AOL in Negotiations to Acquire Red Hat

Luis Villa
19 Jan 2002 21:30:02 -0500

On Sat, 2002-01-19 at 21:01, Eirikur Hallgrimsson wrote:
> Well, that's surprising initiative on the part of AOL.   Rather unlike 
> them.  I want to believe that they're just bluffing Microsoft.   I suppose 
> they did buy Netscape, but look what they did with that.  

? Netscape had set themselves on the path to destruction well before
they were bought by AOL. All AOL did was fund them so that they could
continue to produce the most standards compliant browser available and
make sure it runs on basically any platform with a GUI. I'm not a big
fan of AOL, but they did more for Netscape than anyone would have,
including Netscape itself. If they hadn't bought Netscape, Netscape
would have gone under and never released anything past NS4.5.

> Red Hat is just 
> as small and eccentric as Netscape was.   Thank goodness Mandrake and Suse 
> are doing well.   For AOL to sink Red Hat would be sad, but not fatal to 
> Linux.

Yeah, Linux will do OK with or without Red Hat. The sad part is that Red
Hat had worked really hard to make Linux respectable in business (and to
build a really rock-solid distro) and that work will backslide until
another distro is popular enough and profitable enough to hire many of
the RH guys who do core work (like Alan and some of their GNOME guys.)

> I'm trying to imagine the dumbed-down Red Hat "AOL Linux" distro.
> 2/3 of the screen dedicated to advertizing at all times.

<shrug> Again, I'm not a big fan of AOL, but neither Moz nor Winamp are
particularly bloated with AOL ads; Moz (to the best of my knowledge)
doesn't have any of them at all. AOL's overall track record with regard
to free projects is in fact typically quite good.

Of course, because it is perceived as a soul stealer (and in some ways
it definitely is, even if it pays well) lots and lots of Red Hat people
will leave. And that is what will kill RH, much more than any action AOL
actually takes after a purchase.