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Red Hat warns Linux is moving too fast

Sep 27, 2000, 15:46 (28 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Linda Leung)

By Linda Leung, VNU Net

The rapid pace of innovation is the Linux market's own worst enemy, according to the chief executive of Linux distributor Red Hat.

Speaking at the Networld + Interop trade show in Atlanta this week, Robert Young said the fast pace of change in the Linux world puts a lot of pressure on users to keep up to date with the latest releases, patches and updates.

"The catch is when we ship Red Hat Linux we are shipping well over 800 lines of different programs," he said. "If you accept that each of these programs update on average once a year, that is two updates per day that you, as a system administrator, have to track, study and figure out whether you need [to implement new patches or updates]. The downside to innovation is the imposition on your time."

Young said this is the reason why the Linux distributor has launched its Red Hat Network - an internet-based service which helps administrators deploy and manage distribution of the Linux operating system. The subscription service provides update management and customised preferences for security alerts. Red Hat said the network will double system administrator productivity as well as enhance the security, reliability and performance of networked systems.

"Instead of it being your responsibility to track and certify the system and do the evaluation, Red Hat will do this automatically for you. [Customers] have been frustrated with Linux, because it required more of their time," said Young.

He also criticised the software industry for being the only sector that does not allow users to change what they have bought to make it work better. "Under the existing binary-only software model you get [the software] but you don't get the source code and you can't make changes. If you do, either to fix a bug or to add a feature, the vendor can have you thrown into jail. This is a flawed business model," said Young.

He compared the open source world with the car market, where manufacturers ship vehicles to which buyers can make changes or add new features without a problem. And as in the car world, Linux users are not obliged to go back to the original manufacturer for repairs or tune-ups, because they can go to a host of vendors that provide service and support for the operating system.

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