January 28, 2003

Red Hat 'End of Life' Decision Explained by Red Hat

- By Jeremy Hogan, Red Hat
About a month ago Red Hat announced in our "Under the Brim" newsletter
that we were changing the lifecycle of our Red Hat Linux product line.
This product was originally designed to meet the needs of many
types of users, including large enterprises, corporations, and
individuals. As open source has advanced, it's become clear that this
one size fits all productization of open source technologes no longer
addresses these markets effectively.

Last year we introduced Red Hat Linux Advanced Server to better address
the needs of enterprise users of open source technologies. It's slower
release cycle, longer beta period, and extended terms of support were
specifically designed to help open source penetrate large IT users.
While Red Hat Linux Advanced Server's feature set and price point
are aimed at a reasonably high end user, our recent announcement of a
sibling Red Hat Linux Advanced Workstation product demonstrates our
commitment to make enterprise products available at a variety of
price points.

As we worked on Red Hat Linux 8.0 we realized that Red Hat Linux's
lifecycle no longer made much sense. This offering is increasingly
aimed at providing easy access to leading edge open source technologies,
which by definition evolve extremely rapidly. Our ability to support
these rapidly changing projects for long periods of time is quite
limited, and we wanted to provide realistic promises for both the
level of support and the time period we can offer such support. We
also looked at our customer base and saw how rapidly our older products
get upgraded. For example, about two thirds of our Red Hat Linux users
currently run Red Hat Linux 7.3 or 8.0, and over 90% run 7.2, 7.3,
or 8.0, all of which are less then a year old. These numbers strongly
support our belief that while setting our lifecycle for these products
at one year we're inconvienencing some of our users, this is a nonevent
for the vast majority of them.

Red Hat has always been a strong proponent of the open source development
model, and we believe that delivering rapid releases of Red Hat Linux
which can be freely obtained is the best way of showcasing the
innovations the open source community generates. We continue to make
our source code easy to obtain, modify, and share, allowing our user
base to customize their systems however they like, and share those
customizations with their peers. This model is core to everything we
do here at Red Hat, and we hope our user base recognizes that this
model means that Red Hat Linux will be supported by our users as long
as it retains value for them, regardless the level of "official" support
older releases receive.


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