Does Linux == Redhat?

As has been reported elsewhere, our esteemed prez and COO Jonathan
Schwartz was recently quoted as saying that “Linux equals Red Hat”. Like
, I too read that and thought “something isn’t right here”.

I thought about it for a couple of seconds and realized what he is
saying. The point is that businesses aren’t moving to Linux in their
data centers, they are moving to Red Hat. We can’t compete against
Linux, because Linux is more of a concept than an operating system. In
fact, Sun had its own distro of Linux for a while, and we re-sell SuSe,
so “compete with Linux” really isn’t the right term. Ah, but compete
with Red Hat; now that’s something we can get our heads around. You can
make a business competing with Red Hat.

Of course, there are a bunch of people that have read the original quote
and instead of trying to understand it, take it at face value and then
apply some twisted logic as well. To wit: Red Hat == Linux == Open
source == Freedom. So, if Sun is competing with Red Hat, then Sun must
be anti-Linux and anti-Open Source and therefore anti-freedom. Sun must
be Evil! Boo! Down with Sun.

Its the typical strawman fallacy. Instead of looking for a fight or
something to complain about, how about looking at what we are really
doing? There is certainly enough there to discuss without complaining
about things that don’t exist.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on September 29, 2004 at 7:27 am

    Red Hat == Linux == Open source == Freedom is not so wrong as you suggest. Redhat has made important contributions to Linux at a time when many major companies (that includes Sun) dismissed Linux ouright. Even today all RedHat development is covered by the GPL. So, to say the lease Redhat is a meritorious member of the OSS community. If the OSS community has to decide between Redhat and Sun I am sure their sympathy is with Redhat and with very good reason.


  2. Posted by Brian Utterback on September 29, 2004 at 8:11 am

    Sun was the first large systems vendor to join Linux International. We are the second largest contributor to open source, far ahead of Red Hat. I can understand Linux affectionados favoring Red Hat, it is a Linux vendor, after all. But it is totally silly that because Sun has chosen to compete against Red Hat that Sun is anti-Linux (although since we have a competeing product we can’t really be as pro-Linux as Red Hat) and certainly not anti-open source and anti-freedom. Every problem has a tool that is the best fit. We want you to buy that tool from Sun. Is a screwdriver manufacturer ipso facto anti-hammers?


  3. Posted by Anonymous on September 29, 2004 at 8:59 am

    It is certainly true that nowadays Sun is a prominent OSS contributor and I welcome that. But in *relative* numbers Redhat’s contributions weight more than Sun’s which only in recent years seem to increase. So what makes Redhat stand out is the fact that they have taken the full risk very early on and supported the community when the market was almost non existant.
    I did not want to imply that Sun is against OSS per se but rather that the connection between the OSS community and Redhat is quite strong and would you not take it as a personal insult if someone is attacking a beloved family member of yours?


  4. Posted by Jon Anderson on September 29, 2004 at 9:06 am

    Can some explain to me how a company making literally millions of dollars from the unpaid efforts of other people can be seen in such as positive light by said ‘people’. I am genuinely interested, not being facetious. From an outsider looking in it looks like a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome. It’s also amazing how vilified Sun has been for saying that they are going to compete with ReHat. I thinK it’s a good time to be a customer.


  5. Posted by Anonymous on September 29, 2004 at 9:54 am

    Redhat pays developers and funds development of OSS since years. That means kernel, Gtk+, Glibc, NPTL developers, free availbility of their configuration and installation tools. These are essential parts of the Linux experience. Everything they develop is released as OSS and I think one has to agree that this is quite a smart behavior for a commercial entity. To imply that Redhat is a kind of parasit capitalizing on the work of others is simply false. While OSS friendly moves from other companies have been half-hearted in the past, Redhat stood always behind the community.


  6. Posted by Paul on September 29, 2004 at 12:29 pm

    I think the side issue here is not what was said or meant, but a seemingly consistent ability for Sun Execs to mis-speak or change their minds on a number of issues. Java is not going to be OSS, it is, it isn’t. Buying Cobalt and then letting it essentially languish. Solaris will never be x86, oh wait a minute, yep, nope, yep again. There are many other examples. I like Sun, but I think that it is sometimes it’s own worst enemy.


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