RE: 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.
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.