Dave Ihnat's "voice of reason" e-mail

In 2003, Red Hat drastically changed their product line, including a substantial jump in price. Needless to say, this created a firestorm of anger, frustration, confusion and cries of "sellouts" from the Linux and Open Source communities. While many were busy going around in circles re-hashing the situation, piling derision on Red Hat and comparing them to certain other commercial software companies, one e-mail appeared amid the chaos that really crystallized things for me.

Dave Ihnat wrote, in part:
...That's not why I bought RedHat. I bought RH because of the "I don't want to write another OS/utility/whatever" syndrome. They went to the trouble of building, patching, and integrating all of the software. I CAN do it; I HAVE DONE it. But I have only specific details, nothing new in kind, to learn by having to do it again. I wanted RH to provide a working platform so I can get OTHER work done.

Now, in fact, building the packages from the maintainer's source will result in real problems when you try to update an installed RPM. And you probably can't just remove the RPM if the package has any significant dependencies...

So you really come down to:

  1. Pay for the full-bore system. Live in RPM harmony. All is RedHat supported, life is good, the bills are higher.

  2. Pay for the professional workstation. Add what you can, from self-built and configured sources. Maybe RPM harmony, maybe not; servers/packages/etc. you add, even from RH SRPMs, are unsupported except by you. You decide if the initial consistency is worth the cost of RHPW.

  3. Leave RedHat and try to find someone else who does it the way you want to. No hard feelings.

Extremely well and wryly put, IMO. I'd had all the feelings of other longtime Red Hat users: anger, frustration, confusion and of course the "what do I do now?" question. I expressed some publicly, but what I really needed (like everyone else) was a workable solution. Here was an e-mail that not only reminded me *why* I'd chosen Red Hat in the first place, but offered some solutions, all without re-hashing the decision already made by Red Hat. Time to move forward.

How did we move forward? Well, it's still somewhat of a work in progress and you can return to where you were for more of the story. If you have no idea how you reached this page, you might want to read the whole story.