Linux

What would the loss of RedHat Linux mean?


Recently it came to my attention that Oracle has attempted to undercut RedHat Linux. How you ask? Well Oracle is basically taking RedHat software, removing all mention of RedHat and all RedHat trademarks, releasing the new operating system with "bug fixes" (says an Oracle company press release.) Next, Oracle sells customer support for the operating system for a mere $99.00 a year per system. That's pennies compared to many support plans.

Oracle calls this "unbreakable Linux".

RedHat responds with "unfakeable Linux".

I respond with a nod to what was once the "unshakeable Linux".

Many people will look at this situation, laugh, and say "I told ya so." But before they release one snicker I will offer up this scenario:

10> Oracle undercuts RedHat Linux to the point RedHat Linux folds.

20> RedHat is no longer developing Linux. 

30> Oracle can no longer suck the blood of its Linux victim

40> Fedora Core folds without the financial backing of RedHat

50> The open source community begins to dry up

60> Apple can no longer continue with OS X because the open source community no longer exists 

70> Microsoft once again becomes the monopoly it once was 

80> Now that the Apple hardware runs on Intel it has no choice but to be a Windows-only machine

90> Microsoft has no competition therefore it can start creating the same shoddy software it always has without challenge

END

Yes that's a rather harsh exaggeration. But it highlights a rather interesting point. The Open Source license is very easily taken advantage of. When the OSL began it acted on the honor system - kinda like honor candy. But human nature (just like the robot nature of Crow and Tom Servo - they just couldn't stay away from that honor candy) very quickly takes advantage wherever it can.

What makes me sad is that the original spirit of the OSL has been overtaken by capitalism. What was born in the spirit of giving is being undercut by the spirit of taking.

Shame on your Oracle. You show signs of SCO and will probably wind up being seen in the same way, in the same courts, and in the same bankruptcy filing. 

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

13 comments
Jaqui
Jaqui

While being able to buy support is equal to credibility for most corporate purchasing officers, losing Red Hat would improve to quality of the distros out there, since Red Hat is one of the THREE LEAST standards compliant distros out there. [ The other two being Novell's Suse and Mandriva ] killing the non compliant distros will only improve the quality of software out there for open source.

stress junkie
stress junkie

Oracle isn't the first to repackage Red Hat software and offer it in competition with the original. CentOS and White Box are just repackaged versions of Red Had Enterprise Server, or so I've been told. I don't believe that Oracle is going to eat Red Hat's lunch any time soon. And Red Hat is just as capitalistic as any company. There's nothing wrong with that. If anything it helps the open source movement gain credibility in the corporate environment. A lot of managers feel better about a software product if you can purchase support. I don't know why. It's just axiomatic with many managers. Support = credibility. According to the GPL licensing Oracle will have to make their version of Linux freely available. Also, they cannot legally combine their database product with the Linux distribution. They can make it easy to install on their version of Linux but it cannot become part of the distribution. It legally has to remain a separate product. This will probably mean that Oracle will sell their modified version of Red Hat Linux to people who want to run Oracle on Linux. No harm there. Many Linux customers prefer to use free database software. I don't see where Red Hat has any reason to worry about what Oracle does.

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

But it could also be a ploy to pick-off all distros one at a time.

Jaqui
Jaqui

of open source. If the "Corporate" distros get picked off it won't kill open source at all. all the community distros are impossible for a corporate shutdown to happen. all the software sources are available for anyone to start up anew distro. open source can't be killed of except by a lack of interest in the community. It doesn't matter if you are talking linux or a bsd, if the distro has support from the community it will not go down at all. Mandrake is an excellent example of this. They were in "Chapter 11" straights a few years back, now they have gotten enough support from their community to be able to buy out and merge with Connectiva. Hense the name change to Mandriva. Mandrake actually sold a significant number of shares to their community members to raise the funds to avoid bankruptcy. They got the support and completely reversed their situation. My prefered distro put out a call for help in getting a new server earlier this year. They received enough donations from lfs users to buy a new server box and to keep operational for a year from us. The community might not be a constant income stream for a corporate operation, but the community will support their chosen distro when it is needed. Red Hat killed any formal support for their community just before breaking their distro into enterprise and fedora. A lot of Red Hat community members left Red Hat for other distros before Red Hat brought out Fedora. The loss of activity on their community sites may have woken Red Hat up to the fact that the community is a huge resource and prompted the creation of Fedora.

stress junkie
stress junkie

Exec failed for command "/tmp/firegl1.isse.b7891c10.454947d6.00014a17" (Permission denied) (EE) fglrx(0): incompatible kernel module detected - HW accelerated OpenGL will not work I think it's my fault that the OpenGL doesn't work. It looks like it wants to run something in /tmp. I have my /tmp and /var/tmp as loop device file systems that I mount -noexec. I'd rather be safe(er) than fast. My /home file system is also mounted -noexec. As far as I know this is the only software failure due to mounting /tmp as -noexec. ---- Days later ... Having /tmp as a separate file system mounted -noexec is not the problem. I just unmounted /tmp and /var/tmp and then started X. While one error went away I still don't get hardware acceleration or direct rendering. My $HOME/.X.err has this: (==) Using config file: "/etc/X11/xorg.conf" (EE) fglrx(0): incompatible kernel module detected - HW accelerated OpenGL will not work

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

POV Ray needs to have the 3d features as well as some tools in matlab. It's frustrating that 3d (ala OpenGL) is stuck in the stone age. It seems like X could build 3d into the x server and be done with it...but I guess not???

stress junkie
stress junkie

Some months ago I was participating in a discussion here at TR about whether Linux is a failure because it hasn't replaced Windows on the desktop. My remark was a lot like what you just said. When I started playing with Linux around kernel 1.2 you used to see a lot of IT articles that basically asked if someone would lose their job for recommending Linux in business. We've gotten past that point. Linux is alive and well in the server room. I'm very happy with the progress that Linux has made in the last 10 years. I can't believe that ATI now tells people to use the free desktop software since it doesn't provide hardware acceleration or direct rendering. Well, it doesn't do that on my machine. You can still get previous versions of the ATI proprietary binaries from the ATI web site. They are just not recommending that you use them. I would still like to see gamers able to work on Linux. Mr. Garvin says that the Nvidia drivers work better. I haven't installed the latest drivers but I have had good experience with them in the past. Again, I don't remember if I got hardware acceleration and direct rendering or not. Sure, OOo uses OpenGL but I can't tell the difference in performance when I'm using OOo. POV Ray and Blender both use OpenGL and hw acceleration but I haven't used them for a long time. Hot graphics just aren't part of my agenda. If I want to play games I can get my Commodore 64 running. :)

Jaqui
Jaqui

that is an excellent example of what I was saying. ;) no direct rendering using opengl and the glxgears means the graphics tools are lacking for the 3d graphics and gaming usage. :) the 2d graphics are great, but the 3d is lacking compared to what is happening in windows. the xserver doesn't like the control the device direct model used to send the graphics rendering to the gpu in windows, neither does he kernel. and unless the control is passed to the app, then the xserver has to send 3d data to the gpu to really make use of the cards, which it doesn't do well yet. Thhe question is "do we need to have linux / *bsd adopted by the masses?" The answer: not really, if we could get it adopted by business then we would have the usage where it does the most good. let MS have their home user business, for video games etc, exactly what has always been the design intent of windows since version 1.0 let professional use be professional software, linux, irix, freebsd, openbsd, netbsd, hpux... ]:)

stress junkie
stress junkie

I'm not even getting direct rendering. ======= user01> glxgears 350 frames in 5.0 seconds = 69.939 FPS 358 frames in 5.0 seconds = 71.577 FPS 382 frames in 5.0 seconds = 76.390 FPS 383 frames in 5.0 seconds = 76.539 FPS 384 frames in 5.0 seconds = 76.756 FPS 384 frames in 5.0 seconds = 76.790 FPS 384 frames in 5.0 seconds = 76.729 FPS user01> user01> glxinfo name of display: :0.0 display: :0 screen: 0 direct rendering: No server glx vendor string: SGI server glx version string: 1.2 server glx extensions: GLX_ARB_multisample, GLX_EXT_visual_info, GLX_EXT_visual_rating, GLX_EXT_import_context, GLX_OML_swap_method, GLX_SGI_make_current_read, GLX_SGIS_multisample, GLX_SGIX_hyperpipe, GLX_SGIX_swap_barrier, GLX_SGIX_fbconfig client glx vendor string: ATI client glx version string: 1.3 ... =======

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Hopefully, AMD will actually make good drivers for the ATI cards. What really cheeses me off is the total lack of any real support with "generic" drivers. Run glxgears with the universal driver, it stinks on ice. GARRAR

stress junkie
stress junkie

I just downloaded and installed a graphic card driver that has the goal of being a universal OpenGL driver. http://dri.freedesktop.org/wiki/ So far it's working okay on my ATI Radeon 8500 AIW card. I can't really test the OpenGL or hardware accelleration because I don't have any games that use those features. This driver is now recommended by ATI instead of using their proprietary binary drivers. Maybe we are getting closer to making ATI and maybe even Nvidia graphic cards work on Linux without too much hassle. You may have noticed that a very large percentage of questions on linuxquestions.org are about getting ATI graphic cards to work. That's a really big hurdle for people who want to play games.

Jaqui
Jaqui

The shakeup of the open source community would be interesting to watch. and the evolution of the distros to be more responsive to their community members needs would be a step back to what linux was beforeit was ever adopted into a server room, back when it showed huge improvements every 6 months from the community involvement. Now, because of the commercial distros being seen as linux, and their focus on corporate clients the development isn't as rapid, in most people's eyes, because the commercial distos don't se the latest versions. There isn't a bleeding edge distro available anymore, some barely on the cutting edge but no further. Open source needs to get some sort of standard library that serves the same function as MS' activex and directx, for the video gamers to have a chance to get games written by the vendors for linux. That is the community driven development that will make open source operating systems a larger success than they are. the Mesaglu and the sdl libraries are a step in this direction, but they need to either gain more support from developers or to be superceded by a better implementation. Right now they are not polished enough to interest the video game companies to write games for open source operating systems. games are, unfortunately, the number one thing that will get these os accepted by the general population. The number two item is a better selection of 3D graphics / animation / modelling / CAD/CAM software, for both the hobbyist and the professional use. These all require the same thing as the video games, a better set of libraries for the graphics end. [ a quick look at the hobbyist level software for windows in this grouping shows hundreds of options under $1,000.00, and only a few for linux ] The third biggest lack is a non-objectionable tool for playing all multimedia files. The libdvdcss is concidered objectionable and isn't included by any distro, yet it's the one that "just works". It doesn't respect regional encoding limitations.

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

This kind of reminds me of tree of life exhibits in natural history museums, with Red Hat and some others falling by the wayside. You know, the evolution of Linux might make a good display in a couple of decades.