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Red Hat Software Businesses

Red Hat Announces IPO 179

The first of the big Linux IPOs is here: Red Hat has announced they have filed for an initial public offering. Details are sketchy, but the word on the street is that the stock will be very difficult to get ahold of. Now, when's the VA IPO? :)
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Red Hat Announces IPO

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The S-1 is available from FreeEdgar at
    http://www.FreeEDGAR.com/Search/ViewFilings.asp? CIK=1087423&Directory=1047469&Year=99&SECI ndex=23237&Extension=.tst&PathFlag=0&TextFileSize= 1615433&SFType=&SDFiled=&DateFiled=6/4/9 9&SourcePage=FilingsResults&UseFrame=1&OEMSource=& FormType=S-1&CompanyName=RED+HAT+INC

    Here's a risk factor:


    Some members of the open source software community have criticized the
    expansion of our strategic focus as encouraging the fragmentation of the Linux
    community. Others have suggested that by expanding our focus, we are trying to
    dominate the market for Linux-based operating systems and the open source
    community in the same way that some companies have been able to dominate the
    traditional software markets. This type of negative reaction, if widely shared
    by our customers, developers or the rest of the open source community, could
    harm our reputation, diminish the Red Hat brand and adversely affect our
    business, operating results and financial condition.


    The Linux kernel and the Red Hat Linux operating system have been developed
    under, and licensed pursuant to, the GNU General Public License (GPL). The GPL
    states that any program licensed under it may be liberally copied, modified and
    distributed. We know of no circumstance under which the GPL has been challenged
    or interpreted in court. Accordingly, it is possible that a court would hold the
    GPL to be unenforceable in the event that someone were to file a claim asserting
    proprietary rights in a program developed and distributed in accordance with the
    GPL. Any ruling by a court that the GPL is not enforceable, or that Linux-based
    operating systems, or significant portions of them, may not be liberally copied,
    modified or distributed, would have the effect of preventing us from selling or
    developing our products. This would have a material adverse effect on our
    business, operating results and financial condition.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So, Alan Cox doesn't work for Red Hat after all...

    Exhibit 10.17

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The Shashdot Open Source stock index is an
    inevitibility. Would Corel qualify? There should
    be a new sidebar on the Shashdot main page with
    mini charts and quotes. he-he.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The neet thing about this is we get to peek at Red Hat's books... looks like its tough being the Hines of software.

    Find em here
    http://www.freedgar.com/Search/FilingsResults.asp? SourcePage=CompanyList&CIK=1087423&UseFr ame=1&FormType=&DateFiled=&CompanyName=RED+HAT+INC
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ah linux, i knew thee well,
    when in the fall of the year thou did appear.
    from generous and ambitious hearts did come an outpouring of goodwill towards man,
    did spring a hideous creature of evil command.
    though master torvalds once did disapprove, baron robert the younger and corporate allies lined his purse
    'til now we have lost all sense of freedom, even a verse.
    from whence shall freedom spring anew?
    i hear from the peasants, it's name is GNU.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you already play the stock market, great, go read the S-1 and I don't have anything to tell you.

    If you are not in the stock market, here is how to start:

    Go educate yourself at http://www.fool.com .

    Go down to the bookstore and pick up a copy of _One Up On Wall Street_ by Peter Lynch. While you are there, check out some other "how to manage money and invest" books.

    Learn how to read the 10-Q, 10-K, and S-1 reports at http://www.sec.gov .

    Paper-trade for a while.

    Then trade for real with 1/4 or 1/2 your money.

    Don't use margin or options.

    Do use stop loss orders.

    Good luck and remember, *after* you figure out how the hell the thing works, *then* you can make the big moves and be the next Peter Lynch.

    (I make half my living through trading. I hope this message gets moderated up, because I would hate to see any Slashdot readers get burned through too much enthusiasm and too little experience. Of course, if you think you are experienced, go for it, don't let an AC stop you!)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 04, 1999 @12:02AM (#1866652)
    They've been saying they had no plans to do this for a while.

    So far, I've liked Red Hat for their stronger ethical stance on free software. Recently, they have been the best distribution from a free software/open source point of view, other than Debian. As such, I opposed SuSE and similar, which wrote their own proprietary software, put in other people's proprietary packages, and had no free software stance. Red Hat only used free software in their distribs, and released everything they wrote under GPL. Red Hat is loosing control of their own product by IPOing. Now, they may no longer be able to do that. They may keep majority share in the hands of ethical people initally, so they'll continue to be good for a while, but it's still a slippery slope. It's really east to sell a few stocks when you need some cash, and before you know it, you're controlled by greedy investors.

    I guess they're still better than SuSE or Caldera, but they may no longer be one of the two saints amongst the distribution. Oh well. As Bob Young always says, if Red Hat starts misbehaving, it's GPL, so we can stop buying it from them. There's no harm in letting them grow. We should probably hold off judgment until they do something bad.

    Oh yeah, and I'm guessing this is the first post (you can moderate me down for that).
  • by drwiii ( 434 )
    Just curious, what are the chances that MS would get a hold of a majority of Redhat's shares [min.net]? Are there laws to prevent them from doing this?
  • by J4 ( 449 )
    Spoken like somebody who never used a distro besides redhat
  • Yes, the SEC [sec.gov] requires that any such potential risk factors (and "our product licensing is untested in court and might conceivably turn out to be worthless" is definitely a risk factor in their eyes) be plainly set out in an IPO. That's the rules of the game.
  • From the S-1:
    if Mr. Torvalds or other prominent Linux developers, such as Alan Cox, David Miller or Stephen Tweedie, were to join one of our competitors, or if they were to decide to no longer support us and our products in particular, or Linux in general, our business, operating results and financial condition could be materially adversely affected.
    Let's hope RH gave these boys some stock...
  • Umm, individuals can't get in on an IPO. After the IPO shares have been distributed for the low prices ($15-$20 or so is normal), then individuals like you and me can start buying shares on the market for the market price ($50+). I'm personally not going to be buying any, since these types of IPOs usually go up really high initially, and then start coming back down. By the time individuals can buy any stock, it'll probably be near the peak.
  • Posted by Apocalypse29:

    I have a funny feeeling about this as well. It's been my experience that when you get a lot of money involved in something, it always changes, and usually for the worse. The stockholders will be asking for things that are good for the COMPANY, not the Linux community.

    With this IPO, Red Hat will become more of a name brand with Linux, as they already are. With a name brand, comes power (look at Micros~1). And, of course, power corrupts. Red Hat might add features to it's latest flavor of Linux that will dumb it down completely, or even remove compatibiltity with other flavors of Linux. If there's incompatibility between the flavors, and Red Hat is installed on 8 of 10 of Linux PCs, guess who wins??? Red Hat gets "control" of Linux, as seen from the corporate world, and then Red Hat is another Microsoft, doing what IT thinks is good for Linux (and business), not the Linux community.

    But, you yell, Linux is open-source! If they change it too much, we'll protest! We won't use Red Hat! To which I say, Wake up! The corporate world loves name brands, and if Linux takes off in a big way, corporations will use whatever the name brand of Linux is. Yes, their IT professionals will tell them not to use Red Hat because it's not the true Linux, but since when has a PHB listened to his/her IT pros??? So Red Hat BECOMES Linux, and Red Hat then controls future versions of Linux. The Open-source movement dies and armageddon comes.

    Ok, maybe I'm being a little too dramatic at the end, but you see my point. I'm probably wrong about this vision of the future, I hope I'm wrong, but it's a vision I can't shake.
  • Posted by d106ene5:

    This isn't mean as flamebait, I'm simply asking what specifically about RedHAt's status as a private company made you think the Bob Young was developing a strategy witgh you in mind?

    More likely he was thinking of the pre-IPO investors like Intel.

    Added to which, if you wish to make your voice heard, purchase some stock. This is exactly what the machanism of shareholding addresses. The way people talk about shareholders in here, you'd think everyone who owns stock lives on Mars.

    And if you want to reply that you're a starving student who can't afford stock - live with it - you're already existing at the whims of the your parents and your scholarship review board anyway, so loss of control isn't a new concept to you.
  • Posted by d106ene5:

    You have a choice - another distro (for which you can either pay - Caldera, or obtain freely - Debian), or simply roll your own distro and call it RedHatEatsPoo.

    Your fate is in your own hands. You've got the tools (a computer) and the raw materials (open source software) to address your dilemma.
  • Posted by Apocalypse29:

    I think you misread my intentions. I have nothing against Red Hat. My Penguin box right now is running Red Hat 6.0. I was just worried about the future and expressing a fear I have about this IPO.

    You don't care that they might be another Borg??? That scares me to death. When a company becomes a Borg, they act in their own interests, not in the interests of their customers. Yes, yes, if we don't like something in Linux, we just change it ourselves. We can make our own bug fixes and revisions. But for the average secretary and PHB, what Red Hat (or whatever Linux Borg comes along) releases IS the final version, they're too used to that from MS to change. So there are a (reletively) small number of in-the-know linux users, and a vast majority of clueless PHBs following where the Linux Borg leads. That scares me.

    Again, I hope I'm wrong. :-)

  • Read the license of Yast. It is far from beeing the GPL, or at least it was 6 months ago when I last saw it.
  • So when's the expected date of the IPO anyway? There's no mention on the press release about it. I assume somewhere in the 90-180 day time frame, but ...

    Another company I'd like to get in on because I like their products. They're right alongside Network Appliance, Cisco, and Sun.
  • This is SuSE FUD. First, it can't be that bad when even Linus uses it (he recently said he uses SuSE at home and RedHat at work and mostly doesn't care which distro).

    Second, it's not true anyway. They do the same thing RedHat is does by including commercial demos, only a lot more than RedHat. The only annyoing thing is that Applixware is included by default when you do a default install, other than that all comm. packages are in series 'pay'. Also, often, when you install something not GPL, you get a warning message that you have to 'OK'. I HATE people like the one I'm replying to, who obviously never tried themselves what thei're talking about.
    Michael Hasenstein
    http://www.csn.tu-chemnitz.de/~mha/ [tu-chemnitz.de]

  • This sort of thing was bound to happen if linux was going to get popular. Regardless of what distribution it was, one of them was going to come out on top, and "sell out", if you want to put it that way. There will always be an extremely popular, slightly deficient product that wins out because of "being in the right place at the right time", and ultimately, good marketing. I personally use redhat since thats what I started with and I have never bothered to switch... but I'm definitely considering Debian. If I ever rebuild this machine, I'm sure it will be debian instead of RH. At any rate, there will always be a "popular" choice everyone has heard of, and a couple of choices that might be technically superior.

    Case in point: BetaMax vs VHS. BetaMax has better quality and a smaller tape size, but loses. Why? Marketing. There were enough big names behind VHS to make it the standard. This really sucks, but it seems like that's the way things have been happening lately. This has strong echoes of microsoft, who makes standards that the world ends up following, even if they suck (i.e., SMB.)

    So what am I trying to say? There's always gonna be a guy trying to make a buck, and if RH was to step down today and say "sorry, just kidding, we're gonna cancel the IPO and pull our product from the shelves" then another distro would probably move right in to fill that void. All we can do is hope that RH doesn't stray *too* far from its community roots.
  • Yep, only rich Democrats can get in on this one.

    You want to underwrite it yourself? I don't think your pockets are quite that deep, Mr. AC. Or are you a rich Republican?

    If the IPO is oversubscribed, which doesn't seem unlikely, the usual procedure, at least in the UK, is that small stockholders are allocated the full amount, and people who asked for more are only given a certain percentage. Anyone know what the plans are, or whether they are even fixed in advance?

  • I wonder how Raster feels about this. He left just before he was gonna make a shitload of money.

    He left the company, but are you sure he sold the stock (options)?

  • Just curious, what are the chances that MS would get a hold of a majority of Redhat's shares?

    There's a limit (20%?) to how much they would be allowed to buy up anonymously. After that they would have to make a bid. I think the price would be very high if people knew they were selling to Microsoft. Also the anti-trust (monopoly) authorities would be likely to take an interest, even ban it.

  • I guess we will soon know how much of Red Hat is owned by Intel and Netscape/AOL.
  • any sane corporation would of course keep a big chunk of it's own stock

    IANAL, but I don't think that's allowed in the US.

    and sell a chunk of it to their own staff.

    Now that they are certain to do.

  • Take a look for yourself [freeedgar.com]. It looks to me like the earned $10.8 million and only lost $130 thousand. Doesn't seem too bad for a startup.

    OK, that link isn't working for some reason. Netscape or something is inserting spaces in it. Try just going here [freeedgar.com] and searching for Red Hat.

  • I'm pretty sure it *is* allowed - companies do stock buybacks all the time, for various reasons.

    Yes, but the stock that was bought back can't be used afterwards to vote with or to prevent a hostile bid. It just disappears.

  • About #1,#2: Are their any GPL and/or OpenSource alternatives?

    About #3: They no longer include BRU.

    About #4: Redhat never said that the apps on the app CD had to be OpenSource and/or GPL.

    About #5: Not GPL, but it is OpenSource
  • Shareholders don't necessarily have the final say in the operation of a company. There is the CEO and the board of directors. For instance when Apple was at there very lowest point many investors were vocally calling for them to embrace Intel and Microsoft and slap the Apple logo on a Wintel clone. RedHat is also further constrained from changing licensing agreements because the code is already GPL'd. Even if they wanted to, which I'm sure they don't, they can't repackage GPL'd source code under some other license. They could come out with their own OS of course, but that would be corporate suicide.
  • What happens to RedHat if SuSE, Debian or Caldera decide that the easiest way to become the best is to offer their distribution for US$20 or $30 less than RedHat?

    Debian already does this, in a sense. Unlike Red Hat, SuSE and Caldera, Debian isn't a CD-selling company, but a volunteer project that doesn't sell CDs.

    We make ISO images of "Official Debian GNU/Linux" available (via cdimage.debian.org [debian.org]) which are put on CD by numerous vendors (see the Debian CD vendors list [debian.org]).

    Thus, we don't control the price directly, but it is kept low through competition. A number of vendors offer Debian CDs in the $10 range; many offer a way of donating say $5 to Debian.

    I suspect that marketing ("brand placement") is a lot more important than price when it comes to shifting the balance between the distributions, which is one of the reasons I'm happy about Corel chosing Debian [slashdot.org] to base their Linux distributioon on.

  • Download in 36 hours? Is that what it takes over a modem? If so, certainly a deterant. I've never had an ISP that maintained a connection that long.

    I use a cable-modem (@Home) to install Red Hat via FTP. On a good night, it takes slightly longer than a CD-ROM install. However, I DO gernally purchase the boxed-set! And, I have done so the last three releases. I'm a newbie, and like to have the manual and CD. As long as it's part of my job, I'll continue to pay for it.

    I wonder how MS thinks it can dance around calling Red Hat (Linux) a competitor, while at the same time saying that they didn't block Netscape marketing channels because anyone can download it.

    On second thought, I know how. Arrogance. They think they can have their cake and eat it too. They've always re-invented history to suit their spin. A glowing tribute to the personality of The Man in charge.
  • Do you have any writing style besides rant?
  • I'm guessing it'll hit the market in August.

    I'll bet this stock splits several times over the next year - once the market catches on to the fact that RH _is_ the next Microsoft. It's still a bit early for the market to put that sort of faith into a $10M revenue company - which means it's gonna be cheap at any price at the IPO, folks.

    Of course, I prefer Debian. But I'll probably have to wait awhile before I get in on that IPO. :-)


    - Jim
  • Nobody makes money short-term.

    Not entirely true. Nobody outside the network of dealers makes money. The "public" offering is really offered to whoever the underwriters feel like favoring.

    This can be part of a quid pro quo (as in 'Hey man, I picked up that dog that you were trying to unload last month, you have to take this one!') or currying favor to strengthen a relationship with a favored counterparty (as in 'I hear you've got front-row Knicks tickets. Let's talk about RedHat.')

    These first-tier dealers are the ones who pay the actual IPO price (say $16/share). Then, they turn around and sell it immediately at "market" price (maybe $50/share). Of course, "market" price is a bit nebulous when an issue first starts trading, but the dealers have a pretty good idea of what the demand is by looking at what people are offering.

    This system for placing issues on the market is supposed to ensure market efficiency by having multiple channels by which the initial offering is traded. If the underwriter sold directly to the market, they would be in a uniquely advantaged position. Instead, we have a few dealers in highly, but not uniquely, advantaged positions.

  • I saw something about how Redhat made 11M$ last year and lost 130M$. It makes you wonder if it was a choice of IPO or chapter 11...I hear lots of people talking about how much money they can save by downloading Redhat for free but I don't see anything about people saying "maybe we should give something back to Redhat for everything they've done to promote and further Linux and open source." It worries me...if Redhat goes bankrupt it will set Linux back 6 years in the minds of business people and it will cause a lot of people who were wavering to fall back over on the Microsoft side. Perhaps I'm worried about nothing - I just hope Redhat hasn't overextended themselves - its a big chance they're taking...
  • It looks like I saw the numbers misquoted someplace. Pheww! They only lost $130,000 which isn't bad considering how much promotion they do and development they fund... I have to say in reply to one of the messages here: Sure another distrobution could take over for Redhat the question is could they afford to pay Alan Cox and all the other guys that currently work for Redhat? The other consideration is that businesses tend to associate Redhat with Linux so if Redhat went out of business they would see it as a repudiation of Linux...stupid yes, but that's how they would almost certainly perceive it. It wouldn't be the end of the world but it would be a setback.
  • Actually, Linus didn't call it Linux - He called it something like "Freeix", but the lab admin where he originally put the source thought that was a stupid name so he (the admin) changed it. Linus liked it, so it was kept (though, I believe he claimed some original embarassment, as he's not very egotistical) At least, that's how the legend goes.... :)

    It's too bad stupidity isn't painful"

  • I'm sorry, but that's a load of crap. They said *trademark* infringement. Expect it to be someone to be selling a computer-related product with the term "Red Hat" or "Redhat", os somesuch.

    Where did you get this RH suing VA BS?

  • Read the IPO announcement -- Thomas Weisel Partners LLC and E*TRADE Securities, Inc. are also underwriting it. So stop the anonymous whining, and go hang out at www.etrade.com, open an account, and wait for the IPO to show up. Then they'll let you know if you're qualified to participate. Last I heard, they don't check which way you voted.

    It would be nice if Red Hat would have had a non-tradional IPO, the way some companies have. But, getting in on the ground floor means getting in early, not necessarily during the IPO. If it behaves like other IPOs, it will start low, run way overpriced, then come right back down.

    If the company's stock is going to perform over time, it doesn't matter if you get in during the IPO or not. But, if you're wanting huge short-term speculative returns in the first few days -- then you'll need enough $$ to qualify for the IPO.

    If you've only got a couple bucks to throw around -- wait for the price to stabilize.

  • One question you have to ask yourself is how this is different from Red Hat accepting capital from Netscape, Intel, etc. The difference is that if these companies were to say "go to the dark side or we won't give you money" then Red Hat could swallow hard and say "no."

    On the otherhand, Red Hat would be unable to prevent sales of stock to anyone. And if a majority of shareholders were to say "place all your future software developments under a restrictive EULA instead of GPL" then Red Hat would have no choice.

    But, the employees would. And as Red Hat exists in its pre-IPO state, it is only as ethical as its employees. Assuming those same employees are still there post-IPO, then should a majority of shareholders demand restrictive EULAs, then the ethical employees could walk.

    And, as Linus has pointed out, if the "owner" of a piece of GPL'd software would ever go to the dark side, then s/he can't take the software, too.

    Christopher A. Bohn
  • by pqbon ( 7033 )
    The judge in the current anti trust case would skin them alive...
    "There is no spoon" - Neo, The Matrix
    "SPOOOOOOOOON!" - The Tick, The Tick
  • by miguel ( 7116 )
    I just wanted to say how much I appreciate all the good work all the people at Red Hat have done. Erik Troan, Mark Ewing and Bob Young for always keeping in mind the importance of a truly open-sourced system.

    A great company, with great people behind.

  • When Redhat becomes a public company, the CEO must do what is in the best interest of the stockholders... If he does not, he can go to jail and be sued... That means, he may have to do things that a contradictory from the general way that the community operates...

    I hope that it isnt true, but it may turn out that way.
  • I probably can't apply for bs.com (I am missing a few bucks ;-)
    I live in Europe (but the problem seems the same for non-US folks) and wonder if anyone of you found a way to get some stock without being US resident. Apparently etrade.com only accept us residents for PO or IPO.

    Any idea?

  • I hereby nominate Rob as the president of the Slashdot Investor's group. I'm in with my money. Any other takers?


  • No, everyone doesn't want to be a rich greedy bastard. Selling Linux for big $$$ is the Microsoft way: get-rich-quick off other's work.

    Last time I checked, the GPL did not forbid to make money off GPL'd software. Now, I wonder why nobody put it in there if it is such a big no-no... I mean, any author who puts his/her work under GPL *knows* somebody could take that software and make money from it the way the bigger Linux distros do - if you don't like it, use another licence.

    The GPL is not available for viewing by the end users (as in hidden from end users).

    Would you care to back up your statement with facts, please? The top directory of the Red Hat installation CD contains COPYING which in turn contains the GPL. Many packages put the GPL as a files named COPYING in /usr/doc. I hardly call that "hidden".

    While I appreciate people who point out possible dangers for the Open Source movements, I hate folks who simply sling FUD without facts.


  • Well, usually you thank for things that have
    actually happened before.. So in that sense it is
    past :)

    Redhat Linux is a very cool product - and the
    guys have a right mind about free software. Goodie.

  • Every prospectus I have ever seen contains statements which are at least as scary as these.

    It's standard practice to avoid getting sued later for not disclosing the risks.
  • I look forward to reading Red Hat's SEC filings on Edgar Online and finding out everything they have been so quiet about to date, like exactly how many copies they're selling, who owns what percentage of the company, how profitable they actually are, etc, etc. I also look forward with great anticipation to the imminent conflict between Red Hat's embattled but still strong Free Software ideology, and Wall Street analysts' ideas about how to judge the value of software companies.

    However, I am somewhat disquieted by this proof that Red Hat, like practically all other for-profit firms, are in fact lying bastards. You don't register an IPO without months of planning; yet, mere weeks ago, Red Hat announced *that they had no plans* (not merely that they couldn't comment). I seem to recall Bob Young quoted as saying "maybe in 20 years or so," or words to that effect. Yet he must at that very moment have been deeply embroiled in planning for this.

    Unless...you don't suppose this is being forced on Red Hat by one of the new investors, do you? Maybe somebody like, say, Intel, isn't happy with the performance or liquidity of their investment, and is using some tactic (perhaps directors' liability or "fiduciary duty" threats) to force a hastily-planned IPO so they can cash out?

    Nahh, that's crazy. Occam's razor says Bob Young is simply a liar, just like Bill Gates and everyone else who matters. But I'll be watching the buys and sells on Nasdaq Level II, just to see if anyone sells right away...


  • So let me get this straight: the term "GNU/Linux" is offensive to people, but everyone's happy when Redhat calls their distribution "Redhat Linux"?

    Sure, Redhat put the distribution together. When the FSF puts together their own distribution they can call it GNU Linux or GNU/Linux or whatever.
  • Let's do it!

    Hey what's the Nasdaq symbol going to be?

    When can the rest of us buy in?
  • As usual, this isn't a one-sided issue.

    On the one hand, the IPO might sweep Red Hat away from the interests of the Open Source community. There are any number of ways this could happen, from the (unlikely, in my mind) scenario in which Microsoft or (gasp!) AOL buys it out somewhere down the line, to the fact that the shareholders will have a good deal of say in what the company does. (If you've ever seen Meet Joe Black you know what I mean.) It is a (distant) possibility that we could have another Microsoft on our hands, although Red Hat's dependence on the Open Source community for support (in both code and publicity) would seem to preclude that.

    On the other hand, Red Hat currently already has investors. Commercial investors, no less, whose funds are powering projects under the Red Hat. By threatening to withhold funds, they could conceivably change the way the company operates in a way that reminds me of the popular view of a company's Board. So far, I haven't seen this happening, though please feel free to offer examples! Doubtless something (fear of M$, maybe?) is motivating these investors to pump money into Red Hat as-is. Whatever this something is, there is the question of whether or not it will motivate the individual stockholders who are likely to be attracted to an IPO.

    Doubtless, an enormous influx of money will be generated by this IPO. With the current media interest in Linux, I'd be surprised if it's not widely publicized in more mainstream news channels (CNN?), drawing investors to it. More investors means more money, and more money means Open Source developers who get paid--at least in theory. However, there remains the question of whether stockholders will continue to keep their hands off Red Hat's Open Source-ness.

    And on the gripping hand, the IPO may be a milestone, but it may not mean anything in the long-term forecast. Maybe countless others (I'm watching, VA!) will follow if the waters are right. Or maybe Red Hat will go bottom-up. Just because Red Hat is a Really Cool Company(TM) doesn't necessarily mean that it'll stay afloat in the long run. Perhaps after all is said and done, we'll end up right back where we started, minus Red Hat.

    As the old saying goes,
    Every 3.5" double-sided, high-density floppy has a sliding cover.

  • From corrected news.com article:

    For the fiscal year ended February 28, 1999, Red Hat stated in its filing that it earned $10.8 million in revenue, compared to $5.2 million for the same period a year ago. About 7 percent of its yearly revenue came from services and the remainder from sales of software and related products. The company posted a net loss of $130,000 for fiscal 1999.
  • This is extremely unlikely - you'd have to be accused of actual bad faith to run aground on that clause. It's designed to prevent Bob Young from taking the IPO proceeds, buying a Gulfstream V and flying off to Tahiti with our money.

    As long as he can make a persuasive argument that the open source status of Red Hat software is in the shareholder's best interest, we're fine. Since the express purpose of Red Hat is to develop and market open source software, I don't think anyone's going to say that continuing to do so is not in the shareholders' best interest. In fact, you could make a case that doing anything else would not be in their interest, and would be contrary to the company's basic mission for which shareholders signed up.


  • Unlike other software companies, RedHat can't be betting the farm on shrinkwrapped software and the typical upgrade cycle. While RedHat may selling tons of copies now, they market is going to figure out pretty quick that there's no reason to spend $50 when you can spend $3. (And if they try to take their installer proprietary, there's always Debian.)

    Where they will make money is on per seat/per year support agreements with companies who deploy Linux. They also can sub-contract to Dell, Compaq for integration and support services. There's also for hire device driver development, system tuning, and per call phone support.

    The picture here is that they will be selling services, not so much products. Growth in the services business is much more linear, so I wouldn't expect a huge exponential boom in revenues/stock price.

  • That's just what Corel is doing with Debian -- adding value by including wordperfect with the installation. Which is great if you really need WordPerfect, but I would guess the demand isn't enough for them to corner the market that way.

    The only thing that RedHat really sells now is the warm fuzzy feeling of a manual and installation support. Once people figure they can do it themselves, their shrinkwrap market is going to dry up immedately.
  • I'm in too..

    And if we are alwredy on that subject.. I'm willing to invest in blockstackers. I'm serious here.. But this is offtopic.
    ( my music [mp3.com])
  • RedHat is also further constrained from changing licensing agreements because the code is already GPL'd. Even if they wanted to, which I'm sure they
    don't, they can't repackage GPL'd source code under some other license.

    Um, sure they can. They can't pull the code they have already released under the GPL from the public, but they can surely redistribute it under a different license. This would mean nothing initially, but as they made enhancements it would start to make a difference.

    That's assuming it's THEIR code. They can't repackage GPL code written by someone else under a different license, but if they wrote original code from scratch they could relicense it all they wanted to. It would also make a big difference if they code that their employees wrote was RedHat's IP or the employees'. That's an interesting question because most closed source shops "own" any code their employees write (sometimes even on their own time - according to their employment agreement). Wonder if RedHat still has that archaic policy or if they allow the individual employees to "own" all the code they write.

    Anyone know for sure?

  • Options for "normal" employees usually expire at time of termination (willful or not).
  • [nt] - Sorry if you're reading this, but there wasn't enough room in the Subject line for that.


  • As long as the buzzword in this area remains "Linux" and not "Red Hat," it would be much easier for them -- costwise and PR-wise -- to not buy out Red Hat, but just to release their very own Microsoft-branded Linux distribution. No need to spend the money to buy out Red Hat the company when you can just download Red Hat the Linux distribution and stamp your own name on it. And, it saves them PR and DoJ annoyances like "There goes Microsoft buying another company again."

    Give the customer a little value-add by producing their own wm, along with IE and their Media Player for Linux (tell me that having IE wouldn't be sweet -- anyone else catch the president of Cygnus Solutions on ZDTV admitting that Mozilla has "really been a flop"?), maybe ensuring that it only works on their distribution (perhaps not, though -- there are advantages to both approaches for them), and sell it for 29-39 bucks with maybe free downloads available. After that, get ready for a little embrace-and-extend action, possibly in the SMB and object model areas. "Where do you want to go today? Hey, you want a little PDA? CE. You want a typical desktop? Win9x or an iMac running Microsoft software. You want a Windows-based server or workstation? NT. You a Unix fan? Microsoft Linux."

    If that happens, you can quickly expect IBM Linux -- I'd be surprised if IBM doesn't come out with their own distribution eventually no matter what Microsoft does. Sure the Open Source ideologues will always have the Debians of the world, but you can bet that most businesses, when given a choice between Red Hat, Microsoft, and IBM Linux, are going to choose between those latter two almost every time.

    It's a rough game out there -- hope Red Hat didn't leave its cup and mouthpiece at home.


  • Actually, I think I read somewhere that the limit is 5% before MSFT would have to report it to the SEC + RedHat would have to inform all their shareholders.

    - - - - - -
    swagmag.com [swagmag.com]

  • RedHat's IPO announcement seems to have generated plenty of FUD here on Slashdot. I hate to add to it, but I have some questions:

    What does RedHat offer that other distributions do not? Is it that RedHat is the dominant (in terms of installed base) distribution? If so, that seems like a fleeting position. I believe that whomever offers the best distribution at the lowest price will be a winner. Caldera's product certainly is no slouch in that regard.

    What happens to RedHat if SuSE, Debian or Caldera decide that the easiest way to become the best is to offer their distribution for US$20 or $30 less than RedHat? Caldera is in CompUSA for $29 before rebate. As somebody already pointed out, what happens if a major contributor to Linux goes to another distributor?

    I don't think that RedHat's past performance is any indication of their viability as a public company. The fact that they have lost money doesn't make them a bad investment...after all, they are shipping a product and have a physical customer base. This is not a Yahoo or Excite.

    In RedHat's favor, the do have significant control over GNOME and appear intent upon it becoming the dominant environment. They also have significantly higher name recognition amongst Linux distributions. They also have the support of big "names" in the computer industry. It strikes me that if Intel is willing to put money into RedHat, that lends some validity to the company's presence in this industry.

    Finally, just because a company elects to go public, we as Linux advocates should not view them as enemies. While a public company has a responsibility to their stockholders, they also have a mission and a philosophy that carries over from their time as a private company. The stockholders must invest with that in mind. I think that the S-1 filing clearly shows that. Because of the nature of an S-1, there is blunt language in there that may grate us somewhat, but it's part of the responsibility that RedHat has to its investors. Nothing about RedHat has changed, except that now they have to actually say the things that we've always quietly wondered.

    Is the IPO a good thing? Who knows? The people who buy the stock will think so. Does RedHat "owe" something to the legions of Linux advocates who have supported them over time? Maybe, but when the rubber hits the road, RedHat, like every other Linux distributor, is a company and as such, must behave as one.
  • "Once people figure they can do it themselves, their shrinkwrap market is going to dry up immedately."

    Which is why we all build or own houses and tune our own cars, fix our own vcrs, and never get take-out or visit restaurants....
  • Actually Debian does that. Their distro is now officially called Debian GNU/Linux.
  • Yeah, but what would they be buying? If the staff gets mad enough to walk (well, probably after 5 years... I think that's the usual deal), then they've bought themselves a name that used to be good. The distro is GPL. Anyone can take it and start a new distro (can you say Mandrake?).
  • If you want to support them, then buy a copy and give it to a friend. Buying the stock is too indirect a form of support.

    OTOH, buying the stock might be profitable for you, so it's a form of support that doesn't cost anything.
  • I second that. I could have made a boatload of money by staying at my last company - they were bought out a couple of months ago. However, I hated the environment and I hated the CEO. I was the fourth employee and I just left it all behind. There's way more to life than lots of money.

    Of course, now I'm at another startup, but the work environment rocks and so does the work.

  • Something about this doesn't sit well with me..Like many of you, I wasn't exactly bouncing off the walls with glee when I found out Red Hat is going public, either.

    I mean, lets get our facts straight here.. Bob Young goes on record not too long ago saying "We will NEVER go public". Now they have. He's either playing good poker, or he's a liar. Whichever one you pick depends upon your view of Red Hat.

    Soon, Red Hat will no longer be a privately-held company. In other words, they will soon have to answer to stockholders and a board of directors, instead of answering the community..You can either consider the act of going public as being the next natural step in the company's growth, or, you can view it was Red Hat turning its back on the Linux community in pursuit of the almighty dollar, which is the fundemental opposite of what the GPL is all about to begin with. Whichever one you pick depends on your view of Red Hat.

    Speaking as someone who actually does have his work included in Red Hat 6.0's distribution (I have about 9MB worth of seamless desktop wallpaper in there) i'm on the fence when it comes to the issue. I can't really say that I think that Red Hat going public is a wholly good idea, or a wholly bad idea. One thing's for sure, tho. If the stockholders, or board of directors decide they want to take a collective piss on the GPL by removing the ability of people to download/distribute their product freely, then I would request that my work be removed from their distribution alltogether. However, For the time being, i'd be more inclined to give Red Hat the benefit of the doubt. They haven't done much to deserve the rap they've been given in recent months, imho. I have some faith in Red Hat to do what's right, so, i'll take a wait and see approach.

    We should be able to tell fairly soon wether or not Red Hat remembers what got them there the first place. It wasn't money, it was people.

    PROPAGANDA [themes.org]

  • You speak as if its past tense. :)

    PROPAGANDA [slashdot.org]

  • Theyr're French .. Like its any big surprise. :)

    PROPAGANDA [slashdot.org]
  • I suspect the primary danger of negative shareholder influence is not so much RedHat giving up on the GPL, as much as them giving up on the LSB efforts (and the goodwill toward it).

    Right now, there are several commercial applications that are certified to work with "RedHat Linux." This doesn't mean they can't run on other distros, only that they have been tested with RedHat. But it would be in the interest of your typical greedy shareholder to have the system setup be a little more "unique," enough to break the 95%-100% compatibility there is now, such that major apps will ONLY run on RedHat. Other distros will either be left out in the cold, or be required to follow whatever convoluted /etc tricks et. al. RedHat does.

    The obvious targets being PHT, OpenLinux and the other Linux competitors that have also been making inroads into the business field. Something like this would be a lot more subtle than an outright license change, and thereby a lot easier to bring about.

    I just hope they keep their sights on NT marketshare. Young was right; there is still plenty there to go around [to all the Linux vendors].
  • Quoting directly from Redhat's S-1 filing, "We are currently investigating possible infringement claims against a third party in France whom we believe has misappropriated our tradename and trademarks."
    Anybody know who this is?
  • I'm sorry, but trademark is not a question of GPL or OSS. The right to share code doesn't equal open trademarks. Redhat has every right to defend their trademarks, which is their name and logos. Would you want to create something and then have people sell a shoddy version of it while claiming it was your product?
    Let's examine your claims, huh?

    1) That's right, except for parody uses (Thank Ghod for the 1st Amendment!). You can't use their name to sell your product. No one but an idiot would think that has anything to do with source code. They're not suing Mandrake even though I know they say 'based off Redhat'. But try to sell an Official Redhat distribution when you're not, and I hope you get sued.

    2) OSS fanatics and developers aren't going to be violating trademarks. Trademarks mean claiming something's 'official Redhat' or using their name as an endorsement or something, not borrowing their code. Pirates are the only one who'll have any problem with this.

    3) Again, there's no connection. Using their code isn't a trademark violation. Claiming something is by Redhat when it's not is a violation, and any decent OSS developer wouldn't do that. As for the GPL, if you read their S-1 filing you'd find out they are already concerned about publicity. The kiss of death would be for them to violate the GPL. Every user out there would stop using Redhat and contribute heavily for the lawsuit against them.

    4) They've never claimed they are Linux. They don't have a beef with Mandrake and the other Redhat-based distributions, so why are you being so paranoid?

    5) OSS will survive no matter what happens. That's why it's survived so far when for a long time only a few people used it - market share doesn't matter when it's pretty much free and everything's open. This competition is over whether Linux gains the mainstream, I repeat mainstream server and desktop status.

    I mean, I've got my gripes with Redhat (about QA testing), but really, get a clue. They're not going to be the next Microsoft, and if you want Linux to take off, that means money. An IPO is a way to get that money. I hope everything goes well for them, and I just might make a small investment when this comes around.

  • This is not true. Induhviduals can get IPO shares before they hit the market IF they have a brokerage account with the underwriter of that particular IPO AND they are considered a prime account (typically $100k+). In the case of RedHat, these brokerages are Goldman Sachs and E-Trade.

    So, unless you, dear slashdotters, are one of the newly rich web capitalists, don't hold your breath on this one. ;-)
  • Are you drunk, on drugs or both?

    1. Everybody wants money unless they live in some sort of self-sufficient anarchist community in the woods of Montana. Grow up! Selling Linux for living beats hundreds of other occupations.

    2. There's a strong commitement from RedHat to keep their distribution FTP'able.

    3. Yes, they sell their stock to any idiot with the money, but it's no different from letting any idiot with an ISP account to download Linux. Or are you suggesting they should police the downloading part also?

    4. As long as they remain a majority shareholder, IPO is a very good move.
  • Let the authors of the packages they distribute and which make up the majority of their product in on the IPO.
  • The idea of an IPO is to get money to be able to do things like that!

  • They aren't losing that much money, and I'm sure the sales of $80 RH6 kit will make up for it :)

    Seriously, considering how much money their IPO is gonna bring in, they could last for a long time losing $100K/year.

  • Also note that the KDE (quite nice) used in RH6 still uses QT 1.44 :) I had heard even when 5.9 came out that they'd have to pull KDE if they didn't have the QT2 version ready. Humm...
  • What if Richard Stallman decides to change the language of the GPL (or is forced to?) If GPL v2 was challenged in court and found illegal for instance, mewonders if we'll see a GPLv3 that looks suspisiously like the XFree86 license...
  • I was looking at thier IPO and no initial price was given. I thought this was a requirement... to list your opening bid.
  • Since I work with a large financial firm, I did a little research and got the IPO form that Redhat filled out. I gave it a quick glance over, and found some interesting facts out of the risks section. The following quotes are taken directly from their Registration.


    Red Hat's historical business has been based on the sale of Official Red Hat
    Linux. Using a standard telephone connection, a user can download Red Hat Linux
    from the Internet free of charge in approximately 36 hours. To avoid this
    significant download time, users can purchase the shrink-wrapped version of
    Official Red Hat Linux. If hardware and data transmission technology advances in
    the future to the point where increased bandwidth allows Red Hat Linux to be
    more quickly downloaded from the Internet, users may no longer choose to
    purchase Official Red Hat Linux. Any resulting decrease in product revenue, if
    significant, could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating
    results and financial condition.


    We have incurred operating losses in three of our previous five fiscal
    years. We expect to substantially increase our sales and marketing, research and
    development and administrative expenses in the immediate future. In addition, we
    are investing considerable resources in our Web initiative. As a result, we
    expect to incur significant losses for the foreseeable future and cannot be
    certain when or if we will achieve profitability. Failure to become and remain
    profitable within the timeframe expected by investors may adversely affect the
    market price of our common stock and our ability to raise capital and continue


    The Linux kernel and the Red Hat Linux operating system have been developed
    under, and licensed pursuant to, the GNU General Public License (GPL). The GPL
    states that any program licensed under it may be liberally copied, modified and
    distributed. We know of no circumstance under which the GPL has been challenged
    or interpreted in court. Accordingly, it is possible that a court would hold the
    GPL to be unenforceable in the event that someone were to file a claim asserting
    proprietary rights in a program developed and distributed in accordance with the
    GPL. Any ruling by a court that the GPL is not enforceable, or that Linux-based
    operating systems, or significant portions of them, may not be liberally copied,
    modified or distributed, would have the effect of preventing us from selling or
    developing our products. This would have a material adverse effect on our
    business, operating results and financial condition.

    I'm not trying to produce FUD in these area's, but these three things would be very scay to any PHB's out there, combined with the fact that they lost 130 million last year, don't expect the stock prices to go up like a rocket. I have the complete public report if anyone would like it.

  • >Services make good money, but the huge profits
    >aren't made there.

    Perhaps you should try telling IBM, CSC, or EDS that...

  • So far, I've liked Red Hat for their stronger ethical stance on free software. Recently, they have been the best distribution from a free software/open source point of view, other than Debian. As such, I opposed SuSE and similar, which wrote their own proprietary software, put in other people's proprietary packages, and had no free software stance.

    Well, it seems to me that RedHat was the first company to put proprietary software in their linux distribution when they included BRU backup and MetroX-server in RedHat (was it 3.3?) I think they were then trying to distinguish themselves as better than the other distributions. And at the time it seemed like including pieces unavailable to most distributions was a good way to do it. Only later did they decide that distinguishing themselves as better meant the opposite. No proprietary software became a kind of rally call for them with their open-sourced install program and adminstration tools. The short version of the KDE stink was "not open-source enough" and that seemed very funny to me since RH had already demonstrated a willingness to distribute non-free merchandise---indeed attempted to make their mark by it. At least KDE could/can be redistributed, unlike MetroX.

    I guess my point is that we've already seen business-mindedness driving decisions at RH. So, who knows what to expect--- but the laserbeam vision of a very small group of developers you can certainly not expect.

  • Yeah, but will they let their friends at slashdot get in at IPO price (say $15) instead of trying to buy at market price (say $50 at 9:30:01 that day).
    Pattern of super hot IPOs lately is for it to hit the market at triple pricw and trickle downward. Nobody makes money short-term.
  • I knew this was coming. Oh well. Everyone can flame me and tell me I'm wrong all they want; I don't care.

    RedHat never cared about users. They never will. They want money. So they make an IPO.

    They've given control of the company to whatever freakshow of stock buyers they get. Those stockholders will decide the future of RedHat. They control RedHat with their votes.

    RedHat no longer has control of the company. And since every idiot on the face of the planet knows about RedCrap, since they got in bed with Ziff Davis and spend more money on hype than on fixing bugs or anything of real import, the people buying stock will more likely be the ignorant type, who just want technology stocks in their portfolio.

    RedHat has voluntarily given control of their company to any idiot investor with the cash and time to get in on their IPO, now. And from there, who knows what will happen. Those stockholders could vote to switch to KDE. Or vote to have RedCrap build a whole new windowmanager that looks just like Win95. (As if fvwm95 wasn't close enough.) They could raise or lower the price of RedCrap. (Like HELL I'm paying $70 for the same crap that I used to be able to get for $40, as is.)

    Screw RedCrap. They're not getting in MY company, and I hope their IPO flops horribly.

    -RISCy Business | System Administrator, Nexbell Communications
  • We're the one sitting on Shadow Man's right shoulder with the halo. We have to make certain that propietizing their distro is not safe for their business. We have to let the stock-holders know that. The only way to make money with Linux is free software. This is not your typical company nor your typical market. You make money by making us happy.

    If we do this, then the good guys at Red Hat will have a better stance when push comes to shove with their stock-holders.


  • People will probably make money in the short term from the RedHat IPO, especially in an overheated market where Linux is looking like the "next big thing". However, I would not purchase RedHat as a long-term investment at what is sure to be an overvalued initial price. Even if RedHat "corners the Linux market" (which is, of course, impossible thanks to the GPL), their core business is services. Large technology companies (Microsoft, PeopleSoft, SAP, etc.) make the bulk of their money on licensing their products. Services make good money, but the huge profits aren't made there.
  • So let me get this straight: the term "GNU/Linux" is offensive to people, but everyone's happy when Redhat calls their distribution "Redhat Linux"?

  • I think you are way too paranoid, even if they added a "dumbed-down" set of features and left it compatible with other flavors, I think you would still complain. As much as I hate to say this, Linux does need some OPTIONAL "dumbed-down" features so that the average secratary could make use of it. Red Hat and Mandrake are the only companies making Linux available to the average user, SuSE is trying, but the other distros won't survive unless they make it more accessible to the public. I mean survive in the sense of gaining acceptance in the publics eye.

    The "newbies are bad for Linux" attitude does not exist with Red Hat, and that is a great plus. The only reason I still have MS products is that my wife doesn't understand how to use Linux, she doesn't use a computer at her job so she doesn't need to know any more than how to check e-mail and write webpages, MS is easier to set up to do that than Linux. I hate MS and use Linux at the office but my point is Red Hat is making Linux accesseble to the common man and they seem to get is flack for hardcore users, if you don't like Red Hat don't use it, but don't them trying to make a few bucks, they do more promtion for Linux than any three other distros combined. Look at the current tour they are doing. They may not cater to people who are hardcore users but they are doing a good job at promoting Linux and getting press attention and when someone looks at Red Hat they will probably find other distros and look at them. This IPO will get mainstream press attention and that will be good for the Linux community in general. So what if they eventually become another Borg, people will have seen hat there are other choices and the public will be better off in general.

  • It sounds like lots of folks are worried about RedHat changing into some big bad company. I don't get it. A) They haven't released any non GPL stuff, and they are the most popular distribution. Why would they follow the companies that are trailing them? B) I don't think they will make their money from the sale of the Linux OS but from services provided. If they do go the non-GPL route, it will probably be in the applications market, not the OS.

    If RedHat does go bad, it is very easy to change to another distribution. There is no reason to be fiercy loyal to one distributor when they are all so similar. I think everyone is well aware of this. I would imagine that RedHat will capitalize on servicing Linux in general.
  • There are no laws against it, but any sane corporation would of course keep a big chunk of it's own stock and sell a chunk of it to their own staff. I thus have a hard time seeing Microsoft doing anything like this. And what do you think such a move would do to their "Linux is a big competitior" argument in court??
  • Indirectly anyway. I'm quite convinced the reason free (libre) *ices are gaining is because we give a shit whom we work for. We're not on the career ladder to begin with.

    I'll be working for a rep cleaning up welfare in my state soon. I'm thinking of setting up categorized forums on his computers. This is all thanks to my current job and the fact that the rep was in my Art 101 class. So I work to pay my bills. I have no career or advancement ambitions.
    So there's no threats to what I want to do.

    When I get up in the morning I hack. Nobody can touch what I do. Plus, just like with distributions if one goes down Free *ices will not stop growing, if I leave the job, which is part hacking anyway, I'll take my code from the job and get another group to work on it.

  • You're right. It's so obvious: we should just roll over, play dead, and let Microsoft rule the Internet, the desktop, and the entire "internet economy" as well. Preach on, brother.


    man, hacker elitism chafes my ass. you have two choices, okay, stagnation or revolution. If we, the broad we that includes everyone from snarky uptight hackers right down to the desktop end-user, want revolution, then we have to play by the rules of the current power structure---and that's Microsoft. Microsoft's rules involve big money, corporate wheeling and dealing, and much Wall Street glory; that's how it is and Microsoft will *not* be overthrown by a straggling bunch of anti-establishment recluses who are too busy being l33t to think about the way power intersects with technology in the real world.

    Right now it looks like Red Hat's got the best chance of any Linux distro of making out there in the real world, and I for one think anyone who claims to be a Linux devotee should be behind them 100% right now. Even if it's not your distro of choice, they're the ones with the foot in the door, and we have to crack the mainstream OS market open to competition *some*how.

  • Request to Slashdot:

    This is a very special event for the Linux community as well as the Open Source movement. Let us keep in mind that it was the adovacation, contributions and love for Linux which has allowed Linux (and Redhat) to reach this point. Coders have been giving away so much, and now it's time to finally make some money.

    Buying this stock will be time critical. There is a LOT of hyper surrounding the Redhat IPO. We don't want some big corporation eating up 25% of the shares within 4 hours, and driving prices up like crazy. It request that Slashdot let this article stay on the front page for more than the usual 1-2 days. I also hope that people start posting some useful investment suggestions. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding this. From what I hear, Redhat hasn't made any profits for a couple years. Leave this article up, so that the Linux and Open Source community can have up-to-the-minute information.

    (Can anyone suggest how much a personal investment into Redhat should be? $10k? 20? 40?
  • Redhat has been in the red for over the past two years. No private company can exsist for too long like this. Open Source development seems to be costing Redhat more than its worth (right now). Public corporations, however, can operate regardless of how much profit there is (if any). Amazon, for example, is still in the red! It's been there for a LONG time. And the stock has approached $400.

    The bottom line for Redhat is, they either have to find another way to make money, or they have to shutdown in a few years (as is the natural course for any privatly held company that can't make money but spends millions of it).

    As for all this Redhat FUD, it's highly unlikley that Redhat is going "piss on the GPL". For one thing, Redhat has already stated that they fully support the Linux community and will not allow this to change, when they go public. Maybe that won't happen. Doesn't matter. Redhat knows quite well what will happen if they don't treat the Linux Community well. As for defying the GPL -- they'll get sued like crazy for doing that. THEY MUST MAKE THEIR SOFTWARE FREELY AVAILABLE. That stands for all eternity. It doesn't matter if Bill Gates is on the Board of Directors or Al Gore becomes president. Redhat must always make the OS freely available for download.
  • the term "GNU/Linux" is offensive to people, but everyone's happy when Redhat calls their distribution "Redhat Linux"

    From what little I understand of the Open Source movement, GNU, and related stuff, "Linux" is the proper name of the operating system started by Linus Torvalds and developed by hundreds of others. "GNU/Linux" is a misnomer inserted into the mainstream by a group (members of the GNU project?) trying to claim some control over Linux for virtue of it being developed using tools from the GNU project (am I way off here? correct me pwease.)

    Red Hat Linux, on the other hand, is the name of a distribution of Linux. Like Debian, Linux Mandrake, Caldera OpenLinux, and the like, it's the name of a particular distribution/flavour of Linux. Red Hat isn't trying to usurp Linux's brand name with it's own version; it's simply the brand name for a particular distribution.

  • Wow, take a look at their customers on page 46 of the S-1. Hmmm... the IRS. Quite a few big name corporate customers as well.
  • This is true. Service industries don't make anywhere near the money manufacturing industries do. But keep in mind that part of the OSS revolution is based in part on the idea that programming is a service, as opposed to manufacturing, industry. The fact that software companies have been thought to be manufacturing entities has, of course, made incredible amounts of money. But one of the reasons so much money has been made is that software company economics simply don't follow traditional manufacturing--i.e., the old "a billion copies of software is just as easy to produce as a single copy" argument. Without a Star-Trek matter replicator, making a billion cars is a billion times harder than making one car (well, not quite, but you get the idea).

    The OSS revolution is really a complete subversion of the traditional software production business model. The question of whether or not to invest in OSS dependent companies (VA, Redhat, Cygnus, Corel, Caldera, and, increasingly, IBM) is the question of whether or not you think the OSS business model is superior to the CSS model employed by companies like Microsoft. It is not the question of whether service industries are better or worse to invest in than manufacturing industries. If you invest in Redhat and the rest, then you are placing a bet that OSS will, eventually, replace CSS. In effect, you're betting that OSS is better than CSS AND that corporations will see that OSS is superior to CSS.

    I think OSS is fundamentally superior, if only because the development cycle outstrips anything the CSS community can possibly handle. But others have more eloquently stated the utilitarian arguments in favor of OSS over CSS far better than I can.

    Of course, the personal argument is the best: I use only OSS, and people who use CSS and see my setup are 1) astonished at what a computer can actually do, and 2) bug me silly to convert them over to OSS.

    So I think, and maybe I'm just trying to convince myself, that we are at the start of a radical revision of how software business is conducted. I'm willing to bet 20k$ or so on it--although not all on Redhat, I assure you. That would be crazy.

    As I've said before, what we need to do is get some OSS sympathetic financial guru type to setup an OSS mutual fund which disperses it's investments across the gamut of OSS promoting/dependent/friendly companies. I just don't know, offhand, how to go about getting the ball rolling on this. But I am making inquiries.

    (If I had real testicular fortitude, I would short sell a few thousand shares of Microsoft stock. The value of MS is going to plummet, I expect, in the next 5 years or so. But whatever else one can say about Billy G., it's better to overestimate his abilities and Napoleonic character--he must have a very, very small penis--than underestimate them, as a long trail of damaged and ruined companies have discovered. So I chicken out on that game.)

Why won't sharks eat lawyers? Professional courtesy.