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Red Hat Software Linux Technology

How Red Hat Can Recapture Developer Interest 232

Posted by Soulskill
from the cookies-will-do-the-trick dept.
snydeq writes: Developers are embracing a range of open source technologies, writes Matt Asay, virtually none of which are supported or sold by Red Hat, the purported open source leader. "Ask a CIO her choice to run mission-critical workloads, and her answer is a near immediate 'Red Hat.' Ask her developers what they prefer, however, and it's Ubuntu. Outside the operating system, according to AngelList data compiled by Leo Polovets, these developers go with MySQL, MongoDB, or PostgreSQL for their database; Chef or Puppet for configuration; and ElasticSearch or Solr for search. None of this technology is developed by Red Hat. Yet all of this technology is what the next generation of developers is using to build modern applications. Given that developers are the new kingmakers, Red Hat needs to get out in front of the developer freight train if it wants to remain relevant for the next 20 years, much less the next two."
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How Red Hat Can Recapture Developer Interest

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  • by kbrannen (581293) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @02:54PM (#47767775)
    For the "big stuff", much of what's listed in the summary, they probably can't create the bandwagon. The reason developers jump on something like that is because it's already in widespread use. All the "big stuff" already has leaders. The best RH could hope to do is to buy some of those out and take them over.

    OTOH, do we developers want that? Look at the controversy surrounding systemd, directly developed by RH. If that's a sample of what they do, I'm not so keen for their solutions.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @02:55PM (#47767789)

    From working in Linux-based IT for nearly a decade now, IT departments get very frustrated by Red Hat's package management and the concept of needing both an Entitlement and various Channels to get updates; on the flip side of this summary is Ubuntu, which IT departments can't stand due to it's constant change and instable nature. Every IT department I've worked in and with seems to prefer administering and deploying Debian and battles with devs on Ubuntu and management on Red Hat.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Omicron32 (646469)

      Here here.

      Give me a Debian box over Ubuntu any day.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        Give me a Debian box over Ubuntu any day [for stability.]

        But I want to stay employed! Give me a Windows box instead.

        • by ruir (2709173)
          Really? It has been my Debian knowledge that has secured me a job at least in the 4 last places I worked...
        • by armanox (826486)

          My SGI and Sun knowledge are why I'm employed....

      • by Rob Y. (110975)

        Okay. Once and for all. Is it "Here here" or "Hear hear". (or "Hear here"...)

    • by swv3752 (187722)

      Really? As Linux System Administrator, I like Red Hat. I despise Ubuntu, for instability. The LTS versions of Ubuntu have been problematic in my experience.

      I do find CentOS to be easier to maintain, but usually get stuck trying to convince management to let us deploy.

      • by Zeromous (668365)

        I'm with you but debian is rock solid. I hate ubuntu but find working debian to be sweet sweet stability. Unfortunately it almost never handles the latest new new that developers wantwant.

      • by x_t0ken_407 (2716535) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @04:58PM (#47769281) Homepage

        I'd also prefer RHEL over all others, except for the costs (which are inconsequential to me, usually). I too get stuck trying to push CentOS...most shops I've been at want to be able to point the finger at someone, hence paying for RHEL. What's odd is, the shop I've been working at for the past year actually uses Ubuntu LTS, so I've (unfortunately, or perhaps, fortunately, in the name of expanding my knowledge) had to learn the system pretty quickly. Haven't had any problems with it so far, an actually I'm impressed with the LTS version's stability (while originally I abhorred it for no actual reason, heh). Seems like a cross between RHEL's stability and Fedora's up-to-date packages.

  • by StuartHankins (1020819) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @02:57PM (#47767819)
    Every one of these is supported by Red Hat. Call them out for other things, but do your research first. I'm upgrading MySQL from 5.1 to 5.5 and many of these are specifically in new Red Hat Collections.
    https://access.redhat.com/documentation/en-US/Red_Hat_Software_Collections/1/html-single/1.1_Release_Notes/index.html#sect-Installation_and_Usage-Install [redhat.com]
  • by jpschaaf (313847) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @02:59PM (#47767855)

    I don't think that's a cut-and-dry sort of thing. As a developer, I hate the fact that Ubuntu is changing so quickly that I can't keep up. Leading edge is fine, but bleeding edge gets blood everywhere.

    • by zdzichu (100333)

      Ubuntu changing quickly? In what universe? I left Ubuntu for Fedora because I was fed up with living in the past. Debian's roots in Ubuntu show at every step, most software is ancient.

  • by Omicron32 (646469) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @03:01PM (#47767885)

    The great benefit of Red Hat is that it's stable and supported for a very long time, like 20 years. They don't change anything major in a release, and releases are few and far between. This is great for 'Enterprise' stuff, but the web is moving quickly and package support for RHEL boxes isn't great.

    Having said that, where I work we have lots of stuff on RHEL/CentOS, and more and more stuff on Ubuntu. The Ubuntu stuff keeps me awake at night - literally. It's always falling over. I have never experience a kernel like the one the Ubuntu team are putting are. It's absolutely atrocious. The biggest problem is that the software we need to use has better support for Ubuntu than RHEL, so we're stuck using a dire OS to run it on.

    The RHEL and CentOS boxes we have are rock solid stable and have never really given us significant issues. I walk into the office and get a new Ubuntu problem every day.

    (FWIW I use Debian for all my own stuff exclusively, so I know my way around Debian-derivatives - this isn't a configuration issue).

  • by Chirs (87576) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @03:10PM (#47767983)

    That last sentence should have been, "....remain relevant for the next two years, much less the next 20."

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @03:19PM (#47768109) Homepage

    "Ask her developers what they prefer, however, and it's Ubuntu"

    Ask a developer who has recently made or tried to make the transition from Windows to Linux and they expect inconsistency, plus doesn't everyone use it? Ask a seasoned Linux dev and they wouldn't touch Ubuntu with Bill Gates' $INSERT_APPENDAGE_HERE

  • by thule (9041) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @03:21PM (#47768129) Homepage

    The tension is stability versus the latest tech. RedHat purposely moves very, very slowly. The same can be said about Debian stable. As an admin I like slow moving targets. The problem is that developers want to use the latest stuff. So what does RedHat do about this? I think they are trying to solve it in two ways. First is their Software Collections. These are packages that site outside the base OS and are easy to pivot to the newer version. This allows for multiple versions of things like Python to be installed in parallel. Very handy!

    Another thing that is helping quite a bit is Docker. RedHat is big on Docker. By packaging containers as apps, this allows a developer to easily control the dependencies outside of the OS that the app is running on. This makes everyone happy! Fedora is tracking some interesting tooling with Docker (geard, os-tree).

    I like that RedHat tries to solve bigger problems than just packing and releasing a distro. They are trying to make things manageable (see FreeIPA, OpenLMI, RDO, CloudForms, oVirt)

    Personally, I like RedHat. I like Debian. I run Fedora on my desktop and notebook. I maintain a CI/CD pipeline on RedHat at work. I never jumped on the Ubuntu bandwagon. It seems to me that Ubuntu has made quite a few more mis-steps in their short existence than RedHat has over the years. I get the feeling that a lot of people are just dropping back to Debian, which is just fine with me!

    • by Zeromous (668365)

      Docker is indeed a godsend to developers and the admins that coddle them. Especially on distributions like RHEL and Debian. It may even allow me to skip this whole RHEL7 debacle but time will tell.

    • by jafac (1449)

      Very important for certain customers:
      RH has a Common Criteria certificate. So, it's basically the ONLY Linux you can run in an IA environment. The other option is Windows. I don't even know if Solaris is there, still. I've seen customers migrate entire Ubuntu networks to Red Hat, to meet this set of requirements.

      This means revenue for Red Hat, and this drives them to work towards being a one-stop-shop for IA Enterprise systems.

      With other environments leaning towards HIPPA and other sets of security regul

    • Agreed on all points. I especially feel good supporting RedHat as it really does help drive the Gnu/Linux Ecosystem forward. Ubuntu has tried doing the same, but when it does there are always stings attached or development is behind closed doors.

  • When someone asks me to connect to a Linux server, I think "Cool". When I find out it's Ubuntu I think they probably don't know much about Linux or they wouldn't be running Ubuntu as a server. My sampling is probably biased, but most of the Ubuntu user's I've met are beginning desktop users.

    • No you aren't biased -- it is the average. Ubuntu tends to be used by those new to Linux. :-/ Ubuntu LTS is decent.

      At least they _are_ using OS as opposed to Windows.

      The experienced sysadmins would be using OpenBSD. Hell even something such as FreeNas [freenas.org].

  • More than a decade ago, when they abandoned desktop and regular users and only focused on enterprise, they made their biggest mistake. Where do you think Ubuntu Server users come from?

    Even most of us who are highly knowledgeable and understand Linux to it's most profound depths appreciate a good desktop experience. The fact we can compile a kernel or any software does not mean we prefer that to a nice end-user experience.

    It is still not too late for RedHat, and given the horrible direction Ubuntu has b
    • by thule (9041)
      Unfriendly package manager? I thought this argument is over. Yum (moving to dnf) operates in a similar way to apt-get.
      • by goruka (1721094)
        apt-get and yum are similar, but Ubuntu Software Center and Update Manager, (as well as the way they handle PPAs) are miles ahead more friendly than Red-Hat's Package Manager.
        • by thule (9041)
          PPA's are similar to adding a -release package to Fedora/RedHat/CentOS. So for example, I was to add EPEL to my repos. I just click on the epel-release rpm and it installs it. I'm not so hip on the Software Center. I like to stick to core debian tools when using a .deb-base system.
    • by whoever57 (658626)

      More than a decade ago, when they abandoned desktop and regular users and only focused on enterprise, they made their biggest mistake. Where do you think Ubuntu Server users come from?

      This.

      Absolutely true. RedHat desktop was awful (in comparison to other distros) for a while. Unfortunately, it's going that way again (Gnome 3). I only hope that someone will create a MATE repository for RHEL/CentOS 7.

      What this implies is that the execs at RedHat don't eat their own dogfood, which is terrible for any

      • by Dogers (446369)

        Supposedly they do - the users there get the choice of running RHEL managed by the company or Fedora managed by themselves..

  • Red Hat use to have a distribution for everyone. It was one of the most popular Linux distributions. Then it moved to Red Hat Enterprise, and that really caused many of the Linux users to find something else and switch. Fedora is nice and all, but it felt like Red Hat throwing a bone.

    Ubuntu came up and took its place as the distribution for everyone. Red Hat got stuck in the stuffy enterprise market.

    As most people who know, Enterprise software means over priced software, that barely works, but somehow it ma

    • by thule (9041)

      We are an agile shop. We have pair programming, continuous integration, and continuous delivery to AWS. The pipeline runs RedHat. We have also have some CentOS.

      Fedora is not a bone, it is a great way to know what is coming in RHEL. CentOS (which RedHat supports) is a great server distro for everyone.

    • by bobbied (2522392)

      As most people who know, Enterprise software means over priced software, that barely works, but somehow it makes executives feel good about using it, probably because they need a full IT Staff just to keep it running.

      No, that's not a reason for using Red Hat. The reason to pay Red Hat is for support. Lets say you have an issue that your "expert" is unable to resolve. If you have Red Hat license, you put in a ticket with them and access the stable of engineers they keep employed to get you an answer. Chances are they have seen the issue before and many times have the developer who wrote the stuff in house. If you actually find a bug, they work that for you too because they have open relationships with the developmen

  • There are a couple of problems from our (Operations) perspective.

    1. The infrastructure needs to be supported as well. If the various necessary agents (backups, monitoring, application distribution) only work on Red Hat (or CentOS) then Red Hat is what's acceptable in the production environment.

    2. The staff needs to be in place to support it. We have three major Operating Systems we support (team of 5 admins). Solaris, HP-UX, and Red Hat/CentOS. With almost 1,100 systems, environments outside our expertise a

  • To any newbies that don't know how to do it, you can hide all of redelm's spam crap. Click his name, then click the little orb by his name, and make him a foe.

    Then go the comments preferences page [slashdot.org], scroll down, and set a -5 (or whatever) modifier to your foes. You won't have to see his crap again.

  • Most people I know that used Ubuntu.... Have moved on to Mint.

    • by ruir (2709173)
      I am onto Debian just to clarify it. However, if in server side, you better move to something else. Mint took almost 3 weeks to push updates to the heartbleed bug for instance.
  • When I had a choice in Linux desktop, it was always Fedora because I was sued to it, and even with its bleeding edge slant, it rarely fell over with updates even with some third party repos in my mix. That was from Fedora 1 though like 16? They're up to 20 now so I have some catching up to do!

    I don't know if anyone's mentioned that Redhat owns JBoss and all the tools and technologies around that which are very popular in the enterprise development markets. When I think of Redhat, I see a company:

    1. Does ser

  • Development cycle (Score:5, Interesting)

    by caitriona81 (1032126) <sdaugherty&gmail,com> on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @04:27PM (#47768965) Journal

    Agile developers expect agile everything. Ubuntu happens to just be a happy compromise between agile and waterfall.

    If you look at RHEL, it's 5-10 year old packages, kept alive by an enormous engineering team that backports fixes to old, dead software, which creates a huge pile of technical debt for any developer trying to use "modern", highly modular frameworks.

    As far as developers go, In the Ruby, Python, and Node ecosystems, anything that's not the latest doesn't exist. They don't use the system package management, they use gem, pip, and npm. They really don't care about the underlying OS, until it gets in the way, and getting in the way is exactly what a decade-old OS does.

    Just to throw out an example. Take some modern ruby on rails application, say Discourse. (discourse.org). Go download a tarball from github. Now try to make it work with nothing but software from the official RHEL repository. Let me know how that works out for you. After you tear out all your hair and skin trying to do that, try to get the pieces from 3rd party repos that will make that work. See how much you have to bring in as far as new libraries and new packages just to make it work. It's still a nightmare even with the 3rd party repos, and that RHEL support contract doesn't cover them - every single piece that's likely to break your application, is now outside of your support agreement, so your company is now wasting at least $799/year for support.

    As soon as they start trying to develop on RHEL, the dirty hacks start. There are things missing - the versions of software that they need to make their dependancies work don't exist on RHEL. They end up in a kind of dependancy hell fighting with libraries that are a decade too old to compile their dependancies. One thing leads to another. Eventually, you recreate an entire current OS in /usr/local, or install one piece by piece from 3rd party repositories. At that point, it's not RHEL anymore. It might still say it's RHEL, but it's a bastardized system that looks more like an evil child of Gentoo and Fedora. (both of which are fine distributions by the way, just they aren't meant to crossbreed). The only thing you have left of RHEL at that point are the parts your application doesn't care about, which is probably not much.

    Or, you can attempt to containerize with kvm, chroots, or lxc, which, while not breaking the underlying system as badly, means the application is really running on something other than RHEL.

    If Red Hat wants developers back, they are going to have to be able to deliver a product with an agressive delivery schedule, maybe even a rolling release, and be able to deliver the kind of support to make operations feel good. That's a whole new territory, that nobody has touched yet, but if they are up to the challenge of keeping decade old software on life support, they are probably up to the challenge of an agile OS.

    • I've been using *nix systems for about 23 years so maybe I'm just old school, but what exactly is so difficult about compiling and packaging third-party software yourself?

      These days most everything uses autotools and it's pretty simple to create the necessary files for the packaging system.

      As for support, isn't that why you hire experienced people that can help themselves?

    • "As far as developers go, In the Ruby, Python, and Node ecosystems, anything that's not the latest doesn't exist. They don't use the system package management, they use gem, pip, and npm. They really don't care about the underlying OS, until it gets in the way, and getting in the way is exactly what a decade-old OS does."

      ^^These developers are idiots and don't deserve support.^^

      Yeah, I'm aware of everything wrong with that statement, but it's a perspective that's valid for a lot of people. This culture evo

      • bleh. submit vs preview. My opinion is nowhere near that strong, but I do want to present a counter-perspective to the vomit I hear kids regurgitating daily.

    • by neurovish (315867)

      Agile developers expect agile everything. Ubuntu happens to just be a happy compromise between agile and waterfall.

      If you look at RHEL, it's 5-10 year old packages, kept alive by an enormous engineering team that backports fixes to old, dead software, which creates a huge pile of technical debt for any developer trying to use "modern", highly modular frameworks.

      As far as developers go, In the Ruby, Python, and Node ecosystems, anything that's not the latest doesn't exist. They don't use the system package management, they use gem, pip, and npm. They really don't care about the underlying OS, until it gets in the way, and getting in the way is exactly what a decade-old OS does.

      Just to throw out an example. Take some modern ruby on rails application, say Discourse. (discourse.org). Go download a tarball from github. Now try to make it work with nothing but software from the official RHEL repository. Let me know how that works out for you. After you tear out all your hair and skin trying to do that, try to get the pieces from 3rd party repos that will make that work. See how much you have to bring in as far as new libraries and new packages just to make it work. It's still a nightmare even with the 3rd party repos, and that RHEL support contract doesn't cover them - every single piece that's likely to break your application, is now outside of your support agreement, so your company is now wasting at least $799/year for support.

      Here you go, seems straightforward and easy enough: https://meta.discourse.org/t/i... [discourse.org]

      If modern, highly modern frameworks are interested in getting into the big enterprise space, then they will dedicate the time to making their software work with RHEL. If a company is running Ubuntu in production, then they don't particularly care that much about stability, have a small server install base, or a team that can hack around enough to make things work.

  • Let's start with Redhat cleaning up the mess that a sysadmin has to slog through to set up and run a Red Hat machine.

  • by msobkow (48369) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @04:37PM (#47769045) Homepage Journal

    If you install the newer packages you want, who cares what the "default" package is?

    Personally I'd much rather a distro that lets me choose which version of packages to install rather than shoving one down my throat randomly during updates of the system.

    Granted, the Debian stable I run isn't full of the latest shiny, shiny, but it isn't causing update problems by rolling out new versions of packages, either. Both Debian stable and RedHat RHEL are focused on stability, not bleeding edge development. No one in their right mind runs production systems on untested versions of packages, and no one (not even banks) can afford to do constant regression testing on the latest releases of software just because it's "new."

    I'm constantly surprised at how many people opt for downloading the "production" version of my own project, even though that really was just a peg in the dirt of functionality, not some big fancy schmancy roll-out that went through more testing than other releases. There are bug fixes and new features in the latest and greatest, but a lot of people don't want that -- they want that peg in the dirt, and are content to wait for an SP1 to get access to the new features and bug fixes.

    Don't forget it can often take a few months to properly regression test software. It isn't just an issue of booting with the latest version and making sure it starts running -- it's testing how it responds to having network cables yanked, power flipped off hard, sometimes even yanking hardware components while a box is running. Serious servers aren't something you just push out after running them with a dozen users for a week.

  • by jgotts (2785)

    I've been a Linux developer for just over 20 years and I happen to hate Ubuntu. It's similar to how Slackware was in 1994 when I got started. Even the basic stuff requires tweaking to get working properly. In those days, that is how Linux was and we were all hobbyists enthusiastic about fixing problems. For example, burning a CD didn't work on the last Ubuntu system I used a few years ago. That is basic stuff that has worked the same way for 10+ years that no distribution should screw up. Other basic things

    • by ruir (2709173)
      I have switched to Debian back already in 1997 from RH. One of my subordinates installed some our servers in Ubuntu back in 2006/7, and it was a terrible experience I do not want to repeat.
  • I work at a large university. IT gave us two options for operating systems on our servers, Redhat or Windows. They also offer a DIY vmware setup. Rather than having IT manage our servers, I have to do it just so we can run Ubuntu. It is impossible to run certain packages like OpenCPU on Redhat because no one ever bothered to port it. Before you jump to the conclusion that linux is linux, it's really not. You can blame Ubuntu for going off the beaten path or Redhat for not keeping up with the times but some software packages only run on one linux distro without considerable effort. Conversely, the only supported backup solution for our servers is IBM tivoli crap and I went through hell to convert the rpm based installer into something that would work on Ubuntu LTS. IBM doesn't get that Ubuntu (or debian derived) distros are popular now either.

    As a *BSD guy, I find both Ubuntu and Redhat irritating but at least ubuntu has apt-get. Funny thing is I started on Redhat 5.0 in '99 or so as my first *nix like os. Back then they had a desktop that didn't suck though.

  • Trendy != Better (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Etcetera (14711) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @06:29PM (#47770085) Homepage

    Given that developers are the new kingmakers, Red Hat needs to get out in front of the developer freight train if it wants to remain relevant for the next 20 years, much less the next two.

    It's very hard to avoid a snarky response, but I'll try.

    * Developers are not kingmakers
    * Developers are not system administrators
    * Developers don't understand operations
    * Developers often don't understand scale engineering unless they can abstract it away by not thinking too hard about anything
    * Red Hat Enterprise Linux (and its derivatives) are not intended to be shiny new, but to be reliable
    * Use Fedora if you want bleeding edge, or re-package things yourself. RPMs aren't hard.

  • RH should have been worried about that like 17 years ago when I switched to Debian because they were messing up. Now I frankly do not care.
  • Why do devs choose Ubuntu over Linux? (Ok, I'm baiting, but really why do they choose it?)

    RedHat does have MySQL, so some of the presumptions of the post are false. True, RedHat now is moving into MariaDB a MySQL branch currently, fork in the future. But RedHat is a great choice for developers. What about Tomcat or JBoss? Their long support window and awesome packaging makes a great choice for risk-averse organization. I see lots of orgs adopting these app servers supported by RedHat.

    I see it as a di

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