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Is Capital taking over Linux?

Chris | 04.11.2003 22:35 | WSIS 2003 | Technology | Sheffield

The latest version of Red Hat Linux will be out this week and it will be called Fedora 1 not Red Hat 10, also SuSE Linux has just been bought by Novell and this has been bankrolled by IBM. What is happening here and what does it mean for the world's most popular versions of the free GNU/Linux computer operating system?

Red Hat is the world's most popular GNU/Linux distribution, SuSE is probably the 3rd or 4th most popular (2nd being Mandrake and 3rd or 4th being Debian).

There has been lots of negative press regarding the lack of a Red Hat 10 distro with box sets and support for sale from Red Hat, for example:

Red Hat Linux Support To End

Red Hat realignment opens door for Red Carpet

Red Hat tells customers, "No more freebies!"

Though not long ago there was a more positive discussion:

Red Hat Linux Project Merges With Fedora

Progeny Brings Red Hat and Debian Closer Together

I think that Red Hat opening up the development process to the community, via Fedora [1] is a great thing.

The exchange value of a Fedora CD set is basically the cost of producing and shipping them, there is some money to be made there but not much.

I think this is why Red Hat are concentrating on selling services to businesses.

Fedora is called Fedora in part because of the merger with the Fedora Linux Project [2], a group who were producing 3rd party RPMs for machines running Red Hat and also to enable the free as in free beer distribution to be reproduced en mass by anyone without having the hassle of removing the Red Hat logo before burning the isos [3].

However Red Hat could do what Mozilla does, sell cheap Mozilla CDs [4] or what does, link to people selling CDs [5]. After all Red Hat still sells hats, stickers, t-shirts and posters! [6].

I have been lurking and sometimes reading mail on the new Fedora lists [7] and lots of cool stuff has been happening, PPC ports, offers to help on internationalisation, the inclusion of more packages, support for other updaters like apt and yum and even a legacy project to support old Red Hat versions is being started.

What is essentially happening here is that the free software mode of production is asserting its nature and getting more into the driving seat -- free software works best when it is developed in an open and free manner.

In the meantime SuSE has been brought by Novell whom IBM have taken a big stake in. This gets loads of support and postive press:

Novell Announces Agreement to Acquire SuSE

FLASH - Novell buys SuSE

I don't know what will happen with SuSE, will they realise that to survive they have to open up their development process and thus cede control to the community or will the hierarchical command structures of capital try to hang on to this distrubtion?











Display the following 13 comments

  1. Well Yes ... — bone_idol
  2. Wot did you expect? — oiyoi
  3. remember last time — zamzam the spring
  4. open source — spanner
  5. Free software production is absorbing capital — Chris
  6. hmm — zamzam the spring
  7. BSD is free software too — MJR
  8. GNU — spanner
  9. BSD license — spanner
  10. But what will you run your free software on? — bone_idol
  11. BSD — MJR
  12. Imprecision — spanner
  13. BLAG Linux And GNU — jebba