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Red Hat revolt coming

by on06 November 2023

Even its staff hate the paywall

It is starting to look like Red Hat will have its first rebellion on its hands after announcing that it will paywall Red Hat Enterprise Linux, or RHEL.

Even Red Hat employees have been muttering in darkened corridors and by the water cooler and Red Hat Vice President Mike McGrath acknowledged that the move is not exactly popular.

"I think a lot of even internal associates didn't fully understand what we had announced and why," he said.

He claimed that there was a problem that competitors were copying Red Hat Enterprise Linux, down to even the code's mistakes, and then offered these Red Hat replicas to customers for free.

These weren't community members adding value but undercutting rivals, he said.

All this was happening when Red Hat laid off four per cent of its workforce, McGrath said.

“The company could not justify allowing this to continue. I feel that while this was a difficult decision between community and business, we're still on the right side of it," he told the News & Observer.

However, there is a vocal group that probably needs Red Hat's level of support but simply don't want to pay for it.

Red Hat has secured several prominent partnerships. In September, the cloud-based software company Salesforce moved 200,000 of its systems from the free CentOS Linux to Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

The same month, Red Hat announced RHEL would begin to support Oracle's cloud infrastructure. Oracle was one of the few significant companies this summer to publicly criticise Red Hat for essentially paywalling its most popular code.

On 24 October, Red Hat notched another win when the data security firm Cohesity said it would also ditch CentOS Linux for RHEL.

McGrath said that the times of that sort of romantic view of hobbyists working in their spare time to build open source are long gone.

“I think there's still room for that — we still have that — but quite a lot of open source is now built from people that are paid full time," he said.

This is the sort of quote that would get him burnt at the stake by open saucers for the crime of heresy.

Last modified on 06 November 2023
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