Rich Freeman on 6 Mar 2011 03:24:29 -0800

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Re: [PLUG] Exactly what is RedHat doing?

On Sat, Mar 5, 2011 at 7:42 PM, JP Vossen <> wrote:
> OK, seriously, I thought of that too, and that's a good point.  1 giant
> patch is a lot harder make sense of than smaller purpose-specific ones.  But
> have you ever looked at the SRPM for an RHEL kernel?  I haven't, but I
> looked at the SRPM for the CentOS kernel a few months ago.  It was way ugly,
> with (IIRC) hundreds of patches.
> If this sticks it's sure not going to help, but IMO it's only making a bad
> situation worse.

RHEL contributes all patches upstream, right?

>From what I've heard (which might not be true), RH has quite a few
full-time engineers focused on stuff like the kernel and other key
linux packages.  When problems arise they tend to be on the front line
with fixing them.  They contribute their patches upstream, which means
everybody gets to benefit for free from a bunch of really good
salaried linux devs.  It is also nice for really good kernel hackers
to have someplace to work.

Now, if you're an RHEL customer then you directly benefit from these
guys staying on top of the code that you're running, and you have
access to them as a support resource (though likely indirectly).  If
you're not one of their customers you still benefit, but likely a
little later in time and with fewer guarantees and nobody to yell at
if something gets missed.

Overall, I don't really see what they're doing as "bad for linux" -
they're contributing labor but ensuring that there is somewhat of a
premium value to paying them for it.  Most decent distros stay on top
of security bugs/etc, so many don't need this premium.  I think RH is
just trying to avoid making it so easy for other distros that their
customers have no real reason to stick with them.

This is part of a larger trend too - I remember Shuttleworth was
talking some time ago about trying to do things like get all distros
to standardize on key dependency versions/etc.  RH basically told him
that they weren't interested.  From their perspective they already
lean on all kinds of people to work with their standards, and as a
result they know what the future looks like already so that they can
provide a well-integrated product.  They saw the move as a way for
other distros to basically eliminate this source of distinction and
thus reduce their value-add.  I think of it this way - RH probably
stays on top of things by having lots of devs plugged into lots of key
FOSS projects.  So, this knowledge comes at a price of generally
helping out everybody.  My feeling is that they're paying their dues,
and they should probably be given a little bit of a break when it
comes to making payroll.

Just my two cents...  A little disclaimer, I don't deal much with
linux in the enterprise so I don't have much firsthand experience with
RHEL/etc.  I do work in a big IT organization and can imagine some of
the things they would be targeting from a marketing perspective.

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