AOL in Negotiations to Acquire Red Hat

Luis Villa
21 Jan 2002 01:34:04 -0500

On Mon, 2002-01-21 at 01:23, Gary Lawrence Murphy wrote:
> >>>>> "J" == Justin Mason <> writes:
>     J> Linux is Linux, for the most part.
> Let's look on the bright side: OS/X is definately a shocker for any
> die-hard unix people (like me) who never looked at a Mac -- regardless
> what the Gnome/KDE people claim, and keeping in mind that two months
> ago, I'd never seen an OS/X command prompt and still have never seen
> the actual GUI interface, my call is that OS/X is the only Unix I'd
> dare set in front of my mother.
> AOL has much the same reputation as Apple: Take something too geek'ed
> for its own good, make it into something people _can_ use, and
> surprise, people actually _will_ use it, they will even _pay_ to use
> it, and they will even use it a decade after you've ceased to support
> it.  Now that BSD is already done (or nearly done), there's no reason
> why AOL should not take Linux and AOL-ize it, thereby generating the
> community support (ie cash) necessary for the ex-RedHat people to
> continue developing the server side.
> Given their roots (and setting aside the Time Warner aspect), AOL
> might invent some means for people like my mother to _participate_ in
> open source. Lets face it, geeks may participate in open source, but
> they're really tight with their cash (as too many dot-coms found out
> way too late), and while the unwashed masses have coins to share in
> their pockets, they need to be led gently into user-base participation
> paradigms (although, if you look around, there's lots of Windows
> peer-support, and MSDOS freeware is legendary).  IMHO, fostering that
> paradigm jump (from consumer to participant) is the only way open
> source is going to make the leap into mainstream computing, and if I
> had to bet money on someone likely to have a business plan to do that
> fostering, AOL Time Warner is as good as any.

The problem with this scenario, Gary, is that I can't see any plausible
reason why AOL would want to do any of this. Sure, they /could/, but
they don't want to compete with MS- they just want to have an embedded
OS and maybe something they can ship with extremely minimal desktop
functionality. To compete with OS/X, you have to want to ship an entire
competitive modern desktop- and I can't see why AOL would want to do
that. Whatever they do choose to do on top of Linux will (I'm sure) be
extremely easy to use- but I'm equally sure it'll be extremely limited
in scope and not useful to those of us who actually hope/dream/etc that
Linux can compete with OS/X or Windows on the business and home desktop.