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The Closing of the Bazaar - page 2

Paying the Price of Success

  • September 8, 2003
  • By Brian Proffitt

Red Hat, Inc. is raised quite a bit in conversations with industry participants as what is really right with Linux, and what is also really wrong.

The complaints usually go something like this: a customer approaches Red Hat, by far the most recognized name associated with Linux by those just outside the open source community. The customer says: "I need Linux to do X, Y, and Z. Can you do this for us?" To which Red Hat may reply, "Sure, we can help you! But while we can do X, we're not quite up to speed on Y, so there may be some lost functionality. And Z? No way at all. You'll have to do U, V, and W instead, which is close enough to Z for jazz."

Clearly, this is oversimplifying the issue and painting Red Hat in a somewhat callous light. But it is hard to ignore the frequency of these complaints, as Red Hat seems to be taking advantage of its position as the Linux market leader to structure solutions for customers that may not be 100% what the customer wanted in the first place.

It is true, obviously, that there are some things Red Hat Linux is not able to do yet, like any other piece of software. But when any distributor tries to change a customer's IT plan just so the customer will be left with a larger percentage of only that distributor's software, there is a problem that goes against the very essence of what Linux is about: choice.

It is, in essence, vendor lock-in.

The takeover of the bazaar entrance.

It is the closing of Linux.

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