Linux.com has a rant from Brian Jones about the state of Red Hat's "enterprise" products. Jones points out several bugs that have cropped up in Red Hat Advanced Server:
The week before we were to move it into production, we ran up2date on the machine, and ps2ps broke again. Wonderful. As if that weren't enough, there's another problem on that new server that could result in an unintentional DoS. The installed (and running by default) authd daemon's config file (/etc/xinetd.d/authd) is configured by default with the key "instances" set to "UNLIMITED". As a result, every time one of our guys who was running a fairly strict firewall tried to connect to the box via SSH, the authd server would spawn hundreds of processes trying to connect back to his machine. This caused the load to immediately spike, and the entire machine becomes completely unusable. Thanks, Red Hat.
Jones lists several other snafus with Red Hat's pricey distro, but doesn't hit on my current favorite, a recent bug in RPM that should have never slipped through quality control.
Jones isn't the first admin with a beef about the quality of Red Hat's enterprise products. I hear fewer complaints about Fedora Core from other admins than I do about Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and a number of people I've chatted with are looking hard at the competition. SUSE is a strong contender, as are some of the Red Hat knock-offs like CentOS, but I've also talked to a few who are considering jumping the Linux ship entirely and going for FreeBSD. (Neither Solaris 10 or Windows Server have come up as serious contenders in these discussions...)
Red Hat used to have a extremely loyal user base, but I've noticed a sharp decline since the company broke its products into Fedora and its enterprise line. Has the quality decreased that much, or is Red Hat's pricing model just too much to swallow after years of providing Red Hat Linux for free? To be sure, the licensing hasn't changed, but when Red Hat decided not to distribute ISOs of their enterprise products, they lost a lot of users. Some went with Fedora Core, but others moved on to other distributions.
For many years, Red Hat has been nearly synonymous with Linux in the minds of many users, but that seems to be changing. Is the company going to be able to hold on to the lead dog position, or will Novell or another Linux vendor move into the market leader position?
I'd be interested in hearing your opinions on the state of the market. Is Red Hat the best choice for enterprise users, or should organizations be evaluating other options?