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Ok everyone here has heard (or read) plenty of posts saying - how can Redhat make any money when people can just download the software for free? Well please correct me if I am wrong but I thought that Redhat was saying that they planned on making money off the Linux support and not by selling cd's. Didn't they cover that in the prospectus?

Anyway- what I'd like to hear discussed is what do people think about the possible competition that RH is going to encounter in the support area? If this is really where the bulk of their growth (and income) is going to come from then I would be curious to see how they are going to compete and make themselves attractive as a support source (or more precisely more attractive than others).

I beleive that Linux has some real potential of becoming a major player in the OS arena and as such we will see more and more big players get interested and start offering it as an alternative. (there are quite a few already) What is going to happen to Redhat's support income when companies like IBM, sgi, Compaq, HP, and maybe even Sun get interested and start offering support. These companies all have well established and well trained support centers that have been doing UNIX support for quite awhile now in a big way, and with LINUX being open source they have access to the source code for debuging of the drivers, apps, etc. etc. So ramping up their support staffs for Linux support should not be too big of a leap. (yeah, it couldn't be done overnight but if the money is there it WILL be done, a few of these companies support more than one UNIX already - SVR4 BSD AIX tru64...) Sure Redhat is the one that is putting out the cd but for the most part the OS is out there in the open for all to use, even the source code for the future kernel is released openly so it can't be said that Redhat would even have an advantage over others with ramp-up time to new kernel releases as far as support for new releases go. Also when companies and/or the public at large buys a box from say IBM or Compaq and they have trouble with the installation or a driver install who do they call? That's right they call the people they bought the box from, just like in the pc business when you have trouble with your new windows box you call Gateway or Dell because that is who you sent your check.

Also if these larger companies start to offer Linux boxes it would probably be in their best interest to ship their own distribution. It will give them more control over where Linux progresses to and the ability to introduce new hardware with support in Linux when it was released. So we might see IBMlinux HPlinux Sunlinux.... This again may cut off possible income from RH.

Anyway I think that there will be plenty of money to be made in supporting Linux. I'm just not so sure as to how or if Redhat is going to be able to get a nice big piece of that support services income pie. (as you have heard before: don't forget Redhat is NOT linux). Anyone have some ideas? Maybe they will be able to make some strong partnership agreements with these larger companies?

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