Michael Tiemann: Red Hat can lay claim to being first in the open source marketplace.Oct 05, 2000, 16:59 (13 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Tiemann)
Red Hat Chief Technical Officer Michael Tiemann drew up his own points for rebuttal to a CNET article quoting him as giving credit to Red Hat for starting the "Open Source revolution". Here is an excerpt of the letter defending his position he sent to media outlets:
1. Richard Stallman started the "free software" movement, not the "open source movement". If you ask RMS what he thinks about "open source", he will tell you that it does not concern him. What concerns him is software freedom. To presume that I am trying to take any credit away from RMS is contrary to everything I say or publish about free software. Indeed, since making sloppy remarks about RMS a year ago at an O'Reilly Open Source conference, I've really gone out of my way to set this record straight. The next time you have the opportunity to quote or discuss RMS, please give me a chance to support his cause! 2. The comments I made at the WR Hambrecht conference were qualified by saying that Red Hat, as a company, incorporated the original business model for open source software. The fact behind this is that Cygnus Support was, without question, the first company to base its business model on the development and support of free software (and open source software). Red Hat announced the acquisition of Cygnus in November 1999, and closed it in January of 2000. As a founder of Cygnus, and as a Red Hat Associate, I feel it is fair to say that the company I work for, Red Hat, can lay claim to the historic distinction of being first in the open source marketplace. 3. Eric Raymond deserves a lot of credit for writing the essays that brought the concepts of open source software to the board rooms of Fortune 500 companies. But the revolution was already well underway by the time his writings appeared. Cygnus was already a recognized leader, and Red Hat was already making waves that would make its success, as John "Maddog" Hall would say, inevitable. I would argue that Raymond's writings were the equivalent of de Tocqueville's writings about America: descriptive, insightful, entertaining, and illuminating, but not the catalyst of the revolution, and certainly not the revolution itself. (As a footnote, I'm surprised that ESR would conflate RMS with open source. See (1) above.) 4. Regarding the distribution wars, I was careful to say that "in virtually all" surveys, Red Hat is number one. I'll concede Germany, but not German-speaking Europe, and certainly not Europe as a whole. I won't concede Asia. You show me your surveys, I'll show you mine, and except for Germany, I think you'll agree that a lot has changed since the last time you checked.
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