[svlug] Red Hat and the ISVs?

Rafael Skodlar raffi at linwin.com
Mon Nov 10 13:08:01 PST 2003

On Mon, Nov 10, 2003 at 12:02:26PM -0800, Craig Oda wrote:
> So, this is the core of my question...
> From the information that Don provided and what I can gleam from Red 
> Hat's web site, I'm starting to think that small ISVs will have to pay 
> money to get a hold of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
> Correct me if I'm wrong.
>  Scenario 1) Imagine that I'm a small server-side Linux software 
> startup with about 12 people in the company.  Cash is tight.  I want to 
> download the server from the Internet and not pay.  However, I can't do 
> this right?  Or, can I?   I don't feel that the target market I'm 
> selling to will pay for the Linux OS (for example HPC or hosting 
> markets).  So, if the only way to get RHEL is to buy it, I feel they 
> will go for another distribution (such as Debian).
>  Scenario 2) I want to run a Linux workstation at home for all the 
> usual reasons of fun and excitement, plus get some office work done at 
> home.  I can't download RHEL WS 3 and avoid paying the $179 can I?   I 
> plan to rely on Linux community for support and don't need commecial support
> If there is a FAQ for this somewhere, please let me know.  I'm curious 
> as to the impact that Red Hat's new strategy will have on small ISVs.  
> Two angles - cost and total available market...  

We have so many distributions to choose from that it's a shame to see
anybody complaining at all. We are way better than in 1994 with no more
than 3 or 4 "Linux sources" with little or no supported at all.

If you are not happy with Redhat try other distributions. For example,
there is commercial support for debian based distribution that actualy
works. I installed Xandros as my main home workstation just after a
Linux trade show in SF in August. I'm happy to say that installing
packages from Xandros website as well as debian sites work most of the
time. There were few ocassions where I had some problems but not as many
as in RPM dependency hell. It handles RPMs much better than I expected
so you have two worlds to pull your resources from.

Like everybody else I got burned by different distributions at different
times and still have a hard time to understand why the hell do we need
to search for config files and libraries in different places, use all
kinds of file formats and syntaxes for different distributions when they
serve the same purpose? That's the silliest thing in Linux world IMO and
drives high costs of creating administration/automation tools, support,
and maintenance.

When developing software you have choices between applications for
servers and workstations and utilities that work on either one. In
general, a workstation needs to be different from the server IMO. A
decent server has to have security issues taken care of before one
starts installing and testing specific applications.

That's not necessarily the case for developer's workstation where they
need "office productivity tools etc." and are not exposed to the same
hostile environment as servers usually do. Besides, workstation needs to
be more user friendly than "servers". I've seen too many "servers"
designed to work as workstations including GUI etc. for simple config

I find it a bit difficult to understand why people write code so tight
that it only works with a certain distribution. That limits their
customer base and frustrates administrators (if not the buyers) to no
end. While it's understandable you want to know if a particular package
you developed works with commercial versions of distributions that is
not the best way to start developing it IMO. Unless you want to limit
your product to only work with certain distribution you are better off
to have it work on most of them. 

Like proprietary software companies, OSS based ones also want to lock
customers into their maintenance model to prevent them to switch to
competitors. That creates expensive fragmented market for developers and
lowers the possibility for Linux to open new doors. Ideally, application
developers would work around that limitation with solutions that do not
depend too much on distributions. If a potential customer comes to you
and wants your application to run on expensive RH release for example,
then have them cover some of the costs of porting/testing on that

> regards,
> Craig
> Don Marti wrote:
> >begin Walt Reed quotation of Mon, Nov 10, 2003 at 12:48:36PM -0500:
> >
> > 
> >
> >>If I'm a small-time developer supporting multiple distros, it would get
> >>expensive if everyone did what RH is doing. If I want to create a
> >>package for itanium or AMD64, now I need the $2,000 version of RHEL.
> >>   
> >>
> >
> >Red Hat did offer a cheap developer release of RHEL, but I
> >don't know where it's listed on their site.


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