#Opinion: Fight your own roots

Thank you, Red Hat. If I needed one more proof for your state of mind, you have delivered it to me.

The Advantage of Enterprise Linux over Community Projects

I totally get, why Red Hat is sending out such an email: They want to convice their potential customers of buying their Enterprise Linux. I actually second that – they need to pay their bills.

But this tone?

First of all: Linux IS a community effort. Even Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is in great parts developed by a community inside and outside Red Hat. Linux on its own is community-driven, has always been and will always be.

Second: They are completely right in regard to TCO. The TCO is not defined by the list price, but by reaction times, quality of reactions, quality of support, etc. Absolutely right. But: That does not imply the usage of an Enterprise Linux. What is this, anyway? A vendor-locked version of Linux?

Third: What do I actually need an Enterprise Linux for, anyway, if I consider a cloud stack? Back in the days, when we were running our workloads directly on Linux, one needed something special, I get that. A linux with the ability to run for years, with awesome patching mechanisms avoiding downtimes.

But those times are gone, specificially for Container Workloads. They are running on top – or, to be more precisly, operated by – Kubernetes. And Kubernetes is not tied to one only machine, it works on a pool of resources. One can easily remove a worker node (or even a master node) from a running cluster, without affecting the workloads too much. This basically eliminates the need for an Enterprise Linux with awesome uptimes, a Linux (without Enterprise) would be good enough. Because Enterprise simply doesn’t matter anymore – your resource pool is breathing anyhow, all the time. Any modern community Linux would work just fine here!

There is no need for an Enterprise Linux anymore!

So, there you have it. This email is an evidence of fear. But is not your fear, although they want to scare you. It is Red Hats fear, it is Microsoft’s fear, it is the fear of those, who understand their Linux or their OS as the basis of everything. Truth is: Linux and any other OS are just commodity. They don’t weight as much anymore as they did back then.

And, if you think further about it, the same message is true for your (Vendor Locked) Kubernetes-stack. And for your (Vendor Locked) Cloud Foundry-stack. And for your (Vendor Locked) OpenStack-stack. What do you need them for? They basically offer the same functionality as the community version (give or take some special features who appear to just a very small minority), but they only run on Red Hats Linux, with Red Hats Storage, etc. – which typically is called Vendor Lock!

Featurewise, in regards to functionality, with respect to patching and fixing, the community versions are on the same level as their Enterprise cousins. But they don’t lock you in, and with the right software stack (read: VanillaStack), they even come with the last things that set those Enterprise Stacks apart from basic community projects: Commercial Support (with up to 24/7 availability) and easy-to-use integration. Which directly impacts the TCO – towards being more reasonable and affordable than compared to those of Red Hat products, for example.

Vendor lock always makes you pay more.

Then again: What exactly do you need your Enterprise Linux for? What would you attend such a webinar for? What exactly is your benefit, besides the nice swag you get?

Think of that.

Open as in Vendor-Lock

If you’re in the market for cloud software, specifically something based on Linux and Kubernetes, you’ll be penetrated by companies who claim their products would be open-source, and therefore would not lock you in.

Well, that’s a lie…

Let me explain that.

If you look at companies who claim to be the “biggest open-source company in the world” or “the biggest independent open-source company in the world“, their products are open-source. This means, one can look into their sources.

For most people, this implies it would impose no vendor lock on them. Because open-source. At least that is, what they interpret, when reading of “true open-source” or “open open-source”. Truth is, that this is a lie.

Obviously, Kubernetes and related technologies are open and actually impose no vendor locking on you. But if you were forced to run a specific Linux (which costs a lot and provides challenging subscription terms), then one would call this: A vendor lock.

Purposefully implemented vendor locks

This kind of vendor locking is considered to be very negative, since it is willingly imposed on a platform (Kubernetes or OpenStack or Cloud Foundry, just to name a few), which is actually open and on its own undemanding in regard of its underlying Linux flavour.

The same is true for something some companies call “Enterprise storage”, which typically is Ceph. Which is only running on these companies Linux distributions, opposite to what Vanilla Ceph is able to do. Or for company-specific versions of OpenStack or Cloud Foundry – all which are limited to the specific platforms.

The point is: These limitations are artifical. There might be reasons for doing that, but for whatever reason it is done – it still remains a vendor lock.

Open-Source != Vendor Agnostic

So, next time, when you look into one of their offerings, you should read what they actually say: “We offer you our heavily customized versions of those awesome vanilla projects, so you have to stick within our ecosystem”.

And you should remember, that “open-source” does not mean “vendor neutral” or “vendor agnostic”. These terms have nothing to do with each other – proprietary solutions can be vendor-agnostic and open-source software can be vendor-locking.

And you should consider deciding for a true open-source and vendor-agnostic solution. Which would be VanillaStack.

Running Ubuntu

Written on Linux

As I pointed out several weeks back, Cloudical is transforming (and actually storming) to become a true open source company. And so am I (again)…

Over the past days, I (re-) installed Linux on several machines. It started as a VM on my iMac Pro, later I (again) transformed my Surface Book 2 into a Linux machine (only the camera is not working at the moment, but I couldn’t care less), my old 2009 iMac became the Linux treatment and today, I also deleted MacOS from a 2012 MacBook Pro.

Running Ubuntu
Running Ubuntu

Why?

Because I love the power I have over the system. I can adjust it to my needs, I can rest assured about privacy issues and concerns, and I have the freedom to choose my own desktop environment. My first experiences with Linux happened 20+ years ago, when I installed Mandrake and later run Ubuntu for several years. So, I know what I buying into, and I know why that feels right.

But, there are things that don’t feel right, though: My 2009 iMac has an old ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4850 graphics card, which is simply not supported anymore (at least not without workarounds, resulting into disabled HW-acceleration). Yes, my Surface Book can not utilize the camera. And Yes, for my 2012 MacBook Pro, I had to install WiFi-drivers by hand.

But the reason for all these things is not Linux, it is – and this is something I am working against for a long time – vendor lock and proprietary drivers. AMD, Apple, Microsoft, Broadcom are to blame. And that is why I won’t even try to install Linux directly on my iMac Pro – T2-chip, many Apple-specific glitches and traps. No, thank you.

In consequence, I am currently working around proprietary and vendor locked solutions. My next computer will be chosen with that in mind – as much as I love and admire Apple, as consequently I am willing to move away from it, because it is not open and therefore not sustainable and customizable. I get why the closed approach of Apple and Microsoft is a very reasonable one, but it is not my approach (anymore, again).

So, here I am: Back at Linux, happy with this, frustrated with the limitations imposed by proprietary approaches – and willing to live with it!

Written and published on Linux.