux on the fly, and they have zero Unix background. They of course use RedHat, and they did succeed in installing a couple of Linux systems, which ended up being, well... somewhat imperfect.

    Alright, yes, they were ugly and insecure and just crap overall. But then again, they were learning, so I don't blame them. I just think that they shouldn't be able to install such systems. Or at least believe that the machines were tip-top and running smoothly.

    To rant even further, the thing that bothers me most about Microsoft is the idiotizing effect that has on their users. I'm sick of people mailing me 2MB worth of word documents every other day, given that my net link is rather small and I don't use Windows -- but they don't even know what they're doing. They just pressed a colourful and friendly button and poof, off it went. I just stopped trying to explain that I don't even run Windows, which makes reading their docs a pita for me.

    It's like the people that just double-click on executable attachments in their mail, to get the cute sheep on their desktop (and the nasty trojan on their disk). Filtering content and babysitting software for such users is, imho, a battle lost before it starts. Fighting this requires only common sense and a bit of computer knowledge --surely no more that the bit of training you need for operating a car. If using a computer required even a small bit of computer knowledge, most of these things wouldn't happen.

    But anyway, I don't blame computer-illiterate users for this state of things. I do blame companies such as Microsoft that actually encourage this ignorance by struggling to build software that even an idiot can use.

    And on that account, yes, I do consider RedHat as the Microsoft of Linux, and I do hold a certain amount of disgust and resentment for their practices.

  • by Sj0 ( 472011 )
    It's almost like a "MS Scare". Just like mcarthyism, if anyone even expresses the ideas of MS, they are pointed at and singled out.
    My philosophy: I like Red Hat Linux 7.3 because it's a solid piece of software. I got Red Hat Linux for free, from Nobody at Red Hat has attempted to take away my rights, and indeed, they have fought for them.

    I believe the common phrase is "bitch, whine, moan complain. That's all I ever hear from you!"
  • the Redmond of Macinthosh.
  • i've tried mandrake, debian, slackware, Suse, Nomad, turbolinux, and a few more and i always come back to redhat, its IMHO more focused on what they have to do. They release one version and rather than switch to making the next release they support the current release for a year or 2 trying to make it better rather than the "it will be fixed in the next release."

    i gave it to a MS only tech who had been trying many other distros most of which he was unable to get to even install, he didn't use redhat because he heard it was bloated, insecure and unstable. and it installed perfectly the first time and he's stuck with it.

    its only flaw is (again my opinion) if you dont do a custom package selection install you get too much of the same thing, a couple different image viewers, email clients, mp3 players, image editors and so on. so if you wanna claim they're like MS the only way you'll win that argument is that they bundle software with their OS.

  • Some leverage (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rhysweatherley ( 193588 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @11:13PM (#4145867)
    RedHat does have some leverage here. For example, giving preferential positioning to icons for their own applications in RedHat 27.2. MS got slapped for that just recently.

    But there is a difference. MS used contracts and stand-over tactics with OEM's to prevent the icons from being changed. In RedHat's case, the GPL acts as a counter-balancing force.

    While they continue to GPL everything they do, the license makes it legal for an OEM to apply a "mod kit RPM" that modifies the RedHat distro however they want.

    Also, unlike MS, RedHat cannot say "fine, we will withdraw your license". The minute they tried that, the OEM's would fork the code and tell RedHat to get lost.

    RedHat will only survive so long as they provide a useful service. They are dead the moment they stop.

    UnitedLinux would be better off copying RedHat than trying to re-invent the glory days of proprietry Unix where vendors lorded it over users and _all_ Unix distributions sucked.

  • Arr. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by psicE ( 126646 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @11:14PM (#4145874) Homepage

    There's a fundamental difference between RedHat and Microsoft. It has nothing to with the relative size, or position in the market. It has nothing to do with the current employees at RedHat. It has nothing to do with the business model. It doesn't even have anything to do with the GPL.

    No, the fundamental difference between RedHat and Microsoft is that RedHat is standards-compliant. Compile one piece of software on RedHat, and you can run it on most any Linux distro. If you can't, you can get compatibility libraries so you can. All for free.

    This means that vendor dependence is no more. Anyone can use RedHat for a while, then if Mandrake offers a better deal, they can switch on the spot. No buying new applications, or hardware, or support contracts; everything stays the same, except the distributor.

    This means that RedHat can't do "embrace and extend." If they do, people can switch distros instantly, and RedHat's dominance will be gone. RedHat only remains dominant because they offer a good product; and as Mandrake's offering gets better, its marketshare rises on the charts. If RedHat's tops, it's because it's good software. Period.
  • I'm an advocate and user of Debian.

    And my answer to this question -- is RedHat the MS of Linux -- is a resounding NO.

    RedHat may not be perfect. There are some trademark issues, and it isn't perfectly devout in the OSS / FS philosophy. But they are pretty strong in their OSS / FS philosophy.

    There are some other minor moral issues. In terms of morality for a software developing organization, Debian has one of the best standards in their Social Contract. RedHat doesn't quite live up to that, but they are pretty damn good. They are certainly a far far cry from MS.

    There are other technical issues that make me prefer Debian over RedHat (namely, Debian's superiority in terms of stability/security, and lack of bloat, and superior performance). However, these are not moral issues; and the moral issues which one can criticize RedHat for are rather minor.

    Put another way, Debian, FSF, OSI, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, etc., are like the Ghandi's, Mother Teresa's, Mandela's, and ML King's of the software world. MS is like the Hitler of the software world. Would you really place RedHat in MS' category? Granted, they don't belong in the saint category either; but perhaps an appropriate analogy would be Winston Churchill.
  • It has been reported that there is a backlash against Slashdot as many believe it is becoming the Microsoft of Geek websites.
  • Is Slashdot the Microsoft of OSDN?
  • The real question is this:
    "Will hackers still be able to love Linux if it become a real competitor to Microsoft?"

    Will this all be fun when mom calls in the evening wanting to know how to build the new kernel? Or when some little Britney wannabe says "Linux" the wrong way? Or when what we do and talk about at the LUG meetings isn't unique anymore? When the club is open to all members, will it still be worth belonging?

    Maybe that's why some people fear Red Hat. The more mainstream they get, the closer all of those things become.
  • To be the next Microsoft RedHat would have to turn an enormous profit. As a shareholder, I can tell you that isn't happening just yet.

    Let's worry about keeping the company going first, and fret about monopolies later.
  • by GroundBounce ( 20126 ) on Monday August 26, 2002 @11:55PM (#4146070)
    When Red Hat released a distro with a new version of glib: Oh my God! Red Hat's the Microsoft of Linux!

    When Red Hat released a distro with a new version of gcc: Oh my God! Red Hat's the Microsoft of Linux!

    When Red Hat plans to release a distro with another new version of gcc: Oh my God! Red Hat's the Microsoft of Linux!

    When Red Hat changes a few icons from two GPL'd Linux desktops: Oh my God! Red Hat's the Microsoft of Linux!

    This is just nonsense. Red hat certainly has a large share of the corporate, commercial, and boxed Linux market, but they are far from a monopoly, and they have contributed everything they developed that goes into their normal distribution back to the open source community.

    They host and support many open source projects, they regularly oppose bad laws like the DMCA or the latest Hollings drivel (including putting money where their mouth is via lobbying), and they champion Linux in schools.

    Are they competing for market share? Sure. Are they trying to annihilate all competition with FUD, dirty marketing, embrace-and-extend, and illegal manipulation the PC distribution channel? Definitely not. Have they made some stupid mistakes? Of course they have, who hasn't?

    I personally use Red Hat on some machines, but I use several other distros as well. That's called choice, something you don't get at all with Microsoft operating systems (unless your definition of choice is Win98, Win2000, WinXP, WinNT,or WinME).

    Red Hat is definitely about competing for customers, but even if they had 90% of the boxed Linux market, they would not really have a monopoly because of the licenses which allow anyone else to produce a similar product for free. If Palladium ever succeeds, then there may be an advantage to companies who produce commercial versions of Linux, but we are still far from this situation at the moment, and it's not yet clear that business or the public will even accept it in the long run.

    If you don't like Red Hat, then don't use it, but calling them the Microsoft of Linux everytime they freakin fart is just pure paranoia.

Disks travel in packs.