long reply (was RE: LONG RANT [RE: RHEL Copyright Removal])

graham.mullier at syngenta.com graham.mullier at syngenta.com
Wed Nov 26 12:48:54 EST 2003


Laurence Liew wrote:
[...]
> The cluster community have done very well and today, large commercial
> organisations are adopting linux clusters as one of the tools they use
> to solve their complex problems.

Yup, that's us - we are currently adopting a variety of open source tools,
including Linux, to help tackle at least some of our HPC needs.
> 
> But I find this talk of "stripping" RHEL copyright to create 
> yet another
> distro to be counter productive as linux beowulf clusters goes into
> commercial mainstream computing.... where customers have specific
> support demands. (And yes... commercial customers WILL PAY 
> the full list
> price of RHEL to build a cluster).
> 
> Now... I believe the USD25 and USD50 are acceptable pricing for the
> value that RHEL + RHN brings to the customer (academic). The 
> cost of the
> OS is a small fraction of the total value of the cluster.
> 
> Most of our users want a stable and supported OS, but more 
> importantly,
> most of them run a commercial software of one form or another... and
> this means that these 3rd party ISV softwares are most likely to be
> certified on RHEL.
[...]

I think you are confusing things here (I know you are ranting but let's try
to keep the arguments coherent, please! ;)
I'm running a project within a commercial company, so academic rates are of
no use to me. I am willing to pay for what I get, but I'm not willing to pay
simply to give us a warm glow that we are "supported". If I get some value
I'll pay. I don't think I get value if I'm expected to pay separately for
each copy of RHEL-AS on each of 42 compute nodes, and the only price I'm
offered is an extreme full list price. I would be willing to buy into a
model where I'm paying for a clean, well-tested patch stream. But that model
can not scale cost linearly with number of installed nodes - I'm not even
convinced it can scale as the log of the number of nodes.
> 
> if the community continues to fork a project just becauses it charges
> some $$$$, our progress would be very slow.... Redhat have listened to
> the customer and partners and have created a academic pricing 
> model for
> cluster builders... so we should accept that and move on.
As I've said above, this is simply confused and does nothing for me or my
project. The community depends on people contributing work - and in some
cases those people contribute work in exchange for remuneration. But in
other cases we as a community find ways of driving development forward
through what amounts to barter - we all get value from the open source
software, and we all contribute to it in some way.

RH is (or at least appears to be) going down the restrictive licence,
over-priced model pushed by MS. They've also learned the 'force frequent
upgrades' trick. That leaves me uncomfortable about them as a vendor with
whom I believe I'll have a good long-term relationship.

But in the short-term software I use needs "RH 7.1", or "supported only on
RH 7.3" or "RHEL-AS 2.1". Great. So I want ways of using RH that reduce my
risks (what if RH stop making binaries available - can I still operate? If
not, I want to be able to recompile from the source, and need to avoid
copyright infringement problems).
[...]
> disarray and you will see droves of commercial ISVs 
> abandoning linux and
> moving back to UNIX and Windows....
> 
> where would that leave us? without commercial apps, linux would never
> sustain and grow in the commercial arena.
>
ah, well, now you've moved off into another universe. This isn't the one I'm
in. Closed source is bad - it gets in my way, makes my life difficult, and
increases my project's risks enormously.

Why should I pay RH huge sums of money for Linux AND have to fight to get
acceptance of Linux internally when I could take the "easy" option and just
buy Windows? [by the way, I know why, and I'm fighting - and winning]

Where I am now is a small part of the commercial arena, it uses commercial
apps that run on Linux because we, customers, demand that they do. If RH
make life difficult for us (awkward licence model and/or high price per
node) we will start looking for ways around the problem, because it is
worthwhile. Maybe we'll shift to another distro, maybe we'll take the time
and sort out how to build it ourselves - and once we've done that, what use
are RH to us? And if they are no use, will they get any money - no I don't
think so.

Open source is a whole new way of working - and the money has to come in a
different way. If we're offered useful services that we can't or don't want
to handle internally, we'll look at buying them. But if the price is too
high we won't bother.

Graham

(long term IRIX user, computational chemist, and now chemoinformatics
specialist. I put up with Windows for office use but wouldn't want to rely
on it for anything important...)
 
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