Subject: The merger: a user's perspective
From: kragen@pobox.com (Kragen Sitaker)
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 12:43:22 -0500 (EST)

I'm frightened and upset.  

Cygnus is really important to the free-software community; they
maintain gcc, gdb, etc.  Red Hat is comparatively inconsequential,
except as standard-bearers.  

I hope this statement doesn't offend Bob and other Red Hat folks.  The
truth is that nobody needs rpm or GNOME, although they are certainly
nice.  And Red Hat's packaging, while difficult and useful, is also
done by Debian.  

gcc is the bedrock foundation of Linux.

If it turns out that the Heinz business model really doesn't work
long-term in software, and Red Hat goes down the tubes, we will lose
the current structure of people who maintain gcc.  Worse, Red Hat is at
risk of a hostile takeover, being publicly owned in a market with very
volatile stock prices; Cygnus wasn't.

I think this merger puts the whole free-software community at
significant risk.  I have a hard time imagining what could justify it.
Obviously those making the decision think it was justifiable.  I'd like
to hear why.

A few months ago, I might have been happier.  Red Hat was solidly
committed to the cause of free software.  They shipped a Linux
distribution consisting entirely of free software; they developed only
free software.  Bob Young said, in _Open Sources_, that the other Linux
distributions that sought to "add value" by mixing in proprietary
software.  (Red Hat also shipped Linux distributions with extra
proprietary software.)

I might have been happy that Cygnus was to be influenced by such a
company; Cygnus has, in recent years, been straying from the free
path.

But now -- at least according to Slashdot -- there is a crack in Red
Hat's solidity.  Red Hat Linux includes Motif, a proprietary GUI
library, in the core distribution, despite the existence of a
nearly-adequate free substitute.

-- 
<kragen@pobox.com>       Kragen Sitaker     <http://www.pobox.com/~kragen/>
The Internet stock bubble didn't burst on 1999-11-08.  Hurrah!
<URL:http://www.pobox.com/~kragen/bubble.html>