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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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