Linux Today: Linux News On Internet Time.

More on LinuxToday

An open letter to Mr. Robert Young

Jun 10, 1999, 11:10 (40 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Arne Flones)

[ The opinions expressed by authors on Linux Today are their own. They speak only for themselves and not for Linux Today. ] -lt ed

Contributed by Linux Today reader Arne Flones.

Dear Mr. Young,

I agree with your evaluation that the situation is urgent. I would not have published my remarks if I didn't feel strongly that what you and MetroWerks were doing, wittingly or otherwise, was damaging to the Open Source movement.

I chose my wording very carefully to make it clear that I was making a supposition about a contractual agreement. As far as the information which I had in my hands, there was nothing to convince me that such an agreement couldn't exist. It was my judgement that there was enough to suggest it.

I hope that you realize that I mean no harm to Red Hat or MetroWerks. I consider both of you the creators of fine products. But, I don't like the way this looks and appearances are all that matter when the stakes are high.

Let me speak to my reasons for publishing this. I consider the marketing of a prominent development product, such as CodeWarrior, as a Red Hat only product to be a monumental miscalculation which could only do irrepairable harm to blossoming business within the Open Source community. As of when I first published my remarks, all my information from both Red Hat and MetroWerks representatives was that there would be only Red Hat support for CodeWarrior. The prominent appearance of "for Red Hat" in the product name and the remarks of MetroWerks and Red Hat representatives convinced me that I was being stonewalled. There was nowhere else to go with this but to take it to the communitee.

Red Hat has done so much good in the industry, more than many people would like to admit. Your release of all your work as GPL, your generous support of Open Source projects and your support for the Linux Standards Base has affirmed your commitment to Open Source.

Yet, at the same time, you are doing much to undermine this position. There are bad feelings in the communitee that Red Hat is working at cross purposes. Some of this is just wacky stuff, but all is based on perceptions of your actual actions.

Consider very recent developments: The sudden announcement of Red Hat IPO. A nationwide public relations event called the Red Hat Revolution Tour. A prominent Open Source developer's hasty departure from Red Hat with allusions of problems at RHAD. Then, an important commercial product by a Red Hat "partner" is announced as Red Hat only. The timing of these events is as much important as the events themselves. What is Red Hat doing? It all looks self-serving.

As of this moment, the MetroWerks Web site still lists the product as "CodeWarrior for Red Hat Linux" and the system requirements list only Red Hat distributions. It would be very easy to cite the requirements as "X86, Linux, glibc2.1" or whatever. The support issue could be handled separately. As of now, other than the response from MetroWerks and denials all around, things look the same as they did Friday--an exclusive and exclusionary relationship between Red Hat and a technological partner.

If you don't like this, only you and MetroWerks have the power to change it. I have already posted a retraction of my contract supposition.
Here's the link. I have, in good faith announced that MetroWerks' assurance that they will be shortly bringing out CodeWarrior for other distributions is sufficient. I hope that they will shortly change their Web site to reflect that change.

Finally, consider how you would feel if CalduSE Linux were to announce an alliance with Mackeysoft, a developer of office applications. Then Macksoft announces "Mackeysoft Word Processor 2000 for CalduSE Linux" with the system requirements listing only CalduSE distributions? You wouldn't like that, would you?

For the good of the whole communitee, I urge a moratorium on all Linux distribution specific commercial product releases. Competition must remain vibrant in Open Source if there's to be the long term and overall gains we all desire. This is not a football game. It's too early to declare winners and losers. And Open Source isn't about power or money, it's about making software better for everybody.

Thank you very much for your feedback. I very much appreciate that you took the time to respond.


Arne W. Flones