[svlug] Red Hat Software, IPOs, Rants etc

George Bonser grep at shorelink.com
Tue Apr 6 22:58:03 PDT 1999

On 7 Apr 1999, Marc MERLIN wrote:

> >>    there is no other Linux distributor that does more.
> >> 	* all the code we write or pay to have writted we release for
> >> 	  everyone to use
> >
> >So does Debian.
> Of course, but debian hasn't been able to fund as many projects as RH
> because they make very little money, and that's quite OK.

There is a major resource that is being overlooked here. SPI and the
Debian project are a major potential resource for Red Hat, SuSE, Caldera
and the other commercial distributions.  I think the problems are a matter
of trust and a matter of control.

Debian could be trusted, in my opinion, to recieve resources from the
commercial projects and delegate these resources to various projects. That
is what SPI is for. Debian can not descriminate for or against any of the
commercial distro's, they look out for the benefit of Linux.  They have
the potential to coordinate development of hardware resources through
SPI's Open Hardware project that has been languishing for lack of support
by the community. These are brilliant ideas.  Debian is viewed as a
competitor rather than what it really is, a free reference standard Linux.

The problem with this is that people in large commercial project suddenly
get beside themselves when it comes to supporting something and not having
control of the direction of it. Trust does not come naturally. I would
think that if the Debian project were approached in this way, as the
representative common community project and if SPI could establish a track
record of coming through and delivering new technologies, drivers,
hardware to the community, it would be a great win for everyone. It could
be used as the research and development arm of the community. In that way,
each of the distros get an economy of scale from sharing the expenses and
the results of the projects.

The SPI concept has great untapped potential for all distributions. No,
SPI is not going to favor you above the others but they are not going to
favor the others over you either. Looking at it in this way has great
potential for payoff. If the commercial project would take a gamble, my
guess is that it would turn into a good investment and rid them of a lot
of duplication of effort between distros.  

On the other hand, the Debian project within SPI suffers a lot from the
NIH syndrome. If you separate SPI from Debian in this context where Debian
can take what it wants from the SPI development output, Red Hat takes
some, SuSE takes some, etc. Everyone benefits. 

What if SPI could coordinate a lot of the X stuff that SuSE is doing, act
as neutral ground so Red Hat could add a person and Caldera add a person
without having to actually get into SuSE's camp. If SuSE could trust SPI
enough to let it go for a bit even if they see something they don't like,
maybe it would pay off in the long run.

I just think there is a skeleton organization just sitting there waiting
to be used that offers great potential. And remember, SPI is NOT
subordinate to the Debian project, Debian is one of SPI's projects.

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