Red Hat Enterprise Linux v3 now out

jason andrade jason at
Thu Oct 30 15:07:00 CST 2003

On Thu, 30 Oct 2003, Wade Hampton wrote:

> 1.  We ALL were aware that RH intended to limit the
>      **support** of RHL to about 1 year.

a lot of us were - red hat perhaps didn't inform enough
users or in some cases administrators/it managers directly.

remembering that the limit of support was a change in
policy over a period of time as before this red hat had
continued to provide errata for 6.2, 7.0 etc for more
than a year.

> 5.  There is a significant **market** for RHL on desktops,
>      small servers, home machines, laptops, clusters, etc.

there may be but red hat's contention is that it is not a
*profitable* market - certainly not in the way they tried
anyway with boxed products, rhn and so on (though i've had
someone point out that red hat's pocketbooks were wildly
successful in australia and he was very disappointed it
went away..)

> 1.  What do I recommend to my customers who are just
>      now starting to take Linux seriously?  RHL was a
>      great disto as I could put it on multiple machines and
>      VMWare images without worrying about how many
>      licenses I had.  I would pay for a few supported licenses.

as some people in red hat pointed out - "the free ride is over".
please don't take that in a negative fashion, it just means that
if you want to put a distro on multiple machines without needing
to care about licences then you are looking at using fedora in
the future.  if you need support, commercially built errata and
so on then you are looking at red hat el ws.  in most cases
you'll only want errata support so that's ws-basic with maybe
one ws-standard licence to lodge bug reports/get phone/web support.

> 2.  We purchased new machines with RHL and purchased
>      box RHL sets.  We used the same on laptops, clusters, etc.,
>      but were paying RedHat for a portion of our machines.
>      Often we had to purchase the "stock" machine/laptop
>      with Windows and load RHL.  If we have to pay for
>      **each** machine to use RH, some will question Linux
>      entirely and recommend Win2K/XP (afterall, it **came**
>      with the machine).   Any suggestions?

go with windows.  at the base level red hat cannot compete on
pure price, particularly in the .edu space with microsoft.  they
are between 3 and 10 times more expensive on initial price
depending on what discounts you compare.  In a number of places
microsoft's os is practically free.  The logical (to me)
answer is:

o don't buy machines with windows licences
o negotiate with red hat to get pricing down - volume discounts
o use rhel/ws where possible, e.g desktops, laptops, workgroup
  servers, web servers, print servers etc.

if the people making the decisions don't care about the total
cost of ownership, viruses, increased resource requirements,
and other things then redhat has already lost in that market -
witness apple mac going from a peak of 9% to i think about 2% of
the market now.  Great products, can't compete with ms on the desktop.

alternatively pick another distro - a number of people would

debian, suse, mandrake, slackware, gentoo or freebsd.

> 3.  We only rarely used RH's support services (and only with
>      new distributions).  Is support worth $179 or more for
>      development desktops, laptops, home servers, the kid's
>      computer etc.?

it depends.  if you are in a position where you have no option
but to pay RRP then you'd want to carefully look at your
cost/benefit in each case.  if you don't think you need commercial
support (e.g for your kids computer) why would you pay for it ?

you'd run fedora which is fast moving, keeps upto date with the
ever changing world of hardware and drivers and has community
errata support.  if you need support on something the community
doesn't provide you have the option of doing it yourself..

> I see this as an opportunity for RH's competitiors.  They
> could offer a clear migration and support path for the low to
> middle end.  It would erode RH's market share and influence.
> Some company could take Fedora and market it with support.
> I support RedHat and would hate to see this happen, but this
> is a free market and market dynamics could drive such actions.

i honestly don't think red hat care about this and perhaps justifiably
so.  sometimes people have to make a call on their ability to make
money.  from red hat's point of view, they have tried and failed to
make money in this segment.  if someone else can package fedora and
sell it and make money i think red hat will cheer them on - and start
reducing their sponsorship of the fedora project as obviously the
money making companies off it will want to start putting their profits
into continuing fedora's development...

in a worst case scenario (from my pov) redhat will indeed lose
market share and influence but i doubt it will be another linux
distro that will pick it up.  debian has been around for yonks
as a community based project (see fedora) and it has not taken
chunks of market share aware from redhat.  it is a superb os
with great technical and community merit but it has its own
issues which is why i meet more admins in the linux world who
are migrating away from it to RH than the other direction.

i think community based distros like debian and fedora will provide
the hobbyist/home user with a viable platform but for actual
business use (and even the research/edu space is big business
now) they won't be the first choice.   i certainly can't see
a lot of hardware vendors and commercial software providers
rushing out to certify products on debian or fedora.



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