The main theme of The Linux Week In Review 22 is a message to businesses: please respect the intelligence of your customers. Respect their ability to make decisions for themselves. Don’t allow companies to co-opt your products, no matter how tempting the money that they offer might be. I permanently lost a great deal of regard for both Oracle and my formerly beloved OpenOffice.org. One day a few months ago, I opened the latest version of OpenOffice.org Writer, and there was a HUGE Oracle badge within the application. My level of respect for Oracle immediately dropped, and it has never recovered since. I believe that companies that decide to invest in free software need to understand the culture before they try to enter it. If not, they run the danger if making fatal mistakes before they even realize them. Companies that understand free software, like Red Hat, only increase their reputations by collaborating with the free software community, not exploiting it. Red Hat’s behavior to date gives me confidence that they will give Gluster the same resources and attention that they give JBoss, Fedora, and MRG (Messaging, Realtime, and Grid functionality). India is only the latest country to embrace free software. The fact that they switched from Red Hat to Ubuntu demonstrates that GNU/Linux really does give the consumer choices, including the choice to say “no” to vendor lock-in. Finally, I have a huge announcement: I will reveal the candidate that I endorse!
- Red Hat to Buy Gluster
- India’s Supreme Court Directs Shift From RHEL to Ubuntu
- I’ve Looked At All of the Candidates, and I Endorse….
Red Hat to Buy Gluster
Red Hat is about to buy an open source storage company called Gluster, a maker of an open source distributed file system. Gluster allows a company or individual to create their own public or private cloud deployment. Gluster is a great addition to the Red Hat family of software, one that already has a very rich selection of choices. For example, starting with Fedora 16, Fedora will support Openstack, a cloud operating system created by Rackspace and NASA. Presumably, Openstack support will make its way from Fedora to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and this will allow customers to combine Gluster and Openstack in interesting ways in their cloud applications.
In the last edition of The Linux week in review, I gave a preview of Fedora 16. In this edition, I will discuss some conceptual differences between Oracle and Red Hat. These fundamental differences cause me to trust Red Hat, but reserve my trust as it relates to Oracle. There are many reasons for this, but one of the primary ones is this: Red Hat acquires open source companies, and then leverages these companies to give their customers more freedom and more choices. Oracle, in my humble opinion, seems to buy companies with only one goal in mind: to make as much money from the company as possible. If it does not see any way to monetize the purchase, it simply dumps the product, as it recently did with OpenOffice.org. However, there is an unseen cost in this kind of behavior. Each time that I see Red Hat buy an open source company and nurture it, even if they may be losing some money on the deal, I gain a little bit more faith in Red Hat. When I see Oracle use a company or product up, and then dump it like yesterday’s trash, I not only lose faith in Oracle, I lose faith in the product. I used OpenOffice.org for 7 years, but I will never use it again. Oracle so damaged the product that Libreoffice is now a much better choice for a myriad of reasons. Oracle could take a hard lesson from Red Hat when it comes to developing loyalty, and brand confidence.
I wish Red Hat nothing but success in their Gluster venture.
India’s Supreme Court Directs Shift From RHEL to Ubuntu
The Supreme Court of India recently directed all Indian courts to switch from Red Hat Enterprise Linux to Ubuntu 10.04. The exact reason for the switch is not yet clear, but a logical possibility is that the court system wants to save money on support costs. I would venture that the court probably wants to use the Ubuntu software for free, and train its people to provide their own support for it. As much as I love Red Hat, I am happy that the Indian court system decided to stay with Linux. It would have been worse had they decided to switch from Red Hat to Windows. Red Hat is doing well enough that I don’t think that this will have a significant impact on their bottom line: Red Hat will be fine.
In my opinion, the more significant development is that governments, organizations, stock exchanges, etc. are developing uniform platforms based on GNU/Linux. I believe that there are more than enough customers to go around. Red Hat, Canonical, and Suse can all be very successful Linux vendors in the current economic climate. India has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and it is inevitable that other Indian organizations will follow the Supreme Court’s Linux lead.
I’ve Looked At All of the Candidates, and I Endorse….
co-opt: To take or assume for one’s own use; appropriate. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com)
I find it very difficult to support candidates that have been co-opted by special interests. In 2010, the disgraced from Democratic Representative from New York, Rep. Anthony David Weiner, described the Republican Party as a “wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry”. Whether you agree with his assessment or not, this point is well taken: people expect the organizations that they support to put one interest above all else: that of their customers. Imagine this scenario: your favorite soft-drink is Coca-Cola. You go into your local grocery store, and head to the beverage aisle. You find that all of the shelves have Pepsi in the front! To get the Coca-Cola, you have to dig behind the Pepsi, and pull the Coca-Cola out from the back. You talk to the store manager, and he tells you that Pepsi paid a lot of money to have Pepsi placed in the front, and Coca-Cola pushed all the way to the back. How likely would you be to EVER patronize that establishment again? I would counter Rep. Weiner’s assessment: I propose that all political parties have been co-opted by someone: the unions, the insurance industry, the software industry, the banking industry etc. Very few politicians or institutions are immune. So what is the solution? To ban lobbyists and special interests, and put the end-user first!
I run a web design business, and I am currently planning a client’s web site. I love the performance of the MySQL free software database; I have used it for years. However, when I went to the MySQL download page, I was greeted by a HUGE MySQL installer for Windows banner. It was very clear that Microsoft probably paid a lot of money to have Oracle promote MySQL for Windows, while downplaying it on other platforms. Here is the problem that I have with this: I have no problem with a sponsor buying advertising space on a website. However, I DO NOT like for a product that I rely on and use on a daily basis to be co-opted by one company, especially one that is not friendly towards my primary platform. Software built for multiple platforms SHOULD be platform agnostic. They should trust the user to be smart enough to make their own choices. That is why I do not like the “We Recommend Windows 7” stickers on laptops. Your job as a laptop manufacturer is to sell me a good product, not to coerce me to use one product over another. Another example of this kind of co-opting is bundled downloads. I recently wanted to download Quicktime to watch some videos on my Windows 7 machine. However, when I went to download Quicktime, I was “offered” the opportunity to download a bunch of other add-on products. I cancelled the Quicktime download. If I had wanted to download other products, I would search for them myself, and downloaded them. I don’t want to visit a website, and be greeted by a full page ad offering to take me to a different website. If I see this kind of ad on a website, I will never come back. So this brings me back to MySQL. When I saw how thoroughly Oracle appears to have sold out to Microsoft, I immediately thought about Representative Wiener’s “wholly owned subsidiary” comment. If Oracle is just going to be a shill for Microsoft, then they should rebrand the company as follows: Oracle – A Division of the Microsoft Corporation.
After my rather unpleasant experience on the MySQL website, I visited MariaDB (http://downloads.askmonty.org/mariadb/). Here is what I liked about the MariaDB download page:
It was completely platform agnostic: they did not push Linux over Windows or Windows over Solaris.
It was clean, and it was respectful of my ability to make decisions for myself.
Let me make one thing clear: I am not saying that Oracle is a bad company. They are not; they make great products. I have been trying to figure out the fundamental difference between Red Hat and Oracle. I now know what it is: Red Hat puts the CUSTOMER first; Oracle puts PROFITS first. Both methods lead to a company being successful, but the former method leads to a company with more loyal customers, and a better reputation.
The time has come for me to announce the candidate that I will support. I have looked at ALL of the candidates, and I have come to a conclusion. I fully endorse MariaDB as the best open source database.
Choice is a wonderful thing. If a bank charges exorbitant or unethical fees, the best thing that a person can do is to fire them, walk across the street, and open an account with their competitor. My good friend, Dr. Richard Stallman, caused some controversy with his recent statements about Apple’s founder, the late Steve Jobs. I don’t agree with Stallman’s comments. I believe in freedom, just as Dr. Stallman does, but I have a somewhat different interpretation of what freedom means. To me, freedom means being allowed to use the solution that YOU feel most comfortable with, free from coercion, punishment, or condemnation. If you love Apple computers, and if they make you the most productive, then they are the right choice for you. I have chosen GNU/Linux as the best solution for me, and I wish that Microsoft, Best Buy, and other vendors would respect my decision. I wish that I could walk into Best Buy, choose a laptop without an operating system and with no “We Recommend Windows 7” sticker. I wish that they would take the price for Windows 7 off of the price of the laptop. I am intelligent to take the laptop home and install GNU/Linux myself.
Rush Limbaugh is, in my opinion, a great entertainer, but he is often very mean-spirited and EXTREMELY partisan/closed-minded. However, he recently had a very moving monologue about Steve Jobs during his show. He said that though Steve Jobs was a liberal (Rush’s words, not mine), he greatly admired Job’s greatness. Limbaugh continued that getting a new Apple product returned him to the feeling of anticipation that he felt at Christmas during his childhood. Rush said that he immediately recognized and admired greatness in any form. He saw that Jobs and Apple embodied greatness. I COMPLETELY agree with him on this.
Steve Jobs was a perfectionist, and it showed. His products were walled gardens, but they worked perfectly. I remember a couple of years ago, I went to a friend’s house to record some music. He had a Mac-based recording studio. It was one of the most amazing things that I had ever seen! Everything just worked together seamlessly. We in the GNU/Linux community AND those in the Windows community should be jealous of some of the things that Apple and Jobs accomplished. They make truly superior products. Does this mean that I am going to switch to Apple? Absolutely not. I recognize a superior product, but fortunately, I also recognize that having the source code available to me allows me to do MOST of what that great “walled” software allows me to do. In other words, GNU/Linux allows me to do 99.99% of what I would ever want to do, and that 0.01% is NOT enough to get me to switch. I can admire great, but closed, products from afar. What I do hope is that we in the free software community mimic these characteristic of Steve Jobs: his perfectionism, his attention to detail, and his tenacity. In my opinion, GNU/Linux is already the best solution overall, and Jobs-like inspiration could make it even better.
Have a great week all! I’ll see YOU in The Linux Week in Review 23.