For 2008 media will create Red Hat-Ubuntu war

For 2008 media will create Red Hat-Ubuntu war

Summary: In 2008 the media will gin up a "war" between Red Hat and Ubuntu for "control" of Linux.


Jim Whitehurst, Red Hat CEO as of January 1 2008Here's an easy prediction to make. In 2008 the media will gin up a "war" between Red Hat and Ubuntu for "control" of Linux.

It's already started. The latest distribution of Red Hat Fedora, Fedora 8, is called "an assault" on Ubuntu at MadPenguin.

If by assault you mean potentially better, worthy of comparison and interesting, then please sir may I have another assault?

The new Fedora 8 has improved support for notebooks, for gamers, and for programs like PulseAudio. These are good things, and it will be interesting to see how Ubuntu raises the bar in 2008.

But we are still talking about open source code here. Open source improvements are not proprietary, they benefit everyone. That's the idea.

Another way in which the media will crank up the Red Hat-Ubuntu "war" theme involves the hiring of Jim Whitehurst as CEO, replacing Matthew Szulik. Whitehurst comes to Red Hat from Delta Airlines, and some see something wrong with that.

Here's a clue for y'all. Running a business is not a religious exercise. Whitehurst is an experienced business executive, and that's what Red Hat has decided it needs right now. Whitehurst's job is to make the trains run on time.

Whitehurst is not going to be providing vision. That's the job of folks like vice president for open source affairs Michael Tiemann, who also heads the OSI and seems quite happy with the appointment.

Yet I guarantee you're going to see a host of articles over the next two weeks contrasting Mark Shuttleworth's entrepreneurial flair with Whitehurst's button-down mind.

The press needs to be reminded of some basic points here:

  • Open source development is complementary.
  • Management of a company is not the same as management of a project.
  • Politics and business are different subjects.

On my way back to Atlanta yesterday our plane's entertainment system failed. I watched Red Hat Enterprise Linux fail to load several times on my seat back. Yes, it was a Delta jet.

Does this mean Whitehurst will cause Red Hat to crash and burn? Of course not. There was probably a hardware fault, and the jet arrived home on-time. But I guarantee someone is going to read it as an omen.

What matters is whether Delta, and Red Hat's other customers, remain satisfied with the support Red Hat delivers them, against how much support money Ubuntu can gather. That's the business metric on which Whitehurst will be measured.

But the competition is a good thing. It means new features, new options, and new possibilities for all Linux users in 2008. The more successful businesses we have based on Linux, and the more money they make, the better for everyone.

Just don't expect it to be covered that way.

Topics: Software, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems

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  • Red Hat vs. Canonical

    "Running a business is not a religious exercise." Hmmm. I'm not sure a majority of CEOs would agree.
    Rambo Tribble
  • Not a trend, just Matt Hartley under deadline

    I am a former Mad Penguin writer who produced a number of Slashdotted and Dugg articles under MP founder Adam Doxtater's direction. Gundeep Hora, the guy who currently runs Mad Penguin, purchased that mag from Adam Doxtater, the founder. Adam Doxtater ran MP with a greater emphasis on longer articles and more in-depth analysis. Gundeep's business model is to get more page views with shorter articles appearing more frequently.

    As a result, Matt Hartley is under tremendous pressure to produce articles, and with all due respect for Matt's ability to write quickly, prolifically, and under deadline, I think that Matt might have been scrambling for an angle, and this is what he came up with.

    This is not to say that Matt is a bad writer, or that Gundeep is a poor manager. I'm just saying that sometimes one breaks a few eggs when making a cake, and that is probably the case here.

    So I don't see Matt's article as a trend; rather, I think that it was just Matt having to put together a short article in a very short period of time.

    Christian Einfeldt
    • I feel for you...

      I really do. We're under pressure here for page views, too. But I have found that some long-form articles can draw tremendous interest, increasing not only the total page view count on that story but the page view count on other stories as well.
      • short vs. long articles

        I like the way does it: long stories are still backbone of site, while short stuff (which is mostly reflection on current events which are not worthy lengthy write up) is in blog section.

        I rarely check ZDNet, but I also had impression that you are using similar formula.

        Though I find ZDNet coverage way too shallow in general...
  • PulseAudio my ass

    Why people didn't bother before *FIX* existing ESD and ASTSd is beyond me.
    • In fairness to Ubuntu

      PulseAudio is slated as the default sound server for the next version of Ubuntu, too.
      • But PulseAudio was developed by Red Hat

        once again, ubuntu just copies what red hat does and people try to give ubuntu credit for it. ubuntu does nothing except re-package software. big whoop.
        • And this is a problem with open-source OSes HOW...?

          If Ubuntu repackages Red Hat or SUSE or any other Linux distro so it's more user-friendly and brings more people to use open-source software, isn't that a Good Thing? And if Red Hat or SUSE or all the other Linux distros turn right around and "repackage" Ubuntu so it's more user-friendly and/or feature-rich than Ubuntu currently is - isn't that a BETTER thing, and the [i][b]point[/b][/i] of "open-source"?
          • Thats exactly the point

            ...but for some reason alot of people aren't seeing this. They are getting caught up in the "competition" and "my distro is better than yours" mess. Either the true purpose of open source is being lost or the community is being overrun by non-contributing non-developing users that don't understand the true spirit of the idea.
          • Interesting thread about Ubuntu

            I am starting to see a lot of flack about Ubuntu. Seems that since Ubuntu is successful by many different standards, it is becoming the Microsoft of the Linus world. It, like MS is being accused of using other's ideas and developments. Like stated above, that is the nature of the Linux world. I use Ubuntu because it works for me. Others use Red Hat/Fedora because it warks for them. We all agree that for various reasons, Microsoft does not work for us. And that is the realfocus of any OpSys war. Happy New Year to all Penguinistas

        • This may shock you!

          A lot of the packages that you find in Red Hat Linux distribs (RHEL, Fedora) and SuSE (including OpenSuSE) are developed via outside projects, an example would be Sendmail (which is in most Unix and Linux and BSD distributions/systems) which is the open source version of the (later released as a commercial product) Sendmail (from either [url=] / [url=][/url]). They even package products from BSD distribs and even ISC BIND. And, amazingly enough, these packages are even found in other distributions (Yellowdog for example, from which RedHat gets yum, the [url=]
          Yellowdog[/url] Update Manager). That is how Open Source development works, different contributors produce different packages, distributions collect them, package them in ISO images and people either purchase media or download and burn it themselves. Some even contribute to them (work, money, etc.).

          Btw, Debian was around before RedHat and SuSE, so as Ubuntu is built around Debian...
  • RE: For 2008 media will create Red Hat-Ubuntu war

    I agree. There are no wars, there is just healthy competition in the commercial sector. Both Red Hat and Canonical are good examples of commercial companies who use and provide source code for their applications. Their packaging and support models uniquely describe their overall products. Overall, they are much more SIMILAR than different. I favor Red Hat on the enterprise computing end because they have a full lineup of products and services. Canonical is a leading edge company and is one of the companies providing alternatives and they are doing a good job at it. Novell is more of a blend of free and commercial software, so they tend to behave more like a classical commercial company than an open software company, but they, too, have plenty of open software and free software that is available as well and their approach should not be ignored either.
  • For 2008, ZDNet will create sensationalist headlines

    Hey, it's an easy prediction to make. It's what they did all
    through 2007 :)
  • No war...just open source doing it's thing

    The only war here will be the one that is declared and fought by media types...say CNET or ZDNet.

    Yes, there will be some competition, as there has been for quite some time, between Fedora and Ubuntu but that doesn't quite add up to a war. Each distro has its strengths and weaknesses, each has dedicated followers and contributors and each has people like me who won't install them as a main desktop or server for anything.

    FYI, Mandriva 2008 Powerpack is far more media friendly than either Fedora or Ubuntu. In my experience so is PCLinuxOS. So, really, the big two are playing catch up.

    Still and all there is no war nor is there likely to be unless you're completely misunderstanding how open source works.