Intel acquiring Pallas

Stephen Gaudet sgaudet at
Fri Aug 29 09:52:31 EDT 2003

Robert, and everyone else,

To be clear on this without breaking NDA's see below;

> On Thu, 28 Aug 2003, Stephen Gaudet wrote:
>>With Itanium2 this is not the case.  Both Red Hat and SuSe have a fixed 
>>cost of about $400.00, plus or minus a few dollars per system.  
>>Therefore, due to this fixed cost, MOST people looking at a cluster 
>>won't touch Itanium2. 
> Steve,
> Are you suggesting RH has put together a package that is NOT GPL in any
> way that would significantly affect the 64 bit market?  The kernel, the
> compiler, and damn near every package is GPL, much of it from Gnu
> itself.  Am I crazy here?
> So I'm having a hard time seeing why one would HAVE to pay them
> $400/system for anything except perhaps proprietary non-GPL "advanced
> server" packages that almost certainly wouldn't be important to HPC
> cluster builders (and which they would have had to damn near develop in
> a sealed room to avoid incorporating GPL stuff in it anywhere).
>>Some white box resellers are looking at taking RH Advanced Server and 
>>stripping it down and offering on their ia64 clusters.  However, if 
>>their not working with code lawyers, and paying very close attention to 
>>copy right laws, they could end up with law suits down the road.

I can't really comment here on what I hear resellers looking to do.

> If Red Hat isn't careful and not working very carefully with code
> lawyers, I think the reverse is a lot more likely, as Richard Stallman
> is known to take the Gnu Public License (free as in air at the source
> level, with inheritance) pretty seriously.  Red Hat (or SuSE) doesn't
> "own" a hell of a lot of code in what they sell; the bulk of what they
> HAVE written is GPL derived and hence GPL by inheritance alone.  The
> Open Source community would stomp anything out of line with hobnailed
> boots and club it until it stopped twitching...
> So although many a business may cheerfully pay $400/seat for advanced
> server because it is a cost and support model they are comfortable with,
> I don't see what there is to stop anyone from taking an advanced server
> copy (which necessarily either comes with src rpm's or makes them
> publically available somewhere), doing an rpmbuild on all the src rpm's
> (as if anyone would care that you went through an independent rebuild vs
> just used the distribution rpm's) and putting it on 1000 systems, or
> giving the sources to a friend, or even reselling a repackaging of the
> whole thing (as long as they don't call them Red Hat and as long as they
> omit any really proprietary non-GPL work).
> I even thought there were some people on the list who were using at
> least some 64 bit stuff already, both for AMD's and Intels.  Maybe I'm
> wrong...:-(

In regards to the high-performance/technical computing space.

People buy Red Hat Advanced Server and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server
because that's what the ISVs support (Oracle, DB2, Sybase, WebLogic
etc.).  RHAS and SLES are primarity targeted at the commercial
computing space.

In the HPC space, there is a void in the sense that Red Hat doesn't
have a "community" distribution for IA-64 anymore (7.2 was the last).
Don't know whether SuSE make their bits readily available.

There are, however, several free alternatives:

  - Debian, for instance, is available for all HP hardware (as it is
    the internal software development vehicle at HP).

  - MSC Linux is also available for download (

  - Rocks ( is a stripped and shipped Red Hat
    Advanced Server 2.1 for IA-64.

So it's perfectly reasonable to use any of the above - as long as you
don't require technical support (something WOS could provide, though).

The strip and ship game works for now. However, given the increasing
customization and branding done by Red Hat in later releases (8 and 9,
also in RHAS 3) it is probably not going to be feasible to keep doing
this going forward.  Red Hat's brand is very strong and consequently
it's all over the place in their products now.  So I guesstimate that
debranding is going to be at least an order of magnitude harder for

And just to clear up confusion.  Here's the scoop with RHAS,
availabity, support agreements, etc.:

1. Red Hat has decided *not* to make binaries/ISO images of RHAS
    available for download.  Given that the distribution is covered by
    the GPL, *nothing* prevents somebody else from making it available.
    It is out there on the net if you look hard enough.

2. Again, being covered by the GPL, nothing prevents you from
    distributing it in unmodified form.  It's perfectly legal to burn
    CDs and give them to customers.

3. If you modify the product in any way you invalidate the branding on
    RHAS as a whole, and you can no longer call the result RHAS without
    infringing Red Hat's trademarks.

4. If you buy RHAS from Red Hat you have to sign a service level
    agreement.  This agreement is not restricting distribution of the
    RHAS binaries or source.  It is a service level agreement between
    you and Red Hat (which you unfortunately have to sign to get access
    to the product in the first place).

5. One of the clauses in the SLA states that you agree to pay a
    support fee for each system you use RHAS on (and you grant RH the
    right to audit your network).  If you choose not to comply with
    this clause, Red Hat will declare the service agreement null and
    void and you will no longer have access to patches and security

6. Given that the update packages are covered by the GPL, *nothing*
    prevents a receiver of said packages to make them available for
    download on the Internet.  Red Hat can do *nothing* to prevent
    further distribution.  IOW, nothing prevents you from buying one
    license and make the updates available to the rest of the world.

    Red Hat can, however, potentially decide not to provide you with
    future updates if you do this.  This is a bit unclear in the SLA.

Ok.  So, executive summary: Red Hat are using a service customer level
agreement to limit spreading of binary versions of RHAS.  Given that
RHAS is covered by the GPL, they cannot prevent distribution.  Their
only rebuttal will be refusal of further updates as per the SLA.

But in the case of technical computing it isn't really that important
whether the product is called RHAS, Rocks or HP Linux for HPC.  They
are all functionally identical.

Resident Paralegal

-- Martin K. Petersen Wild Open Source, Inc. mkp at

BTW:  has been shut down.

Steve Gaudet

Wild Open Source (home office)
Bedford, NH 03110

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