[lug] Fedora *MEETS* KRUD comments wanted

Nate Duehr nate at natetech.com
Fri Sep 26 13:25:22 MDT 2003

Michael J. Hammel wrote:

> On Thu, 2003-09-25 at 16:03, Nate Duehr wrote:
>>I do not trust RedHat anymore.  They have the appearance of no longer 
>>having my best interests at heart, as a non-paying user of their system 
> My guess is that, as a non-paying user, they weren't really worried
> about your trust.  In fact, they probably had no idea you existed unless
> you somehow registered as a non-paying user.  They aren't running for
> congress.  They're running a business.  And doing a much better job for
> paying consumers than MS has.  Had you paid for the service, you might
> have stronger arguments here.

I guess I wasn't clear enough -- the "as a non-paying user of their 
system" was meant to say something along the lines of:

"Both paying and non-paying users were once supported by RedHat.  In 
return they built a base of people who trusted that their Distribution 
and a base of people who felt using RedHat software was a sound business 
decision from the bottom-up.  Techies convinced managers to use their 
products when Linux was a huge risk they didn't understand.  RedHat 
benefited greatly from this.  RedHat also gets large sums of money from 
techies to get "Certified" that they really understand the RedHat 
distribution specifically whereas the LPI and other certifications are 
1/20th the price and anyone who can pass an LPI can administer a RedHat 
box.  Now I feel that they no longer have the non-paying parties 
interests at heart."

That just seemed too wordy yesterday, though.  ;-)

I never made a judgement call about whether that was "good" or "bad" 
though, it just "is".  They made the decision, and I'm willing to live 
with it.  If I personally feel like it's "bad", there are plenty of 

On the other hand I *am* a paying customer of RedHat.  A number of boxed 
sets for both myself and employers, and a card-carrying member of RedHat 
Network with a couple of subscriptions.  But the price tag just jumped 
from $60/year (originally $90/year) to a minimum of $400 for each 
server.  That's quite a price-increase when you have 50 servers doing 
what is today, relatively generic stuff.

If RedHat were the only stable business-capable distro out there, I 
would wholeheartedly agree they're worth every penny of the increase. 
But they're not.

>>-- even though they never really owed it to me in the first place.  I 
>>can't blame them, but I also can't trust them anymore.  
> Trust them for what?  To provide a free service to you forever? 
> Surprisingly, they're actually doing that.  It just doesn't happen to be
> in a form you want.  If you're not paying for their services, what
> exactly is it that they owe you in order to earn "trust"?

It's the whole disconnect between the pure-Free Software world and the 
business world, especially in the U.S.  I used to trust that they were 
committed to Free Software as a community.  Now I don't trust that as 
much.  They have investors to feed, I totally understand.  I never 
thought they could play both sides of the fence indefinitely.

Yes, they employ people who contribute to Free Software greatly, and 
those people have Community interests, but the Corporate decision-makers 
are slowly and inevitably moving RedHat toward their real goal -- a 
commercial software company.  Yes, one with better morals and attitudes 
than many others, but still -- they have a business to run.  I have no 
problem with that.  Never did.

>>They're no 
>>longer a "helpful partner", 
> How can they be a partner if you provided nothing to them?  Being a
> partner is a two way street.

I got used to free-loading and got burned.  :-)  That's all I was 
saying.  You make it sound like I didn't realize that was going to 
happen?  Surprised, yes.  Naieve, no.  :-)  But I was pimping their 
wares for them too.  Selling Linux to people who had no idea what Linux 
was on the basis of "you see how good RedHat is?".  Now I can't do that 
in good conscience.

They implicitly had an offer on the table for years... "If you use our 
free software, we'll always be here to back you and your business up 
with support if you need it.  Otherwise, you can continue to use the 
software as long as you like and we'll sell you training and a piece of 
paper that'll make your employer(s) happy."

They never said the above statement explicitly, but they definitely 
implied that RedHat would always remain free-as-in-beer for almost a 
decade.  That changed this year.  They gave up the lie that they're able 
to survive on the sale of services alone.  Sad, but true.

>>Maybe that's the biggest damage... lots of people probably feel similar. 
>>  The "rules" changed without warning.
> Without warning?  How much time did you need?  This has been under
> discussion for quite some time.  RH9 is still (I believe, I could be
> wrong) being supported.  

Where was it under discussion?  Perhaps it was, but I still see an 
awfully large number of surprised people.  I don't remember seeing any 
RedHat managers posting to discussion lists or other public forums or 
them calling on the phone asking my opinion as a customer of RHN?

I doubt they really wanted the publicity.  They had a long history of 
naysayers (including myself at one time) that said they'd never make it 
selling Free Software.  What they really meant was they'd never make it 
giving away software.  That's true.

>>Kinda like Verisign's DNS wildcard records for .com and .net this week...
> I couldn't disagree more.  Red Hat has been very forthcoming with
> information about this change.  Verisign notified next to no one.  

Agreed, I said that in frustration.  Verisign is way slimier than RedHat 
and has a track record of being so.  :-)

Many people misinterpreted my comments, and I thought I was pretty 
clear.  RedHat doesn't owe me anything.

All the software they distribute is Free Software and there are other 
high-quality distributions offering the exact same software.  So when 
they say "the only way to continue to play with us in this sandbox is if 
you pay the toll"... I'll leave the sandbox and go hang out somewhere 
else.  :-)

They need to create value (probably in add-on proprietary software) 
before asking people to pay more for what they can get for free elsewhere.

They just *might* have enough momentum to gather up cash from people 
willing to pay now to build such wonderful tools that I have to "go 
back" to them someday, but for now... if I just need Apache/Tomcat/MySQL 
there's places to get it for free and with no degradation in quality. 
So -- for me -- no more RedHat.  Honeymoon's over.  Oh well.  They're 
not hurt, I'm not hurt.  This particular divorce will be quite painless, 
we won't even argue over who gets to keep the dog.

But I will be very wary of strategic "changes of direction" in the 
future at RedHat if I ever "go back".

I wish RedHat all the best in their endeavours.  I just don't need ES or 
AS or any of what they're offering, but being able to use the distro 
with "name recognition" was nice while it lasted.

Someone else also made some comment about my employer wanting to use 
RedHat -- no... not really.  My employer picked the "popular at the 
time" linux distro many years ago and used it for free, just like I have 
for my personal stuff.  I really don't think it was a technical decsion. 
  Apache is Apache.  There's a Mandrake machine floating around here 
somewhere, and I've loaded at least one machine with Debian.

I fully expect if we have any business sense we'll continue the practice 
of using whatever's free-as-in-beer and works.  :-)  But I can't speak 
for them, since this is America and I'll get the crap sued out of me for 
having an opinion!!! (GRIN)

I had a funny message from a friend after yesterday's posting that 
summed it up nicely... "So you're saying you're upset that something 
changed you never paid for?".. "Yep.".. "Well at least you're honest!"

 From your signature line on your message Michael:

Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
   --  Credited to the Dalai Lama.

RedHat achieved Linux-"immortality" by sharing.  They're not as willing 
to share anymore.  :-)

Good discussion.  And even ON TOPIC!!!  Whoo hoo!  And not even 
degrading into a Distro-war, wow.

Oh ... someone mentioned the whole "bleeding edge" thing too... yeah, I 
have a Debian "sid" box at home and a Gentoo box that gets emerge'd just 
about every night... but not at WORK.

As the cartoon said... "When you're holding the moon for ransom, you 
value stability in an application."  (www.ubergeek.tv/switchlinux for 
those that missed it.)

I'm Nate, and I'm a Super-villain.  (Pbbbt.)

Nate Duehr, nate at natetech.com

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