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Will Red Hat Survive?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the hold-on-to-your-butts dept.


An anonymous reader writes "Red Herring has an in-depth analysis interviewing industry experts on what the future of Linux distributor Red Hat will likely be now that Oracle is offering cheaper support and services essentially identical to Red Hat Linux. Will Oracle purchase Red Hat? Or is it not yet too late?" From the article: "Mr. Dargo countered that Oracle's move indicated a lack of understanding of the value that Red Hat's support and service provide. But he noted that Red Hat could be vulnerable if Oracle manages to provide better service. 'If the strategy at Oracle works out, Red Hat is going to face some serious issues, but I don't think it is going to work out,' he said. 'There are lots of opportunities for Red Hat to do some aggressive and creative things to turn around.'"

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Prices (2, Interesting)

Kangburra (911213) | more than 7 years ago | (#16620788)

Red Hat have been over-charging for a long time. If Novell had done something decent this would not be happening now.

Oracle will give them some healthy competition, may the best distro win. :-)

Re:Prices (4, Insightful)

chabotc (22496) | more than 7 years ago | (#16620910)

> may the best distro win.

Umm in both cases the 'distro' is Redhat Enterprise ...

if oracle's distro wins to much, they will have killed their 'upstream' distro provider, and who's patches and fixes and developments can they then "follow, releasing our updates only a day later".

Anyhow, it is a very healthy vote of confidence in RHES, it seems to become the 'new' LSB .. But lets hope oracle is smart enough not to kill their supplier :-)

Re:Prices (3, Interesting)

vhogemann (797994) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621458)

And Oracle didn't made a good job copying RHEL either...

From the screenshots I've looked at, they couldn't even manage to get the icons right: reenshots/scaled/Oracle%20Enterprise%20Linux%20R4- U4/36.gif []

Also... why ship X11 at all? This Oracle Enterprize Linux should be focused at the server-side, shipping with a pre-installed Oracle DB, an Java EJB Container, and a nice web-based console to administrate all that.

It would be a much smarter move to partner with RH and a hardware vendor to push an Oracle Appliance to the market. Plug it, configure some basic parameters via web interface, and start using! This would add something to Oracle, simplicity, something that they currently lack, and that could make a difference aggainst the competing DB products.

I don't know if Oracle actually has the expertise to sell support, and mantain, a linux distribution. Their first attempt at putting one thogether is patetic.

Re:Prices (1)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621872)

I'm confused. What's wrong with the icons? At first I thought it was funny that the mouse was pointing to the computer icon and the email hint was up, but then realized you don't see the mouse and the email icon on the panel is right there so that's probably where the mouse pointer is. So what's wrong with the icons?

Re:Prices (1)

bryan_chow (589605) | more than 7 years ago | (#16622046)

The Mail application is missing most of its icons.

Re:Prices (1)

BaltikaTroika (809862) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621550)

if oracle's distro wins to much, they will have killed their 'upstream' distro provider, and who's patches and fixes and developments can they then "follow, releasing our updates only a day later".

Anyhow, it is a very healthy vote of confidence in RHES, it seems to become the 'new' LSB .. But lets hope oracle is smart enough not to kill their supplier :-)

If Oracle does manage to kill Red Hat, it's not a huge problem. They'll just hire all of the jobless Red Hat guys. Maybe even get a good deal on the company (and name) Red Hat in the process.

Re:Prices (2, Informative)

billycongo (1019512) | more than 7 years ago | (#16622972)

I think this would be a good time to complain about RedHat. Like many institutions we were using 7.2 on our servers and 8 on our desktops when RedHat decided to pull out the carpet as a Christmas present. Their prices were outrageous (roughly 5 times as expensive as SuSE at the time), and when we mentioned SuSE, they laughed and said, "I hope you're fluent in German."

We transitioned to SuSE with very little trouble, and we were happy with their aggressive march to the 2.6 kernel, which RedHat found to be premature. A couple of years later they came by again, and we thought that perhaps they would be a little less arrogant, and willing to talk about prices. Nope. Their attitude was, "SuSE will fail, and you will come crawling back to us."

This particular attitude of theirs wasn't just limited to our business. I heard it from other sysadmins who seemed to be genuinely happy that SuSE has worked out as well as it has. I'm now with a business that uses RedHat and they can't stand them. They are even thinking of moving to Solaris.

Re:Prices (4, Insightful)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#16620926)

"may the best distro win."

RedHat is much more than yet another distro... though it's the biggest distro by a distance. And a database is not the only thing that a distro is used for....

How can one trust Oracle to look after businesses developed and serviced by RedHat - that has NOTHING to do with databases at all? Or even middleware / ERP?

Re:Prices (4, Informative)

OffTheLip (636691) | more than 7 years ago | (#16620950)

Red Hat charges a premium for RHEL AS, less for ES and WS is priced similarly to Microsoft products. Fedora on the other hand is free. I don't see a problem here. What RHEL does for business and government is offer a validated, supported and, most important for my organization, certfied product. RHEL4 is Common Criteria Scheme certified at CAPP/EAL4+. This means we can use it without justification something we can not do currently with Fedora or the new Oracle offering for that matter.

Fedora will never be a production OS (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16621534)

Fedora on the other hand is free.
There's a good reason Fedora is free. It's not a production OS and it never will be, for that would conflick with RedHat's ability to sell its "enterprise" products. You can use Fedora if you want to debug problems for RH for free.

As Bruce Perens said it a while ago:
Fedora project is obviously intended to look like Debian. But unlike Debian, Fedora is an extremely unequal partnership. "Fedora" is where the community developers are supposed to build Red Hat's product, while the certifications and vendor endorsements are held back for the high-priced "Red Hat Enterprise Linux" brand. This is especially obvious in recent certification announcements: the Common Criteria certification will go to "Red Hat Enterprise Linux", not "Fedora". And of course the entire steering board of the Fedora project are Red Hat employees. Red Hat recently announced a second draft of the leadership structure for Fedora, in which they have eliminated voting, expressing the need to keep control in the hands of Red Hat's management.

But the most ludicrous aspect of the Fedora project is that with Fedora, Red Hat seeks to achieve what Debian did long ago. Because they can't (and shouldn't) control Debian, they decided to re-invent the wheel. It would take them years to achieve a fraction of what Debian already has.
If you need a stable, easy-to-administer, well-established production OS, I would suggest Debian [] .

Re:Prices--Red Hat way more expensive (2, Informative)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621688)

>>> Red Hat charges a premium for RHEL AS, less for ES and WS is priced similarly to Microsoft products

Everytime I have approached Red Hat for volume licensing they are **ALWAYS** more expensive than Microsoft. In fact the latest bid is 100% more; that is Red Hat is twice as expensive. (this is not for AS).

Re:Prices--Red Hat way more expensive (1)

FatherOfONe (515801) | more than 7 years ago | (#16622340)

Could you put some specifics to this?

Lets say I have a 2,000 person company and I want the following services on as little boxes as I can get by with.

Web server/application server - both internal and external
Database server (to house custom shopping cart style web application + internal apps)
Content Management Server
Email + Scheduling
Development Tools
General support, say 8:00am to 5:00pm type of stuff.
Virtual System support, so the company can have a "test" and "development" environment.
Virus control for the server
Virus control for email
Spam software for email.

I would be curious to see the Microsoft offering on this. Every time we do a comparison Linux comes out on top. Granted, we don't use RedHat any more, but I would imagine we would get the $350 a year version if we needed to.

Again,I would like to know the prices that you are getting, and what if any leverage you have with Microsoft. I can say that since we switched off of Microsoft we have never looked back and other than a few weird issues with some crappy hardware, we haven't had any major issues. Our cost have gone down. The freedom alone of not having to go to finance to get approval of projects that "need" to be done is worth our migration alone. Again, I want to state that we didn't choose RedHat, but at least we had a choice.

Re:Prices--Red Hat way more expensive (2, Informative)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16622560)

I work in sub-200 people environments in switzerland. So my perpspective might differ a lot from yours, but i've found microsoft to offer good value for their money.

1 CHF (Swiss Franc) = 0.80 US$

If you're a sub-15 people company, and only have one machine, Microsoft Small Business Server is a good bet. You can get the Standard Edition for 800 CHF, and the Premium Edition (includes SQL Server and ISA Server (no idea why you would want that)) for 1300 CHF. Each includes 5 User CALs, So for 15 people you need two more five packs or about 1000 each. This price doesn't include support, though. Also, i'm not much of a fan of SBS because of several restrictions (only a single domain controller, Exchange and DC on the same machine), but these are the standard practice in such small companies.

Microsoft offers their SBS server for up to 75 users. I don't think thats a good idea.

Companies in this size usually don't have any IT staff, so self help is important. With windows, the people at least feel that they can try to fix problem themselves (which they usually can't). With Linux, this isn't the case. (Just because windows server offers a GUI for 80% of it's functions doesn't mean that it's simple).

Windows is mostly the only choice if you are cooperating with other companies. Some might offer their shipping calculation program only for windows, some specialized ERP software might only be available or windows, etc. pp.

I've found windows to offer the best SMB desktop management, everything from redhat etc. seems to be geared at big companies with a standard desktop images. Group Policies are a fucking cool thing.

Re:Prices--Red Hat way more expensive (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16622728)

"Lets say I have a 2,000 person company..."

So clearly you haven't.

"I can say that since we switched off of Microsoft we have never looked back and other than a few weird issues with some crappy hardware, we haven't had any major issues." ..with the second hand 386 hardware in your bedroom in your crack-whore mom's trailer.


Re:Prices (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621876)

Ok, so RedHat provides buzzwords and certs so managers and business owners can comfort themselves with the warm fuzzies that their techie has a cert. Is the cert really that much better than Microsoft's various techie certs? Has a cert ever actually demonstrated someone has the skills and training needed to do the job right, or does it just prove someone had the time and money for a course?

Clearly certs aren't enough to maintain a company of RedHat's size, or there would be major competition from companies like Learning Tree by now.

Security audits of code, patches, updates, enhancements -- those are what a vendor is supposed to be focused on delivering. The problem is that with OSS, the benefits of those corrections go to everyone, but the expense only goes to the company that developed the fix or enhancement (and their customers.)

SuSE/Novell put in a lot of time, money, and effort. RedHat put in a lot of time, money, and effort. So has Mandrake, whatever their latest name is.

What has Oracle put into Linux?

Show me the pieces of system code that have been enhanced and updated by Oracle. I want to know which security issues and performance tweaks they've implemented. That trail of invested effort will show how good their team is at providing service and support.

If they haven't invested the time, budget, and effort before someone paid them to provide support, why in the world would I trust a database vendor to maintain my operating system?!?!?!

Network Certs (1)

smcdow (114828) | more than 7 years ago | (#16622310)

Clearly certs aren't enough to maintain a company of RedHat's size ...

Maybe so, but having the certs is the ONLY way that Linux of any kind would be approved to deploy on certain networks. No certs, no deployment. Pick a different OS platform. Period. As far as having and maintaining these certs go, RHEL is the only game in town.

We've been waiting for years for someone to get a Linux distribution, any Linux distribution, approved for a particular DoD network that we deploy our systems on. We can't do it ourselves because the process is too onerous and expensive for us to take on. Nonetheless, we'd LOVE to deploy our systems on this network using a Linux platform, but until something gets approved we're stuck with Solaris. Solaris-8 on SPARC, that is. It's the only Unix OS approved for this network. We don't make the rules, but if we want to stay in business, we have to follow them.

That RHEL4 is Common Criteria Scheme certified at CAPP/EAL4+ is just the first step toward getting an OS platform certified to deploy on this network. Without these certs, there'd be no way. If Red Hat goes out of business, then there will be networks out there that will never, ever see a Linux distribution.

In fact, we're aware of a particular program that's done a lot of the heavy lifting to get RHEL-4 certified for deploying on this network. The certifying authority is close to making a decesion. Now, I suspect this authority will just say no. Thanks a lot, Larry. You've torpedoed several avenues of innovation.

If Oracle would guarantee that they'll maintain the certs, etc, then maybe there'd be a chance. But I don't trust Oracle.

Re:Prices (1)

steve_l (109732) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621982)

Windows pricing is hard to compare, because its so variable. A copy of XP pro over the three year life of a PC is less than RHWS; but add on the cost of CAL licenses to network infrastructure (exchange, file servers) and the price of a PC rises. Same for server installs -the cost of the database scales with the number of users you want to support.

On the other hand, if you are a developer with an MSDN subscription, you get all of windows, office, much of visual studio for a flat rate, less than an AS subscription. Microsoft treats developers well.

But Fedora? To increase the value of the paid products, RH had to reduce the value of the free ones. Fedora achieves that. I dont see why we 'community' developers, whose of us who write the stuff that shipps with RHAS, have to suffer on an unstable distro with no support for products like VMWare. Here I am, working on things for no money, and yet RHEL still treat me as a leech who deserves low stability junk. If I want that, I'd use MS Vista :)

Re:Prices (1)

rapidweather (567364) | more than 7 years ago | (#16622850)

I downloaded the first two disks of FC 6, and am trying to install to dual boot with XP.
I already have the partitions set up, having used QTParted in my knoppix remaster, see screenshots below.

-- Rapidweather

RedHat dies when hellf reezes over. (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 7 years ago | (#16620974)

Oracle might steal some of the mindless drones from RedHat but more likely it'll hurt Novell and similar companies that also have also-ran distros from a big name company with no future. Most of us that have been using Linux for more than a few years will stick with RedHat or Debian. Since RedHat is known for their extra support most companies employing these people that actually know how to use Linux will probably opt for RedHat.

Pardon me for saying so but most of the people I know who use distros other than RedHat or Debian (Slackware and Gentoo get a honorable mention as popular among real Linux geeks) are fairly new or inexperienced. I certainly wouldn't bet my business on some untested fad distro.

Other distros, in particular SuSE (2, Interesting)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621484)

Novell's distro (AKA SuSE, free version at [] ) is not exactly an unknown also-ran distro. They had several years of experience before being acquired by Novell.
Now SuSE is often, and to some extent justly, accused of being overly eager to look like Windows. But I still consider it a distro that can be recommended to Linux newbies. It is easy to install and get started with, and from there you can work your way up to more "hardcore" distributions.

Re:Other distros, in particular SuSE (1)

Afrosheen (42464) | more than 7 years ago | (#16622488)

So, you're saying that SuSE has become the Mandrake/Mandriva of the Linux world? I've had 2 SuSE installs (10.0) with completely broken package managers on fresh installs over the last few months. Granted this is the opensuse that you mention. I keep trying and it just won't work. I still think Mandriva is superior for the desktop but I wouldn't use it on servers.

Why does everyone think RedHat will die? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16621190)

Is this FUD of some kind?

Just a quick look at the facts:

RedHat makes a distro called RedHat Linux (duh!)

Oracle is providing support for RedHat + Oracle.

Oracle is making their own distro based on on RedHat and providing support for it.

If RedHat were to die, guess what, so would Oracle's distro and so would
Oracle's support of REDHAT LINUX! Duh! Oracle needs RedHat to
be with us in order to make its own distro.

Oracle cannot roll its own funky distro because nobody in
the commercial world would respect a funky distro. Everyone in the commercial
world respects RedHat ... therefore ..... Oracle .. cannot ... kill ... off ... RedHat! Duh!

Think it through: why did Oracle announce its own derivative distro
based off RedHat? Why not slackware? SuSe? Mandriva? Gentoo?
Shoot, why not the current golden child of the Linux world: ubuntu?

Because none of them has the prestige and respectability of RedHat.
Oracle was very careful to make it clear that their fork would be
minimal: remove the RedHat icons and logos and put theirs in -- that
way they are not mucking with the quality and stability of the RedHat
software that businesses have come to expect. No serious business is
going to jump head first into a dark chasm with some FunkyTown Linux distro (TM!?!?).
So Oracle cannot afford to mess with the RedHat distro.

Given time Novell and I'm sure the ubuntu folks will have the prestige
and marketing presence of RedHat but at this rate not for at least
5+ years unless something dramatic happens like some large country's
government announces it's going to go whole hog with one of the less
well known distros.

Re:Why does everyone think RedHat will die? (1) (653730) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621516)

Apparently, most of people has feared for a long time that the opensource bussiness model can't work and that you can take down red hat & cia by copying their patches from their FTPs and releasing your own product.

Oracle is doing exactly that. "Open source intellectual property is available to all of us. What that means is that any company can take the Red Hat version of Linux and use it at no cost so long as they're willing to support themselves. Well, that actually includes us. We could take the Red Hat Linux as long as we're willing to support it. In fact, we can redistribute it to others and provide support. So why would we buy Red Hat Linux, when we can just take it for nothing?"

"Each time Red Hat comes out with new code we'll synchronize with that version. We will add our bug fixes to current, future and back releases. Your application will run unchanged. We are going to stay synchronized with the Red Hat version. We are not trying to fragment the Linux market."

That's what Ellison, the Oracle CEO, said in the announcement. They think that they're clever than anyone, that they can just copy the source code and make money at the expense of others. Red Hat bought Jboss and oracle thinks they can knock down any open source bussiness (they've warned that they may release support for suse aswell) just to avoid Red Hat & cia selling competitors for their Oracle closed product. I hope they fail.

This is not a distro war (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621584)

Keep in mind, that Oracle is pushing the same distro. The real difference is who will give better service at lower prices. A lot of ppl here say that Oracle will crush Redhat. Yet these same ppl knock Oracle for their service and security (oracle is not that bad; they are much better than MS).

My belief is that Oracle will pull some of RH's coders to their side as well as hire new folks. These ppl will enhance Linux at a much faster clip, which feeds back into Fedora. RH will come down in price but not down to Oracle's level (at least not for some time). I would not be surprised to see Novell and Ubuntu do some more hiring to make sure that they grab the best as well as go after some of the support contracts.

The loser in this will be MS (and possibly competing distros). The real winner will be the end-users. The Linux world is about to get competitive again WRT service, and will have even faster development.

If Redhat dies (2, Interesting)

unixmaster (573907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16620834)

What will Oracle rip^^^base its Unbreakable Linux on?

Re:If Redhat dies (1)

eipgam (945201) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621110)

Are you not an open-source supporter then? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this allowed (and even intended).

Re:If Redhat dies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16621360)

Yes, this is certainly allowed. The provision of competing support services is a good thing.

The point being made is that Oracle aren't starting their own distro, their whole plan is to copy Red Hat and to continue to copy Red Hat. Doing that is incompatible with killing Red Hat. That's not a bad thing, just saying that if they kill Red Hat then they've made a serious mistake because it undermines their whole strategy.

Longer term they might fork into their own distro. That would change the situation and killing Red Hat would then be a viable thing to do.

What happens if W. were hit by a comet? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621648)

You worry too much. The simple answer is that even if redhat dies, Oracle has the source code. They would simply roll their own. In fact, if Oracle is smart, they will push a desktop system with their business apps. As they make inroads, they might consider a new network computer (ala thinknic (but offering flash instead of a dvd) or Sun's java station).

Competition (3, Insightful)

Jastiv (958017) | more than 7 years ago | (#16620862)

I wish the beat your competition into the ground monopolist attitude that some people have would just die. This is the open source revolution here. We don't need to have one guy win while the other guy loses. Red hat does plenty of other things besides working with Oracle. Its not about making the other guy lose, its about you winning. If there is no market, then you all lose.

Re:Competition (1)

popeyethesailor (325796) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621344)

I wish the beat your competition into the ground monopolist attitude that some people have would just die.
Bullshit. What's wrong with beating your competition to the ground? If Redhat has enough guts and innovation to hang on (which I believe they do), let them.

Or else they can die, like everybody else with a failed business model.

Or be bought by somebody else.

The open-source revolution doesnt pay the bills.

Re:Competition (1)

GeffDE (712146) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621466)

And if RedHat dies, Oracle won't be able to pay the bills (at least for this project) either.

Re:Competition (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621676)

Yeah, all the OSS does not pay the bill. Hmmm, so ISPs are failed (the internet is nothing but OSS and standards based on OSS).

Likewise, the redhat is not paying their bill a decade later. Likewise, Suse is a money losing operation for Novell (NOT). And Ubuntu and Mandrake are not paying their bills (well, to be fair, Mandrake was having issues, but they are very much alive).

All in all, your last statement was absolutely wrong based on 30+ years of history.

Re:Competition (1)

popeyethesailor (325796) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621956)

Please understand the context of that statement.
The OP seemed to indicate that supporting OSS somehow entitled Redhat to a succesful business operation.
I was just pointing out that this does not need to be the case.

ISPs are Service providers; as long as people find value in their services, they'll remain in business. Same is the case with Redhat - their survival depends on the value of their support services. Companies dont run purely on goodwill. They need a viable business model. OSS or non-OSS has nothing to do with it.

Re:Competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16621498)

People love drama. This is business drama, on a reality scale. A real life soap opera for people who's focus is only money. Principle, to them, does not make good business sense.

Who targets no market? (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 7 years ago | (#16622034)

If there is no market, then you all lose.

Who puts in the effort and expense of delivering to a non-existent market? There is always a market, or just a bunch of bankrupt fools with old business cards living on the streets.

If there is a fixed-size market, then "normal" business competition comes into play. In such a situation, it is about "making the other guy lose" so you can steal their share, because it's the only way to grow. For whatever reason, people don't consider stability and long-term viability worthwhile anymore -- only perpetual growth and expansion is rewarded.

Unfortunately for the unimaginative, markets aren't infinite on a finite planet. You can't keep growing at the expense of others. Sooner or later you have to get the neurons firing and come up with ideas that target new markets others haven't exploited (fully) yet, or start acquiring those who have new ideas.

But how much benefit is their to acquisition if you didn't perceive the potential in the first place? If the monopolist never thought of the idea in the first place, how can they possibly grow that new market?

Success takes more than money and contacts -- it takes a clear understanding of goals and a decent plan on how to get there. The monopolist may be a viable investor, but as a controlling owner a monopolist usually just strangles the acquisition in their frustration to make it fit their existing, stagnant model.

They Don't Get It (5, Insightful)

capt.Hij (318203) | more than 7 years ago | (#16620864)

From the article:
Enterprise Applications Consulting analyst Joshua Greenbaum said Oracle's gambit puts Red Hat in a "very dangerous position" because it doesn't own intellectual property and is just offering services.
First, Oracle is not offering the same thing as Redhat. They do not have the same kind of support. Second, Redhat owns something better than intellectual property. They have kernel and application programers. They have the people who can offer customized support and insight that few can match. Third, Redhat understands and cares about open source. Despite what a few whiners around here say, Redhat supports the community and takes on people who attack it. They have built tremendous good will. I can't see Larry going after people who attack the GPL. Larry only cares about Larry and Japanese statuary.

March to Helm's Deep! Leave none alive! To war! (2, Insightful)

BeeBeard (999187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621094)

If Slashdot is going to link to articles that predict "The Death of..." every time a prominent tech company takes a hit in the stock market, then its editors are about to be as 100 times as busy! Red Hat (two words ;) has lucrative multi-year deals with a number of big players (including, ironically enough, Oracle..), and they are savvy enough to use that time to circle the wagons and modify their business model to deal with this new competition. If they have to lower prices--fine. If they have to fire some people--fine. If, as you mentioned, they have to leverage the IP they have already invested into their products over the past decade or so--fine. What they won't do, as one of the Triangle's most important companies, is run in lieu of adapting.

I guess what few people seem to be talking about is "This is what Red Hat signed up for." When you base your solvency as a company on open source-based software, then this is one of the risks you take. Somebody else might just offer a very similar product at a very different price, using much of your hard work in the process. And that's OK, it comes with the territory. The problem, of course, is that the "somebody" is Oracle, who have the financial resources to bury Red Hat using their own product if they felt so inclined. In the same way in which Microsoft flooded the console market with cheap X-Boxes, taking a hit on each one, Oracle is more than capable of selling their services packages for $1 a pop if they really wanted to. Why isn't that happening yet? Because as I said, many of the big name companies that are using Linux-based solutions already have long-term commitments to Red Hat. This isn't war yet, it is a company building its war machines in preparation for the time when those support contracts expire. In the meantime, Red Hat has all the time in the world to improve itself as a company and to convince those who already use their products and services to stay with Red Hat in the future as well.

I Didn't Get It (2, Interesting)

BeeBeard (999187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621182)

I'm sorry to reply to your post twice, but there is of course no way to edit former comments :) Here goes:

Despite what Mr. Greenbaum says, Red Hat does have some intellectual property. In fact, that's why Oracle (according to the article) is indemnifying its customers against IP issues that may crop up, just to be on the safe side.

Second, Redhat owns something better than intellectual property. They have kernel and application programers. They have the people who can offer customized support and insight that few can match.

The real problem is that all that great stuff you mentioned will belong to Oracle's if/when Red Hat is bought out. After all, we are talking about a company that pulled down no more than $200 million last year revenues [] vs. a company that pulled down $14.4 billion in revenues last year [] . The saying "I could buy and sell your ass" seems to apply here.

Offering support for half the price on the same product reads like the first part of a plan by Oracle to bilk Red Hat long enough, and make its stock price low enough, in preparation for a buyout. I seemed optimistic that Red Hat could use the time between now and then to improve its product and support and maintain its hold in the corporate Linux market, but upon further consideration I am more skeptical. Red Hat can "love Linux" all it wants, but that won't make stockholders happy and it won't keep the wolves away from the door.

Re:I Didn't Get It (2, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621476)

I think RedHat made itself vulnerable a few years back when it basically changed its structure and dropped support for the small guy. We had a half dozen servers and had the inexpensive contracts for each server, about $40 a year or over $300 total, just for updates. If we wanted more support, we would simply pay for it as we needed it. I used their web services to manage servers and really liked their service. I would have paid more for the service, but not $250 to $800 per machine per year. Now I pay them exactly $0.

Now I use Fedora only when needed (being phased out), and have moved my personal Linux boxen to SuSE. I have been trying out Debian and others as well. Since I cut my teeth on RedHat 4.x, and begin using it exclusively on servers since 6.1, they could have easily kept my business by being fair and easy to work with. I even PURCHASED RedHat, even though I could have downloaded it for free, and signed up for the paid updates as soon as they offered it.

Now they have abandoned the small business, the desktop and a free enterprise distribution (which Fedora is NOT). In the short run, they might have made their shareholders happy, but in the long run, they have abandoned many of their customers who were customers BEFORE they were a public company. I don't wish them any harm (and not an Oracle fan), but it is hard for me to cry for them since they made their own problems. I still haven't settled on a single distribution for the servers, but I doubt they will change enough in time for me to switch back.

Goodwill Squandered, starring Matt Damon (1)

BeeBeard (999187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621592)

Thank you for sharing your history with Red Hat. I thought that Red Hat had developed some goodwill in the Linux community over the last decade or so. But what I'm hearing from you is that they've squandered a lot of that and essentially abandoned their original user base, including diehards such as yourself. Would it be too fatalistic to intimate that if Red Hat can't win you and others like you back in the future, then there will be no future for Red Hat?

Re:Goodwill Squandered, starring Matt Damon (2, Interesting)

TheLinuxSRC (683475) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621784)

I am one of the people much like the GP who got burned by Red Hat during the RH9 to enterprise Linux conversion. I had just bought a (personal) subscription to show support for a company that I respected, which was canceled with no refund about 3 months into a year contract. This, unsurprisingly, left a very bad taste in my mouth.

However, all is not lost for those who prefer a Red Hat style distribution that is stable rather than the Fedora line. I am currently extremely happy with CentOS [] , a community rebuild of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux line. I never used Red Hat's support other than for updates and now I find that I prefer yum over up2date for updates anyway. I would also like to take a hat off to the KDE-RedHat [] and RPMForge [] projects, who provide many of the packages that RH is lacking; especially in the area of desktop support.

My point here is that while I was an avid supporter of Red Hat, I have found that with Linux I am not tied to a single vendor and in fact, my experience is exactly the opposite. The only one losing here is Red Hat because I no longer buy support from them.

Re:Goodwill Squandered, starring Matt Damon (2, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 7 years ago | (#16622042)

I expanded on this below, so I won't rehash, and instead answer the main question:

Would I ever go back to RedHat?

It is very possible. Everyone makes mistakes, myself included. But I wouldn't go back until they changed their business model to something that is more friendly to small guys. I wouldn't even demand an apology, although one is certainly deserved. I am not a fanboy/anti-fanboy. I am a pragmatic guy that will use what I believe is the best option, be it RedHat, SuSE or even MS if they could get their act together (not holding my breath). I like the idea of "Free as in speech" software, but it is a preference, not a religion. It just makes my life easier.

RedHat HAS done some very good things for the community. They have also done some very questionable things, and not just the business model change that abandoned all us small users. I don't consider them good or evil, just another company that I would prefer to not do business with at this time because of their past and current policies that alienate small users that want more than Fedora (I do NOT want a new version every 6 freaking months!!!!), and are willing to pay for it. Just not $800+ a year for updates.

There are MANY thousands of people who feel exactly like I do, that RH screwed us over, took our money, changed their business, and left us high and dry. Not that it makes it any better, but MS does this every time they change their EULA or disables a feature. IBM is now the darling of the Linux community, yet 20 years ago it was the bastard. Companies change, and I would be a fool to hold a grudge against a corporation, since board members change all the time.

So, can I forgive? Yes. Will I forget? Doubtful.

Re:I Didn't Get It (1)

ronanbear (924575) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621818)

Sorry I'm not trying to troll I'm just curious. Why do you not want to use CentOS or one of the other clones? Updates are free where you were paying $300 before.

Re:I Didn't Get It (2, Interesting)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621950)

Very good question. First, I am NOT opposed to paying for support. I previously DID pay for support. I am opposed to paying $800 if all I want is guaranteed updates. I have no problem paying per phone call, a reasonable fee for them to provide updates ($40-$60 per year per machine). RH needs to stay in business, and I WANTED them to stay in business, which is why I paid for distros, even tho they were free.

I thought about Whitebox and CentOS, and had considered them both because I was already familiar with the quirks of RH from years of use, AND they are both very legitimate RH clones. What KEPT me from using them is (ironically) the fact that they don't charge. This means they can stop updates at any time, and leave me stranded. I need to know the company is going to be around for 3 to 5 years, as I can't afford to switch distributions every 6 months. That can be more expensive than even RH fees.

In a nutshell, I want minimum support from a real company, and I am willing to pay for the support I actually use. It may be that someday I will NEED $800 worth of support, but today isn't that day.

What I like about Linux is that it is Free (as in speech). As to the price, I expect I will pay more for it in dollars, but save money in time and headaches. I don't need permission to add users, change the role of the machine, or move all the software to another machine. But RH remade itself in Bill Gate's image, in that I am forced to pay for things I don't want or need, and their less expensive version of the software (Fedora) is just as weak as comparing XP Home to their Enterprise Server.

It isn't that RH changed to two versions and charged for support for better quality version, it is HOW they did this, completely DUMPING the little guy and leaving him with no options. They took my money then dropped all support for my software. No refund, no apology.

Re:They Don't Get It (3, Insightful)

Znork (31774) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621342)

One has to wonder at Mr. Greenbaums analysis. Red Hat is used to not owning exclusive IP and competing on a level playing field. Oracle isn't; it's whole operation is used to the protection of exclusivity. I fail to see any dangerous position.

I wonder if Larry has really thought this through; offering Red Hats patches developed for Red Hats customers but two days later isnt a compelling sales argument so what will Oracle do when Oracles customers report bugs to Oracle? Report the bugs to Red Hat and hope they fix them? Or fix them themselves, and submit the patches upstream to Red Hat? Either their customers risk being left high and dry, or Oracle will be doing Red Hats work for them, just as much as the other way around.

"I can't see Larry going after people who attack the GPL"

But maybe we'll see Larry going after the GPL, once he realizes that Red Hat can freeload right back at him.

Re:They Don't Get It (2, Interesting)

Marsala (4168) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621552)

I absolutely agree with you on that last point: credit where credit is due. At the end of the day, RH's products are open sourced and the do a lot of good work to protect open source as it's key to their business model.

But this doesn't change the fact that RH is a pain in the ass to deal with as a customer. I'm trying hard to remember one single conversation with them that didn't start off with the assumption that I was a drooling imbecile or where I got back a prompt and useful answer instead of an attempt to redirect blame for the problem back on me. I can't recall any. What I do recall is a vibe of total disdain, being made to feel like I was wasting their precious time with my stupid questions, and what can only be described as a feedback event horizon where bug reports and patches just disappeared into bugzilla never to be responded to nor seen or heard from again.

And it wasn't just me that got that impression. My bosses did, too. I could tell when they'd talked with RH recently because they always swung by my office to ask, "Hey, what do you think about SuSE?"

From a customer service standpoint, RH makes their money because they're the only large company who supports RH products. Aside from Ximian's weak effort to extend support of RH 7-9, they have no competition. While Oracle isn't known for its customer service either, all they really have to do is offer less frustration than RH and suddenly their offering becomes a very, very attractive alternative. And while RH does indeed employ some outstanding technical talent, they've only got a fraction of the bright folks in the open source community... if Oracle plays it right and demonstrates a Googlish atmosphere of encouraging open source innovation in their Linux division they could easily build up their own talent pool.

So, yeah. A lot of "if"s in that equation. If I was RH, I wouldn't be losing sleep just yet.

But I would also be asking what I could to do build customer loyalty and prepare for a day when I'm no longer the only game in town for supporting RHEL in the next quarterly strategy meeting.

Re:You Don't Get It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16621670)

They do not have the same kind of support.

I don't even know what that means. I'm sure Oracle, with its massive number of support people can figure out how to offer the same, if not better level of support.

They have kernel and application programers.

Yeah, and what happens when Oracle offers these people double or triple what they are getting now. Sure some diehard open source people might stay, but they can't do it alone. Redhat will be gone within a year.

It will (1)

dragonquest (1003473) | more than 7 years ago | (#16620866)

I think Red Hat will survive, as in keep alive. They'll not be raking in huge profits but if they put their head down and keep it steady they may just have a chance to share the market with Oracle. I agree to the fact that Red Hat overpriced their support, but now they have some serious thinking to do. Oracle is a very aggressive player and it'll want to squeeze every inch possible out of this venture. Red Hat will survive, because many people would still consider them as a de-facto standard, especially in countries like India where the only Linux distro which is seriously considered is RHEL. But there is no doubt that tough days lie ahead of Red Hat. But to me, this race is needed. Competition will drive quality. If only a single vendor rules the market, it does whatever it wants to. Now that a company like Oracle is competing, it may just mean good news to the consumers.

Why Oracle must be stopped.... (5, Interesting)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#16620876)

RHEL might be the biggest Linux OS for (supported) Oracle deployments, but RedHat is much more than just an RHEL or Linux services company. In fact, one could argue that the success of RedHat Linux and the JBoss / JEMS platform might indeed be a serious threat to Oracle's survival... once other databases are made part of RedHat's application stack.

By undercutting and subsequently angling for a takeover of RedHat, Oracle is getting into a business which is not beneficial to customers and end-users.... the focal point of the entire Open Source and Free Software movements.

If Oracle wants to offer support Linux-based database solutions, it ought to come up with it's own distro. NOT kill RedHat.. the no. 1 distro. What would happen to RedHat's non-database successes... middleware, applications, hardware collaboration, education and research, training and services... solutions partners etc.? It would appear these are threats to Oracle's long-term survival.. but they are the most valuable things for customers (not just servers and infrastructure).

HP took over Compaq took over Digital... and now, the Unix businesses of Compaq and Digital (both very valuable for customers) have been lost forever.

Oracle might compete... but must not be allowed to takeover RedHat. In many ways they are bigger stumbling blocks to the Open Source revolution than even Microsoft.

Why Oracle will not be stopped... (1)

BeeBeard (999187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621324)

Oracle might compete... but must not be allowed to takeover RedHat.

Sure thing. Let me just reach into my wallet and pull out $14 billion dollars, the approximate difference in annual revenue between the companies (hint: Red Hat's revenue is not even 1 billion, so most of that 14 belongs to Oracle). I hate to be cynical, but ideals are no match for lots and lots of money, my friend. You can rally around Red Hat all you want, but that won't change the fact that Red Hat and Oracle are both companies--capitalistic entities that are subject to market forces. And as trite as it may seem, if these two companies are "competing" than we have a way of measuring who is "winning" by counting dollars and equity. And as much as we love them, Red Hat loses that game, bigtime. I predict a buyout before Q4 2007.

In many ways they are bigger stumbling blocks to the Open Source revolution than even Microsoft.

Incidentally, you might not want to call it an open source revolution. That tends to scare away investors. And investors are very important to the open source revo...darn, now you've got me doing it!

Re:Why Oracle will not be stopped... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16621436)

There's a strange disconnect in these repeated statements.

1) Oracle has come out with greate support real cheap
2) So RedHat is doomed, worthless useless and it's stock price will collapse
3) the united way is doing great
4) Oracle is going to buy RedHat now.

If RedHat is so doomed then why does Oracle have to use tricks to try to buy it? Do you people assume we are unable to remember the beginning of your mail when we read the end? Hmm.

What an oddly inappropriate post (1)

BeeBeard (999187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621514)

1) Oracle has come out with greate support real cheap

You made this up. Nobody said anything about the quality of the support at all because the quality of the support is immaterial. It doesn't have to be "great", only adequate and cheap--cheaper than what Red Hat offers. Strike one.

2) So RedHat is doomed, worthless useless and it's stock price will collapse

Pretty much. I can tell you don't know much about this or you would know that Red Hat's (two words) stock already has collapsed. Red Hat stock just lost 25% of its value based merely on the news that Oracle will be competing with for its support contracts. What exactly do you think will happen when Oracle starts to gain some momentum and actually is competing? If you don't believe me about the stock price situation, just check the second paragraph of the posted article that you clearly didn't read before posting. Strike two.

3) the united way is doing great

I see now. You're just a troll. Strike three, you're out.

4) Oracle is going to buy RedHat now.

No, in fact I ballparked a buyout before this time, next year. That's hardly "now", is it? You just got beaned in the head while walking back to the dugout.

This is all rediculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16621382)

Everybody acts like this is a big threat to RedHat. It's just a validation of their business model.

When I buy support from RedHat now, and my manager asks me "but what if they go bust"/"get sued out of existence" etc. I can say Oracle (we aren't much worried about getting sued ourselves, since it happens regularly). Also, when you see the holes in Oracles support (Jboss / etc. etc.) I can now defend more clearly the value that RedHat has over other supported products (Windows doesn't include any database in the default install).

In a sense, this is a great thing for RedHat. RedHat has clear experience and everybody knows how easy/difficult it is to get support from them. Their choice to do very different things from Linus in 2.4 memory management was clearly good. Maybe five years from now, with a clear track record and a full range of application support, Oracle might be worth considering for RedHat support, but for now, it only provides extra marketing for RedHat. Most probably, though, they will end up buying support from RedHat themselves.

This is the choice that free software has always been about. Anything that Oracle does can be taken over and used by others. RHEL will never be killed, even if RedHat could be (and it can't).

Re:Why Oracle must be stopped.... (1)

bensch128 (563853) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621562)

If Oracle wants to offer support Linux-based database solutions, it ought to come up with it's own distro. NOT kill RedHat.. the no. 1 distro.

I supposed Oracle is going to fork RHEL, something that is clearly allowed in the GPL... which most of RHEL is based on.

I think though that whoever winds up with the majority of the marketplace for Enterprise Linux will be the one providing the better support and
bug fixes, something that Oracle doesn't do currently. I think that Oracle is in the much weaker position here and it'll be up to them to prove themselves. I think that Ellision will find that being a vulture in the OSS world won't would as well as it did in the DB world. At least, I hope not.

Just my two cents

As Microsoft might say: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16621860)

By undercutting and subsequently angling for a takeover of MicroSoft, RedHat is getting into a business which is not beneficial to customers and end-users.

It's not price alone that matters. I hope. (2, Insightful)

c0l0 (826165) | more than 7 years ago | (#16620888)

I've never been an Oracle customer myself, but I know some people who heave been - and how content, or rather, how NOT content - they were with the service of the company. Red Hat, on the other hand, was awarded with the first place in some customer-contentment-survey recently cited by German IT-newsmag c't (where Oracle came in at around place 40 or so). So I suppose that Red Hat offers much better service, and will do so even more on a product THEY actually make themselves, compared with something Oracle basically just relables.

It could turn out a problem, however, that uneducated "decision-makers" (how I loathe that word) who don't give a shit about what their more tech-savvy and competent advisers say, and just go for "Unbreakable Linux", because it's cheaper and supported by a big and well known player of IT. Who has ever been fired for buying Micr..., uhm, Oracle?

Re:It's not price alone that matters. I hope. (1)

udderly (890305) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621524)

I've never been an Oracle customer myself, but I know some people who heave been - and how content, or rather, how NOT content - they were with the service of the company. Red Hat, on the other hand, was awarded with the first place in some customer-contentment-survey recently cited by German IT-newsmag c't (where Oracle came in at around place 40 or so). So I suppose that Red Hat offers much better service, and will do so even more on a product THEY actually make themselves, compared with something Oracle basically just relables.

I know that this is anecdotal, but my experience with Red Hat has been the opposite.

For years I actually purchased Red Hat disks instead of just downloading the free one. I did this just so I could get the support. This was back when I first decided that I liked the ideals of FOSS and wanted to make Linux my desktop machine. The last one I bought was Red Hat 8.

Unfortunately, the one time that I called Red Hat for support they were unable to help me. I just needed to get RH8 to print to any one of my three printers. The woman who "helped" me spoke in a very heavy accent, was *extremely* testy and gave up after twenty minutes. She claimed that RH didn't work with all printers. A quick call to a friend got me printing in a couple of minutes.

Needless to say, that was the last time I paid for RH support. It's Centos for me now.

Well... (1)

alzoron (210577) | more than 7 years ago | (#16620928)

...BSD has apparently been dying for a decade or so, so by my figures regarding *nix OSes it'll survive for at least a little while longer. A better question is will it survive long enough to see the arrival of Duke Nukem Forever?

And after? (1)

Nikademus (631739) | more than 7 years ago | (#16620942)

We are in the future. Red Hat is dead. Now how would Oracle provide services for Red Hat?

Re:And after? (1)

Mr. Hankey (95668) | more than 7 years ago | (#16622534)

Redhat packages the results of open source projects into a distribution. They also create a few tools of their own, but these tools are also open source. Oracle can continue along the same path, maybe they'll even provide a bit more stability in the distribution schedule and/or backports of new packages rather than just bugfixes if they take longer to release new versions. This isn't the first time Redhat has been forked, as an example I've been running Mandrake/Mandriva for years. We do use RH where I work, but given our experience with RH's support and ongoing yearly maintenence costs for workstations it's likely that we'll be giving Oracle's offering a serious look.

Probably not (3, Informative)

cpbrown (794387) | more than 7 years ago | (#16620956)

I don't think that it will. It is one of the original heavyweights but in the face of newer and more specialised distros it no longer occupies a suitably small niche in order to ensure its long term continuation.
In my opinion, most serious developers will keep to a lighter distro, and most newbies will keep to a nice flowery distro such as Ubuntu, which prides itself on ease of use. Red Hat is no longer necesarry. Compettition will inevitably drive it away in the ever dynamic food-web of free software.

Re:Probably not (2, Insightful)

ronanbear (924575) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621312)

Small niche? Red Hat is the market leading distro. Oracle represents another huge company which depends on and is compatible with RHEL. RHEL has spawned several important clones CentOS, Scientific Linux and now Unbreakable Linux.

Unbreakable will most likely only compete with RHEL for Oracle customers. That's a profitable market for Red Hat though. What Oracle need to remember is that undercutting a Linux distro is a dangerous game because they can be undercut at any time. All it takes is someone selling good support for CentOS etc.

This strengthens the position of RHEL within the enterprise Linux sector. Red Hats position as the standard distro to certify to and test for is becoming stronger and stronger.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16621052)


Identical? (2, Informative)

Udo Schmitz (738216) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621060)

Oracle is offering cheaper support and services essentially identical to Red Hat Linux

Some people [] like to differ over that.

Is this not an anti-competitive issue? (1)

johansalk (818687) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621084)

I think there ought to be an investigation to make sure Oracle isn't doing something anti-competitive.

Re:Is this not an anti-competitive issue? (2, Informative)

eldepeche (854916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621434)

They're not doing something anticompetitive, they're doing something competitive.

How about "Oracle's move strengthens RedHat" (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621092)

Another industry heavyweight like Oracle promoting Linux should expand the Linux market rather than cannabalise it.

Those that consider their current arrangements good value won't be quick to run to save a few dollars and if Oracle starts to prove itself a strong Linux service provider RedHat is going to have to adjust, not shut the door!

It's not that easy... (1)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621106)

It looks like Oracle get the tough job of keeping their distro compatible with Red Hat.
Are they up to that? Are they up to handling and solving bugs and big crises?

Forking an Free/Open Source project is not so easy as people might think on the surface.

Not a fork really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16621214)

Oracle said they were going to simply rebrand RHEL. Let Redhat do the heavy lifting so Oracle can cash in.

Also Oracle said they have support staff down to the kernel level and will give back any development they might do but Oracle is setting up to mitigate any need for Redhat the company AND plans to offer RHEL support services at discount pricing.

If successful, Redhat will be forced to reduce their support pricing and will likely lose most of their support services currently that Oracle is already running over. This will be a major pinch on RH.

On the other hand this may force RH to become much more aggressive in enterprise class database middle ground thus pinching Oracle on a large and competitive growth market. Will it make up the difference? Hard to say but should be interesting.

What Oracle isn't going to suffer well is any encroachment on their cherry tree. Any competition that forces Oracle to drop price on their database product is going to hurt worse than Redhat's being forced to cut support pricing for their OS.

Re:It's not that easy... (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 7 years ago | (#16622062)

Oracle will have to hire a lot of RedHat's best support staff, or equivalently skilled engineers, to even begin to support this. Oracle is amazingly painful to install and manage: they do extremely customized things to disk partitions and use some of the worst installation and system management tools I have ever seen.

What Oracle can do is create a pre-built Linux OS tarball that can be blown onto an approved server and simply replace anything local, which would simplify quite a lot of the installation whackiness and save having to rebuild a machine 5 times anyway to get Oracle installed correctly. (I've had to do this, several times.)

The other shoe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16621112)

On one foot we have Oracle offering their linux flavor based on Redhat. If Redhat folds they are left with having to pick up where Redhat left off and move forward. I don't think Oracle is ready to put that kind of effort into something they wont actually own.

On the other foot, Redhat could start pushing alternate database solutions such as Postgresql [] . With commercial solutions [] available businesses may find that they don't need all of the features Oracle offers which not found in Postgresql.

I'll bet that when push comes to shove, Redhat could take some of Oracle's business.

Can't stop laughing (3, Insightful)

Captain Kirk (148843) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621118)

Oracle and "cheap" in same sentence. What next? Microsoft and "gentle"? IBM and "modest"? Enron and "due diligence"?

Seriously, Oracle is never going to be a cheap solution in any market. They claim to be an enterprise software vendor. They charge prices that allow them to provide enterprise solutions very profitably. Oracle clients do not care about the price because they run their business more profitably on Oracle software. In many comapnies, small projects are developed in bitty things like MS Access and then ported to Oracle when they have proven a good idea. Getting your app an Oracle back-end was seen as proof you did a great job when I was contracting at Vodafone for example.

The very fact that they have the Oracle brand behind them means they can and will be the most expensive provider of enterprise level support of Linux.

Unless Red Hat has some aspiration to be more expensive than Oracle, the arrival of Oracle in the market can only be good news as it will grow the overall marketplace.

I built LFS (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16621206)

A linux from scratch distro, how long does it take? Mine took about 2 months the first time I did it without understanding
very much. Second time it took me a week. After that I built a source toolchain system.
My point is that if Jaromil can single handedly put Dyne together, and I can single handedly put my own
distro together **FROM SCRATCH**, why does a company as big as Oracle go and do something as
weak as just hijack another distro. Can't they get their own ball to play with?

Who cares (1)

johansalk (818687) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621226)

Linux will.

Why didn't Oracle simply buy one of the groups... (1)

g2racer (258096) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621316)

That already respin from the RHEL srpms? Seems like they now have to build a community for "Unbreakable". Shouldn't be difficult given who they are, but why start from scratch?

Interesting strategy though. Wonder if this is payback for JBoss?

Definitely don't think that RH will go into bankruptcy any time soon. They've got a rich product stack and plenty of customers. The only thing their really lacking is an enterprise database platform. May RH should consider buying Sybase or the Informix stack from IBM so they could go head to head with Oracle ;)

Never mind Red Hat... (3, Insightful)

melonman (608440) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621326)

Surely the bigger loser here is Novell. Oracle is competing with Red Hat for support of RHEL, but then Red Hat never had the monopoly in that market anyway: plenty of people used Red Hat without paying for AS-quality support. What this move does do is make the Red Hat flavour of Linux even more clearly the mainstream enterprise distribution. How well Red Hat will cope with competition from Oracle in offering support for that product remains to be seen, but I'd have thought that selling a non-Red Hat flavour of Linux to an IT department suddenly got a whole lot harder.

Re:Never mind Red Hat... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16622112)

The way things are now, Novell might be winning from Red Hat, despite having an inferior product (my personal opinion). The reason is very simple:

Linux, whether it's called Red Hat, Novell/SUSE or Oracle, is an operating system. It's only reason of existence is to offer a unified view of the system to the applications that need to run on it. Applications such as databases and web servers, but also the hundreds of specialty applications that ISVs offer. Not to mention your own scripts. Everything needs to be tested by people educated on the platform they're using. And the OS provider needs to support all of that.

Right now, in this respect, Novell is doing everything right. They really know how to create partnerships with vendors, ISVs and other players. They offer free education, workshops, free versions of SLES10 (just received mine) to anyone who is somehow involved in a partnership with them. Novells education materials can be licensed easily so everybody can offer Novell training. Pricing of support for Novells Enterprise products, particulary on Enterprise-class machines (particulary big-Intel and non-Intel) is far more reasonable. Salespersons show up at a moments notice to do a sales pitch, presentation, demo, whatever, and bring lots of goodies with them (always important).

In contrast, Red Hat is getting more and more closed, and is alienating its partners more and more, trying to do everything itself, in order to get the margin. Yes, I am still able to download and legally use RHEL4 under certain restrictions, but it's not the same as receiving a nice CD wallet with the SUSE DVDs in the mail.

I work for a very large IT hardware, software and services provider. One who has been involved in Open Source from the very beginning. My job is partly in Open Source. I really like Red Hat over SUSE/Novell for hundreds of big and little, but all technical reasons. But if an ISV would ask me what Linux distribution provider to start a partnership with, in order to introduce their product on Linux, I have no honest choice but to recommend Novell. It's a shame really.

Everybody is Missing the Point (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16621340)

I don't think people here understand the magnitude of what is going on right now. Oracle does not own the full stack. They have a great database, they have a great ERP/CRM or whatever PeopleSoft really is. They have a terrible app server, and they have no operating system. By offering rebranded RedHat, they make it plausible that they will buy RedHat. Everybody has gotten this far. However, what people don't seem to realize is that by doing this they acquire both an OS and a good app server. They would own an entire software stack.

Both Microsoft and IBM (owners of their own software stacks) can't afford to see this happen. Microsoft will not make a play on RedHat. Their desire is to see Linux growth stifled if not fully fail. Losing Red Hat in the market would be a good step, but not enough. I don't know what Microsoft's play is, or if they can even afford the loss in credibility on "opensource is bad for you" if they make one. IBM will make a play. My prediction (no direct knowledge) is that IBM purchases either Red Hat or Novell. Either move is a defensive one. The problem with either? If IBM purchases Red Hat, JBoss is dead. IBM has Geronimo and IBM has WebSphere, they don't need JBoss. Perhaps it's the other way and Geronimo would die and WebSphere would move to be a little more like JBoss under the covers, either way, you've lost a choice. Red Hat would continue albeit in a much different form.

Here's the bad news. If Oracle buys Red Hat, and IBM buys Novell as a defensive move, IBM wouldn't continue Mono. They don't want .NET anything. Here's another bad thing, both the distribution mechanisms of SLES and RHEL will change. The only two real, commercial Linux distributions may have just become a lot harder to get your hands on... who will be there as an independent vendor not trying to sell you a whole software stack when all you want is an enterprise Linux distribution? Don't put your favorite distro here.... because now the difference between those and these new "enterprise" offerings is HUGE in CIO mindshare.

I do believe that whichever one (if not both) IBM purchases, the open community whether it be Fedora or OpenSuSE would continue on. They'd probably get restructured to more closely resemble the Eclipse foundation, but there you'd have it. Oracle would keep theirs up for awhile to, because they'd need the innovation to come from the community and there'd be much less of a difference between the Enterprise and Community versions over time. ;)

Something to chew on.

A guy walks into a garage... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16621350)

And asks:
"Will Ford do well when they do their buy-back of stock?"

And then expects a sensible answer......


Will Oracle Survive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16621354)

The real question people should be asking is "Will Oracle survive?" The big proprietary databases used to dominate the market. Now the FLOSS database solutions are reliable and sophisticated enough that exansive solutions such as Oracle are only required by niche applications. The only thing really keeping them afloat is intertia: there are a number of talented Oracle DBA's who would like to continue using what they know; and there is a stable of important applications which will continue to certify Oracle for some time. It will take time for existing application vendors to migrate to commodity backends, but it is very much in their best interest to do so. If they do not, they will be trammelled by their competitors who do.

On another note, the Linux kernel dev team should make special note about Oracle's indemnification rumblings, which go so far as to raise the specter of SCO. Should Oracle inject code into the kernel to which they own copyright, it would be no surprise at all to see them leverage these assets in an underhanded fashion. If I were Linus, I wouldn't touch any Oracle contributed code with a ten foot pole, unless they sign over copyright.

Re:Will Oracle Survive? (1)

bensch128 (563853) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621978)

I was under the impression that Linus doesn't let any code into his tree without the contributor signing over the copyright to him.
He owns the copyright to Linux and that would cover all of the code within, right?

I thought that copyrights don't really have any say with GPLed code....


Re:Will Oracle Survive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16622218)

I was under the impression that Linus doesn't let any code into his tree without the contributor signing over the copyright to him.

No, this is entirely untrue. This is why relicensing the kernel under GPLv3 is impractical; there are way too many copyright holders.

He owns the copyright to Linux

Trademark != Copyright

Re:Will Oracle Survive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16622290)

One of the recurring themes in the Linux GPL v3 vs. v2 discussion is that copyrights are so widely distributed that it would be well nigh impossible to compell any wholesale change in the way Linux is licensed.

If Oracle contributes code under a free software license, they can't take that back. However, they could do a couple of other nasty things.

(1) They could fork their own code. Just for an example, say they contribute a cluster file system. Lots of people start using it and depending on it. Then they fork their code, so that future cluster filesystem modules are proprietary. Sure, someone else could continue the free branch, but if Oracle owns all the talent, the free fork could have a hard time getting started. Now the people who depend on this filesystem are stuck on Oracle if they want patches, updates, etc. Linux has stated repeatedly that he considers module code to satisfy GPL requirements, thereby requiring the code to be freely licensed. However, as NVidia and other modules show, there's been no real enforcement of this requirement to date.

This possibility exists in userland too, of course, not just the kernel.

(2) They could contribute code for patented Oracle software techniques.

All I'm saying, really, is that trusting Oracle to play nice with the FLOSS community would be foolhardy, at best.

Re:Will Oracle Survive? (1)

Decaff (42676) | more than 7 years ago | (#16622240)

Now the FLOSS database solutions are reliable and sophisticated enough that exansive solutions such as Oracle are only required by niche applications. The only thing really keeping them afloat is intertia: there are a number of talented Oracle DBA's who would like to continue using what they know; and there is a stable of important applications which will continue to certify Oracle for some time. It will take time for existing application vendors to migrate to commodity backends, but it is very much in their best interest to do so.

I think this shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the database market. Oracle is not niche - it is mainstream. It is one of the databases that a company uses when it must have very high uptimes and guaranteed performance. Companies that do on-line commerce are not like blog sites or forums, where the occasional delay or timeout is merely an inconvenience. For even smaller companies, the cost of Oracle is trivial compared to company turnover or staff salaries.

I really love PostgreSQL and use it for most of my development, but there is no way I would use it to host a high-performance site running financial transactions. PostgreSQL may well be good enough, but the key word is 'may'. I can be sure that Oracle is.

Has anyone looked at the pricing? (1)

Ian.Waring (591380) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621364)

Premium pricing indeed. This side of the pond, Red Hat costs:

AS (4-16 CPU servers), 24/7/365 support, 1 hour response, £1,388/year ($2,636 at todays spot $ rate)
AS (4-16 CPU servers), working hours Mon-Fri, 4 hour response, £833/year ($1,582)
ES (1-2 CPU servers), working hours Mon-Fri, 4 hour response, £444/year ($843)
ES (1-2 CPU servers), 30 days install support then just updates, £195/year ($370)

and those are unlimited incidents, and no CALs for each user (put as many on as you wish with no further charge).

If Oracle were smart, there's nothing stopping them having the billing relationship with the customer and subcontracting back. They could even afford to throw that in free of charge with most Oracle DB licenses without denting their profits too much. That way, customer still get their updates in a timely fashion, and Oracle have no CentOS type infrastructure to set up that (a) costs money and (b) delays the updates.

Still, Oracle are fairly well embedded in large customers at the very top end, and do not have the reach to address Red Hat's base in any significant way. Even MySQL lap the total size of Oracle's installed base twice every day of the week.

It's almost if someone's thrown their rattles out of the pram when Red Hat spurned a "we'll buy you" proposal. If it were true, the clever bit is that Larry managed to get the share price to dip, when most attempted takeovers have the opposite effect!

Ian W.

Aww, come ON. (1)

haeger (85819) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621404)

I'm about to take my RHCE next month. RedHat can't die NOW. That's unfair.


Re:Aww, come ON. (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621706)

I'm about to take my RHCE next month. RedHat can't die NOW. That's unfair.

Don't worry, Red Hat will not die next month as has been predicted for years, in fact it may do the opposite. If Oracle starts shipping Red Hat into corporate I/T it is also an endorsement of the technology. Thus, open doors even in close minded Microsoft shops.

No one in corporatate America is looking at what China and India are doing with Linux. In fact, if you do getting a RHCE gives you a future. And contrary to noisy minority, Linux is doing quite well.

Look to the future when spending so much time learning. Sooner or later China is going to ship database applances, then ERP/CRM appliances and the Microsoft server high maintenace clutter we see today will shrink. This will follow the same market curves as did toasters, cloths, cars, TVs, monitors and computer chips.

Further, your learning skills that are portable to alternatives like SUSE, Ubuntu, Fedora, AIX, HP-UX, Solaris, AIX, the BSDs and others. You even have the option of creating your own distro.

Linux always strategic to Red Hat - Not to Oracle (1)

Zo0ok (209803) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621408)

Yes Red Hat will survive (or, at least not die because of Oracle).

There are those who want a supplier of just a linux system. Linux will always be strategic to Red Hat, but Oracle can change and will never be so Linux-focused.

There are lots of people out there, who, for different reasons, dont want anything to do with Oracle.

Having used Oracle's DB in the past... (1)

Enry (630) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621544)

I'd be rather wary of what an Oracle Linux would look like, even if it is based on RHEL. Bleah! I'd be much more nervous for Red Hat if MySQL were to do this.

A market for both (4, Interesting) (152591) | more than 7 years ago | (#16621798)

There are plenty of companies which are concerned with nothing but the best price for their support. Usually these are small companies, though sometimes they are larger ones too. Companies *really* concerned about cost ignore companies like Oracle and instead run Debian, SuSE, White Box, or some other distro. If they need support, they tend to find the least expensive, small consulting firm they can (like mine). The ones that believe "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" will likely consider Oracle.

But, the big companies will stick with Red Hat. Why? Simple. When they have an issue with an application, Red Hat has engineers which troubleshoot the problem, fix it, then release a new package. Sure, Oracle *could* do that, but can they get Red Hat to accept the patches? More importantly, will they just say "sorry, that's a bug in the vendor's software"? Red Hat has engineers who are dedicated to patching and improving the OS.

That said, the large companies are likely to exert a bit of muscle to get a better deal on their Red Hat contracts by comparing the Red Hat support costs to Oracle. In the end, this will certainly cost Red Hat some revenue, but I don't personally see it as dire as wall street did on Thursday. And in the end, the marketis certainly big enough that Oracle could end up having a positive influence on Red Hat's market share, as yet another company advocated Linux to the masses.

Re:A market for both (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16622020)

I don't see this as a problem for Red Hat. Do you think that Oracle is going to fix/support anything that doesn't directly support their applications and databases? Will they waste the manpower to fix some other application issue that doesn't impact their application? I can only see them really supporting this as an internet appliance for their database and applications. If a company is using Red Hat for something other than an Oracle application/database they would have to be crazy to look to Oracle for support, even if they use it to support their database.

Re:A market for both (1)

steve_l (109732) | more than 7 years ago | (#16622080)

That's a really good summary. RHEL are in the top 3 contributors to the linux codebase, next to linus and IBM. Nobody else understands it as well, or (outside Linus), has the ability to effect change. That's important, because it means redhat are one of the few groups who can set a direction for linux that suits them.

With the JBoss purchase, they even have influence in many java projects. Not all; I suspect google sun and IBM have more. but they own hibernate and jboss, and have a presence in tomcat.

I'm busy moving from Suse to ubuntu, then from jboss to Sun glassfish. not for idelogical reasons, but for technical ones, like "they work really well"

HA! This is great for Red Hat (1)

Kludge (13653) | more than 7 years ago | (#16622008)

The best that a giant company like Oracle can do is copy Red Hat's OS. That says a lot for Red Hat. If my job depended on which OS to buy, I'd buy Red Hat.

Why Oracle? (1)

wateriestfire (962915) | more than 7 years ago | (#16622152)

Why shouldn't Red Hat sell to IBM? They are currently doing some of the support for Red Hat and they don't even have a distro. What better company to supply support and updates for RHEL than IBM? IBM could also easily match the prices oracle is putting out and help the OSS movement at the same time. Plus this would only benefit IBM and Red Hat.

Show Me The Money!! (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16622212)

Since both companies are publicly traded, it's easy to see what the people who are paid the big buck$ to carefully evaluate the future of both companies because 10's (100's?) of millions of dollars are riding on it have decided about the future of both companies. [] . RedHat's 1 year price trend. [] Oracle's 1 year price trend.

I'd say the big-money decision makers have declared Oracle the winner in this one. RedHat's a dead man walking. Meanwhile, microsoft is unchanged over the same 12 month period.

Money talks people.

Service this... (1)

ZoneGray (168419) | more than 7 years ago | (#16622224)

Despite what they say, Red Hat hasn't been selling service, they've been selling software. Read their licenses, and it says that you may install one copy of RHEL for each support contract you buy.... whether you want to service or not. If you want to install an extra copy for development or training, you pay for it, just like with Microsoft. In fact, MS might have better deals for developers and admins. Sure, you can get Fedora for free, but it's not the same product. If you want RHEL, you pay for it, one copy one "support contract"... plain and simple.

It was a good means to quickly generate revenues from corporate buyers when they implemented it, and it sounded good to Wall Street for a couple of years. Now they're catching on... selling free software for $300/server/year (or whatever it is now) is not a long-term business strategy, and that it was only a matter of time before somebody realized that web updates can be sold for a lot cheaper. I used to happily pay $70/server/year to subscribe to RHN for my production servers when I used RH9, but after the change to RHEL licensing terms, the stuff I do couldn't justify the price. I can't pay for the same support that a corporate customer requires, I just want updates.

Not that I'm any fan of Oracle... if anybody can screw this up, it'll be them. But it really does send a strong signal to Red Hat, because their business model just isn't sustainable beyond the small but lucrative niche that they currently sell to.

Wake up call for Red Hat (1)

lingoman (793455) | more than 7 years ago | (#16622636)

Oracle's challenge to Red Hat might produce considerable good. I think that Red Hat is too expensive and too focused on the big enterprise. That seems like good business, since it sure attracted Oracle. But that strategy might have some deeper, long-term implications.

At some time in the recent past, Red Hat, I think, was close to being synonymous with Linux (or at least a linux you could bring home to mom). Universities that had linux networks had Red Hat networks, and all those C.S. grads were familiar with the distro. A lot of experimental software from academia was written and debugged on Red Hat, and not likely to run elsewhere. At the same time, it was possible to run a little business with Red Hat on your machines. But I think the Fedora experiment killed all that. Ask anyone who's got an FC 4 machine like me. Red Hat is just another big company -- only it's not so big and like the article points out, it doesn't own the rights to the product it sells. I think that Red Hat is to a large degree coasting on its image as one of the primo keepers of the linux flame. Its image, and service, and prices are all it has. And maybe Oracle's move will nudge Red Hat to improving its ephemeral product.

Maybe I'm out of my league here, since I'm not a big enterprise, but I'm not a hobbyist either. For several years, I maintained a RH subscription on the server that faces the outside world. It just lapsed and I'm on the fence. I know that neither Red Hat nor Oracle cares about me. I also know that I'll always be dependent on some organization to keep my systems current, and I know that the service is worth real money, but I don't like the huge divide that RH imposed on us.

I wouldn't be too worried about RHAT. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16622648)

No disrespect to Oracle but the quality and level of service are just different. Should Redhat fall in to trouble, I fail to see how Oracle would be capable or could continue to innovate Redhat Linux. Wallstreet got all hot and bothered and dropped redhat's price 30%, that just means it was a good time to buy RHAT the other day, it's already going back up.

As for Redhat and the whole distribution world. I kind of think a kick in the ass is needed. They've done some killer stuff, built linux into what it is today but it seems like they've fallen in to the trap that many distribution providers have and ever x months (or years in Debian's case) they rev the version numbers, throw some new graphics in and call it a new distribution.

Some things I'd like to see:

  • RPM kind of needs an overhaul. It's nice and all but there are a couple things I'd like to see change with it, other than just being supported with a clear leader. Is it currently dead? Switch the default compression to bzip2, you don't have to but I think my next idea will have people bitch about size and I assert that size doesn't matter that much because Fedora and RHEL still only gzip their RPMs despite the fact that bzip2 works with RPM and there are other free alternatives like LZMA which decompress fast and make much smaller compressed images. Do away with source RPMs and make default RPMs include the source if it's available. It's just one less artifact do deal with when you need it. When I install an RPM I'd like to have the option of installing Redhat's signed binary version or using the included source and building it for my system. If you do any development and do anything to get just a little non-standard this would provide a mechanism to keep things working. So long as this is about free software, include the source by default.

  • RPM-ng should use sqlite. It's the chosen embedded database of the future right now. Sleepycat db is fine and dandy but sqlite seems to be where it's at. This is totally anecdotal but the RPM database seems kind of slow anymore also, I haven't looked at it but it might be better served by some kind of relational model.

  • I'd like to have the ability to revert if possible. It could be an install time option. If I have the space and I'm willing, installing RPMs should mean that I keep a local repository of them so that I could revert and rebuild them as needed.

  • Since Sun is opening java and redhat owns Jboss, it's high time to include a real, full bore JVM and JDK with Linux. I support GCJ and I love what it's doing but it's way behind and it still doesn't work all the way. Just the other day I found a system in my company's lab running tomcat through gcj, it was slower but the kicker was when I dropped a fairly vanilla war file into it and the whole thing blew up. Learn somethings from jboss... In fact, since Oracle is going to start reshipping you're code, I'd start integrating jboss with it, just for spite, but it's an incredible piece of software also. I assume the JDK will be CDDL licensed and I'm not sure what the policies are regarding it but I'd love to just put a RHEL dvd in and install a system that included it. In fact, it could be a full bore app server ready to go...

  • Redhat clearly understands free software and does a good business. I think there could be some other value adds out of the box though. At some level, UNIX servers require custom setup but there still seem to be things that could be done to make this easier. LAMP in a box? Rails on Lighty in a box? Jboss in a box? How about ldap server in a box? (It's already pretty easy to point your rhel boxes to an ldap server and I know you have other products you sell which are directory servers..) a Single DVD or set of them that installs a base OS and then optionally can install a pretty much set up and running platform for some service? You can do it all on Linux but there is a lot more lifting involved, I don't know if you've installed IAS on Windows but setting up a nameserver on windows and on linux are two very different experiences. Every business needs one at some time too. There could be some killer admin tools put on top of these platforms and it could be made simpler. Rails programmers aren't exactly programmers in the conventional sense, I don't know if I've meet any that are good at setting up servers, in fact they seem to disdain the idea that there is much more than a webserver in the mix anywhere. Right now the way you install redhat servers is you go to the book store and pick up some orielly books for the parts you don't understand and start plogging through it or you find some borderline team player to involve with what you're doing and get him to do it and try to tolerate his eccentricities in exchange for him building you a server. If you bite the bullet on some of this stuff you can make the upgrade path easier; right now, I install linux, then I spend a day or two installing the shit that didn't come with it, then I customize it to work and if I need to do an upgrade, I go through the same process again. Look to Apple as the competition rather than oracle here, Apple does have a server play that everyone in the world is ignoring.

  • Launchd is apache license now. Hint hint hint

Our experience with Redhat support... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16622732)

...has been um... not always great.

OK, actually, it was always terrible. Is this just our bad luck, I wonder? In any case, I wouldn't say that all RedHat support engineers are at the same level as Redhat's kernel developers - to say it mildly.

Good in the long run! (1)

JohnnyOpcode (929170) | more than 7 years ago | (#16622982)

This is good for Linux in the long run. Larry (and his people) are smart and are using the open-source business models in new ways to accelerate the adoption of OSS. I think they see the problem with RedHat and the expensive support costs that they apply to the 'product'. I purchaed a full-blown RHEL4 AS subscription for our 8-way Xeon development server. I had an issue regarding DVD burner support for the longest time. It never was being fixed in their 'updates' and when I invoked my support avenue the canned responses et al just pissed me off. We/I were not impressed with the support (especially for the cost of an AS subscription). Recently, when the subscription expired I just reformatted the drive and installed RHEL4 WS just to see if it would work on the 8-way. No problems, AS is just an overpriced 'product'. I'd say the WS version performs marginally faster on the 8-way. I've reduced our costs to a WS level which I think is fair. I think Oracles prices are fair. I think capitalism and OSS are viable, and this will prove it.
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