Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce Red Hat deal with Microsoft is a bad idea

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Companies that are using GNU/Linux to make themselves profitable could have easily called this bluff.

Besides Red Hat - now a billion-dollar company - there's IBM, Intel, Novell, Google, Facebook, HP, Dell, Canonical, all needing Linux. There are a host of others, including Samsung, LG and HTC, all dependent on Android. Even Oracle would have joined - it lives off Linux too (and Larry Ellison hates Bill Gates which would have tipped the scales). It would have been a cakewalk to persuade hardware providers to provide for them too.

Linux has no need of secure boot. But nobody working in the field has the balls to say it. Windows does - it is the cesspit where every virus, worm, and rootkit lives and thrives. Iran would have had no reason to worry about its nuclear secrets being stolen if it was using UNIX-based systems.

But these companies, who collectively have much more muscle than Microsoft in the computer industry, just couldn't be bothered. That left the door open for Red Hat to indulge in grandstanding.

One of the great Peanuts cartoon by the late Charles M. Schulz tells us all about Microsoft in a couple of pages. It is the US football season, and along comes Lucy, with a pigskin in her hand, asking Charlie Brown to kick it while she holds it for him. Charlie Brown refuses, reminding her that she has done this many times in the past, only to pull it away at the last minute, resulting in him falling flat on his back.

But Lucy, remember gentle reader, is the persistent sort. And so, finally, Charlie Brown gives in, and comes charging up - only to fall flat on his back as she yanks the ball away at the last second. And she walks away, muttering something about his undying faith in human nature being an inspiration to all and sundry.

What better illustration of the way Microsoft does things? It is repeatedly able to persuade seemingly sane companies to join hands with it - and then yanks the equivalent of the ball away at the last minute. This has happened right from the days when it short-changed Gary Kildall before MS-DOS even existed. And it has gone on right through its existence. Embrace, extend and extinguish is what has made Microsoft. It knows no other methods.

Red Hat will find out over the next few years that the leopard never changes its spots.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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