back to article Is Red Hat doing its part to win the 'open source' war?

Should you believe Red Hat's claims that its new Exchange marketplace for "open source business applications" contains nothing but open source business applications? We say "no" - since not even Red Hat appears to have a good answer for this question. So far, Red Hat has filled its Exchange, also known as RHX, with software …

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Anonymous Coward

Does it matter?

Seriously-- is RH even relevant anymore? The evangelists have their poster child in Ubuntu, the technologists can bend and twist Debian to perform any task, and the novices are slowly being assimilated via Linux ending up embedded everywhere.

RH's distro has always been plagued by usability problems, often even for those in the know in the dark arts of Linux. I've never used their paid support, admittedly, but in my own experience, I'd much rather have something I know how to tweak and fiddle with, and still repair on my own if I bugger something up.

Of late, I can't fathom who RH even thinks their customers are. Big enterprise has plenty of people to throw at bespoke solutions, and small business is still better off keeping things simple, using whatever works for their needs, which is usually windows, if only because windows comes on all the PCs they can buy from officemax.

I'm obviously not a Linux evangelist or an MS fanboy-- my concentration is on systems that are efficient, break down seldom, and don't require re-learning basic operations with each service pack or version upgrade. So, once again, I've got to ask, who exactly is buying RH software these days, given the free alternatives, and/or the easier deployment of commercial products? This is not a troll-- I honestly want to know.

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Bah...

Hence why I always use the term Free Software... atleast I know what stands behind it. And it's defined by the Free Software Foundation. The term open source is to much of a marketing tool and not much else...

As for RH it actually is used in enterprise quite a lot due to it's paid support and such. But give something like that for debian or any other distro and it'll get used in the enterprise as well...

Also note the world isn't divided into ubuntu, debian and rh distros... There's a small sea of them each catering to a different target user.

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Don't we need a new licence

The move to service software driven by Web Services is a challenge for Free Software. As you have probably noticed, not many Web Services are Free and Open.

GPL was written before the advent of the Web Browser, and it lacks clauses within it that require those who use open source software to provide services to publish any code changes they make to that software.

Personally I would like to see a 'British Library Rider' on the GPL that states that if you don't publish your changes to GPL software, then you must send them to a central storage area where interested parties can find them and catalogue them if they are useful.

Without something like this, I'm struggling to see how Free Software can handle the transistion to a service-oriented world.

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Anonymous Coward

Badgeware can never be 'free'..

Advertising space has a value (just ask Google) so by demanding that you show a vendor logo in exchange for using a vendor's product you are being required to give them something of monetary value in return for the right to use that product.

This means that their product is not free (as in speech or beer).

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While we're on the subject...

While we're on the subject of transparency, remind me of the name of that major Reg sponsor? Ah yes, "SUN Microsystems".

Would this be the same "SUN" who are in a protracted spat with RH about who contributes most to FLOSS, and who compete directly with RH in the server space? Yes, I do believe it is.

I like The Reg, but am heartily sick of biased commentaries & RH-bashing every time a news item of interest to Sun raises its head.

C

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RedHat

"Of late, I can't fathom who RH even thinks their customers are."

RedHat is still the biggest supplier of Linux to corporate clients by a wide margin. These are the kinds of customers that lap up RedHat's corporate friendly support packages.

I use Ubuntu personally. I only mention it because if you express any opinion on Linux these days people assume you are evangelising the one you use/like/sleep with.

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RE: Does it matter?

> Seriously-- is RH even relevant anymore?

Yes.

> The evangelists have their poster child in Ubuntu, the technologists can

> bend and twist Debian to perform any task, and the novices are slowly

> being assimilated via Linux ending up embedded everywhere.

1/ *All* the major distros cater for evangelists, technologists, and novices, admittedly in differing proportions. RH focuses more on business, i.e. infrastructure (servers) and the corporate desktop. Note: Business doesn't want something it can "bend and twist to perform any task", it wants a shrink-wrapped, or preferably preinstalled Solution that Just Works, with solid support.

2/ A (The?) major embedded linux supplier is Montavista. Owned by RH.

3/ RH pays the salaries of more core Linux kernel hackers than any other distro, e.g. Alan Cox, Ingo Molnar, etc.

Still relevant, then.

Oh, and when it floated it gave away a load of its shares as a thankyou to previously-unrewarded key kernel developers, e.g. Linus. That's more than putting its money where its mouth is - that's *polite*.

> RH's distro has always been plagued by usability problems,

Not so - it's famous for its stability and conservatism, introduction of graphical config tool, and for its adherence to standards.

It's always been plagued by *interoperability* problems with proprietary codecs, which is a different thing. RH's refusal to ship binary blobs underlines their dedication to keeping source open and free, which kind of counters the suggestions of the above article, really.

One feature that *has* given RH a reputation for awkwardness is the SELinux security layer. I'm not sure a criticism of RH usability on these grounds is fair or accurate, though - RH was the first to roll out SELinux, is still the only mainstream distro (apart from Fedora and immediate RH derivatives) to use it, and has refined the security policies enormously. If you don't get on with it then you can switch it off - or just don't install it in the first place. I prefer to have the extra security by default, and to work from there.

> I've never used their paid support, admittedly, but in my own experience, I'd

> much rather have something I know how to tweak and fiddle with, and still

> repair on my own if I bugger something up.

What *have* you used? Anything recent? Try not to confuse your own empirical knowledge & skills on other distros with "the correct" or "the obvious" way to do things.

In the RH world :

* Fedora is for you if you need to run a cost-free desktop.

* CentOS provide a cost-free recompile of the rock-solid RHEL platform if you need a server.

Fedora: no paid support but a huge, helpful community. More cutting-edge than RH's commercial product, and you can download blobs for as many codecs & 3D graphics drivers as you need. More stable than Ubuntu. And conformant with the Linux Standards Base if you need a helping hand in knowing where & what to tweak.

I'm not saying you *should* use RH derivatives and related products - only you know your needs, and Ubuntu, Mandriva, Debian, etc may fit them better. But if you're going to post a pointed question ("is RH still relevant?") on a public forum, then at least test the RH products targeted at you first.

> Of late, I can't fathom who RH even thinks their customers are. Big

> enterprise has plenty of people to throw at bespoke solutions, and small

> business is still better off keeping things simple,

I don't see them making a loss yet.

> I'm obviously not a Linux evangelist or an MS fanboy-- my concentration is > on systems that are efficient, break down seldom,

CentOS it is, then.

I'm no fanboi either. I happen to run Fedora/CentOS because I find it provides the best balance of stability, security, functionality, and usability for my purposes (small home network + mailserver). The day Ubuntu or someone else (not Novell) offers a better balance for *my* purposes I'll happily defect.

> and don't require re-learning basic operations with each service pack or

> version upgrade.

? I'm confused. Honestly, I'm curious which specific experiences you've had? I've been familiar with RH since 6.0, and although many things have changed and improved nothing has required "re-learning basic operations", let alone between service packs.

> So, once again, I've got to ask, who exactly is buying RH software these

> days, given the free alternatives, and/or the easier deployment of

> commercial products?

Well, I assume they're doing something right, since last quarter they posted one of their largest profits to date.

Still wish they hadn't announced that partnership with Symantec, though. *shudder*

> This is not a troll-- I honestly want to know.

Done :¬)

C

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Fanboy meltdown, mine eyes glaze over.

Yet another FOSS debate that really doesn't matter to anyome except the linux jihad.

If I take big chunk of somebody elses hard work, nothwithstanding the fact that they have been generous enough to supply it free of charge and with source code, and use it to further my own ends, the least I can do is attribute the work to the people who actually did it.

In fact, if I were to both benefit from it and contribute to it, should I not be *proud* to display the logo of, say, the Mozilla foundation ?

I have to presume that all the whingeing fanboys who oppose this sort of thing are running linux systems that they bootstrapped entirely from sources, by hand, without using any package management software from any named distro ?

No ?

STFU then. It's this kind of pathetic fanaticism that gives the whole FOSS movement such a bad public image (outside of slashdot and Wired that is).

Just be happy that you're getting product for free, source included, and stop acting like a bunch of whiney little maggots for once.

/rant

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Anonymous Coward

Conraddle On and on and on and on

Jesus man, can't the legnth of posts be limited?

And I can't believe no one saw this coming. Open Source has been sort of like a commune for a long time. (i.e. people with nothing are always the most willing to share) And now that some truly practical business value is being demonstrated real businesses are going to step in a do away with the dirty, disease transmitting communes.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Oh Conrad

So, we're in trouble for running on a Sun ad on a story that, I don't believe, mentions Sun? You may just have to learn to live with situations like that.

When I talked to Michael, he actually seemed rather positive about Sun's actions around this issue. Their CDDL license is OSI approved. He did, however, say that he'd like to see Sun be more upfront in various areas.

Here's hoping you don't find one of our Red Hat ads on another fanboi inciting item.

AV

www.theduckrabbit.com

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Badgeware

It's not that people aren't grateful for all the free software - but imagine what happens when a large number of people put in badgeware - especially with a "we will remove the badge for a fee" license. Not only is it breaking with almost 4 decades of hacker tradition but it becomes a nightmare for any business that uses non-proprietary software. Now I not only have to look at each license to see if it is free/open/proprietary but I have to watch out for badgeware and pay fees (essentially pay for the software - I'm certainly not paying for any service) or potentially end up with webpages crammed with advertising a-la-Google. As a small example of the effects of badgeware - an employer of mine once paid for a device driver dev kit for MSWindows (not the MS DDK) against my advice. This was for use in a laboratory - we would be the only users - and we paid a few hundred $$$ for it. This incompetent software, aside from being the absolute worst so-called 'driver' code I had ever seen, also threw up a badge each time a device was started: [Fatal Error]: This software is licensed to (my employer). I had never seen a 'device driver' which required a user to click 'OK' each time the driver was invoked. I had since rewritten that code using the MS DDK and the other DDK was thrown away. That was 6 years ago and I still tell people to avoid buying any gadgets built with that lousy badgeware DDK. Personally I'm not fussed about companies pushing badgeware - they will simply be avoided and are really only doing themselves out of business.

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Oh Conrad/Conraddle On and on and on and on

Ashlee, it's your prerogative to be deliberately obtuse if you wish. My point stands - and I'm hardly the first to imply SUN bias in your reporting. Name-calling is a new low, though. Did I hit a nerve?

Steve & others, please accept my apologies for the admittedly long post. It was intended to inform, not rant: poster of original (long) comment stated they "honestly want[ed] to know". In hindsight, though, this area isn't the right forum for that kind of thing. Be assured, in future I'll comment strictly on the article, and won't indulge in discussion.

Best regards, and have a good week.

Conrad

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Red Hat fixed it

To the great credit of Red Hat, Inc. and the manager of the RHX project, this problem got comprehensively fixed recently: All RHX Web pages are now quite clear about the fact that RHX offerings are not necessarily open source, and no longer make any implication to the contrary. Well done, good people.

Rick Moen

rick@linuxmafia.com

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