Subject: Re: 100 Acre Software...a look back
From: Crispin Cowan <>
Date: Sun, 27 Jun 1999 16:09:07 -0700

Ian Lance Taylor wrote:

> In any case, as Russ points out that Red Hat is hiring developers, and
> moreover they had to do development from the start, such as the RPM
> mechanism.  They also have always had to do development related work,
> namely getting all the packages together and making them work
> together.  This is nontrivial--think about what a pain it would be to
> do it yourself--and as far as I know every distribution does it
> differently.  So they do add real value--not as much value, in my
> opinion, as Cygnus adds, but that is reflected in the order of
> magnitude difference in price.

The primary value that Red Hat & other Linux distributors add is packaging and
distribution.  The value of "packaging" changes drastically depending on the
product.  If the product is monolithic (i.e. gcc, emacs, etc.) then packaging
is fairly low value.  If the product contains HUNDREDS of components (RH 5.1
has 526 RPM packages, plus the kernel) then packaging becomes a significant

I think the lesson that Cygnus learned from the 100 Acre War (tm:-) was
accurate for monolithic packages.  The Red Hat Lesson (tm) is that it does not
apply to large, complex "products" that are actually aggregations of a large
number of other products.  That's why they're called "Linux *distributions*".

 Crispin Cowan, Research Assistant Professor of Computer Science, OGI
    NEW:  Protect Your Linux Host with StackGuard'd Programs  :FREE