open letter to redhat

November 24, 2003



great “open letter” to redhat by erick woods, probably one of the best statements i’ve seen about redhat’s recent business model change… now, while i still like redhat for certain uses, this does put a damper on the first-time adoption process.

What worked well for both my clients and I was that I could buy the retail box for $30-40 or download the ISO images and make copies and redistribute at will to my friends and clients. They would evaluate them and pass them on. With my assistance, some would put systems in production using the discs that I had passed on to them. Some clients paid for support contracts, others paid per incident, and more recently, others purchased subscriptions to the Red Hat Network. I considered this a winning scenario for all involved. My clients didn't have to pay the Microsoft tax, I got paid to do a little bit more work to get Linux functional in place of an alternate solution, and Red Hat got their support and maintenance revenue. I find this whole situation incredibly insulting. I have been pushing Linux and acting as a salesman for Red Hat for years. I have developed software that is included in Red Hat's product. I have contributed to Linux in many ways for several years. And now Red Hat wants to jack me for $174 for their Red Hat Enterprise Linux Basic product in order to get support. I can no longer take Red Hat Linux CDs to a client and offer them the opportunity to play, test and learn Linux in hopes that they will become interested enough to place a Linux system in production so that both Red Hat and I will get paid. Red Hat's sales department offered 2 solutions. The first is to use Fedora, which they will not support under any circumstances. This is obviously not an option for most clients. They want the security of being able to call me to fix serious issues and, in the event that I am unable to do so, have me call Red Hat and get their assistance. So the Fedora project, no matter how good it is or isn't, is not an option. The second is to shell out $174 for the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Basic product and copy and redistribute that. I have a serious problem with that and it sounds like a big part of the community that has grown around Linux has, as well.

for those of us that are able to support redhat on our own, perhaps fedora is the right way to go. and for those of us that need (and can afford) support, RHEL might be the best option. but for users that want to try redhat, that want to evaluate it, i feel they’re being left out. something similar is happening with bea in regards to workshop, and hopefully they’ll be evaluating some “development” license options. redhat would be wise to do the same, but i have to wonder where it could fit into their new model.