Re: Commercial Open Source

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From: Cynthia Dale (
Date: Fri Jan 14 2000 - 16:38:18 PST

Hi! (:

While there were some problems with the software that you mention, let's
not just write the whole thing off as "declining," please. (: I work in
support, so I'm -well- aware of the problems. I worked on and put up the
Gotchas, which you can find at, to try to
help our techs as well as our customers, deal with these problems. I've
been thru all releases since 5.0, and, while this was a particularly
difficult one because of the installer problems, there were many other
good things that happened with this release, including:

kudzu -- Take the computer apart, put a new <insert supported hardware
here> in, and voila, when you boot, it says something like "You have a new
<whatever>, do you want me to configure it?" This has helped us lots and
lots in support.

wvdial -- While Red Hat can't take credit for having written this, it was
a very good decision to ship this. Our #1 question is about PPP
connectivity, and I've told people to use this without -one- failure, not
counting winmodem problems.

RAID support during the install is MUCH better.

sysreport -- written by my roommate/co-worker, Wil Harris. If you're
having problems of whatever kind, run this, and send the output to your
favorite guru and it will tell you just about everything about the state
of the system as it stands, including hardware config, etc.

These are just a few of the positive things that happened. I think the
most profound and wonderful change that's happened is that we have an
awesome support team, who has written many great docs for public
consumption, gone out to maillists, etc to help people with problems, etc.
Our team has an increasing amount of respect from devel, as we have worked
to help them deal with bugs more quickly than ever before. We're also
better equipped than ever to serve the needs of any company who seeks
enterprise support.

Some of the problems we've had have been growing pains, others are
problems we've always had that just need a constant low hum from support
to eventually fix, but many are due to the nature of the project itself,
which is a living project, large and with a mind of its own. (:

Remembering 5.0, with glibc (OMG THEY'RE SHIPPING BETA LIBS????), and
MetroX, 6.0 was quite tame. As for the "backlash," I have seen many more
way2gos than Usucks as of late. We have gotten pats on the back from each
of our "competitors," as they know that someone has to lead the way for
this to happen in a big way. Sure, you're gonna have a bunch of people
who have no idea at all about what's going on saying, "They're just like
Microsoft," but until we stop giving the OS away on high speed sites for
free and until we stop releasing the source for -everything- we write, and
until we stop putting back into the community our hours of hard work, I'll
laugh at these people, and so will everyone else. As my mom used to say,
"They're just jealous." (: I think a good example of why we will
overcome these problems in a successful way in a continuous manner is
this: Matthew has given us the challenge of making Red Hat Linux easy to
use by his 90 (?) year old father, who's not very computer literate. It's
pretty common to hear around the office, "Yeh, okay, but would Matthew's
dad be able to understand/do this?" Not that Matthew was the first to
instill this kind of thinking; we've always tried to keep our sights on
someone's dad. (:


P.S. I am working mega hours on the support site, and we're about to
revamp it once again on Monday (and again and again until we feel it's
"perfect" HAH). I've noticed a trend on maillists and chat rooms of
pointing folks to our site for help, and have felt the effects of this in
my role as faq-maintainer@, so this is a plus as well. If any of you want
to take a look at and give me input, I'll be glad
to listen. (:

On Fri, 14 Jan 2000, Manoj Kasichainula wrote:

> On Fri, Jan 14, 2000 at 07:51:18AM -0800, Gregory Alan Bolcer wrote:
> > A couple of interesting things, I hadn't realized there was a
> > backlash against RHAT from the open source community. Can anyone
> > confirm that or is this just some Forbes fiction?
> Part of it, as rst noted, is just Slashdotters being Slashdotters
> ("Red Hat is the next Microsoft!" and so on).
> But, the quality of Red Hat releases has been declining as of late
> (Sorry, Silly). How they could release the installer in the condition
> it was in is beyond me. And, a serious (but simple to fix, AFAIK) bug
> in their Apache RPM, which was causing plenty of tech-support
> headaches for third-party module teams like PHP's, took *months* to
> fix. Part of the "backlash" stems from these kinds of problems.
> - Manoj
> Still faithful to Red Hat...

Cynthia J. Dale
Technical Engineer/FAQ maintainer
Red Hat, Inc.


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