Opinion: Linux is not Red HatJun 05, 1999, 23:16 (227 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Arne Flones)
Update: Make sure you read Arne's follow-up post where he states that the issue has been resolved.
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Contributed by Linux Today reader Arne Flones.
Last night I drove to Pasadena to attend the first night festivities of Red Hat's recently announced Revolution Tour. The program, indicative of any opening night, was complete with dysfunctional microphones, hung-up X screen savers and speakers with first night jitters. Other than these minor quibbles the presentation was good enough to make any Linux fan happy... except possibly me.
The problem stems from Red Hat's fast and furious deal-making. Many would argue that this is good for Open Source because it's good for the business of Open Source. I disagree. I think it could end up being a nightmare.
Red Hat and other Linux distributions are making deals with software vendors, in this instance, Red Hat's partnership with MetroWerks, the creator of Code Warrior. I have absolutely no knowledge of Red Hat's agreement with MetroWerks. But I can say that the main effect of that agreement is an exclusive relationship between MetroWerks and Red Hat made at the cost of all of the other Linux distributions.
Here's the scoop. MetroWerks is releasing CodeWarrior not as CodeWarrior for Linux but as CodeWarrior for Red Hat Linux. Yes, you read that correctly. Look at their Web site where you will also find the system requirements specifically mentioning only Red Hat.
As a current SuSE and former Slackware user, I have a real problem with commercial Linux offerings being made exclusively for any one distribution's benefit. I brought this objection to the MetroWerks and Red Hat people last night. Their response was that CodeWarrior was specifically designed to work with Red Hat's distributions. One of the MetroWerks reps added that there were some 39 Linux distributions and they couldn't target them all.
My response, "Yes you can--
Given that there are thousands of volunteers ready, willing and
able to assist in porting CodeWarrior to other distributions, I
find it interesting that MetroWerks would cite the proliferation of
distributions as the reason that they are releasing CodeWarrior for
only one of those distributions. This begs the
As it stands, even if isn't intentional, the results are equally harmful. First, it puts pressure on all the distributions to adopt the Red Hat way, not because it is better, but simply because Red Hat got there first and received the most initial support of the Linux community.
The Linux business is still in its infancy. We haven't even figured out all the rules of an Open Source business. It's much too early to declare winners. Winners certainly should not be declared because of serendipity. This whole matter stands the peer review process inherent in Open Source on its ear.
Allow me to speculate of another future scenerio.
Let the distribution wars begin... brought to you tonight by Flam Coffee and Blark Beer...
I don't see any gain in this except for the upcoming Red Hat stockholders.
If these dangers are real, how can we avoid this future.
I hope Red Hat and MetroWerks will see this as an important enough issue to do the right thing to re-level the playing field. The other distributions should be able to work with Red Hat and MetroWerks to make it possible to bring out CodeWarrior as a Linux product, not a Red Hat product.
By initiating exclusivity in Linux distributions Red Hat is in effect saying, "We're now the biggest and the baddest. Who else deserves to have the cream?"
My answer is simple. "We all do."
Linux is not Red Hat.
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