Red Hat Responds to Kernel Source Accusations
By on March 4th, 2011

The entire open source community frowned upon Red Hat releasing kernel sources with all its patches and fixes upstream. This troubles any business that is around the release and can be termed as simple obfuscation that renders the open source code release useless. Red Hat is using a known method to protect its business.
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If you must release the source, release it obfuscated and by the time people will have figured it out and started working on it, you will be out with a new version defeating all their work.

The response at Red Hat says,

The competitive landscape has changed. Our competitors in the Enterprise Linux market have changed their commercial approach from building and competing on their own customized Linux distributions, to one where they directly approach our customers offering to support RHEL.

Frankly, our response is to compete. Essential knowledge that our customers have relied on to support their RHEL environments will increasingly only be available under subscription. The itemization of kernel patches that correlate with articles in our knowledge base is no longer available to our competitors, but rather only to our customers who have recognized the value of RHEL…

Red Hat is  right in its own place. This will prevent Oracle and Novell from providing RHEL support. However, in making this change, Red Hat is ignoring the fact that it just killed a number of developers and small businesses based around the Red Hat kernel releases. Though, CentOS co-founder has claimed that they are not worried by this change. Red Hat has also made a statement specific to CentOS saying,

We haven’t at all restricted CentOS’s ability to grab source code and recompile it and clean-out trademarks and package it. It’s just some of the knowledge of the insides that we’re hiding,

Red Hat has also made some effort in cleaning its name off the case by saying it makes changes in the upstream even before releasing them in RHEL. However, even if we agree that Red Hat aimed this at business competitor Oracle, we cannot overlook the fact that others open source projects took a hit. Even if CentOS developers can make do with this, many others cannot.

The explanation does not do any good and this change is still not welcome. Red Hat should not consider other projects based around itself as casualties of the war with Oracle.

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Author: Chinmoy Kanjilal Google Profile for Chinmoy Kanjilal
Chinmoy Kanjilal is a FOSS enthusiast and evangelist. He is passionate about Android. Security exploits turn him on and he loves to tinker with computer networks. He rants occasionally at Techarraz.com. You can connect with him on Twitter @ckandroid.

Chinmoy Kanjilal has written and can be contacted at chinmoy@techie-buzz.com.

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