2008-04-23

RedHat's open source community trick

OK, I am going to be a bit cynical here, so be prepared ;-)

I think one of the new genial tricks of late being employed by RedHat to great effect is the following:
  1. Select a good open source developer, respected in the community but not affiliated with any Linux distributor company;
  2. Secretly talk to the guy and offer him a job at RedHat in some months, but he has to agree to start an open source project doing this and that...
  3. The developer agrees, starts the open source project, and starts developing it;
  4. In time the open source project gets good community support, not only because of its good quality but also because it is perceived as coming from the open source "community" rather than a company;
  5. After some months, the developer joins RedHat, and continues to maintain the project (which now has good community adoption);
  6. ....
  7. Profit!
I am trying to guess here, and could be wrong, but I am guessing this might have happened with projects such as Cairo (Carl Worth), Pulse Audio (Lennart Poettering), and more recently PackageKit (Richard Hughes), probably others in the past (I suspect Nautilus as well).

Well, if true, I think this is only slightly evil, anyway. I love RedHat, and I think they have always done a great service to open source in the past, and continue to be the leading technology innovators.

OK, if one was not being so cynical one might consider a scenario where the developer in question starts something cool on his own free will and the company simply sees the potential and decides to hire him. But I think I am too cynical to believe this :)

14 comments:

Luis said...

It isn't cynical, it is just spectacularly, incredibly ignorant of basic facts about how these projects started.

Nautilus was started by a completely different company (none of whose employees work at Red Hat, as far as I know); PackageKit started two months after Richard was working for Red Hat; Cairo was a school research project for Carl for two full years before he was hired for Red Hat; PulseAudio was shipped by Ubuntu before it was shipped by Fedora (pretty sure), which sounds like a pretty stupid move if your whole goal is to somehow secretely develop new technology.

Red Hat deserves an apology for such blatantly, provably false rumormongering.

Luis Villa said...

(Oh, Red Hat, and each of the individuals who you've said have lied about themselves, their projects, and their motivations. Especially the individuals.)

Jeff Waugh said...

Wow. You just managed to unfairly diss one of the best corporate contributors to the FLOSS world *AND* a bunch of awesome, Freedom-loving hackers who I consider to be friends... all in one short post.

Concur with Luis -- this is just deeply ignorant rumour-mongering without any basis in fact whatsoever. Appalling.

Anonymous said...

Pulse Audio was _not_ shipped with Ubuntu first. Fedora had it before Ubuntu. It's just that the Ubuntu hype machine likes to pretend that Ubuntu has more "special stuff" than all of the other distros out there.

Anonymous said...

Ubuntu had the pulseaudio in the repositories, and I use it before it has been integrated into fedora.
But yes, fedora was the first distribution who include the packet in the default install.

Gustavo Carneiro said...

Hey, guys. First of all, I did not know by humble blog was know by you guys, so I did not expect my inflammatory post to have such a negative impact... :P

I did warn I was being cynical. I did say I still think Red Hat deserves credit for most of these excellent open source technologies.

Finally, and most important, if we are discussing Free Software, I should exercise my Free Speech as well, and explore any avenues of thought just for the sake of exploration.

This may be completely wrong, but surely this (conspiracy) theory has crossed the mind of other people besides me?... Come on... I _really_, _really_ hate tabu subjects. Anything should be discussed.

Thanks to this post and your answers, now we all know some more facts (or at least me).

Luis said...

Sorry, there is a difference between bringing up difficult/taboo opinions(which I have supported in the past) and inventing complete and total lies which even the most minimal googling would reveal to be absolutely, provably false. That is well beyond the bounds of what is acceptable in any functional community, and you should apologize.

anonymous: my point still stands; if Red Hat was engaging in some giant conspiracy to create good press, don't you think they would have had it in their repositories first?

Gustavo Carneiro said...

Luis, I have apologized in a new post.

I think my inexperience in blogging matters is showing here. Some people are offended if I say stuff like "I could be wrong here, but..." and it does not appear to be possible to blog without researching every one theory posted.

Luis said...

Blogging isn't very hard. Would you go to all your neighbors and say 'I think this other neighbor is a liar' without, you know, talking to the other neighbor first? Without having even the slightest factual basis for the claim? I would hope not.

This is not a small or insignificant thing. Sometimes people don't research those; it is OK. Not a big deal. Sometimes people give opinions about very big things which are hard to research- for example, we have all speculated about why Red Hat's executives or Sun's executives have done this or that, without much fact, because we can't research what their executives think- we can only speculate.

But this is not small, and it is not hard to research. It took me less than 10 minutes to find the facts behind all of these things. It is a very big, very serious charge you have brought- you said a bunch of very good people, who are very important parts of our communities, are liars. Active liars. In no community- blogging or otherwise- is it acceptable to bring such a serious charge without very serious evidence or without some other excuse. Here, there is no excuse.

Anonymous said...

Gustavo Carneiro wrote:
>> "Hey, guys. First of all, I did not know by humble blog was know by you guys"

This theory/essay was submitted to linux today. ~ 1,000 views so far.

Gustavo Carneiro said...

> This theory/essay was submitted to linux today. ~ 1,000 views so far.

Eek! :-/

Here's an example of data mining gone terribly wrong :-(

Trust me, I would have been a _lot_ more careful with names and checking for facts had I known the post had such a level of exposure...

Garoth said...

Yeah, disappointing. RedHat's been supporting Linux for so very long now. This article was also picked up by Linux.com/Newsforge and linked from the main homepage. Expect about a zillion hits.

You should be proud, though, that two of the top Gnome community members personally came down here to tell you off. :)

paul_one said...

Ermmm.... Sorry - but I can't see what's 'evil' in Redhat hiring people to start opensource projects which everyone can/does benefit from.

Other than that you just seem to want to show redhat asking developers with potential to be paid to develop.

Also, how does step 6 work seeing as how redhat's model works on support contracts, and not selling a 'product' (as such).

Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous nonsense!

I started to work on PA years before RH showed interest in me. This is a really, really dumb conspiracy bullshit.

Lennart