|| ||John Morris <email@example.com>|
|| ||Why I won't be downloading RedHat 9|
|| ||Wed, 9 Apr 2003 00:10:51 -0500 (CDT)|
I have been running RedHat since 4.0 and used every version since then both
on my own machines and administered the stable versions at work. I say
this only to make it clear that I am not one of the usual suspects who slag
RedHat. Every few months RedHat announces some new policy or product that
causes a chorus of cries that they are 'trying to become the next
Microsoft' or similar hysterics. Those of us with a clue ignored them
because, in the end, it all comes down to the code and RedHat exposed
everything, not only in compliance with the GPL, but above and beyond what
is required by the licenses.
My problem is directly related to the code, or the lack thereof. RedHat
has broken the deal between developers, power users, end users and the
vendor (RedHat). The old deal was people like myself (whom they now refer
to as "Open Source Enthusiasts") grabbed the X.0 version and threw it on a
machine at home to see what is good, bad or ugly about it, and to provide
feedback. Developers made sure their stuff worked. Eventually, it became
stable (usually around X.2) and was used in production environments for end
users. Then X+1.0 showed up and the whole cycle would repeat.
The deal was that the knowledgeable users provided wide testing on diverse
hardware and bug reports/patches and in return got to use the final product
in production environments with at most the purchase of a box set and/or a
subscription to RHN. Sites without a local wizard, who needed hand holding
or needed a higher level of support or longer life cycles would pay cash
for whatever level of support they needed.
But no more. RedHat has made it clear that in the future they intend to
release a neverending stream of X.0 releases under a Free Software License,
reserving stable versions for their "Enterprise" offerings, sealed up
behind dreaded EULAs, per seat/processor licenses and spot license audits.
Since folks like myself only used the X.0 releases to get a heads up on
what was coming and to help ensure that the stable releases would fix the
bugs that we cared about, of what possible interest could RedHat 9 be to me
if there is never going to be a stable version? This is why this RedHat
Network subscriber is not and does not plan to be in the hordes downloading
RedHat 9. Instead I'm downloading and installing other distros into a
VMWare session, looking for something to migrate systems to when 7.3
becomes unsupported on Dec 31.
Since it is now obvious that RedHat wants people like me to go away they
shouldn't be offended by any of the above. Their Enterprise offerings are
aimed, as the name implies, at the Enterprise customer who wants Service
Level Agreements and doesn't mind paying through the nose to get one. On
the small server and desktop RHEL is a non-starter.
As the admin for a public library system with 50+ desktops and a handful of
servers on a five year replacement cycle, I did the math and RedHat
Enterprise would cost almost twice our hardware budget. RHEL Workstation
runs US$179/yr * 5 years = US$895 and basic desktop hardware can be had for
around US$500. RHEL Server starts at US$349/yr * 5 = US$1,745 which is
about what the hardware for a decent departmental server runs.
Their Basic product appeals to the hobbyist users at the lowest end of the
market (the lone "Open Source Enthusiast") and Enterprise appeals to the
very highest end of the market. The middle segments are missing from the
current product mix. It appears they have written off the end user desktop,
the education market and anyone else who is on a budget.... and in this
down economy that really means just about everyone.
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