Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

Is there anything between the cheap box set and the expensive Advanced Server?

Editors' Note: The following article is the text of the January 23rd issue of ATC, Don Marti's bi-weekly newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter on the LJ home page.

Red Hat plans to introduce a new version of its Linux distribution to fill the price and support gap between the inexpensive Red Hat Linux (CK!) and the high-end Red Hat Advanced Server, said marketing VP Mark de Visser at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo on Wednesday.

Red Hat Advanced Server is priced between $800 and $2,500 per year, depending on the level of support. The new product, with a yet unannounced name, will be priced between $300 and $400 for lower levels of support and at $1,200 for the higher levels, business-hours only. The fastest response times and 24x7 support will continue to be reserved for Advanced Server.

Meanwhile, de Visser says Linux desktop deployments are only for some customers now--those with both a skilled IS department and a good-sized pool of locked-down application users. "We have seen uptake in call centers and trading rooms", he said. But in other companies, "People have tried to deploy Linux desktop and run into some roadblocks."

The three biggest roadblocks, de Visser said, are interoperability with proprietary mail servers, a need for easy mass installs and upgrades and browser compatibility for web-based applications. "When those pieces fall into place, we will have the corporate desktop", he said.

The corporate desktop has to come before the home version, de Visser predicted. Corporate desktop deployments mean vendors will create device drivers for products such as printers.

Oracle, BEA and the Lotus Domino group at IBM are now recommending Red Hat Advanced Server for Linux customers running their applications, de Visser said. Where security updates for Advanced Server are concerned, "we're now so deeply integrated that they know just as fast as we do."

Since starting at Red Hat, where dog food is every day's special, de Visser's personal Linux conversion experience is working out well, he said. Although he started at Red Hat last year and had no Linux experience, he said, "I now make very snazzy presentations using OpenOffice."

Don Marti is editor in chief of Linux Journal.

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Re: Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

Anonymous's picture

Honestly, I feel that most of the posters here have not actually paid for Red Hat support.

My company has. To the tune of $4k for 5 servers and I have to tell you it has been a complete waste of money. The support people at Red Hat only support the simplest of configurations.

Want to run JRE on a Linux workstation? Not supported!

Want to use Pam for NT authentication in a legacy enviroment?

Sorry, not supported. If you want to talk about a support gap let's talk about hiring and training support techs that realize what a corporate environment is about. I am putting my A** on the line moving from MS to Linux. I don't need support based on the idea of "closing the call."

Anybody have any experience with Linuxcare.

And yes, it is true, my staff and I are Linux newbies. But if Linux is to grow folk like us have to enter the fray.

Re: Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

Anonymous's picture

Have you looked at using IBM for support. They do a damn fine job with Linux, and of course, they understand REAL(TM) enterprise support. BTW, they DO support non-IBM hardware as well as their own stuff.

Re: Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

Anonymous's picture

Its not overly surprising that they don't explicitly support things like pam_smb, though I'd expect they'd provide unofficial support (ie we'll help but not guarantee that it'll work). As for the JRE, WHAT!?!? If they don't support basic things like running a JRE under linux, what DO they support?

At work here we've taken the self-support road and are using Debian. I've never been satisfied by the tecnical support offerings of any major vendor. (anybody ever called HP or IBM PC OEM tech support? Don't. A friend of mine calledIBM and they told him to instert the rescue disk and reboot. It erased the PC and clean-installed, without making it clear that all user data would be lost. Obvous to the tech savvy, but not to most users. )

Almost all tech support is useless unless they provide really clear GUARANTEES on things, and there is a clear description of exactly what is supported.

Craig Ringer

Re: Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

Anonymous's picture

Yep, cannot say I know anything about IBM's pc helpdesk folks... but their linux server support (supportline??) is what I was referring to.. good folks

Re: Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

Anonymous's picture

Is Redhat becoming Another Microsoft? Why does Redhat have to work against Opensource software?

Re: Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

Anonymous's picture

In what way is this, or any thing they do, "work against Opensource software"?

Re: Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

Anonymous's picture

Red Hat employees more kernel/Gnome/gcc/glibc programmers than any other single Linux company. Put down the crack pipe!

Re: Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

Anonymous's picture

Red Hat employees more kernel/Gnome/gcc/glibc programmers than any other single Linux company. Put down the crack pipe!

....which allows them to steer any development on those projects in a direction that suits their bussiness needs.

Face it, they are obliged to return all changes to the code back to the community. Why not hire the best and let everyone believe it is to support them. This way they can steer development, be the first to implement significant changes in their own distro before the others have had a chance to study them and implement them (if their compatible with their own changes). Why do you think they have their own kernel on the distro's next to the one from Linus? The fact that they hire the most developers is probably because they are the biggest company with the most revenue and not because of political or social reasons.

Now, of course other companies, like SuSE and Mandrake have the same goal and the same tactics so it's not just Red Hat. But they do not employ the developers out of charity. Of that you can be very sure.

If you really want to support a truly open source Linux distro your best solution is Debian (which i do not by the way).

Re: Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

Anonymous's picture

...which allows them to steer any development on those projects in a direction that suits their bussiness needs. Well, yeah... It's a general principle in all areas of human endeavor that things are steered by those that are actually doing something. If you want something done, there's nothing like doing it. :-) If you really want to support a truly open source Linux distro your best solution is Debian Which is what I'm using, but I'm still grateful for all of the kernel/gcc/glibc work that Red Hat funds.

Re: Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

Anonymous's picture

Face it, they are obliged to return all changes to the code back to the community.

Not so. They're required to return changes to GPL'd code, but there's a lot of stuff out there with BSD or MIT licenses -- yet they return those changes too. More tellingly, they release code which they produce entirely from scratch under the GPL -- their installer, for example, and RPM, used by many many other distros. They're not doing this because they're dragged along unwillinging -- they're doing it because they seem to really get it.

Re: Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

Anonymous's picture

Redhat provides their own kernel because of several issues with the stock kernel:

1. Redhat adds drivers.

2. Redhat adds patches that adjust the performance of the kernel for certain situations that they expect their customers to use.

3. Redhat adds patches that improve the quality or stability of the kernel. Sometimes these patches are not available in stock kernels.

4. Many stock kernels have had QA problems; Redhat fixes bugs in a kernel that they know works, rather than always upgrade to the latest version just because they can. Redhat also back-ports new features and fixes from newer kernels to older, proven kernels.

This is the beauty of Free Software: Redhat can take the Linux kernel and, in their opinion, improve it, before selling it to their customers.

Re: Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

Anonymous's picture

Debian employs about 1000 developers :)

They include folk like Ted Ts'o and Herbert Xu - and

RMS is in the queue to become a developer. They don't get

paid - but they do produce a distribution across 11 architectures which is the reference implementation for

XFree86

Andy

Re: Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

Anonymous's picture

If you would like to help fill the gap for the smaller guys while helping the .orgs then turn your online support in mailing lists, IRC and Fourms into donations to help the movement.

check this out:

http://www.affero.com/ca/fsf

Re: Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

Anonymous's picture

I begin to think RedHat and others have forgot how they got where they are.

Re: Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

Anonymous's picture

They haven't forgotten. They still give away software and sell support.

Their prices for support are reasonable. You can spend as little or as much as you need.

Re: Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

Anonymous's picture

They give away the software as free download, and they give away free updates to the software once you register for free. You don't need the paid support. There are user forums where you can get help if you have questions. And it's reasonable to pay for packaged goods. On the other hand, senseless perfection always had, and has, it's price. If you have a company and run your own server for whatever reason, and you need that senseless perfection, you pay for it any time. If that saves you one salary for a help desk or support person, you talk how much money?

Re: Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

Anonymous's picture

I think you forgot to mention the reason you began to think this! There must be one, right?

Re: Red Hat to Fill Price and Support Gap

Anonymous's picture

You are correct, there so worried about servers and the corperate desktop that home users who they have forgoten all about get left out in the cold. Redhat is a server OS now nothing more, because most home users use Suse or Mandrake now.

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