So I came into work yesterday to find this in my inbox:
Thank you for being a Red Hat Network customer.
This e-mail provides you with important information about the upcoming
discontinuation of Red Hat Linux, and resources to assist you with your
migration to another Red Hat solution.
As previously communicated, Red Hat will discontinue maintenance and
errata support for Red Hat Linux 7.1, 7.2, 7.3 and 8.0 as of December
31, 2003. Red Hat will discontinue maintenance and errata support for
Red Hat Linux 9 as of April 30, 2004. Red Hat does not plan to release
another product in the Red Hat Linux line.
We’ll put aside the fact that I can’t find an earlier e-mail communicating this information to me. Let us merely discuss what is happening. In a time when the Linux community has come under a great deal of fire due to the SCO fiasco, the supposed leader of this movement has just stabbed us all in our collective back. While IBM has strengthened their support for Linux, Red Hat has turned around and said that all of you freeloaders who put them where they are now can go get your free software elsewhere.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know that software is still a business and these guys are in it to make money. But that’s why I helped Red Hat when I could. At home I didn’t need all the resources, so I ran one machine that used free ISOs to install and a trial account for support, but I was getting to the point that the full service account would be worth it. Now due to my familiarity with Red Hat on the personal side, I also made the decision to go with it at work. Those machines are a tad more sensitive, therefore I purchased RHN subscriptions for both firewalls and planned on maintaining any additional servers through a similar method. A few months ago as I was making purchases for server equipment I debated about using Red Hat exclusively, but determined I was too overwhelmed with other projects at work and went with Microsoft for now, but it was an option I could re-evaluate down the line. In my previous job whenever a Linux solution was worked out, I immediately went to Red Hat for similar reasons. I configured proxies for our biggest client that were far superior to their previous solution and yet were reasonably priced. Had the company not gone under, we could have eventually been looking at dozens of Red Hat boxes under our control and would have begun maintaining them all through paid enterprise subscriptions to RHN. This has been an attitude that many in the IT field have had, give back to companies like Red Hat when you can because they give so much to the community. We supported the commercial Linux endeavours because their success supported Linux.
Red Hat’s decision to get rid of their Linux line and migrate completely to an Enterprise solution has shot my faith in them through the heart. Sure, I can start using Fedora and there will be others maintaining support, but it won’t be the same. I started looking at the prices to move to their enterprise line, and suddenly the cost factor is no longer a decent reason to switch from Microsoft. Actually, it’s almost looking like Microsoft will be cheaper since their desktop line, although slightly more expensive, also includes free access to their update site. RHN, on the other hand, will still be a yearly subscription if you want good access. This move has truly damaged the relationship Red Hat had with its userbase. Why should we push them in our workplace when we can no longer count on them for support? How can we justify the costs to CFO’s when they begin to rival MS for cost and even charge for patches? If people can no longer get a free Red Hat Linux for home, what computer enthusiast will start out on that distro? Sure there’s Fedora, but why not go to Debian or Slackware and maintain a unified distro choice. Maybe it’s time to switch to FreeBSD or OpenBSD. Regardless of the where people go, Red Hat has forced us to make that decision. And maybe this will end up helping them make more money, but they will certainly never again be viewed as the leader of this community.
I’m not going to move away from Linux (thebox certainly ain’t gonna run anything else :wink:), but I am now questioning what distro I will be running on it 6 months from now. I’ll be putting together a test machine when I have time and trying out different systems to pick the right one for me. But one thing is for certain: whoever wins me over here, will also win my support at work.