[Linux-aus] Red Hat

Bret Busby bret at busby.net
Tue Sep 23 12:55:02 UTC 2003

On Tue, 23 Sep 2003, David Lloyd wrote:

> Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2003 12:36:33 +0930
> From: David Lloyd <dlloyd at microbits.com.au>
> To: Bret Busby <bret at busby.net>
> Cc: Linux Australia List <linux-aus at lists.linux.org.au>
> Subject: Re: [Linux-aus] Red Hat
> or this
> http://www.redhat.com/about/corporate/trademark/guidelines/page6.html

Now, from that and the surrounding web pages, if my understanding is 
correct, the terms are basically these; if a person, Linux User Group 
or educational institution, makes copies of Red Hat Linux and 
distributes the copies without any charges other than for replication 
and handling, that is okay, but, if a business makes copies of Red Hat 
Linux, and sells the copies outside the business (sells the copies to 
parties other than departments or people within the business), then the 
business is not allowed to either use the name Red Hat Linux, in 
relation to the Red Hat Linux, or, include the Red Hat logos in the Red 
Hat Linux software.

Thus, Linux Australia, PLUG, etc, are allowed to make copies ad 
infinitum, and, supply them to members, charging "reasonable" 
replication and distribution costs, as copies of Red Hat Linux, and 
people who are not businesses, may do the same, but businesses like 
EverythingLinux, LinuxWA, etc, are not allowed to make copies and 
distribute them as copies of Red Hat Linux.

What a strange thing.

It appears that Red hat, with those restrictions, are attempting to 
reduce commercial distribution of copies of Red Hat Linux and therefore 
reduce usage of Red Hat Linux, especially in commerce and government.

As an example, if my local government wants a copy of Red Hat Linux to 
evaluate, and therefore, wants just copies of the disk set (3 disks or 
five disks or whatever), they cannot obtain them from someone like 
LinuxWA or EverythingLinux, who should have relative high quality 
replication facilities, ensuring much more reliable replication than 
copies made by an individual. Thus, a person who perhaps does not have 
much experience at replicating Linux distribution CD's, and/or has 
equipment that is not so good, sypplies the local government with a 
copy, which has a flaw or flaws in the copying (like a CD in a previous 
copy that led to several comments on the PLUG list), which leads to 
great problems in attempting to instal and run the distribution, leading 
to the local government abandoning the prospect of switching to Red Hat 
Linux, as an unstable distribution, based on the copy that was provided 
to the local government, which was prohibited by Red Hat from obtaining 
a superior copy of the distribution, as businesses are no longer allowed 
to replicate and market replications of the distribution.

That means that Red Hat has lost the particular local government and 
each computer within the local government, as potential installations, 
due to the restrictions imposed by Red Hat.

An example of a local government that switched to Linux, is from memory 
the Cornish County Council, which had an installation of 850 Linux 
systems. Such a site could be a significant site for Linux, for the 
company that manufactured the distribution (eg, Red Hat), for the 
company that provided the Linux to the local government, to Linux 
professionals that provide support to the local government, etc, and, 
therefore, for the Linux community as a whole, both within Cornwall (in 
that case), and, internationally, due to the effects of the 
installation. I understand that local governments in the USA, that have 
switched to Linux, number their Liunx systems in the thousands, or tens 
of thousands, per local government.

And, all it takes, is for an IT manager to use a well-replicated copy of 
a Linux distribution, as a successful evaluation copy, convincing the IT 
manager, and thence the local government, business, or government 
department,to commence a migration to Linux.

And, equally, all it takes, is for an IT manager to use a flawed copy of 
a Linux distribution, as an evaluation copy, getting a bad impression of 
Linux, or of the distribution, and condemning Linux as unstable and 
unreliable, dismissing it as a waste of time, never to be tried again, 
for the enterprise. This is the more likely outcome, now that businesses 
are not allowed to replicate and market copies of Red Hat Linux, which 
replications should be considerably cheaper to obtain than official 
boxed sets, and, therefore, better for evaluation copies.

It appears to me, to be a case of Red Hat shooting itself in the foot, 
as far as trying to get used commercially is concerned, especially with 
one or two, and posibly more, Linux retail businesses in WA, apparently 
writing Red Hat off as not worth the trouble, and the flow-on effects of 
that, thus Red Hat loses potential customers.

Ah, what tangled webs they weave...

Bret Busby
West Australia

"So once you do know what the question actually is,
 you'll know what the answer means."
- Deep Thought,
  Chapter 28 of 
  "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
  A Trilogy In Four Parts",
  written by Douglas Adams, 
  published by Pan Books, 1992 

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