It's that time of year when the winds of restructuring blow, so we've all been packing our stuff into boxes, giving away obsolete equipment, gawking at each other's ZX Spectrum posters, building makeshift networks with cross-cables to replace our desktop switches to keep working as said switches are packed away, and other forms of geek merriment only possible when the entire office becomes filled with dust, cardboard boxes and duct tape.
(No, this year we couldn't quite manage to tape a poor hapless victim to his chair, roll him screaming into a lift and press the ground floor button. The most likely victim managed to squirm away, and the duct tape isn't quite as resilient as in the old days...)
Panther is Gold
After setting up Fedora on a test box (and being suprised by the graphic startup screen, which is eerily reminiscent of Mac OS X), I've been involved in a series of micro-arguments about RedHat's shift in strategy. It's like, all of the sudden, RedHat isn't geeky enough for well, geeks, just because they decided to charge money for enterprise-grade Linux.
All of a sudden, perfectly normal Geeks... Hum... Forget the "normal" part. All of a sudden, people who have been setting up and running RedHat for years want to try other distributions for no reason at all - or, at least, no good reasons, to the point where I wonder if Linux is only fun to these people if it is free, relatively geeky and against the status quo.
I've ranted on and off against the Linux attitude for a while now, and this is the sort of thing I dislike about it. I need to think about this RedHat-is-suddenly-uncool thing for a while and try to pin down the essentials, but right off the bat I can rate it as plain stupid.
It's not as if the UNIX world isn't full of attitude issues. The BSD crowd (of which I could be a card-carrying member, if it weren't for the amazingly limited subset of hardware it ran on a few years back) is almost legendary for its bigotry (try popping up on a BSD IRC channel and mentioning Linux), the Sun crowd refuses to touch an Intel box for fear of contamination (but dump CDE for Gnome the first chance they get), the AIX crowd is being quietly replaced by a new generation of Linux geeks and the HP-UX crowd... Hum... Is it a crowd still?
Like many others, I've used all of those (often for years at a time, way back when the only thing running on Intel was MS-DOS), so I had the opportunity to witness most of the "UNIX Wars" and understand the (utterly stupid) arguments on all sides. And the Linux distro spats are essentially the same, but between spoiled brats who don't have to pay through the nose for the hardware to run their dinky little OS, and therefore don't value it as much as we, uh... oldtimers did.
Nevertheless, the "not-RedHat-anymore" syndrome is worrying. It shows that people are willing to forego stability, standartization and efficiency (in operational and troubleshooting terms) for the "cool" factor, and that's got to be a bad thing for a corporate setting.
There's a chance RedHat's strategy will backfire due to this, if only because the people who were lobbying their Purchasing department for a copy of RedHat are now trying to figure out the insanely arcane Debian ISO generation utilities. After all, Debian is way cooler than RedHat, even if their logo looks like a certain shampoo brand's...