August 16, 2001

Four thoughts in one week: Red Hat stands up to analysts, Linux in Asia

Author: JT Smith

- by Jack Bryar -
Open Source Business -

I was just thinking.* I admire Red Hat CFO Kevin Thompson more and more. After
huffing and puffing and trying to panic Red Hat investors, Goldman
Sachs re-established its analyst coverage of Red Hat.

You
may recall
that a couple of months back, Goldman dumped its
coverage of Red Hat -- always an alarm sign for institutional investors. Goldman's "analyst," Prakesh Patel, complained that Thompson's unwillingness to spin up some phony predictions or
give Goldman inside stuff portended uncertainty, if not outright
disaster for the company. Goldman's extended pout didn't help Red Hat's stock
price, but the damage was minimal. The company's shares seem to have settled
in the $3 to $4 dollar range. That's not great, but it's hardly the drop of
48% that "analyst" Patel had "predicted" when he virtually invited
investors to throw the stock overboard.

Frankly, it is not nearly as bad as the
self-inflicted damage done by CFOs at other newbie tech firms when giving
analysts the numbers they wanted without having any real facts to
back those numbers up. Congratulations to Thompson for sticking to his
principles. Maybe some more techs will start standing up to these shills who
stampeded the tech market into the stratosphere and now are doing the same thing
again, only in the opposite direction.

Thought No. 2: PC's open platform gave birth to Microsoft

I rarely suggest that people leave the NewsForge Web
site and go read something else, but sometime this week, you should
take a moment and read
the real story about open platforms, Bill Gates and
Microsoft
. It may help some computer newbies understand the fury vented at Redmond by some of us graybeards in the industry. AnchorDesk's
Patrick Houston reminds everyone that the most open platform ever
created wasn't Linux but the original PC.

Back in 1980, IBM
wasn't sure what type of product it had, and figured it might stimulate
interest among microcomputer hobbyists by providing a manual that included a
complete set of schematics and coding tips. This "Purple Book" was the original
key to making a PC work and it was all there, in detail, if you wanted
it. Unlike the case with the GPL, IBM retained licensing rights, but you
could see what you were buying. It was clear enough that Dell and Leading Edge and Compaq and lots of other firms "had the freedom to innovate," or at least they
could make reasonably compatible clones. It was open enough that you
could write applications like VisiCalc and, if you borrowed from other
(open!) code like Basic, you could use IBM's schematic to adapt the
code and create something called MS-DOS.

It's pretty ironic to realize that
there never would have been a Microsoft if it hadn't been for open
platforms.

Thought No. 3: Linux becoming the 'standard' among Asians

One of the great untold stories concerning Linux is the
degree to which it has been adopted in the Third World, especially in
Asia, which is, by an order of magnitude the fastest growing IT market in
the world. Some of the fastest growing contract programming companies are
based in Asian cities like Singapore and Mumbai (Bombay). Increasingly, these
companies are abandoning other platforms for Linux. One of the most
significant segments captured by Linux machines has been Asian animation studios.
Pentamedia, the India-based animator, recently joined other firms in Malaysia and Korea. The cost savings have been enough to pressure
many other U.S. and offshore studios to also shift the bulk of their animation and
production facilities to Linux. In addition to Linux's price, and its
scalability, programmers in Asia particularly appreciate that Linux has been (or is
being) adapted to virtually
every major language in Asia
. When one talks about what is or is
not a "standard" operating system, it helps to realize that
within two years, Linux will be the most widely translated software ever
created.

Thought No. 4: Microsoft needs patch helper

My vote for the unintentional funniest story of the week
showed up courtesy of NewsBytes. Microsoft announced it was
helping out its users. Because so many hacks had so totally compromised
Windows NT and 2000 that administrators were getting confused by all the
patches they had to install, Microsoft announced something called Microsoft Personal Security Advisor (MPSA). Network administrators can also run a command line tool called HotFix Checker (HFNetChk) to help them figure out which patches their systems need.

Mischief makers will be delighted
to know that HotFix Checker polls client systems remotely with an XML routine
that enables a third party to check the patch status of Windows NT 4.0
and Windows 2000 systems -- especially IIS servers from a remote
location. The program also lets that same third party check the status of
Internet Explorer and any installed Microsoft SQL server, and then download a
hotfix list for use on the system. The fix will cost administrators roughly a
dollar a seat, from Shavlik
Technologies
. By the way, this tool, and Microsoft's new tool for
stand-alone systems, MPSA, aren't available for Win95 or 98 machines. Guess you
should have upgraded.

One Microsoft vendor was quoted saying "where are the
Solaris patch check tools or the Linux tools? No other vendor does this." Of
course, on the other hand, no other vendor has to.

* inspired by former Boston Globe columnist Mike
Barnicle.

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