Feeds

Red Hat: Go support yourselves, Fedora users

That's what development release means, people

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

One of the most frustrating aspects of open source but commercially supported software is that it takes many orders of magnitude of freebie customers to attain a base of core customers who will pay for a glorified product with commercial-grade installation and ongoing tech support. There is always a temptation to try to monetize the vast installed base of users who are making use of the so-called development or community editions of programs. But Red Hat isn't going for it.

In a recent conference call, when Red Hat reported its financial results for its second fiscal quarter 2009 ended in August - revenues up 29 per cent to $164.4m and profits up 16 per cent to $21.1m, and apparently ahead of expectations by a smidgen - Jim Whitehurst, Red Hat's president and chief executive officer, was asked if the company would reconsider changing its business model and start offering support on Fedora, the company's development release for its variant of Linux.

Forget that idea.

"Fedora is our key open source development platform with the community and we have no plans to change that," Whitehouse said, explaining that Fedora's reason for existence was to create the foundation code that eventually makes its way into Enterprise Linux, the commercially supported product.

"It is not something that we look at directly monetizing nor is that something that we have considered."

It is not exactly a stupid idea, even if such support would probably not be a big money maker. Way back when, when SUSE was an independent Linux supplier, its development release, SUSE Linux Professional, offered 90-day support for a nominal fee.

Over the past few years the openSUSE project has taken over as Novell's SLES development effort, but Novell nonetheless sells a supported version of openSUSE 11, which will be the basis for SLES 11, for $60.

And Sun Microsystems - which is trying to blunt the attack of open source and commercial Linux by freely distributing its commercial Solaris 10 Unix variant and now offering support on OpenSolaris 2008.05, its first commercially supported open source Solaris release - is also keen on making the development release a supported product.

OpenSolaris basic support, which includes web support and the ability to get bugs fixed, costs $324 per machine per year on a machine with up to two processor sockets; a production-grade, 24x7 support contract costs $2,160 per year for a two-socket box. That basic support price is exactly the same as Sun is charging for its basic Solaris 10 commercial support, which is restricted to one-socket or two-socket machines at $324 per year.

Sun also offers standard support, which provides 9x5 business hour support with telephone contact in addition to the web, for $720 per year on a two-socket X64 box and $1,320 a year on larger x64 machines; support on Sparc boxes is more expensive as machines get more cores (which seems a bit unfair). Premium support (24x7 with all the bells and whistles) on a two-socket box costs $1,080 for the regular Solaris 10 commercial edition, so companies that want to put OpenSolaris 2008.05 into production have to budget carefully, since they are paying twice as much for support per machine.

Red Hat's contention has been - and continues to be - that if Fedora users want to have official support for their operating system, then they can buy a license to Enterprise Linux and be done with it. ®

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

More from The Register

next story
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Captain Kirk sets phaser to SLAUGHTER after trying new Facebook app
William Shatner less-than-impressed by Zuck's celebrity-only app
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.