Kuhn said the question of whether the business model was nice and/or reasonable was an entirely different matter. "I've been told by sources inside Red Hat that they rarely go to the auditing option in the contract and 'fire their client'. Typically, my Red Hat sources say they have a reasonable conversation with the client to work it out.
"For example, I'm told Red Hat sometimes gets a support request under a RHEL contract for a CentOS machine. Obviously, they don't support CentOS, so they tell the client 'if you want to get support, you have to buy a RHEL support contract for the machine in question'. That seems reasonable and GPL-compliant to me. Nothing in the GPL mandates that Red Hat give service and support for a CentOS machine!"
He said it appeared to him that the bigger issue for Red Hat now was companies like Oracle redistributing CentOS-derivatives wholesale, offering support and taking customers away.
"Oracle is well known for unfriendly and aggressive business practices, so I'm not surprised that Red Hat is getting aggressive themselves in response with making it more difficult to figure out the kernel patchsets," he said.
"But, again, that's a different issue than the one I was commenting on, and while I haven't studied the kernel distribution by Red Hat in detail, I highly doubt that Red Hat has failed to comply with the letter of the GPL. I'd be quite surprised if Red Hat violated the GPL; I've never heard a report in my life of Red Hat violating the GPL."
Kuhn conceded that what Red Hat was doing with the kernel sources was not particularly collaborative and also unfriendly.
"But, I also believe they are doing it primarily to fight with Oracle, and given the kind of company Oracle is, I can see it from Red Hat's point of view. This is why *I* don't run a for-profit business - I'm too nice of a guy and I wouldn't make the kind of decisions that fail to maximize (sic) collaborative software development because a competitor is causing me trouble."