I won’t deny the contribution that Red Hat did to the open source world, but this is not about the contribution, but about how open source should be.
Admit it or not, open source is largely based on people around it, as for a community, it should be friendly to everyone. But as you can see, the quarrel seems to be much more louder these days.
First, let’s talk about systemd as an example. Is there any “must” reason for systemd to merge with udev? Though I don’t have much knowledge on it, but I failed to see that (And I think that most programmers will fail to see that too, as they ARE separated before). Lennart Pottering said udev without systemd is a dead end, this is very true! If udev start to use something in systemd, people will not be possible to split them again. But logic here is, “since it’s merged, it will come to a dead end”, but not “since it will be a dead end, so we merge together”.
And he also accuse Canonical about upstart many times on G+, if yet another unrelated people do that, I won’t complain about it, does he as systemd developer really need to do that? I can’t stop to think that this is on purpose and it will lead systemd to occupy the moral high ground.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t say I like canonical because I hate redhat, actually I like neither of them. But to be a close company and do everything close and claim we are close is even better than being close but claim to be open.
What’s the potential benefit for Red Hat if they begin to control more and more project? The benefit is much more valuable than money. Rule No.1 is, a company will do anything for its own benefit – there is no charity in the world.
Let me introduce another well-known story, IBM developed Deep-Blue to play chess with world champion Garry Kasparov, what could IBM get from this? Being able to build some chess game? No, the answer is reputation. If we talk about A.I. nowadays, a lot of people will think of Deep Blue and IBM. This fame can attract lots of young people who interest in A.I. and work for IBM.
Same thing can be also applied to Red Hat. If we ask people about which company is the most famous open source company, what’s the very first answer you can think of? I think most people will answer Red Hat. Red Hat already earned enough reputation in the open source world, and it seems it will leave its old friends, and don’t want to see any project/company that is NOT under control of Red Hat. To fight against Oracle, this is what Red Hat do. Since Oracle is evil, so we should be more evil? Not to say something happened in Linux desktop. So in my humble opinion, “Work with me, or die”, and “my choice is the only highway” is best summary for Red Hat right now.
Patent can be weapon against open source software, but social influence can also be. And even they use their social influence as weapon to suppress others, they can still occupy the moral high land, under the name of “open and cooperation”.
Open Source should respect the choice of people, or to be more concrete, let people feel free, and respect the freedom for people. Thus fragmentation is human nature, and it’s not always bad. You can call it fragmentation, or call it competition. Why the people on the world can’t be a whole country? I think the answer is “this is the nature and the right way to go” for human being. The history of HTML is the history of fragmentation, so is history of *nix and human being.
Though this blog is accusing Red Hat, but it can be also applied to some other company, who is abusing the reputation or their existing base, for example, Tencent. If there is no competition in the world, how lonely will the world be?
And the only thing left I trust in open source world is real community.