Microaggressive Licensing [CL66]

Posted on Tuesday, Jul 11, 2023 | Series: Chaos Lever
Ned walks us through the RHEL licensing debacle with a historical perspective on Linux, GPLv2, and Red Hat.


[00:00:00.970] Ned: And yeah, I think this will be I tried to do a bunch of new stuff right before I went on vacation and that went super well. So I’m figuring this is going to go equally well, don’t you think?

[00:00:13.330] Chris: Yeah, I mean, the best time to make changes in production is at 03:00 on a Friday.

[00:00:18.610] Ned: Hey, it’s 01:00 on a Monday. Everything’s fine, I think, because let’s hello, alleged human, and welcome to the Chaos Lever podcast. My name is Ned and I’m definitely not a robot. I have a face that moves in a way that is natural and does not occupy the uncanny valley. All my micro expressions occur in a completely unplanned way with no forethought or calculation on my part. Note my warm, inviting smile that does not fill you with dread. With me is Chris, who is also here. Hi, Chris.

[00:00:59.170] Chris: See, when you smile like that, it’s more like a microaggression I’ve heard about, which I think is definitely calculated.

[00:01:07.110] Ned: I thought microaggressions. Well, okay. Micro expressions are unconscious. Microaggressions, I don’t know which way those go. I think they’re generally not a conscious thing.

[00:01:20.810] Chris: Right. But for the purposes of this joke, I’m just saying your face is scary.

[00:01:25.770] Ned: Is that really a joke?

[00:01:28.910] Chris: We can save the rest of it for the psychiatry podcast.

[00:01:31.780] Ned: Oh, we’re not starting a third podcast. We already have two good segue, by the way. Well done.

[00:01:39.220] Chris: Welcome.

[00:01:40.270] Ned: So to announce a few changes that are coming to Chaos Lever, we joked a couple of times about how this is slowly turning into a history podcast. Well, guess what? We’re going to lean into it. We are going to probably provide more context and background around the main articles, and we’re also splitting the podcast into two distinct release days. So Tuesdays you’re going to have the regular main article that you’ve come to know and love and appreciate. And our lightning rounds are now going to come out in their own episode on a Thursday and we’ll be able to provide a little more color and commentary around what is in those tech News Bytes bicycles, biblicals articles articlets. No, that’s not going to back away from that. You’ll be happy to know that you still get snark on every day ending in Y. So we’re sticking with that theme. I think that’s all the big changes in terms of how you’ll see them, they should just appear in your podcast feed as they do today with slightly different labeling. So if you do want to filter out one or the other, you’re more than welcome to do that, but please download both because that shows up in our download numbers.

[00:03:02.650] Ned: We yay. And that makes me feel more important.

[00:03:08.110] Chris: And isn’t that really what we’re here for?

[00:03:10.450] Ned: Making me feel more important? Absolutely. This is definitely not a big ego thing at all. Wow, this just became like the most honest podcast ever. Any other big truth we want to get into?

[00:03:25.040] Chris: Maybe this already became the psychiatry podcast.

[00:03:28.200] Ned: Oh, think about it, don’t think about it. Okay, so with that preamble out of the way, today’s big article is or topic is going to be red Hat Open Source expat causes big spat.

[00:03:46.330] Chris: I kind of like why you did this. You came up with that word play.

[00:03:51.480] Ned: I did not. It was after the fact. But it works and I’m happy with it. And if I wrote for the New York Post, I would definitely put it in there. But I don’t because it’s a garbage newspaper anyway. So now that we’ve alienated some more people, let’s talk about Red Hat open source and what happened.

[00:04:12.260] Chris: Do that.

[00:04:15.090] Ned: The Linked blog post that sort of kicked off this particular article was published about two weeks ago and the open source arm of the Internet has been in what I can only describe as a tizzy. Several prominent open source people, like Jeff Gearling, have roundly denounced Red Hat’s latest licensing strategy. Some others have tried to make a more nuanced view of the situation to varying degrees of success. We’ll see where we come out at the end, Chris. I think I already know.

[00:04:49.530] Chris: I was going to say if you.

[00:04:52.110] Ned: Listened to last week’s episode, we did cover this in a lightning round article, but I thought it deserved a full main article treatment, especially because there’s a lot of historical context that helps you understand it in the proper perspective. And since that’s kind of what we’re doing now, I was like, we’re all about perspective. Yes, fully embracing the historical slant of chaos lever. So we’ll start with gaining a little perspective on what Red Hat is doing by providing that context and then how it fits into the larger open source ethos and what the future for Red Hat and just Linux in general might hold. If you’re looking for the too long, didn’t listen version, red Hat has changed the way that they make the source code of their enterprise Linux software available and how it can be reused or repackaged. While it’s not necessarily violating any of the GPL in a legal sense, it’s the opinion of many, including the hosts of this podcast, that they are violating the spirit of GPL and open source in general. Red Hat claims that the changes are necessary due to so called freeloaders that repackage their software and give it away for free.

[00:06:08.410] Ned: It is the classic conundrum of how to make money off of open source software when the source code is freely available and the marginal cost of duplication and distribution is effectively zero. If you want the short version, Red Hat changed their licensing to make more money and people are mad tales, old as time. So you can sign off if that’s all you want to know. But if you’re still with us, let’s back up a bit and start with some basics. Start with the context of Linux itself. Are you ready?

[00:06:47.250] Chris: I can’t wait.

[00:06:48.120] Ned: Wasn’t asking you. Okay, time for a little history lesson here and I’ll try to make this part of it quick. Linux is a family of operating systems that use the Linux kernel. And technically when you talk about Linux you should just be talking about the kernel. The operating system is a larger thing, but if we’re just focused on the kernel, it was developed and is still maintained by Linus Torvalds, a famously cantankerous individual who takes and gives zero fucks.

[00:07:22.190] Chris: Yes. And if you’re keeping score at home, that does technically mean that it should be pronounced Linux. But nobody does that. So don’t.

[00:07:29.310] Ned: Thank you. So the inspiration for Linux was the various flavors of Unix that were floating around in the 80s like at and T’s original Unix, IBM’s, Aix and Hewlett Packard’s, HPUX to name just a few. When it’s not pronounced habuks please don’t do that. Linus started the Linux kernel in 1991 with the express goal of creating a free to use and free to copy and alter and do whatever the hell you want with it except for sell it operating system. Eventually the Linux kernel was released under the we’re going with Ganu general public license aka the GPL version two specifically and that is what changed it to allow people to charge for software that they wrote that use the Linux kernel. So it doesn’t force everything to be completely free. The Linux kernel by itself is not a complete operating system and it uses several other open source components to be an effective operating system that people can expect to actually use. Some other core components are the shell device drivers, a compiler for programming file system utilities, maybe even a graphical user interface. If you’re some kind of coward.

[00:08:54.090] Chris: Amateur.

[00:08:54.720] Ned: Hour over here jeez, you put on a Gui and you should die. No, that’s ridiculous. So Linux was combined together with various Ganu projects to form the debian or debian flavor of the operating system. Although it was originally called Ganu Linux, to make the combination of software clear most people just refer to any operating system that uses the Linux kernel as Linux. So you can assume when we say Linux we’re talking about one of the operating system flavors and not just the kernel. Unless I say the Linux kernel.

[00:09:33.670] Chris: Right. The big distinction here is that since it’s open source, people can create their own distributions to make things wildly different from one Linux to another. This is not something that is possible right now with the Microsoft world. There is only one kind of Windows, although that’s not even true really? Windows Server and Windows Desktop are two different products that fall under the same name and use components of the same Windows kernel. It’s not that much different on the Linux side. There’s just way more variation.

[00:10:03.130] Ned: Exactly. There is 1000 some OD Linux distros that are out there whereas Windows, it’s like three, right? You’ve got like their embedded their desktop and their server operating system and I think all of them use the same basic kernel and a lot of the same components but then they swap out some other things that you probably wouldn’t need in a desktop operating system but you definitely want in a server. Right though even that line gets kind of blurry anyway so that is Linux it’s not just Linux it’s a combination of software packages that form a complete operating system that use the Linux kernel. Many of those software packages and the Linux kernel itself are free and open source and use that GPL V two license which requires that derivative products made available to the public also have to make their source code freely available on request. So you don’t have to publish your source code in a public GitHub repository or something like that but if someone asks for the source code, you have to make it available to them. So that’s what the GPL license says.

[00:11:16.970] Chris: Right which is kind of why to encourage openness and collaboration, allow people to build on each other’s work and don’t hide terrible security problems behind code that you can’t evaluate.

[00:11:31.270] Ned: Right so if I take some GPL license things and I create my own thing and I release it to the public, I have to attach the GPL licensing to it and also that I have to distribute the source code to anybody who requests it. Can I charge for the software? Absolutely. But if someone buys the software from me and then they give it to somebody else, I can’t go to that first person and accuse them of stealing from me. They’re allowed to make copies of the software or build it from the source code that I provide to them. So it’s kind of how it works. Right and that’s been going pretty well for us overall in the last 30, some OD years so that’s Linux in 30 minutes or less I think we covered it pretty well. There’s a ton more context to cover and whole books could be and have been written about Linux. So go read those if you’re curious now well, the same thing can be.

[00:12:31.010] Chris: Said about the licenses as well. So we just gave the short version of the GPL V two and even the fact that there is a v two is controversial and books have been written about that.

[00:12:44.930] Ned: Yes, and there’s more to it there is a V three of the license that many open source projects refuse to adopt because they have complaints about what’s in the V three license. I didn’t get into that, but it’s again, a whole treatise could be written and has been written about that very thing. Right licensing is really interesting, but also really important. All right, so what about Red Hat? The company itself got going back in 1995 when Linux was a wee little babe the founder Mark Ewing named the company after a Red Cornell University lacrosse hat he used to wear, not the iconic Fedora that most people now associate with the company. If you didn’t already know that, a Red Hatter will be more than happy to explain it to you. Mark had put together a flavor of Linux that he called Red Hat Linux in October of 1994 and his company was then subsequently bought out by ACC Corporation, owned by Bob Young. And the new company was called Red Hat Software. With Bob and Mark in charge of the company, red Hat Linux was eventually superseded by two operating systems. We had Red Hat, Enterprise, linux for the Enterprise and Fedora.

[00:14:11.960] Chris: That makes so much sense now.

[00:14:13.240] Ned: I know. And then there’s Fedora for the desktop and home user. Fedora as a code base sits upstream of Rel and it’s where new features and projects are tested before they’re incorporated into Rel proper. And that has actually shifted somewhat with the creation of Sentos Stream, but we’re kind of getting ahead of ourselves with that. So for a long time it was rel was the thing that you deployed in your enterprise and ran for the next ten years and Fedora came out with a faster release cadence and stuff that was probably, if not certainly, broken in. It.

[00:14:52.590] Chris: Fun.

[00:14:55.150] Ned: Red Hat has long prided itself on its open source roots and that’s not just for the software they developed in house. As Red Hat grew and acquired other companies over the years, it took the software from those companies and if it was not already open source, it would clean up the code a little bit and then release the source code and make it available. So JBoss, Core, OS, Gluster, Stack, Rocks, all of them have their source code freely available. You can build it and use it for free from that source control. But if you want support and patches, you’re going to need to pay for a subscription to Red Hat. That’s how they make their money.

[00:15:36.800] Chris: Pretty straightforward.

[00:15:37.950] Ned: Yeah, they put together a rock solid operating system, a bunch of other tools that are also very useful in that ecosystem. They make it something enterprises can depend on and then they provide support for those products on a subscription or an enterprise licensed basis. That includes support like remediation of bugs, troubleshooting issues and extended support of older versions of Rel. For instance, Rel Six originally released in 2011 and it has support until the mid 2024. That’s 13 years of support. Rel Five fell out of support less than two years ago. It went all the way to mid 2021. So they don’t just drop it after five years. You’re going to get a really long lifetime of support if you’re running Rel inside your company.

[00:16:32.750] Chris: Right. And the whole goal there is everything not only stays rock solid, like you said, and they maintain the security patches, but it’s a baseline that other software can measure and validate their applications against.

[00:16:47.030] Ned: Right.

[00:16:47.730] Chris: Application X will run in Red Hat version six or something like that, because it’s effectively locked and it does not move and change as quickly as Fedora does. Like Ned said, you could have Rail six for 13 years and still know that you’re getting security patches and functionality upgrade dates and everything at the enterprise level where it will still stay certified and will still work right.

[00:17:15.100] Ned: And especially for appliances and stuff that doesn’t get updated very often, being able to keep the operating system patched long after maybe the application vendor has gone out of business. Kind of important. Yes. There’s a reason why Windows XP was supported for like 17 years or something.

[00:17:36.690] Chris: It was just embedded, still running.

[00:17:38.790] Ned: It’s still running everywhere. I think they finally given up on support, though. So in order to provide that robust support going back several generations of their software, I mean, rel nine is the next version to come out, if it hasn’t already dropped. So that gives you an idea of how far back we’re going. They need dedicated teams of engineers that keep all that stuff patched, keep it up to date. And also those engineers contribute back to the open source community by helping to maintain software that’s packaged along with Red Hat. And when they make those updates and patches, they push those back to the original project so everyone can benefit. That’s how it’s supposed to work now, by all accounts, and from every Red Hatter that I’ve ever spoken to, their dedication to free and open source software is unwavering. And their company culture is likewise open and engineering driven. At least that is, until the IBM of it all. Thank you. So the IBM of it all, in July of 2019, IBM spent $34 billion to acquire Red Hat. I think that was like the second largest tech acquisition at the time.

[00:19:00.670] Chris: That was so much money was I.

[00:19:03.010] Ned: Think the biggest one was Dell buying EMC. But this was like the second biggest acquisition.

[00:19:09.560] Chris: Yeah.

[00:19:10.270] Ned: Prior to 2019, IBM had been hemorrhaging money. From 2012 to 2022, IBM had four, count them, four quarters of growth over a decade. Their revenue decreased every single year from 2011 to 2020. Not good. So they needed to do something drastic to become a profitable business again, and Red Hat became that thing. So IBM bought Red Hat and really started to focus on making as much money as they could off of their purchase. Sure enough, since 2020, their revenue has steadily been climbing. Unfortunately, net income has not grown as much. And 2022 was a particularly dismal year. I mean, IBM still made $1.64 billion in profits last year, so it’s not nothing. But Wall Street demands constant growth and increasing profits. So big blue must abide. It’s almost red hat. There’s only so many ways to make more money as a company. You can cut the cost of goods sold, you can increase the price, or you can sell more of the thing. IBM and Red Hat by extension have basically said yes to all three. So let us count the ways. In early 2023, Red Hat conducted layoffs of about 4% of their workforce.

[00:20:48.600] Ned: This was pretty unprecedented in Red Hat’s entire history, I believe.

[00:20:55.330] Chris: Yeah, and there was a lot of talk that something that drove that was kind of not just financial, but also political, getting rid of people that were not on the IBM program.

[00:21:09.510] Ned: Yes, IBM, from what I’ve heard, can be a very nice place to work if you are of one mind with them. If you’ve joined the Borg Collective, you’re good.

[00:21:23.530] Chris: Right.

[00:21:24.650] Ned: Red Hat, from what I’ve heard, encouraged being more of an individual and speaking your mind. And I think you’re right. There’s a good chance that some of the people that spoke the loudest received a pink slip and had to hand in their Red Hat, as it were. Now, part of the reason I say that is in the previous quarter, Red Hat had grown 8%. So they made more money and then they fired some people, which will certainly reduce the cost of goods sold for now.

[00:22:04.790] Chris: Little equation.

[00:22:07.030] Ned: IBM is also pushing Red Hat’s OpenShift platform hard as the future of hybrid cloud in an effort to sell more of their product. But another way to sell more of a product is to make it harder to use replacements. And that’s where we get to the drama around Sentos and Rel and rel derivatives like Alma Linux and Rocky Linux. So here we are. Now it’s time to talk about Sent OS and more drama for yo Mama. Chris. You’ve used Sent OS before, I imagine.

[00:22:43.350] Chris: Yeah, just about anybody that has done any significant work in Linux has used Sent to us. Yes, and at the end we’ll get back to that point because I think this is one of those unintended consequences that is going to come bite red Hat in the rear is not having access to use this product, which is effectively a clone of Red Hat Enterprise that you don’t have to have a subscription to use.

[00:23:15.100] Ned: Yes, precisely. I worked with Sentos a lot when I worked for a university. Same money was always tight. We had to pay be choosy about what we licensed. And so Sent OS was a good option for stuff that was, shall we say, not necessarily production, but even as production e. Yes. So Community Enterprise Operating System Linux aka Sent OS was a distribution of Linux based on the upstream of rel. So that means as changes and patches for Red Hat Enterprise Linux were released, the Sentos maintainers would incorporate the patches into Sentos. Sent OS was freely available for anyone who wanted to download it. And it was functionally compatible with Rel. That’s very important. And download it people did. See, Rel ain’t exactly cheap. And if you just need a rock solid operating system for a pet project or a simple web server, or say you’re an educational institution that wasn’t exactly flush with cash. Sent to us was a perfectly reasonable choice. And if one day that pet project becomes a production grade application, then you could easily move over to a licensed version of Rel and know that your application would continue to function as expected because of that functional compatibility.

[00:24:50.030] Ned: Now, while Sentos was originally a community maintained project, red Hat absorbed it in 2014 with a new Sentos governing board. And that made folks a bit nervous that Red Hat would eventually terminate the project. But given Red Hat’s sterling reputation in the open source community, plenty of folks felt comfortable sticking to Sent OS rather than replatforming on, say, a Debian based Linux flavor. It’s going to keep working. We’re fine. Everybody just roll along. And for a while, things did roll along quite nicely. Red Hat saw Sent OS as a way to draw in potential Rel customers, and the cost of maintaining the project seemed pretty minimal. You just take the existing source code, you repackages is Sent to us, and you’re done. Then IBM happened, and those folks who were feeling twitchy about Sent OS being absorbed turned out to be very right. A Red Hat announced in 2020 that Sent OS would be terminated and replaced. Note the huge air quotes around replaced with Sentos Stream, which is not remotely the same thing.

[00:26:11.350] Chris: Correct.

[00:26:12.790] Ned: Sent OS stream flipped the positioning of Sentos to be upstream of Rel. So now new features and ideas would be tested out in Sentos Stream and maybe, just maybe, make their way into future releases of Rel. For those who were used to the functional compatibility of Rel and Sent OS, this completely broke that model. What to do, right?

[00:26:38.080] Chris: And remember, the big differentiator here is that when you have a Rel Five or a six or whatever, it’s not just the kernel itself that is locked, it’s the applications too. So, like, older versions of Rel did not ship with Python Three, and you could upgrade it yourself if you wanted to, but it’s not part of the distribution because everything is locked and it’s minor fixes and security updates, right? Stream is much more like Fedora. Everything changes all the time. Without warning. You do a system update, you don’t know what major version changes are going to happen on all of the other applications that you have installed and controlled from that repository.

[00:27:24.110] Ned: And that Python example is very important because if your application was written in Python Two and a specific version of Python like Two One and it would break if Python Two Three showed up staying on a particular version, of sentos that you were getting from Rel meant you get those security patches and bug fixes. But you’re not going to break your application as you add those patches and updates, right? But you also didn’t get support from Red Hat. If you were running Sent OS, you could get also true help from the community, perhaps, but you were kind of on your own. Maybe you were fine with that. That’s the whole point. Now fortunately, the Rel source code was still available on public GitLab repositories. So several new distributions were created, in particular Rocky Linux from Gregory Kurtzer, who was the founder of Sentos to begin with. So he’s like, oh, I guess I’m just going to do this again. Boop. And another one was Alma Linux from Cloud Linux. So haza, glory be to open source, the crisis appeared to be averted. We had these two and other distributions that effectively took the place of Sentos.

[00:28:39.990] Ned: They would be downstream of Rel, they would continue with the functional compatibility. And the downside is now that you had to switch your deployment process or migrate to a new Linux distribution. And that kind of sucks. But still, if you wanted a free rel alternative that was feature compatible, you were still in good shape, you had options. Guess who didn’t like that?

[00:29:07.150] Chris: Oh, IBM.

[00:29:08.090] Ned: Yeah, that’s the one. Yes, they were non plused at the situation. And so in June of 2023, they made the decision to remove the public GitLab repos hosting the rel source code. No, they’re gone. So going forward, the Sentos stream repositories would be the only publicly available copy of the source code. And bear in mind, this is upstream of Rel and only customers and partners of Red Hat would be able to access the Rel source code through the Red Hat portal. So now instead of a public repository, you had to log into the Red Hat portal, you had to agree to their terms of service, and then you could gain access to that source code. Additionally, as a Red Hat customer or partner, you are not allowed to distribute that source code to other people who are not also Red Hat customers. You can use it for internal projects, but you can’t say, I don’t know, build a distribution with it and release that to others unless you’re a fully paid up customer.

[00:30:17.030] Chris: Even then, if you’re giving Red Hat source code to a not fully paid up customer, you’re technically in violation of their extensions to the rules.

[00:30:24.910] Ned: Exactly. I like how the blog post didn’t mention anything about what they were doing with the source control repositories, but just talked about Sent to a stream in the blog post. And then you read halfway through and you’re like, oh, wait a minute, wait. So that announcement went over like lead balloon, and the reaction from the community was immediate and visceral. So much so, that the author of the original announcement, Mark McGrath, published a follow up blog post attempting to justify the change. And he was more than a little put out about it. And I’m kind of like, Mark, you didn’t see this coming. Apparently he’s been an engineer at Red Hat for 16 years. So you really think, like, he would not be shocked by the community’s reaction and the fact that they did it in such an underhanded kind of way, right? Anyway, in that blog post, here’s a gem of a poll quote quote I feel that much of the anger from our recent decision around downstream sources comes from either those who do not want to pay for the time, effort and resources going into rel or those who want to repackage for their own profit.

[00:31:39.800] Ned: This demand for rel code is disingenuous, end quote. Now should note that this quote is bolded in the original post. This is meant as a key takeaway. Let that sink in a little bit. He basically told everyone if you’re asking for the source code for rel, you’re being disingenuous.

[00:32:08.890] Chris: No, you are.

[00:32:11.290] Ned: I am. Since the original post, Rocky Linux and Alma Linux have been looking for ways to navigate around the new restrictions without paying an exorbitant fee to Red Hat for licensing. Rocky Linux claims they have found a workaround. Using the source code that’s embedded in rel based container images and also by spinning up temporary rel instances on public cloud providers, which makes them a legitimate customer of Red Hat for the time that they’re running that instance, you can expect these loopholes to be closed in short order. Yeah, so that’s where we are today. We have Red Hat Enterprise Linux, where you can still get the source code, but you have to be a paying customer. Or you can get a Red Hat developer license, which I believe comes with 16 licenses. You can use for Red Hat Enterprise Linux for personal software development, those kinds of things. Or you have to be a partner of Red Hat so you don’t actually have to be a paying customer, but you do have to sign up and create an account in their portal and you do have to agree to their terms of service. You have sent to a stream, which is an upstream code that then eventually trickles into rel.

[00:33:41.480] Ned: But it doesn’t mean that things aren’t going to be broken all the time. And then you have these rocky Linux and Amolinux distributions that are trying to find loopholes around the way that they have closed off access to the source control. So now I’d like to open it up for a little bit of debate maybe or just pontification. What are you supposed to make of all this? Does this break the Linux open source model? Is Red Hat going to be negatively impacted in the long or short term? Will other distributions take note and follow suit to use their licensing as a weapon? Or is this all just a tempest in a tea kettle and no one’s actually going to care in a year?

[00:34:25.650] Chris: It’s an interesting question. Okay, I think that in particular, this is a classic gap in the range of short term gain, long term loss because much like a number of software vendors out there, whether they do it. Formally or informally, people get good at a service or a software or an operating system. Generally they don’t want to pay for it first, right? Get good at it, find a business case to need it, then get the paid version. It’s one of those reasons that, like I said informally, companies like Adobe would wink and nod at people using pirated copies of Photoshop for years and years and years and years, because they knew that the best of them would go to some graphic shop and they would pay for an enterprise license and they would make a lot of money.

[00:35:23.610] Ned: And they did.

[00:35:25.210] Chris: Correct. And similarly Red Hat makes a lot of money. They didn’t have to do this. The company was not on the precipice of bankruptcy.

[00:35:37.030] Ned: Right.

[00:35:38.270] Chris: This was a way to ring more money out of customers. Knowing that Red Hat Enterprise Linux had become super valuable in a lot of places and moving away from it would be very difficult. But what I think that they are not noticing or not paying attention to is if there are companies that are doing a CentOS or Rocky Linux or whatever. It was easy to migrate to Red Hat Enterprise Linux but now if they have a financial gun to their heads what’s to say that they’re not just going to do a slightly more difficult migration to a company that has not pulled the rug out from under them like this?

[00:36:22.410] Ned: Right? I think you raised a really important point there, which is it’s not necessarily that the use of Sentos or the newer distributions was driving additional cash towards Red Hat. And that’s what Mark actually said in the post. He said there was this theory that people will start with Sent OS and then they’ll convert or adopt rel at some point in the near future and we’ll see sales growth from keeping Sent OS available for people. And he said that never seemed to materialize. But I think it’s hard to prove a negative. It’s hard to prove that the sales that you have would have been less if you didn’t maintain Sentos. And that might be exactly what happens is by removing this option some people are going to do the cost benefit analysis and go, well, if I want to pay for a Red Hat license that’s going to be $10,000 a year. Is it going to cost me more than $10,000 to do a one time migration to a different distribution of Linux that is not using the same ecosystem as Red Hat? So if I want to move to a debian based distro, will it be painful in the short term?

[00:37:33.390] Ned: Maybe a little bit. But is it $10,000 over $50,000 over the next five years painful? Maybe not.

[00:37:45.190] Chris: Yeah. And I wonder if some of those migrations that you’re alluding to would even be to different more enterprise focused if maybe not as user friendly types of releases like FreeBSD. I mean, the word free is in the title. That’s kind of a good sign. And people have been using that for heavy duty production workloads for a long time.

[00:38:10.320] Ned: Certainly they went to Red Hat because.

[00:38:13.440] Chris: Red Hat was a little bit more well, it was easier, right. Had more people working on it, so more compatibility and things that you knew would work right out of the box. And they had a large ecosystem and they were developing an even larger one of softwares like the aforementioned Gluster or Ceph or any other number of products that were all just under the same umbrella.

[00:38:43.350] Ned: Yeah. I wonder if it’s actually going to impact them that heavily in the longer term, because people who are using Rel today and already paying it for today, paying for it today, is that going to change anything in their equation? And with the focus that they’re putting on OpenShift and OpenShift adoption, especially in hybrid cloud type scenarios, can that actually be the thing that drives the value rather than the operating system that is underneath it? If people are stoked about OpenShift, then you have to run OpenShift on Rel. That’s not even a question. Now the actual value driver is this Kubernetes overlay. It’s not even the operating system that sits underneath it.

[00:39:32.790] Chris: Right. And that’s another actually didn’t think of that until you just said that. But that’s another unintended consequence here. The licenses becoming a mandatory thing might instead of forcing people to pay Red Hat, maybe it forces them into Serverless.

[00:39:51.310] Ned: Well, serverless is an interesting model in the sense that not all applications are well suited for a serverless environment. Many applications are well suited for a containerized environment. And since a containerized environment doesn’t really care about the underlying operating system as long as it’s a matching architecture well, if that’s the case, then if you’re pushing more people to using a containerized application ecosystem I can migrate. My applications between any variety of kubernetes, whether it’s OpenShift or something else, and then I don’t have to worry about that underlying operating system. So what’s the point of paying for OpenShift when I can run it just as easily on EKS, AKS, or some other third party distribution of Kubernetes?

[00:40:44.110] Chris: Right, yeah. It’ll be interesting to see.

[00:40:47.520] Ned: Yeah. So I think people got over excited about it as open source community folks tend to do, especially absolutists that are out there. But I think there’s also a very valid point that this might be a major misstep for Red Hat, and it’s going to be borne out in the next five years or so whether they continue to grow and drive. IBM’s revenue stream. Or if five years from now, they see their sales shrinking and their market share diminishing because they truly did turn their back on a community that previously celebrated them.

[00:41:29.470] Chris: Right? Yeah. And that’s the part that is disingenuous of Red Hat.

[00:41:35.330] Ned: Right.

[00:41:35.970] Chris: Red Hat, as an organization would not exist without the work of hundreds of thousands of anonymous contributors.

[00:41:44.610] Ned: Right.

[00:41:45.520] Chris: Maybe that’s overstating it, but probably not by much. I don’t think companies been around for.

[00:41:49.280] Ned: 25 years, and they’ve certainly built their software on top of other open source software that they maybe contributed back to but also maybe didn’t. And they’re benefiting from the open licensing that was available for all those different pieces of software. And so to say that they are still technically in line with GPL, while basically skirting the philosophical line of it you’re right, it’s disingenuous. They know what they’re doing.

[00:42:23.230] Chris: Yes.

[00:42:24.080] Ned: Even if they can’t put it in a blog post. The other thing, and this is the last thing I’ll bring up is based off the layoffs and the recent behavior of people at Red Hat, what are the chances that we see a fairly sizable exodus of folks from Red Hat because they feel betrayed by what the leadership is doing? And what does that mean for future companies that are founded by the folks who leave?

[00:42:50.310] Chris: Good point. Instead of them staying inside of Red Hat and making changes and making products and doing things for the company, they’re doing it in competition with the company.

[00:43:03.400] Ned: Right.

[00:43:04.730] Chris: Interesting.

[00:43:05.850] Ned: So we should revisit this in a few years and see what happens. Well, that is going to do it for today’s main article. Stay tuned. In a couple of days, we’re going to be releasing our lightning round, or I think we’re going to call it More tech Garbage. So stay tuned for that. But for today, thanks for listening or something. I guess you found it worthwhile enough if you made it all the way to the end. So congratulations to you, friend. You accomplished something today. Now you can go sit on a couch, eat a chili dog and play Zelda Tears of the Kingdom, which I wish I could do for the rest of the day. You have earned it. You can find me or Chris on Twitter at ned 1313 and at Heiner 80 respectively. Or you can follow the show at Chaos underscore Lever if that’s the kind of thing you’re into. Chaos. Lever also has a LinkedIn page now, so you can follow that if you’re a LinkedIn person. Show notes are available@chaoslever.com if you like reading things, which you shouldn’t. We’ll be back next week or in two days, depending on how you look at it, to see what fresh hell is upon us.

[00:44:08.960] Ned: Tata for now. Not totally ungainly. I did okay.

[00:44:17.970] Chris: It was fine.

[00:44:20.210] Ned: I need approval.


Chris Hayner

Chris Hayner (He/Him)

Our story starts with a young Chris growing up in the agrarian community of Central New Jersey. Son of an eccentric sheep herder, Chris’ early life was that of toil and misery. When he wasn’t pressing cheese for his father’s failing upscale Fromage emporium, he languished on a meager diet of Dinty Moore and boiled socks. His teenage years introduced new wrinkles in an already beleaguered existence with the arrival of an Atari 2600. While at first it seemed a blessed distraction from milking ornery sheep, Chris fell victim to an obsession with achieving the perfect Pitfall game. Hours spent in the grips of Indiana Jones-esque adventure warped poor Chris’ mind and brought him to the maw of madness. It was at that moment he met our hero, Ned Bellavance, who shepherded him along a path of freedom out of his feverish, vine-filled hellscape. To this day Chris is haunted by visions of alligator jaws snapping shut, but with the help of Ned, he freed himself from the confines of Atari obsession to become a somewhat productive member of society. You can find Chris at coin operated laundromats, lecturing ironing boards for being itinerant. And as the cohost on the Chaos Lever podcast.

Ned Bellavance

Ned Bellavance (He/Him)

Ned is an industry veteran with piercing blue eyes, an indomitable spirit, and the thick hair of someone half his age. He is the founder and sole employee of the ludicrously successful Ned in the Cloud LLC, which has rocked the tech world with its meteoric rise in power and prestige. You can find Ned and his company at the most lavish and exclusive tech events, or at least in theory you could, since you wouldn’t actually be allowed into such hallowed circles. When Ned isn’t sailing on his 500 ft. yacht with Sir Richard Branson or volunteering at a local youth steeplechase charity, you can find him doing charity work of another kind, cohosting the Chaos Lever podcast with Chris Hayner. Really, he’s doing Chris a huge favor by even showing up. You should feel grateful Chris. Oaths of fealty, acts of contrition, and tokens of appreciation may be sent via carrier pigeon to his palatial estate on the Isle of Man.