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[linrad] flavors and colors of Linux. Is RedHat strange or charming?
- Subject: [linrad] flavors and colors of Linux. Is RedHat strange or charming?
- From: w3sz@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 13 Nov 2003 13:59:42 -0500
I have the day off from work and am stuck here unable to go anywhere as the telephone
installer is supposed to arrive 'before 5 pm'. So I am inflicting you with my email
This is a rather long email that basically discusses RedHat and the current politics
/ legalities of Linux, from the viewpoint of someone [me] outside the industry.
Bill [I think it was Bill] posted a message last week that as I read it was really
negatively inclined regarding RedHat. I wanted to offer an alternative view then,
but didn't have the time, as I thought it was important for the list to hear 'the
other side'. Since I am now stuck sitting here now, here goes...
I am not a computer person and I know little about hardware, software, or Linux
history or politics. But there are some things I know that I am sure bear on
RedHat's decision to split its Linux offerings into two parts [they have NOT
abandoned free Linux by any means].
Most of you know, but probably not all of you know, that this Spring SCO [nee
Caldera] sued IBM for $3 billion, claiming that IBM had contaminated Linux by
incorporating SCO-copyrighted code into it. They have sited specific examples from
the 2.4 and 2.5 kernels. SCO also said in its lawsuit that "The GPL violates the
U.S. Constitution, together with copyright, antitrust and export control laws," In
addition, SCO asserted that the GPL is unenforceable. The GPS is the General Public
License and is considered to be the basis for the free sofware movement. It is
'tended to' by the Free Software Foundation. So SCO has attacked the very
underpinnings of Linux. They also threatened RedHat and all other Linux users /
packagers / etc. [Details freely available on the web...use Google].
In August RedHat filed a suit against SCO because of SCO's actions. RedHat's CEO
said at the time, "We have asked the courts to declare that no violation of
intellectual property and trade secrets have occurred," Szulik said. "We've been
patient, we've listened. But when our customers and the whole open-source community
are threatened with innuendo and rumor, it's time to act."
RedHat also donated $1M to start the Open Source Now Fund, to defray the costs of
those in the Linux community [other than itself] who become sucked into the SCO
actions. They invited SUSE and other developers to do the same. I don't know if the
others have contributed.
The SCO has spread a very wide net, and in fact yesterday SCO subpoened Novell;
Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux kernel; Richard Stallman of the Free Software
Foundation; Stuart Cohen, chief executive of the Open Source Development Labs; and
John Horsley, general counsel of Transmeta!
So I think that RedHat had two general reasons to divide 'RedHat Linux' into two
The first flavor, the enterprise version, costs more than the old 'personal' RHL and
comes with substantial support. With this version they will tightly control the
code, and be better able I think to avoid accusations that they are using 'tainted'
The second flavor, the totally free RedHat Linux, [now called Fedora] IS totally free
for downloading. And RedHat will continue to develop Fedora. Future Enterprise
versions of RedHat will in fact come from Fedora as they are deemed 'stable'.
What won't Fedora have? It won't have Software or Hardware Certifications. Right
now it is only for the x86 architecture. Updates will be every 2-6 months.
Maintenence and updates will come from the developer community. Support will be from
the developer and user community. In fact, as those of you who frequent this list
know all too well, for our purposes maintenence and support already come from the
user / developer community, so I don't think anything is really lost here.
I subscribed to the Fedora list this morning, from the RedHat site. I have been
deluged for the past 5 hours with a huge volume of very good information from this
list, of 'issues' and solutions. So much information, that after reading it for
several hours I unsubscribed, since I am not planning to use Fedora in the near
future and while the information was very good, I don't need it now and I am
confident it will be there in the future if I need it. Some of the very active list
members are in fact linux coders who when I last checked were working in that
capacity for RedHat, and who are in fact presently maintaining and upgrading and
issuing bug fixes for Fedora.
So I don't view RedHat as 'abandoning' the Linux user community but rather as their:
1. Taking some very important legal steps to protect the Linux user community.
2. Taking some operational steps to protect themselves legally and yes, to protect
their business. I do not see trying to stay profitable as a sin. Maybe if SCO
had done better financially they wouldn't have taken their desparate action.
3. Actively supporting a totally FREE version of Linux which they say will be
"Bleeding edge technology released early and often". This is the Fedora
The real problem is NOT RedHat. It is SCO. If you want more information, just
Google SCO and IBM and Linux and spend the rest of the day chasing links.
As an aside, you might find the following URLs helpful regarding RHL and the Fedora
If you go to the following history page, and read a bit about how the RHL folks named
the RHL versions, you might get a better sense of the RHL culture [and an
appreciation for their whimsey] than you had before:
I particularly like this page of the history of their names:
Why did I write all of this?
1. Because the first post made me think I was in deep trouble because I use RHL
exclusively. I quickly decided that FOR NOW all of this makes NO difference to me,
as I do NOT need to update my RHL 8.0. It works perfectly with my current hardware
for Linrad. Upgrading Linux just to upgrade when everything is working is NOT a good
idea [this applies especially to the kernel in my experience]. So it wouldn't matter
to me if there was NO support [which is not the case]. I suspect others were
similarly worried by the initial post and I want to put them at ease.
2. Because if I were starting fresh at this point, given the previous post I might
AVOID Fedora. But after seeing the wealth of help available on the Fedora email list
today, I would get Fedora without hesitation.
3. Because, frankly, I trust RedHat and its 'geeks' more than I trust a company in
which IBM, 'Big Brother', has made a significant investment [e.g. SUSE]. Would I
rather deal with guys who named versions of their operating system as they did using
the ==n+1 but not==n+2 rule, or with the progeny of Thomas Watson? You bet! See:
http://www.ibmandtheholocaust.com/media.php and read the book.
PS I promised myself I would buy nothing else from IBM after I read that book. And
I won't, at least knowingly.
Sorry for the long post, but I felt I had some important points to make. Now back to
waiting for the telephone installer ;)