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jeremy 12-05-2003 10:04 AM

Followup Interview with Jeremy Hogan of Red Hat
With all of the recent Fedora and RHEL news, I thought another interview with Jeremy Hogan was in order. He was kind enough to agree to get badgered again. Thanks Jeremy.



LQ) Now that the dust from the RHL EOL/Fedora announcement has settled a bit, what are your thoughts on how it played out?

JH) As well as it could have in many respects. We had an awful lot of users putting Red Hat Linux (across many versions) all over the place. But it was all still Red Hat Linux by name to them, so to see that name go, is to see the whole thing go. And on came the "Red Hat throws out baby, keeps bathwater" headlines.

LQ) Did it go as planned?

JH) There was a lot we couldn't plan for, but mostly.

LQ) Do you feel that in the long run the lack of a freely downloadable RHL will hurt the "Red Hat brand"?

JH) No, I think Fedora will develop it's own distinct brand attributes, and people will gravitate, or opt-in to the solution that suits them.

Again, with RHL you had both worlds under one name, so now it's easy to tell in a lot of respects what you should use if you want a freely downloadable (and I'd add installable, ISO'd etc) since Red Hat Enterprise Linux is available for download as well.

We still have gaps to fill in the small business/home office end, but developers can have Fedora, or get RHEL for free in an upcoming program. The new education program has some great pricing, we have a great pricing incentive on ES/WS right now for those c/o price, so you see the initial complaints being addressed. In the end, I think it will
strengthen the brand.

LQ) How has the announcement affected Red Hat internally?

JH) Our culture mirrors the community reaction. It ran the gamut, as you'd expect. I think folks internally thought very long and hard about how this was going to work out. This is part of a bigger plan to really promote our strengths and the strengths of open source technology while identifying and addressing the gaps.

LQ) What is the consensus from the average Red Hat employee?

JH) Well, we've known about it internally for some time, so it's down to execution for us.

LQ) Was the backlash from the Linux community a bit stronger than was anticipated?

JH) Yes and no, I think people got too alarmed by Matthew Szulik's interview. I think it was mis-interpreted starting with the article's headline and on it went.

I'm surprised that some of the people who missed the "free as in free *and* free" RHL ISOs on ftp, did not opt for Fedora.

And I think I'm always surprised at the skepticism toward Red Hat. To me Linux advocates bashing Linux advocates does Microsoft's work for them. It plays into the FUD that we are an angry mob.

LQ) What misconception(s) do you see most often?

JH) That's it's only about money for us. It's really an overt effort on our part to keep things in balance, you donate a million dollars to defend the GPL on one hand, you develop your markets on the other.

LQ) Reading between the lines a bit, a recent comment from Mr. Szulik seemed to indicate that he felt consumer desktop Linux was sufficiently immature that Red Hat doesn't want to offer it, but when it does mature enough Red Hat will get into that market. Any comments?

JH) The consumer desktop is a pretty big market, and we already have a chunk of it, but it's fickle, it's full of folks happy enough, or used to what they have. It's full of people using technology because they have to, or using an OS because it came installed. A number of things have to be right to really get into that, technological superiority, as we've seen is not enough or else OSX would have the desktop. (I've decided to make it a tradition of plugging OSX in these interviews.)

Windows isn't even as seamless as some folks make it out to be as far as hardware and tech support, it's just well past critical mass in adoption.

As we develop ISV/IHV support, OEM pre-loads, k-12 and university adoption, drive toward web services, and just plain continually improving the total OS experience those things fall into place.

You'll know when we think it's ready.

LQ) Red Hat had become, at least in the US, the de facto Linux distro (ie. for many people Linux meant Red Hat). This large install base helped ensure that almost any Linux application was available in RPM format. Do you think this trend will continue with Fedora?

JH) Yes, it makes it even more transparent as to how we develop, it is very encouraging for supplementary projects to be able to develop (e.g. Fedora Legacy) and for folks to re-distribute it, and base products on it. We've also shown with Fedora our ability to deal with apt and yum, third party projects, etc.

LQ) On a similar note do you feel that the much lower number of RHEL (when compared to RHL) installs will affect Q/A?

JH) RHEL is based on RHL and in the future will draw from Fedora.

Fedora was probably the most widely tested release we've done. So I don't think any QA we got externally due to mass install of RHL was diminished. In fact it should grow.

LQ) It has been said that the retail RHL product was in fact profitable. Demand for the product is high enough that companies such as Progeny will continue supporting it after EOL. Can you share with us some of the factors that went into the decision to EOL?

JH) The EOL was due to the split, if we didn't EOL, we'd have three distros. I think companies sized right to support their focus can find a market. For us to continue RHL support would either mean not delivering on our enterprise line or our commitment to Fedora. Or both.

LQ) Looking at the updated Fedora leadership draft, it seems like Fedora took a step closer to being what RHL used to be. Do you feel that is a fair statement? Any comment?

JH) We are working very hard at an objective criteria for selection of community leaders. We want to make sure we have as broad a range of competencies and viewpoints represented as we can. Inside we have such roles either defined or by behavior, and it made sense to keep that for the initial launch. So it may look like RHL from the leadership stand point now, but it will look like Fedora.

LQ) How has the new RHPW product been received?

JH) I don't know how well it sold since the numbers for the quarter aren't out. We might have done better with a server suite, but who knows.

LQ) Are there any plans to make the RHN entitlement (for RHPW) renewable?

JH) We've gotten a lot of feedback about it, I don't know what the final word is yet. I would guess we'll incent RHPW folks to convert to WS at the end of the first year.

LQ) The Educational pricing that was recently announced for RHEL was, in my opinion, a very good move. Companies like Microsoft and Sun also offer site licenses to the largest clients. Is this something Red Hat is considering? Are any other licensing options being considered?

JH) If you look at the pricing you can have unlimited connects for personal hardware running WS, or priced what they call FTEs (which is how site licensing for MS is set), or per unit.

Pretty much any way you can get it from any other vendor. We're going all the way with .edu so we'll consult with each school to see which model fits them best.

LQ) Would Red Hat ever consider a free, but 100% unsupported, version of RHEL to get the usage base back or is Fedora all you see in the foreseeable future?

JH) You mean like ISOs I take it? We have a developer program announcing soon that will provide it for free for development purposes. We have a demo/eval coming for the user/admin side.

LQ) What are your thoughts on the recent acquisition of Suse by Novell?

JH) It's a great validation of Linux, it's an interesting move for Novell. You can see where they're heading with it, it's execution time now.

LQ) With the recent compromises of both Debian, Gentoo and Savannah is there any concern inside Red Hat that you may also be targeted?

JH) We are above all that. We rule, we are invincible.

Ahem. Sorry.

Security is a state of mind, we assume at all times we are a target.

LQ) Have you taken any additional precautions?

JH) Since then? Not process-wise that I know of, since we weren't compromised. We patched anything needing patching, lickety split, that's for sure.

I think the incident is a fine example of how the Linux and security community work to resolve these things when they do happen. Maybe Ballmer can get some more recent data about Linux security, if nothing else.

LQ) What are your thoughts on UserLinux?

JH) It's a great boost for Debian efforts (meaning the part of the announcement regarding funding). I'm not sure what some of the statements about "proprietary open source" were about, but you say what makes the trades, I guess. I'm still not sure if it's an effort to get funding being Debian-based distros, or a reaction to things Red Hat is doing, or what.

We'll see. Maybe they'll join UnitedLinux and really stick it to us. :-D

LQ) Do you think it poses a legitimate threat to RHEL?

JH) Not really. Not yet, anyway. I tend to look outside the community for the enemy and we've got bigger, imminent threats right now. So do they, for that matter and everyone else too busy kicking our shins to notice.

LQ) What is your response to Bruce Perens' comment that Linux distribution does not work well as a profit center?

JH) I think he means that it's tough to differentiate in that space. Past models showed that selling the instance of the bits was the only way to get paid. You can't do that with the GPL, so you work to become the low cost, efficiency experts.

We're certainly hearing from folks wanting boxed sets with books and CDs, and our retail line is profitable (despite support entitlements coming off out of boxed product pricing) but it scales it self out fast, unless it's all you do or just one of many.

For us, we know that the service, support, and the solution stack is where it's heading on the revenue side. People want solutions.

jailbait 12-05-2003 04:34 PM

I was favorably impressed enough with the reasoning behind the creation of Fedora to switch to Fedora after using SuSE for over three years.

Be prepared. Create a LifeBoat CD.

Steve Stites

dbryson 12-05-2003 05:57 PM

This sucks and Fedora crashes on install
Well, I can't get Fedora to install on machines that I have RH9.0 on because the installer keeps crashing. This has me looking elsewhere.

I just installed (couple of months ago) 6 servers running RH9.0 in a small business with the intention of signing up for RHN after we proved it worked, but what do I do now? Given the pricing of the new RH enterprise server, we would have been better off to have purchased the servers with Win 2003 Server installed.

I'm glad to hear they will be offering some sort of free development version, since as a developer I wasn't going to shell out the bucks to test on RH anything much less even make RPM's probably. I wonder if we won't see the number of RPM's available drop.

r1_97 12-05-2003 05:58 PM

Most of the desktop users I've talked with are switching from RH9 to SuSe rather than to Fedora. The feeling is that without RH directly behind the distro, it's not going to be stable.

jhogan 12-05-2003 06:34 PM

Fedora support
>The feeling is that without RH directly behind the distro, it's not going to be stable.

I've seen this complaint, but people have to realize that without Fedora Core, there is no RHEL future. We have to have a proving ground, and a development process. Walkign away from Fedora is walking away from everything.

We committed to assigning engineers to Fedora Core and opened the door for Fedora Extras and Alternates, to be sure we could commit for good.

noshellswill 12-05-2003 06:59 PM

Plenty of us home business / casual lusrs - who payed for RH_6/7/8/9 and rhn - had already turned their distro to a single_purpose . Say tax+business expense databasing thru MySQL ... or geoanalytics with GRASSx.. We had/have NO interest in the "enterprise" and none-whatsoever in the byteboyz *nix bleeding edge.
Call us risk_adverse. We would have been happy to pay $60/year forever to RedHat for the service of maintaining a secure & modestly current Linux install.

We got orphaned ... say 50,000 x $60/year ... you would figure that $$$ was insentive for RedHat to chat with us. HAhahaha. Not no --- but hellno.

drink 12-05-2003 08:07 PM

Re: Fedora support

Originally posted by jhogan
Walkign away from Fedora is walking away from everything.

We committed to assigning engineers to Fedora Core and opened the door for Fedora Extras and Alternates, to be sure we could commit for good.

Walking away from a free red hat linux with an updated, supported stable branch, is walking away from the users who like linux both Free and free. Lots of people committed to a Linux distribution which cost them no money. They gave their time, their effort, their bug reports, and their mass to red hat linux. The perception is that fedora is not going to be stable. Since people are having trouble with it already, it would seem to be justified.

One hand washes the other.

JEric 12-05-2003 09:09 PM

I was planning to use RedHat Linux 9 for my home network's webserver. After hearing about RedHat's plan I wasn't too worried about using it still, since I tend to not use RedHat's own services -- I'm picky about how I have things setup. But after many linux friends started 'freaking' perhaps over RedHat's move I decided against it. RedHat was my first distro I ever used.. I felt somewhat betrayed aswell.. I even took a picture of RH at staples, amazed to see the workstation is selling at $90.

Edit: This isn't flaming RedHat or anything. I totally support their move for profitting and such, it only pushes linux into more use since corps like all this support thats being offered, but i dunno.. "think about the little ppl!" :P

jhogan 12-05-2003 09:14 PM

>Lots of people committed to a Linux distribution which cost them no money gave their time, their effort, their bug reports, and their mass to red hat linux.

We have a Linux distribution which costs them no money, and if they are willing to trade some of their own work to keep it working, then Fedora still fits. If you mean folks wanting to run a free production ready OS, it's as production ready as RHL 10 would have been at the bit level.

We anticipate releasing errata for each release for a period of time. Folks not wanting to upgrade when we shift, but among this "meet halfway" crowd can still deal with that. So now it's not Red Hat and users in a tit for tat, there is a greater way for 3rd party, extra and alternative packages, and supplementary projects to help. Efforts like Fedora Legacy for example. There are forum communities like this and the fedora lists to augment support.

IMO, Fedora is as stable as you help make it. If you want Red Hat to make it stable, you go with the lifecycle of Fedora Core, and move when it moves, or you go with the enterprise offering, which admitedly does not yet address the range of SOHO/SMB needs.

There's still a gap of folks wanting things like $60 year errata, or lower pricing on WS/ES and we'll have something in that space. But we have to find the right balance.

jeremy 12-05-2003 09:55 PM

A small addition to the interview for two frequently asked questions:

LQ) What does RH think of the repackaged RHEL distros (whiteboxlinux and cAos2 EL come to mind).

JH) It's a perfect example of the power of the GPL. They can do whatever they want. We sell RHEL with a stack of support and services, so it's not competition in the usual sense.

LQ) In the interview you made a mention that there would have been three distro's (ie RHL, RHEL and Fedora). Most people are under the impression that Fedora replaced RHL. What was the reasoning behind supporting Fedora when you had RHL and what made you decide to choose keeping Fedora over RHL?

JH) Recall that the first name of Fedora was the "Red Hat Linux Project", so it's roots were still deep in RHL. Which was okay with us, but merging with Fedora Linux and changing the name helped differentiate things further, and brought with it a nice system for integrating 3rd party contributions.

So we planned to split into community and commercial all along, the naming and such are an evolution of how that worked out. In our view RHL didn't just become Fedora, RHL split into RHEL and Fedora.


jeremy 12-05-2003 09:57 PM


There's still a gap of folks wanting things like $60 year errata, or lower pricing on WS/ES and we'll have something in that space. But we have to find the right balance.
Is something already in the works for this, or is it just a space you realized needs to be filled? This is one of the last remaining peices to the puzzle IMHO.


techchiq 12-05-2003 11:35 PM

A couple months ago, I purchased Pink Tie 9 Linux from It was easier on my budget, since I have a very limited income. I was very impressed with the ease of installation and now it's the only OS on my computer (my eMachines eTower came with Windows 98, which I later upgraded to Win98SE). I was frustrated with all the "security patches" and stuff I'd need to download every time I had to reinstall Windows (which was quite often) and they didn't have patches you could download and save, you had to re-download them, the only way to get them. Then the constant scan for viruses, spyware, downloading updates for each, etc. I gave up.

I've used various versions of Slackware and Red Hat for a few years now, but not much - just trying it here and there for a little while but nothing would (up to now) support all the hardware I used or had all the functionality I needed. Pink Tie (Red Hat) 9 has everything I need and works wonderfully.

Coming from the MS world, where you buy Windows, and you really don't get any (intelligent or easy to access) tech support from MS themselves, I am very used to getting help/answers from sources other than the manufacturer. So I never even gave it a thought about RH dropping support for their Linux distro and going enterprise, etc. It doesn't affect me, even though I'm a home-desktop user. The reason why is because once you get a basic Linux installed, you can always just go download some kernel sources and recompile the kernel to fix any problems, or get other software (mostly in source code form). ./configure, make, make install is so easy to remember. I don't even think twice. I've compiled/customized kernels in Slackware 8 and I think RH 5 so I didn't really have any qeezies about that idea either.

Pink Tie came with Gimp 1.2, but I opted to download and use 1.3.23 (unstable development version) and help debug it (I've already submitted a few things to bugzilla and got good responses), I also am awaiting KDE 3.2. So really, I look for my updates from the writers of each software package, not run to RH for an RPM when something comes up. Being on dialup and no need to run any servers, some stuff doesn't even apply to me anyway.

I'm happy with my Distro. I can maintain it myself easy enough and if I have questions/problems, I know of places to get help. Same methods I had to use with Windows, since there's no "real" support for it - not really.

However, being that Linux was supposedly a free OS put together by developers who volunteer their time and code, I always felt that anyone *selling* Linux for a profit is in a way kinda defying the whole idea behind Linux to begin with. In fact, I go by the old hacker's idiom: "Information SHOULD be free!" However, I do like to support companies that do create things I use and are NICE to me. Jasc software is one - I've helped them beta test Paint Shop Pro since version 5 (been using it since ver. 4.x and now have v. 8.1 running in LINUX under Wine - yes, it works! See for my article on that!) CheapBytes are a good company so I don't mind paying for some CDs (saves me time and possible corrupted files via Dialup anyway). As for Red Hat, if they had something I was very intersted in and that I could afford, I'd buy. But I'm careful with my limited funds, so right now RH's offerings are out of my reach.

I also like to have my OS as stable as possible. I do like to do a bit of coding now and then but I don't have the time/energy to really run a development system, since I don't have $$ for another machine and the one I do have has to also take care of my normal home-computing needs as well. So a stable OS is a necessity. I make backups, yes, as I do blitz things from my experimenting as it is. Another reason I'd rather have a stable OS! So I know it's me and not the OS! :D

As for RH's Fedora project, I would buy it from CheapBytes and try it, but I don't have the time/energy for that. So I'm staying with PT9 (RH9) for now. My projects right now are getting Paint Shop Pro 8.1 running fully and reliably in WINE (and helping with the WINE project if I am able) and helping with debugging with the GIMP project. That's enough for me. :)

I wish Red Hat the best of luck with Fedora, though, and I'll be watching. I guess the "wait and see" approach might be the best thing to do right now, rather than knee-jerk reactions (which seem to kick innocent bystanders in the shin ;) )

bgmilne 12-06-2003 05:43 AM

Re: orphaned

Originally posted by noshellswill
Say tax+business expense databasing thru MySQL ... or geoanalytics with GRASSx.. We had/have NO interest in the "enterprise" and none-whatsoever in the byteboyz *nix bleeding edge.

Well, then wouldn't it be more sensible to run a distro that actually ships packages of grass (and many related packages such as up-to-date gdal, mapserver etc etc) instead?

Like Mandrake, for which (depending on which release you run) you can also get cvs builds of grass51/57.

vql 12-06-2003 06:34 AM

Old RedHat 6.2/7.0
And what about older versions of RedHat, such as RedHat 6.2 and 7.0.
I know a number of people are still using these products.
Is there any way to get support for these versions from RedHat?
The major problem with support of older RedHat versions is kernel and glibc.
Regular packages can be copied from Fedora without much difficulitiy.

Peter, Webmaster of Freelance BBS: Freelance and Outsourcing Marketplace

Necrogram 12-06-2003 08:17 AM

rhl to rhel migration
Mr Hogan,

in all of this migration, one minor detail got left out. The actual migration details to get a rhl box to rhel.....

see the problem i'm in, and perhaps i'm not alone in this issue, is i have a few boxes running my infrastructure services on some slightly older redhat build (7.3 and 8.0). two weeks ago i burnt my rhel 3 disks and went to upgrade on of my 7.3 servers. during the process it dawned on me that it was not the upgrade process but a clean build process. This put the brakes on things *VERY* quickly. and now i'm left in a position,

my question being, what resources are available to make this transition easier than just the webcast on Tuesday?

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