Red Hat: Step Carefully

by Harold Martin

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When Red Hat anounced Red Hat Linux 9, they also made another suprising announcement: no free downloads until 1 week after it was availible to paying Red Hat Network subscribers and boxed product buyers.

This alone might not be a cause for concern, but what about the Red Hat Network requirement each free "demo" account can only be used to manage a single computer? Sysadmins have pointed out the obvious problem: managing multiple machines is a choice between paying Red Hat and the hassle of having a unique email for each computer & needing to fill out a survey for each one every 69 days.

It seems that Red Hat's trend is to require an ongoing paid subscription to Red Hat Network in order to easily get software Red Hat didn't write in the first place. Now don't get me wrong, I understand that paid subscribers should get priority service during heavy server loads. But not making availible free ISOs for one week is different than giving RHN subscribers priority service.

Red Hat: Every tech company is hurting now, but not giving back to the community that gave you everything you (quite nearly) all your software will only upset people and hurt you in the long run.

What do you think? Do you subscribe to RHN? Is Red Hat following good community practices?


2003-04-01 14:29:58
hold on a sec, take a breath
"not giving back to the community that gave you everything you (quit nearly) all your software will only upset people and hurt you in the long run."

You still get all the source, which is required, but since when is RH required or otherwise obligated to give away ISOs? Yeah, it kinda sucks compared to the past, but it's hardly as bad as you are making it out to be.

Get an account, download the ISO & publish your server's FTP address. Easy, right? j/k

2003-04-01 14:51:51
April Fool's Post?
Um, is this posting serious? Red Hat is asking people who *don't* pay them money to wait *1* extra week before consuming large amounts of their bandwidth. How on earth does this qualify as "not giving back to the community"? They are showing preferential treatment to paying customers, and honestly, I'm surprised they haven't done something similar prior to this. Just look at SuSE, who doesn't make ISOs available *at all* for the current version for x86.

You also complain that Red Hat requests that you use a unique email address for each free RHN account you have, to manage your computers. Why is this a hardship? Is it completely impossible to use your single RHN account to grab the RPMs and use them to patch multiple machines? Is it completely out-of-bounds to assume that people who administer multiple computers are more likely to be in business, and thus be able to pay the fee for maintaining those computers a bit more easily? Or, better yet, have the business pony up the money?

Further, you say that Red Hat is asking people to pay for software that "they didn't write in the first place". Um, you *do* know that Alan Cox and Havoc Pennington (amongst MANY notable others) are employed by Red Hat, right? You *do* realize that, while Red Hat may not write all the software they make available as part of their distribution, that they do indeed modify a great deal of it, test it all, and contribute all these modifications back to the community, as well as going to the effort of making our lives easier by packaging it for us (RPM v. apt v. portage debate aside...), and helping us get it to our computers as easily as clicking three "Forward" buttons? Right? Right?

Furthermore, are you aware that the Red Hat 9 ISOs are currently available on Bit Torrent?

As it stands, Red Hat's FTP server is slashdotted. So is their RHN service, at least for demo accounts. You wouldn't be able to get the ISOs anyway. So how does waiting a week hurt? I don't feel alienated. Instead, I am happy about it. It shows me that Red Hat is exhibiting some business sense, which means that one of my favorite distributions, including its code contributions, will continue to be available for at least a while longer.

2003-04-01 14:55:01
I disagree
I have been a purchaser of the redhat disc set since RH4.2 days. I appreciate the enhancements to their service that have come over the years. I got the email announcing the change in their service. It sounds reasonable to me.

As to whether they give back to the community. That should be self evident. Just because they want their premium paying customer base to have a head start seems like a good marketing strategy to me

Nuff said


2003-04-01 16:35:55
when i heard about this i too
wondered... is this legal (if that's the correct word)

is red hat saying they are only doing this to give their customers a head start?

sounds like a slippery slope...but in the mean time i take them on their word? ... !

2003-04-01 18:36:57
when i heard about this i too
Perfectly (IANAL). I assume you're talking about the GPL'd software?

They are required to disclose the source code, but not ISOs. Legit.


2003-04-04 08:31:44
This must be a joke
I'd suggest that the author go to the doctor and ask for a large dose of reality. Red Hat has played, and continues to play, an enormous role in the Linux and Open Source communities. To say that they're shying away from this role by offering preferential treatment to their (gasp) paying customers is ludicrous.