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November 9th, 2015

The Red Hat/MS Agreement Molehill

First, let me thank those who took the time to alert me last week to the agreement between Red Hat and Microsoft on holding hands in the cloud. All the concern shown in the emails and social media posts were completely welcome, and could be broken up into two basic sentiments: curiosity about my reaction and serving me some crow to eat.

Red Hat logo

Some tech pundits, in a race to get eyeballs to their sites, have claimed that Red Hat is getting into bed with Microsoft. Actually, the reality is this: Red Hat is eating Microsoft’s lunch.

To the former, I would offer sincere thanks; to the latter, I’d offer an invitation to bite me.

But on the whole, let’s not make this Red Hat/Microsoft agreement into a bigger deal than it actually is.

From a business standpoint, Red Hat is eating Microsoft’s lunch. No surprise there, even though Red Hat is throwing the foundering Microsoft an innovation life preserver it clearly doesn’t deserve. No, Microsoft is not in danger of losing their monopoly on foisting inadequate software on an unsuspecting public through a monopolistic stranglehold on computer makers, but they’re foundering in a sense that most, if not all, of the pertinent tech innovation has been coming from the FOSS side of the street.

Let’s not forget this: A world of FOSS sans Microsoft would easily thrive and grow — we’ve already proved that — as opposed to a world of Microsoft without FOSS, which would pretty much be an unimaginable horror on a technological level.

It remains to be seen how this arrangement between Red Hat and Microsoft plays out, and if any entity is going to go toe-to-toe with Microsoft and not be swallowed up by the evil empire, it would be Red Hat. In other words, you want to put your greatest good against their worst evil in order to prevail, and that’s what we have on the proverbial stage in this scenario.

To those who consider this the dawn of a new era, please put away the hyperbole. It’s embarrassing. It may be a new dawn, all right, but it’s more like the glow of the bathroom light immediately after waking up on yet another morning.

Also, allow me a friendly reminder to those willing to embrace Microsoft as their new buddyroo willing to be a partner in the FOSS realm. Rather than being a full participant — willing to pull their share and contribute their offerings for the greater good — Microsoft so far has been the annoying “me too” little brother who contributes nothing to the upcoming experience, but you have to take him along because Mom said so.

In other words, business gains aside, do we really need Microsoft or do they needs us?

While it’s true that we’re past the Ballmer “cancer” era, let’s be clear on this issue: Microsoft only “loves” Linux because it has come to the realization that it needs Linux and FOSS to survive. I’m not willing to accept this “love” as sincere, and until Microsoft decides to “walk the walk” instead of just talking the talk, I am going to just have to consider this claim to be, well, complete nonsense.

Finally, let’s not forget the true nature and history of Microsoft, as outlined centuries ago by that famous Greek programmer Aesop:

“A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, ‘how do I know you won’t sting me?’ The scorpion says, ‘because if I do, I will die too.’

“The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown,
but has just enough time to gasp ‘Why?’

“Replies the scorpion: ‘It’s my nature…'”

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Larry Cafiero, a.k.a. Larry the Free Software Guy, is a journalist and a Free/Open Source Software advocate. He is involved in several FOSS projects and serves as the publicity chair for the Southern California Linux Expo. Follow him on Twitter: @lcafiero

7 comments to The Red Hat/MS Agreement Molehill

  • Mike

    Paint the scorpion bright colors and paste some Bing ads on his side and voila, Windows 10.

  • Eddie G.

    Nope. I don’t care if Linus Torvalds himself calls up Satya Nadella and shares a meal with him. As far as I am concerned, Microsoft will not get any more of my money for anything computer-related. Not even a keyboard or mouse. And I will never go back to using Windows OS on ANY of my PC’s at home. This little “handshaking” thing they have going on right now? Its nice, and it might foster happy-happy-joy-joy feelings between Windows admins and Linux devs, but in the end I’ve seen that Microsoft is NOT to be trusted, no matter what happens to be going on at the time. The best bet for most FOSS users? take stock of your systems and beware, don’t jump on anything that has the “Redmond Square” or Windows logo on it just because the masses have. Just sit back, read and educate yourself on things and “wait and see”.

  • I work for Redhat. Lot of our enterprise customers were asking for it. We use to tell them to communicate so MS for RHEL on Azure. The demand was as high as 30% +, and that’s why MS agreed to do this agreement. Some of our devs will be working from microsoft office to make it happen. It’s big win for Redhat as far as business is concerned.

  • Mike

    > “Some of our devs will be working from microsoft office to make it happen.”

    At first I took this to mean some developers would be using Microsoft Office, which made no sense.

    I see now you meant they would be working in a Microsoft office. Almost as bad…

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