"Why is Red Hat Software picking on a bunch of low-rent
CD salesmen about their use of the term "Red Hat" on the disks they
are peddling? It is Red Hat's collection of code, although UnixCD
and CheapBytes may have every right to peddle it. However, Red Hat
has a good reason for complaining. It's the same reason that the
company has made a business of selling something you supposedly can
get for free. Here's a hint: Red Hat's success has almost nothing
to do with the software.
A few years ago, I said a lot of mean things about Red Hat. I
suggested that commercializing Open Source software was an
inherently silly idea, and its investors were very silly people.
That may have been true about nearly all the other vendors in the
Linux environment, but it is time to recognize that Red Hat has
made a real business out of the platform. The way the company has
done it shows how good management can build a brand.
Let's be frank. There's nothing all that special about Red Hat's
technology. It's Linux, the same powerful, clunky, indestructible
code base you can find on the Web in a lot of places if you're
patient and willing to look. While the company has done a
tremendous amount of work extending that code to such an unlikely
system as an IBM mainframe, there are plenty of other developers
who have done the same thing. It isn't Red Hat software that makes
the company and its product so valuable."