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to linux or not to linux...

On Mon, Dec 20, 2004 at 07:03:24PM -0500, David Hummel wrote:
> Don't forget that the companies you mention exist because of GNU/Linux,
> not the other way around.  

I think the relationship is a bit more symbiotic than you would have
us believe.  Since the beginning of Linux, there have been companies
which existed to support it (and the GNU tool chain) and those
companies invariably have given LOTS back to the community.  Sure,
Linux existed before Red Hat; but in a very real sense, it wouldn't be
what it is today without them.

> The viability of Linux is being determined by its technical merits
> and its lower cost of ownership compared to proprietary software,
> _not_ the corporate bottom line of Linux resellers.  If you believe
> otherwise, then you should be buying Microsoft.  

While I think you're using rhetoric to make a point, if taken at face
value, this argument is a little silly.  Regardless of why you think a
product is viable, if you don't like Microsoft products you shouldn't
buy them -- at least not without a very compelling practical reason to
do so.

Regardless... The viability of Linux has unquestionably been
influenced by corporations, large and small,  pouring millions of
dollars into it.  In the early days, it started small, with companies
who paid employees to develop hardware drivers for their products, or
to write or port applications for Linux, because it met some need for
them which other platforms of the time didn't.  Then we saw companies
like V/A Systems (VA Linux, etc.), Penguin, Red Hat, Suse, Caldera,
etc.  who hired whole teams of people to support and develop Linux and
applications for Linux.  Now we have companies like IBM and Oracle
pouring literally billions of dollars into supporting Linux, in one
way or another.

Without Corporate America, Linux would still be here today, but the
picture would be a very different one...  One you might or might not

> > Those are other ways, but in my opinion they are only different ways,
> > not necessarily "better". Supporting Linux isn't just contributing
> > code.  It's supporting the companies that sell it,
> ( Those companies do not sell Linux.  They sell support and services
>   related to Linux. )

Perhaps, but this is a fine point that most people don't really care
about.  To Joe Manager who just bought 1000 seats worth of RHEL, he
bought a product for his engineers (or whoever) to use, AS WELL AS
support for it.  He bought Red Hat's packaging and management
appcliations.  he bought their manuals.

Sure, you can make the argument that all of those things are a kind of
support, if you want to, but all of those things are real tangible
benefits provided by the distro companies.  It costs them money to
provide them...  That's part of what you're buying.  To say that this
isn't supporting the community is a failure to recognize the genuine
contribution these people have made to Linux and free software.
Because of the distributors, Linux has gotten a LOT easier to use.

> If I purchase RHEL, what percentage of that revenue is allocated to the
> development of code that will work it's way back into the kernel or
> other OS software?  I'm sure a good percentage of it is paying the
> salary of some tech support person who may or may not be able to answer
> a question that I can probably answer myself by doing a little research.
> If I donate to the FSF or the like, I'm pretty sure where all my money
> is going.

Really?  Where is it going?  How much of your FSF donation goes to a
coder?  How much of it goes to pay their system administrators?  How
much goes to pay for the systems that they maintain?  I think you have
no more an idea where it goes than you would with Red Hat.

In case you don't know, Red Hat employes a sizeable development team.
In fact they have a rather large office right nearby, in Westford MA.
The vast majority of people who work there are engineers, who write
code which gets contributed back to the community.  Red Hat pays the
salaries of Alan Cox, Rick Van Reil, and a number of other
heavywieghts in the community.  A lot of work has been done on Linux
because Red Hat has made it economically viable for these people (and
many others) to work on Linux and Free software on a full time basis.

And the same goes for the other distro companies, like Suse, Mandrake,

Derek D. Martin   GPG Key ID: 0xDFBEAD02
This message is posted from an invalid address.  Replying to it will result in
undeliverable mail.  Sorry for the inconvenience.  Thank the spammers.

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