There have been recent rumblings of a coming Red Hat Acquisition. Apparently I was asleep a month ago when the rumors of Oracle buying Red Hat started spreading. I never heard Oracle was on the supposed buyers list until I was flipping through old issues of eWeek looking for an review of software I was planning to deploy.
Now, I won’t play into the rumor mill, there are plenty of other blogs out there for that. And before I continue I must say I am a Red Hat geek. All of my servers/desktops run Red Hat Enterprise or Fedora, I’ve used every distro in the top 15 of the list over at distrowatch (distrowatch.com). But I keep coming back to Fedora and Red Hat. My desktops run Fedora, my servers a mix of Red Hat Enterprise, Cent OS (RH source) and Fedora. Obviously there are some other distros that I use for embedded systems or special applications, but on all my ‘real’ computers you’ll find the Red Hat icon.
But when Red Hat branched off Fedora and split up the family, I lost of lot of loyalty to them. I always evaluate and review other distros but at that point, I went in search of the RH replacement. I almost fell in love with a couple of them, but never could commit. After much aggravation with others I finally decided to accept the new organization and go with Fedora.
So… where does that bring us now? Although I don’t think it’ll happen anytime soon, I do predict the end of Red Hat. I believe that they lost alot of steam when they split off Fedora.
Frankly, linux geeks who become admins are going to want to run what they are familiar with. Before RH split fedora, they were the hands down winner in community following and for that matter the enterprise environment.
Now, more and more linux geeks are running Gentoo (my second favorite distro), debian and SuSE and even ubunto. So as these people become admins, RH has lost some of it’s foothold. Sure, any admin worth their weight can switch distros without much headache but once you use one distro every day for 10 years you get used to yum, not apt or yast. It’s those little things, the things that you can do in your sleep that annoy you when switching. Plus, I’m quite fond of the red hat or gentoo logo, I don’t like lizards.
So what’s the future? As I said, I don’t think Red Hat is in any immediate danger but a storm is on the horizon. I maintain that Red Hat has the best server distro out and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Yes Suse has gained ground since Novell bought them but mainly on the desktop. Suse Enterprise Linux Desktop (SLED) is the only desktop environment that is ready for the non geek windows replacement enterprise desktop deployment. If you run SLED on the user side, you’re going to run Suse on the server side as well. From what I’ve seen, RH doesn’t have the enterprise desktop where it should be.
Red Hat is no longer synonymous with Linux it’s not â€œThe Distroâ€ and unless we see some changes and advancements it’s going to be a long battle for them. I believe a change of organization may be the shot in the arm they need. Novell was a perfect buyer for Suse; who could take over RH? I don’t know (I have an idea â€“ see below). Realistically I don’t think any of the names, including Oracle, that are floating around could do the Hat justice. So if Red Hat tailored a more user friendly, death to windows, end user desktop would it put them back in the lead? Probably, but then I’ve always said the distro war will be won on the enterprise desktop.
So who do you think is going to win the enterprise distro war? Who do you think has the money, talent and guts to acquire Red Hat and run full throttle into war?
Ok now that you’ve thought about it for a while, let me back it up. Google is the biggest supporter of the open source community. They have been hiring people over the last few years who specialize in operating systems, user interfaces, open souce, linux, etc. If they merged some of the fresh thinking that comes out of the googleplex with the talent at RH I really believe they could go places. They have everything needed to do it and do it well.
I do have a plan B company if anyone is interested, but my vote is on Google.