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Red Hat Software Businesses

Red Hat Tightening Trademarks? 307

Red Hat may be tightening use of its trademark. Robb Sands, an independent reseller of Linux products who generates many of his sales through's auction site, says, "I received a call from a representative of the fraud/legal department of Amazon named Elyssa Back about 1 p.m. eastern time today who said I would need to modify my product and advertising when used in conjunction with a product that is not the official boxed set."

Sands says that, according to, Red Hat no longer allows their trademarked "Red Hat" name to be used on any product other than their official boxed "Red Hat Linux" sets. spokesperson Sharon Greenspan says, "Right now we're looking into a possible Intellectual Property violation involving Red Hat Linux software. We are talking to Red Hat and the sellers of such products." Sharon says she'll call Slashdot as soon as knows more; she seemed as surprised by this news as was everyone else.

A well-known Linux products vendor has confirmed to me personally, off the record, that yes, Red Hat is trying to keep outsiders from using the "Red Hat" name when selling anything other than official Red Hat boxed sets, and that Red Hat no longer wants their trademark used on GPLed or repackaged versions or their products.

Red Hat itself cannot comment on this story at this time. They are in a legally mandated "quiet period" following their recent IPO, which does not end until September 6th. Meanwhile, if you have more information about this matter, please psot it below or e-mail me privately: roblimo@nOsPaMslashdot.rg

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Red Hat Tightening Trademarks?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    To me, it means that it is a distribution created and SUPPORTED by Red Hat Inc. All of these cheesy third party companies that don't do any work but want to make money off of the hard work of others should be grateful that they are even allowed to distribute the bits. Why do they think they can use the Red Hat name? Have you ever gone to the supermarket and purchased "albertson" or "safeway" products? They usually sit right next to the industry brand leading products. Guess what? Those clone products are usually based on the industry brand, and in many cases are IDENTICAL products! The brand is what generates money for owner of the brand. It is also what costs a lot of money to develop and what is used to finance the operation so that they, and the parasites, can have something to sell. If you disagree with the need to protect a brand, do a little research. What else does a company which has successfully created a brand have to sell? The brand tells the buyer that they can trust the product and that they can rely on the promise of support and product continuity for the long term. Long after these fly-by-night cry babies have taken their profits and moved on to greener pastures. Take a course in marketing 101. Is the corporate name "Red Hat Inc." in the public domain?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Heres some proof from Amazon

    -----Original Message-----
    From: [] On Behalf Of
    Sent: Tuesday, August 31, 1999 8:43 PM
    Subject: Item Removal Request

    Greetings from Auctions.

    We are writing to ask you to remove your auctions for Red Hat Linux
    products. We are taking this action due to violations of the Red Hat
    trademarked name and logo. Please remove them by 5 pm tomorrow night,
    or we will take them down ourselves. highly values the copyrights and trademarks of all buyers
    and sellers on our Auction site. We also strive to protect our
    customers from receiving illegal, illegitimate, or misleading items.
    So, has been working very closely with the software
    industry to identify and remove unauthorized copyright and
    trademark infringing software on our Auction site.

    In this case, Linux can be downloaded, recopied, and resold, however,
    the use of the trademarked name, "Red Hat," or it's "shadowman"
    logo may not be used to promote or sell any other software. Please
    note for a Linux program to be labeled "Red Hat," it must come
    with the original box, manuals and registration and the software
    must remain unmodified.

    If you choose to relist the items, please do not refer to Red Hat
    Linux in any way as that would be a violation of both our Community
    Rules and the U.S. Trademark Act.

    As you may have not been aware of this policy, any commissions fees
    associated with the cancelled Auction will be credited back to your
    credit card.

    Thank you for your cooperation and your interest in Auctions.

    Best Wishes,

    Alliance Program Auctions
    Started with books...What will be next?

  • "I sell a Commercial version of RedHat Linux 5.2, SuSE Linux 5.3 and Caldera OpenLinux 1.3 on single CDs. I do not sell the 'Official Red Hat Boxed Set, Official SuSE Boxed Set, or Official Caldera Boxed Set'. Optional CD's are custom burned for me at a Software Development Company."

    Now, why does he call his version "Commercial", and on top of that with a capital "C". In fact I propose his wording is intended to mislead as to the real differences between his stuff and the real stuff. Also notice how he capitalizes words and colors his words in the disclaimer. He makes it sound like there's no difference at all.

    He's worried because his con business might go up in smoke. What a luser.

  • The two problems with your (yes, I know it's facetious) plan, Duncan, are 1) somebody is going to check your story with at least one or two other sources before it runs, and 2) even if the story is posted on the fly and edited "live" online in a hurry instead of behind the scenes, the same way Slashdot code is also often edited on the live site, you run a significant risk of getting crucified by other Slashdot readers over your contribution to it. This is a rough forum. It doesn't always give you what you want. Current case is a fine example. I don't think Mr. Sands got either the story or the reaction he wanted.
  • Modified four times, actually. And we didn't even think about running it at all until I had word from someone else, even though off-the-record, that this was not something cooked up by Amazon. I am probably going to knock off and have a drink now. More info will come, I'm sure.
  • I openly said I changed the story four times, and I had the 'nads to not only sign my name but to make it easy to get hold of me. There will be a follow-up story when we get more info. Relax.
  • Sounds good to me

  • Compaq is partnering with the Chinese government
    On "Red Flag" Linux...
    I know its true 'cause I saw it online...

    • I hereby propose the term "Pink Fedora" to refer to a Red-Hat derived item.

    I prefer Crimson Fedora.


  • Of course the slashdot community will never be happy. It is a large group of diverse geeks. While I agree with you the next guy may not. We are not one homogenious group with one spokesperson. Why do you think linux has problems with bad advocacy? Thanks to e-mail anyone can voice their opinion. I don't think this is a bad thing. In fact I think this is a great thing even with all the flames and bad advocacy. People need to realize these facts. Ever heard the saying "You can't please all the people all of the time. Only some of the people some of the time." It is a saying because it is true. I have noticed alot of these types of contradictions on slashdot, but chalk it up to diversity and individuality.

    Me personally, I'm proud to be part of a community where people can think for themselves even if you doesn't follow the common mold. I could understand your complaints if you saw the same people making contradicting posts. But still you should only aim it at those individuals.

    Notice: I am not saying every slashdotter or linux users thinks for themselves. Not all of us do. Nor do we do it all the time. People do get swept up in emotion or caught in the moment. Sometimes it just takes somebody who has thought it through to start asking questions. Or just getting people to start thinking in some way.

    You did throw a "some of you" in there at one point, but I have just been getting a little tired of the negative sweeping generalizations being made, because some people decided to flame FreeBSD or some company. And they take it as the whole linux community hates them. Instead of taking it for what it was, just some individuals opinions.

    Sorry, rant mode off. :)


  • This is what, the fifth time you've posted this letter? Calm down already.

    I'm sure everybody saw it the first time; there's no need to spam everyone with it.

    Also, most of the posts you've been responding to have been asking for proof from _Red Hat_, not from Amazon. A letter from Amazon is not the same thing as confirmation from Red Hat, no matter how many times you post it.

    Please stop.
  • Wrong. I don't buy your "there's only one logical answer" claim. How do you know that a customer didn't complain to Amazon? Or that someone at Amazon didn't just happen to notice your product and think it might be a problem? Or that someone browsing the auction site didn't complain? You don't, do you?

    Instead, you start screaming about how you're being oppressed by Red Hat. You post alarmist messages, spam discussion groups with the same posting over and over again, and bombarb people with your shrill "but I AM offering a good deal!" whining. These are not the tactics of an honest businessman. These are the actions of a sleazy scam artist who's afraid that his source of cash will dry up.

    And as far as your condescending "read the letter" bit goes: I _did_ read it, thank you very much. I wasn't convinced that Red Hat ordered this to happen, and it seems that lots of other folks weren't either. This doesn't make us idiots, and it doesn't mean we don't have any common sense. Insulting people is not the way to bring them around to your way of thinking.

    Right now it's your word against Red Hat's. You say you talked to them, they say you didn't. Some people here happen to believe Red Hat instead of believing you. That's a perfectly reasonable choice; in the absence of real evidence, they have little to go on other than reputation. Red Hat's been in the community for years. They pay hackers to do nothing but contribute to Linux. What do you do, other than push somewhat deceptively marketed products on people with vague promises of support? What have you given back to the Linux community?
  • Thanks for joining the discussion, Mr. Sands.
  • >expect support from RedHat. Unfortuately, most of these people are >not buying Official RedHat Linux that comes with support. When they >find out that they can't get support, it goes something like this:
    Exactly. And you're starting to see the same thing with the Macmillan bundling of Mandrake. The Macmillan package isn't bad but the packaging does tend to make you think you're buying something you really aren't.
  • >Pain is an illusion of the senses. Pain is for the weak. Life without >pain has no meaning. Use Slackware. Yours faithfully, A Slacker

    Yeah right. And if you think for one moment that the people putting out Slackware or any other linux dist are going to let you and your script-kiddie pals pull this kind of bullshit with their dists, you're stupider than you look, which would be hard to top since you look pretty stupid.
  • by C.Lee ( 1190 )
    >RedHat... they sell stuff that's available for free.

    And by the time you've downloaded everything that makes up a Redhat dist over a 28 or 56k modem, your *PARENT'S* phone bill and isp's charges will be more than buying the Redhat boxed set. Grow up you microsoft-windows-using-script-kiddie.....
  • >If you can find ANYWHERE else on the net offering FREE LIFETIME >SUPPORT AND WARRANTY for a Linux + PowerTools 2 cd set - buy it >because it's a steal! ******/

    It sure is. Especially when that "FREE LIFETIME SUPPORT AND WARRANTY" is based on the lifespan of the person who's selling the cdrom set pet *FLEA*.....
  • I could certainly see Alan telling Rob Young to "fuck off" if Redhat continues down this path.
  • If the "Lieutenants" continued to code Offical Red Hat X, then almost certainly the best code would always be most current in that version. Of course, because of the GPL, most of that code would make it out, but the lag would mean that Red Hat would consistently be on top.

    Actually, this isn't a concern. Once something is released, it's released, and integrating it isn't much of a problem. Especially if you've already got an infrastructure set up, building the new package is cake. Testing & fixing a distribution as a whole is what takes time.

    From what I've seen, doing things like this (being first to release something w/o proper testing) have actually bitten Red Hat rather than helping them.. Witness for instance, the buggy libc6 they shipped with 5.0 which caused many of the setuid binaries to be exploitable, and the less-than-ready gnome shipped in 6.0.

  • If redhat wants to keep others from using its name, that is their right. Afterall, nobody would be surprised if any other company did this.

    They are in a tough market, selling a product that is available for free. They need something that is THEIRS. The software sure isnt, so they only really have the name and the reputation.

    As long as they keep the software free, that is all that really matters, lets stay focused on what the open source movement is all about.

    Remember, redhat shouldnt be penalised for being successful. They have contributed a lot of software back to the community. If we lose them it would be a loss to us all, so lets support them surviving in the industry they are in!
  • I personally don't see any problem with this. I think they have every right to protect their name. Especially when there are so many distributions based off of RedHat(TM). It allows them to distinct themselves from everybody else.
  • I have official versions of 5.1, and 5.2. Then I discovered Cheapbytes... and got 6.0 for 9 bucks, total. (Source: $2, Binaries: $2, Shipping: $5)

    Neither 5.1, nor 5.2 offers MetroX. 5.0 may have. The bonus CDs didn't contain anything that was of interest to me.

    Cheapbytes Redhat comes with a Myth2 demo and a copy of Wordperfect. It does not come with a copy of the Redhat Manual (which is quite good, btw), a bumper sticker, a mousepad, or a boot floppy. I upgraded mine by booting the cdrom, so even this last item wasn't really missed.

    As for not using the name redhat, I'm not sure that's possible. After all, rpm builds take place in the /usr/src/redhat directory, and certain rpm interfaces are programmed to look in /mnt/cdrom/RedHaT/RPMS/. Even Xinit is set up to display a image of Tux wearing a RedHat hat.

  • I especially love the MS-DOS listings of the CD contents....

    That says so much about his Linux abilities. :)
  • "The distro formerly known as Red Hat"
  • by mvw ( 2916 )
    I sighted a "Red Linux" yesterday, in a German media market.
  • Remember, the GPL merely says that they must provide source code to any customer who asks, and must inform the customer of that right. If I recall the GPL correctly, it does NOT say ANYWHERE that Redhat must give away copies of their program for free. They must give their source to any customer, and they must allow that customer to copy the source further, but they DO NOT have to provide either binaries OR source to non-customers.

    Now, they may continue to give away RedHat via FTP for free, but there is NOTHING graven in concrete that says they have to. Eventually, RedHat's FTP site could be just for access to source code packages AFTER you had paid the license fee.

    Other people would be able to mirror the source and binaries (at least of the GPLed portions of Redhat Linux), and RedHat couldn't do a thing about it.

    Whether or not they will change that much remains to be seen. Frankly, I expect them to tighten down a lot.

  • Hmm...Some that come to mind...(remember, adding/removing a space/hyphen *can* (in most circumstances) make it safe) RH GPL Linux Red-Hat-GPL Linux Unofficial RedHat Linux GPL "RedHat-style" Linux "I can't believe it's not RedHat" Linux Hed Rat Linux ;) Rouge Chapeau Linux Scarlet Headwarmer Linux Bloody Hat! Linux (now we're getting silly) "The Linux that can't be called by the same name as that of it's identical Official distribution that costs $50 but merely offers a nice printed manual and tech support" Linux I'll come up with more later - this is too fun =)
  • Hmm...Some that come to mind...(remember, adding/removing a space/hyphen *can* (in most circumstances) make it safe)

    RH GPL Linux
    Red-Hat-GPL Linux
    Unofficial RedHat Linux
    GPL "RedHat-style" Linux
    "I can't believe it's not RedHat" Linux
    Hed Rat Linux ;)
    Rouge Chapeau Linux
    Scarlet Headwarmer Linux
    Bloody Hat! Linux (now we're getting silly)
    "The Linux that can't be called by the same name as that of it's identical Official distribution that costs $50 but merely offers a nice printed manual and tech support" Linux

    I'll come up with more later - this is too fun =)
  • Well, I poked through the comments, so maybe someone else figured this out. If I were CheapBytes or LinuxMall or someone who sold the GPL image on CD, I'd be calling my lawyers in to check that my "CheapBytes Red Hat 6.0" is okay or out. Thank you Red Hat... but no thanks. Go get yourselves some more lawyers and a PR firm... meanwhile, my distro preferences are changing... I hear SuSE, Debian, and Mandrake calling, and *BSD is an option too....

    Oh yeah, I was down the trademark road over too, and lemme just note that threats and having someone else do your dirty work is not the way to make friends. Let's see Bob Young and Jeff Bezos explain this one, personally. Just so we know that this comes straight from the top and not from middle-and-bottom-layer grunts and flacks.
  • The guy who sells the "real" Rolex watches on a street corner also can offer lifetime warranties and guarantees. /**** Selling a 2 CD Set for 3.99 on eBay or 9.99 on Amazon and offering LIFETIME SUPPORT and a LIFETIME WARRANTY is not a ripoff. I sell a product superior to cheap bits and offer value added services they don't know about. If you can find ANYWHERE else on the net offering FREE LIFETIME SUPPORT AND WARRANTY for a Linux + PowerTools 2 cd set - buy it because it's a steal! ******/
  • The guy who sells the "real" Rolex watches on a street corner also can offer lifetime warranties and guarantees.

    Selling a 2 CD Set for 3.99 on eBay or 9.99 on Amazon and offering LIFETIME
    SUPPORT and a LIFETIME WARRANTY is not a ripoff. I sell a product superior to
    cheap bits and offer value added services they don't know about. If you can find
    for a Linux + PowerTools 2 cd set - buy it because it's a steal!
  • Well, probably. Anyway, you should find latest developpement at the top of [].
  • I couldn't have said it better myself, not only
    that coming from a long time slashdot reader (i remember your posts from the early slashdot beginnings:).
  • It's the small island nation of TinyFugue =)
  • Red Hat just lost a few points, and goes down a few places in my Top 10 (least un-)favourite Linux distributions. What's next? Disallowing you to offer your customers Red Hat[reg][tm][pat][whatever] based sollutions?


  • Hmm. I'm not familiar with Trinux. I guess I've got some research to do. ;)
  • Actually, I had come up with these same names before but applied them differently:

    Blue Hat - Mandrake

    Old Hat - Slackware

    GNU Hat - Debian


  • uses NT or 95 or dos... see his directory trees of the CD's.. he's not credible to begin with.. how trustworthy would his distro be, if he's based in an OS that's from m$?
  • Since release 5.0 or thereabouts, I'd been calling Red Hat "Sh*t-in-a-box". Maybe if they'd release a product that took up less space than NT and actually ran (without crashing... not "ran" in the Micro$oft sense) on all of their "supported" platforms (ahem, SPARC), I'd think of something kinder to call them.

    No, this isn't FUD. I've had problems with RH Linux on SPARC to an insane extent (try running it headless with the default install and see what happens!). At least the compilers they shipped in 6.0 didn't spew crap all over the place when I asked them to compile KDE (some horrid runtime library problems in 5.2).

    No thanks, I'll stick with Slackware (or Sharcware, when it's finished) for my Linux experience. Patrick's done a wonderful job of fixing most people's gripes since 3.0 (like that whole thing about the installer ignoring what packages you chose to install/not-install).

    And, yes, I've used RH on it's old stomping-grounds (Intel), too. I'm not very impressed. Seems to act too much like Microsoth Windows for Unix. The installer has that black-box mentality, and the overall distribution presents this "I know how I'm supposed to work better than you do" image.

    Maybe I should jump the fence and run back to BSD (or SunOS 4 ;) ).

    From a Sun Microsystems bug report (#4102680):
  • If you read the letter from Amazon, it doesn't mention anywhere, that RedHat complained.

    My guess would be, that someone complained to amazon, that they bought Red Hat, and didn't get "official Red Hat". So Amazon acted to protect their customers. And that Red Hat itself, is completely blameless.
  • Wow, you sure have come a long way from a company that is just trying to protect it's good name. Would you say the same thing if Microsoft decided to distribute a free linux distribution based on Red Hat (or any other dist.) and call it Microsoft Linux?

  • Let's all stop using Linux in general, or *BSD, or BeOS, or OS/2, or Hurd, or Plan 9, or Mach, or Minix, just in case any one of them helps a company make money.

    Let's stick with the devil we know, just in case it is possible that sometime, somewhere, there may be another devil around the corner, waiting to get bigger.

    Perhaps not the wisest thing I've heard today... but you have the choice to do so.

    QDMerge [] 0.21!
  • ...I vote for Crimson Fedora. It has that nice sinister ring to it! _Deirdre

  • -- ----------------------------------------------
    Vive le logiciel... Libre!!!
  • If they'd thought about how to contact people a little more before opening their big mouths, I think this would have worked out a whole lot better.

    First, they should have come to *all* of us with the problem, and asked for suggestions. No. Instead, they managed to piss off a good percentage of the people who have helped them get where they are, in ways they can't even see.

    Second, they should have offered GPL distributors an alternative way to distribute the community work, rather than just complaining about the name.

    I feel uneasy about this whole business, because I'm beginning to wonder if they've decided to ditch the people what brung 'em. If they haven't, 's too bad they had another SNAFU like the "community stock offering," and I hope they do right by it. But if they have, y'all better sell that stock, but quick. Myself, I came from Slacware to Red Hat; I can go back.
  • Dear Red Hat:

    ...assuming you *are* interested in working this out together with the rest of us, here goes.

    NOTE: This would apply to the pure, FTP'ed version that low-cost CD distributors create. Unless otherwise specified, the word "Linux" goes after. If Red Hat would "sign on" to this idea, they could say that a distribution with their chosen name is the free, unsupported, FTP'd version.

    NOTE: My apologies if anyone has already claimed one of these names. Any trademarked Linux version with a name below wouldn't apply.

    Power (as in "Power Tools"
    Generic Red Hat
    Unsupported Red Hat
    Red Hat GNU/Linux
    Hacker's Hat
    Programmer's Hat

    I hope you guys find this interesting. I figure some of the shout ones would be usable with "Red Hat" at the beginning of the name, but if not, so be it.

    Any webmasters interested in starting a contest?
  • I always thought RedHat was the name of the distro and "The Official RedHat" was the name of the boxed set (at least that's what's on all of my RH boxes).

    This just leaves me with a bad feeling - it kinda reminds me of the way Unisys let everyone use the GIF format for free until it became very popular and then they come in and collect fees from everyone.

    I love the GPL - if RedHat gets too pushy about things like this I'm moving to Mandrake Linux ( Hopefully I won't have to do this.
  • Or better yet - in the spirit of the Unix wars R*dHat
  • I vote for R*dHat (like Un*x)
  • that's okay, it looks like a bash shell to me ;)
  • Hmmm, I'm not really into the goth thing myself, but she does have a very pretty face and gorgeous eyes anyway. Definitely the type I'd ask out on a casual date if I lived in the same city, barring a major personality clash. (Ya never know if ya never ask.) Thanks for the info, Craig.


  • by Zico ( 14255 )

    I don't want her to get harassed or stalked or anything, but could someone please post a link to a picture of her? My curiosity is definitely piqued. Besides, girls in chains rawk.


  • $ seems appropriate
  • shit.
    Well, with power comes corruption, I suppose. Or maybe not. RedHat is still a good product. Maybe it is just the nature of Linux users to attack who is ever on top at the moment. Maybe we have valid reasons for doing so. But before we thrash on RedHat, why don't we think for a moment. A good OS which can be downloaded for free, ordered for $2, etc... We always are saying how we think more people should run Linux.
    If none of the distros go mainstream, Linux will never be mass-recognized by the public. RedHat, by putting out an IPO and making trademarks, is gaining money. Money they need to take down our true nemisis. Even if RedHat becomes the next MicroSoft action-wise, at least it will be backed up by a good OS.
    But that's just how I view it.
  • Of course RedHat is only offering INSTALLATION support... anything fancy or after the install, and you're on your own, unless you want to pay a per-incident charge... the installation is the part they made easy, so why only support that?

    It's not worth it to me....
  • Well Craw, I guess I will respond to you on each point.

    1. Rob should be able to respond as he see's fit. I am not knocking you for your opinion, but if he can write the story, he can defend it if he wishes.

    2. Thanks for agreeing with me on the update thing:)

    3. Slashdot should not be in the business of creating the news. Previous to the purchase by Andover, /. was basicly a clearing house for interesting stories that were found on the net. On some occasions the boys would break a story, after having some facts about it, not just the person complaining. If this is going to be the future of slashdot, I may write to complain that I was told by that Brand X distro is being used on a ship on an expedition to club baby seals. I mean, it has to be true if I got an email from a third party and sent it to slashdot as a statement from Brand X, right?

  • I forgot to mention in the #3 section above:

    I also include my website which conviently sells baby seal-skin coats cheaper than my competitors.

  • So they protect thier trademark. Big deal. Let them do what they wish. If you don't like it, don't buy thier product or thier stock. Personally, I will continue to use thier distro, no matter the name, because I like how it works. If I have to purchase it under the name of "This is actually the $80 distro without the support from the company" I will do that for 1.99 from cheap bytes or get someone in the LUG to burn me a copy.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Official Red Hat" is what they don't let you use, along with the shadowman logo.
  • Their name (i.e., their reputation) is their
    only asset. Unless they want to verify that
    every clone CD is a byte-for-byte copy of their
    official CD, the only way for RH to protect
    their reputation from others' carelessness is to
    insist that only Red Hat, Inc., can use the
    name "Red Hat"... which is the whole point
    of trademark law, after all.
  • by Fastolfe ( 1470 )
    He just said Debian gives away the CD masters totally free of charge and royalty. They're just trying to avoid confusing the general public and ensuring quality control by keeping people from labelling 2nd-hand copies as "official" copies.

    What does any of this remotely have to do with free vs non-free software?
  • So you're saying you ARE redistributing MetroX on your CD's?

    You know, not everything in the Official RedHat box set is GPL'd software...
  • Dang. I was actually looking forward to:

    (a) Red Hat being able to distinguish their product from marketplace lookalikes (i.e. the MacMillan boxed set and the like, and

    (b) free distro's called "Blue Hat" (from IBM, of course), "Gnu Hat" (from Linux Central or Linux Mall), "Old Hat" (archives), etc., etc. Humor is an excellent marketing tool.
  • So why the "Linux Powered" logo on your NT-hosted web site? Hypocrite.
  • From what I've heard, that "support" entails telling customers to call Red Hat's tech support. Very low, since Red Hat can't support customers of a repackaged Red Hat (and rightfully so, since the repackaging gives Red Hat absolutely zilch income).
    "'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine.
  • I didn't see prices or support info on your site - the pages were gone (404). Since you have the details.. are you Robb? Just curious. If your support is good, then yeah - it's a deal.
  • Red Hat is built on support. That's ultimately the only place that they're going to make their money, because no one would pay the $79 unless they were getting good support in return. They have to make people trust them and know that they will be there when needed.

    Now, if MacMillan (or whoever) sells a box that says "Red Hat", a lot of people will be fooled. They'll call Red Hat and get (gasp) turned down because it's not really Red Hat(tm) Linux. That will make them mad, they'll think "Red Hat has bad service!"

    "Red Hat" *is* their trademark, and I guess they have the right to control it. I understand their concern over consumer confusion (assuming that's what it's all about.) People will still be able to sell copies of their distro, but they can't say that it's Red Hat because "Red Hat" means more than a CD - it's the infrastructure they're trying to build that supports the distro.

    When it boils down to it, no one really has the right to call their distro "Red Hat" except for Red Hat. I'm interested to see what happens to distros that say "based on Red Hat...."

  • Hey, great plan. That way Alan Cox will have to go look for another job and quit hacking the kernel full time. :/
  • I hope I don't screw this up. Roblimo, we greatly appreciate that work that you do. However, please try to refrain from responding to criticism that you do receive. Leave it up to us to respond for you. Trust the moderators (wow, my nose just turned brown).

    To Duncan: I agree with you. I do like when the original story is not later edited without any indication that it was edited. I think the Update additions are best and necessary.

    Since I standing on my soap box, I would like to add the following comment. The one thing great about /. is that breaking news is sometimes posted without the requisite follow-up research that other news sources usually conduct. As we are all aware of, many times the initial story and /. posting contains misleading information. Eventually, however, the various responses and comments lead to the "true" story. Remember the 1st principle of OSS; many ppl looking at the code is better than a close source of information. The reason why /. works is because many ppl looking at a story eventually leads to the better version of the truth.

    Except when it comes to anything to do with Apple.:-)

  • It was really good to see that a little background work was done before the posting of this story. After all, this is probably going to turn out to be a very unpopular move, and RedHat already bears the burden of being the "Microsoft of Linux." Not that I think that they deserve such a title, but it has been said.

    All in all, though, this is a perfectly understandable move. Robert Young has frequently compared selling Linux to selling ketchup -- the differentiation comes with the brand name. Now that RedHat is becoming successful, that brand name is the biggest asset they've got. It is natural to protect it.

    Probably some people will blow their top about this, but I really don't think that it is a big deal. My guess is that their distro will continue to be downloadable, albeit without the name, and that RedHat(c) compatible distros will become all the rage.

    Any votes on names? I like different types of hats (Red Derby, Top Hat, etc).
  • Which WWW did you (not) see this on?

    As of this posting, the Red Hat trademark story is still at LWN, and it says nothing about "Official" -- it refers only to the term "Red Hat."

    Just in case there's anyone else out there who may have forgotten what a scroll bar is for, I'll quote from the LWN story (yes, I chopped some out -- I'm quoting, not copying, okay?):

    Apparently (we have not been able to confirm this) was given a verbal "cease and desist" order by David Shumannfang, Red Hat's attorney, requiring them to stop selling products with the term "Red Hat" in the title. ... Amazon turned around and told a number of its auction vendors to stop using "Red Hat" in their products. ...
    ... Mr. Sands claims to have discussed the problem with Red Hat's legal department; Red Hat has denied, in a communication to LWN, that this discussion took place. However, Mr. Sands is quite specific with regard to exactly who he talked to and when. ...
    Amazon has apparently stopped telling vendors to avoid the "Red Hat" term, pending some sort of written notification from Red Hat. ... [A] coherent response from Red Hat seems to be hard to come by. They will not confirm that they are cracking down on trademark usage.

    One possible outcome may be that RH will realize that it needs the services of an attorney who can do a little better than to issue a "verbal warning" and then leave on vacation. If indeed he did so, as we know nothing about this other than what Amazon has claimed. Or it may turn out that somebody at Amazon hit the panic button. Or it may turn out that RH is indeed tightening up on unauthorized use of its trademark.

    Until we have it in writing from RH, it's nothing but a game of corporate Humour Rumour.

    Now un-knot yer undies and get some sleep.


    Zontar The Mindless,

  • Yah, so all of those linux coder types who they highered just so they can work on linux full time will have to go find other jobs and only work on linux in their free time. I'm sure that will be good for linux in general. And for the trademark: who cares? It's their trademark, it's their logo, they own it. If you wanna sell something redhat put money into and give them nothing in return, fine, but call it "Dirty Linux" or something along those lines, that's 100% legal.
  • Please show me where that email says that redhat initiated this? For all we know amazon is just trying to cover it's own ass just incase redhat's lawyers get bored. Or maybe a customer complained. Or maybe aliens took over their brains and forced them to dance around. All we know is that amazon asked someone to stop using redhat's trademarks, which IMHO is NOT a bad thing. Besides redhat denies all of this, and unlike some of the more conspiricy minded, I believe them.
  • Yah because RedHat is evil, because they're making money off of Linux and contributing some of that money back to the community. Imagine the nerve of them, highering people like Alan Cox to work on Linux full time. I mean, what do they think that will do to the kernel if Alan gets to spend his entire work day maintaining the stable kernel, and working on the other projects he's involved in. Sheesh! And the money they put into gnome, we didn't need that. Real coders just eat("/dev/food"); they don't need actual nurishment(sp).

    Yarg, stupid trolls. I know a lot of you hate RedHat because they're the "Microsoft of Linux" but what specifically have they done that's so bad? So many people just hate them because they're becoming big, it's probally the same reason you hate microsoft, and gap clothes. It's just being anti-trendy trendy. Saying, "I hate that just because it's popular," is no better (worse imho) than saying, "I love that just because it's popular." Hate RedHat because you don't like their actual bussiness practices (not some rumor started by a guy who went off on a polite request from amazon), hate them because you think their distro is buggy and low quality. I personally have 3 redhat boxes at home, my router runs redhat 5.1, and has never had any problems, my desktop runs 5.2 and only has problems with X crashing, but that's because the X server isn't 100% stable and wasn't provided by redhat anyway. My laptop runs 6.0, and I'm considering putting debian on it just because i wanna try it out. I have yet to have a problem with any of these boxes though. The only time the router goes down is when we lose power, or if i just turn it off during a thunder storm.
  • You're talking about the [] site? Yeah, it's... interesting.

    Hmmm... I wonder where .tf is? And why he's hosting his site there?
    - Sean
  • Oops. Sorry about that last sentence. I know I'm tired, but I didn't know it was that bad. It looks like I was multiprocessing and had a thread jump tracks (to add mixed metaphor to my other crimes).

    Oh, well, it's a good sign of mumblemumble. Figure it out for yourself, or maybe I'll get back to you tomorrow.

    Meanwhile, I'll try to divert attention from my own shortcomings by calling attention to Rob's hilariously tautological disclaimer, which is actually semi-relevant to this thread: All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners.

  • Keep in mind that it was Amazon that told him not to use the trademark, not Red Hat. Note specifically the following statement:

    Of course the legal counsel rep, and only person in the entire Red Hat organization who can respond, David Shumannfang, is currently on vacation and won't be available for a week (9-7-99). Basically we are all screwed and no one at Red Hat knows anything until his return, just lovely.

    Looks like someone at Amazon was covering their own butt, and this dude overreacted and started blaming anyone and everyone within arms reach.

    I think we need to not pull out the flamethrowers just yet.
  • I've worked for years at a news organization where getting breaking news out immediately is paramount, so I know full well the perils of running with early information. Even if you get the news from a seemingly reliable source, sometimes some of it turns out to be simply wrong.

    In a forum like /. I agree with an earlier poster who urged that developments be added as UPDATES to the initial report (as you sometimes do), so that early comments remain in context. Of course you run a greater risk of the initial report making you look silly, but most of us are grownups here and ought to understand how these things can happen.

    I also applaud /. for checking these things out yourselves before running them, as with the 911-on-Linux story the other day. A true "news" site needs to do basic bullshit-detection to retain credibility. The nearly instantaneous feedback on /. adds an entirely new dimension but the better comments serve a journalistic purpose too -- to find the truth. (I don't mean to sound religious about this, and I'm not saying journalism is perfect, but at least in theory that's what it's supposed to be about.)

    Now that /. is owned by a company with actual money, any thought to hiring "real" journalists, who know how to do quick detective work?

  • From personal experience (OK, back with RH4.1), Macmillan's support consisted of a pretty much clueless Macmillan guy relaying my questions to someone at Red Hat and then relaying the answers back to me. So for a savings of maybe $10 or $20 it took me three days instead of one or two to get a question answered.

    And I wound up having to figure out on my own that the reason the installation kept failing was because the CD-ROM (which I came to suspect CompUSA had taken in as a return and put into a box that it re-shrinkwrapped) had schmutz on it.

    I used to be a 95 lb. weakling.

  • Ok, that's very nice but it only confirms that Amazon is asking people not to use someone else's trademark. You might infer that RedHat is behind this somehow and you might be right, but this doesn't prove that. Even if RedHat had dropped a dime to Amazon about this (I kinda doubt it) they probably did it for the right reasons.

    This doesn't look heavy handed or draconian to me. I don't see any threat of legal action. I see a request. Seems reasonable to me.

    Amazon doesn't want to have to run on the bad side of either RedHat or its customers that might buy an un-official RedHat Linux CD without understanding what that means. What harm comes to a seller of these discs that has to sell them as 'Linux' vs 'RedHat Linux'?
  • has pulled that story.

    "Red Hat has informed
    LWN that the
    information was not
    correct, and that Mr.
    Sands has not talked to
    their legal department."
  • I had no idea Dr. Seuss did Linux distros.
  • I hereby propose the term "Pink Fedora" to refer to a Red-Hat derived item. For instance, a machine loaded with a stock Red Had 6.0 but without the boxed set would be said to be loaded with Pink Fedora 6.0, and so on.

    It's close enough you know what you're talking about and far enough away to convey that there may be divergence, the buyer should beware, and that it's the sellers, not Red Hat's, fault if there's something wrong.

  • What if we call it the symbol '$' ? Or The Linux distribution formerly known as RedHat..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 01, 1999 @02:38PM (#1710556) []

    Look at the note at the top of the form...
  • by Amphigory ( 2375 ) on Wednesday September 01, 1999 @02:44PM (#1710557) Homepage
    According to [], Redhat has repudiated this story.

  • by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Wednesday September 01, 1999 @02:38PM (#1710558) Homepage
    They don't want to alienate us too much- it could cost them everything . And, as it was put earlier, what in the hell do they propose that we call the distribution, pray tell?

    This is not looking good folks. Guess we're going to find out how much Red Hat's going to push things- and how hard we're going to push back...
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Wednesday September 01, 1999 @04:02PM (#1710559)
    OK, I've seen the bogosity reports, but I thought I'd chip in anyway.

    Red Hat (and Linus) must protect their trademarks to some extent. IANAL, but I understand that failure to protect a trademark can result in losing it. It's a shame that Disney has to go around suing daycare centers about the use of a certain mouse's name, but that's just the way it works under some countries' legal systems.

    As for the hoax, that (along with the nasty business about the kernel list a couple of weeks back) just goes to show that Linux (TM) really is making inroads into areas that someone else thought they already had a claim on, and is therefore provoking an immune response. It's a rude nuisance, and I'm not aware that even the most undisciplined Linux advocate has been pulling stunts of such low calibre, but in the big picture it's a good sign that want to see quality software everywhere.
  • by remande ( 31154 ) <{remande} {at} {}> on Thursday September 02, 1999 @02:15AM (#1710560) Homepage
    IMHO, Red Hat is both legally and morally justified in restricting others from redistributing Red Hat as Red Hat.

    Legally, this is not copyright law; this is trademark law. The GPL doesn't cover this. Red Hat owns the Red Hat name, and it is worth millions of dollars to them. This restriction doesn't effect the software, unless they require that you remove all Red Hat notifications before you ship it (in which case, they are breaking the GPL).

    Morally, it makes a lot of sense. If I start my own Red Hat derivative distro (say, mirror their FTP site or pretty much copy the CDs), I have every right to copy and redistribute the software (due to GPL), but no right to any of Red Hat's marketing power. If I say that I have El Cheapo Red Hat disks, I am skimming off of Red Hat's marketing investments, while eating some of their business. That just ain't fittin'.

    Worse, what if I derive my own distro from Red Hat? Again, I have every right to do so and to distribute it, but no right to call it Red Hat. After all, I could have easily broken the kernel or whatever with my "improvements". The last thing Red Hat needs are my bugs being attached to their name and destroying their credibility.

    That being said, it would make sense to say that a distro was derived from Red Hat n.m. But if Red Hat isn't shipping it, it's not Red Hat. It's Linux.

    BTW, isn't this the same board that complains that people equate the names "Red Hat" and "Linux"? Reigning in the Red Hat name makes it harder to forget that there are other distros out there. Accuse Red Hat of one evil or the other, but not both: even a pendulum can't swing both ways at the same time.

  • by mhatle ( 54607 ) on Wednesday September 01, 1999 @03:05PM (#1710561) Homepage
    Personally I like the idea. My girl friend bought me Red Hat 6.0 as a gift, but it turned out to be one of those over priced nock off versions..

    I was even confused looking at the package and ended up returning it to the store for the "Official" version.

    (Yes I know they are the same, but it's kind of nice to support the company...)

    I just hope they don't try to ban someone saying "Based on Red Hat Linux..."
  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Wednesday September 01, 1999 @02:40PM (#1710562)
    If this is the case, then the name of the distribution is no longer "Red Hat." Theoretically, this would mean that Red Hat should start calling its own official boxed set the "Official Red Hat version of the Blah GNU/Linux system," while all others would be merely the Blah GNU/Linux system. As it stands now, they've given everybody the impression that "Red Hat" is the name of the GPL'd, freely redistributable distribution, not the name of their particular boxing of it.
  • by substrate ( 2628 ) on Wednesday September 01, 1999 @03:55PM (#1710563)
    RedHat is doing the right thing. They've got to protect a number of things: 1) Their trademark, 2) their reputation, 3) stockholder value and 4) their customers. The trademark is a pretty obvious thing, you can't go and start your own distribution and call it RedHat no more than Microsoft can suddenly decide to change the name of their operating system to Linux.

    In this case I'm assuming that somebody burned a RedHat 6.X tree. If this is the case from a trademark standpoint they still can't call it the RedHat distribution or at least they've got to be careful that it can't be misconstrued that its the "Official RedHat 6.0" because its not.

    RedHat also provides additional services beyond just the actual Linux installation, namely some level of support. The customer needs to know that what they're buying is the real deal and is supported and so on.

    These cheap distributions provide a service to customers as long as the customer actually knows what they're getting. I bought a stack of distributions from Cheap*Bytes and I knew I was just getting a dump of a distribution and not the actual distribution.

    I'm not saying RedHat is selflessly thinking of only the customers interests. If they don't do this then customers will get upset which isn't good for the companies finances.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 01, 1999 @02:43PM (#1710564)

    I can tell you exaclty why they are doing this:

    Confusion in the marketplace.

    People go out and they buy this product called RedHat Linux so the expect support from RedHat. Unfortuately, most of these people are not buying Official RedHat Linux that comes with support. When they find out that they can't get support, it goes something like this:

    Cust: I bought RedHat Linux, your product, why don't you support me!?

    RH: You didn't buy our official product, you bought the free version.

    Cust: But I paid $10 for it... it wasn't free.

    RH: Yes, but that money was not for purchasing an Official RedHat license.

    At this point the customer either becomes irate and vows never to run Linux (especially RedHat) again or they figure it out. Keep in mind that most people are idiots and cannot figure this out.

  • by BadlandZ ( 1725 ) on Wednesday September 01, 1999 @03:04PM (#1710565) Journal
    First you all complain that people are starting to think "Red Hat Linux = Linux."

    Then Red Hat _might_ make a move to make people qualify thier products as "unoffical Red Hat" which is clearly distinguishing them from the rest of Linux.

    Now, after Red Hat makes an effort to make it clear to even clueless newbies that they are mearly _one_ of the distributions of Linux, and that "Offical Red Hat" is diffrent from "Unoffical Red Hat," people are whining again.

    I'm starting to think the SlashDot/Linux community just won't be happy with _anything_ Red Hat does now.

    This is a great move for them, and for Debian, and for Slackware. They are doing thier best to make it clear that they are a _distribution_ of linux, and that doesn't meant that Linux = Red Hat. They are makeing it clear that "we will allow you to copy and redistribute, to a point, but don't do something that will make users expect to get tech support from us if they buy a copied version from you."

    Seems like some of you are reacting to this like you expect Red Hat to provide phone support to every user in the Universe. Worse yet, some are actually starting to say that they shouldn't have the right to regulate the use of thier name. If you say Red Hat can't regulate the use of thier product name, how would you like it if they turned the tables on you, and said the same about the use of the word "Linux" itself, and said "Red Hat _IS_ Linux" ... you wouldn't have a leg to stand on if you told them how they can and can't use thier own name.

    Lighten up, this is an issue of a series of schmucks selling $2 CD's in online auctions trying to get $70+ (More than the price of the offical version), and leaving clueless bidders believeing they will get support (which they won't). Red Hat is not only protecting itself, they are protecting Linux by keeping people from getting angry and disappointed during thier first experiance with Linux.

  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Wednesday September 01, 1999 @02:53PM (#1710566) Homepage Journal
    You may not use the words "Official" and "Debian" together in a product name unless you are distributing CDs made directly from an IS0-9660 CD master image distributed by the Debian project. You may, however, call it "Debian" without "Official". Debian will give you the CD masters without charge and asks no royalty for their use.

    This policy originated after too many manufacturers made non-bootable or otherwise messed up versions of Debian. By allowing them to say they were distributing the official CD, we gave them an incentive to use the one we mastered, which had more quality control behind it.



  • by Booker ( 6173 ) on Wednesday September 01, 1999 @03:08PM (#1710567) Homepage
    Look at the situation - we have:

    A company which has made great alliances with hardware companies, opening up specs to Linux developers early on. (Remember how Linux beat MS on the Merced?)
    A company which *PAYS* some of the best hackers in the world to make Linux better.
    A company which seems to fully support the LSB.
    A company which releases every bit of code under the GPL.
    A company that lets their software proliferate around the world, for free.

    Their name is Red Hat. And the only thing that seems to be different from yesterday is that people who aren't Red Hat can't call their product Red Hat. How is this going to affect Linux in any tangible way?
  • by chandoni ( 28843 ) on Wednesday September 01, 1999 @02:41PM (#1710568) Homepage
    When I bought a boxed copy of the distribution last year, I got fooled by MacMillan's repackaging and bought that instead of the official RH boxed set. Some people might buy a computer with "Red Hat Linux pre-installed" and not realize they're not getting the same support as someone who buys a boxed copy. As long as Red Hat still allows CheapBytes, MacMillan, et al to say they're "copies of" RH (or some other such language), I don't see a problem with them cracking down a little.
  • by cananian ( 73735 ) on Wednesday September 01, 1999 @03:28PM (#1710569) Homepage
    Just look at his site. He's obviously trying to take advantage of folks that don't know Red Hat this from Red Hat that. To the point of *auctioning* off the CDs that cost him, what, 85 cents for media? And cloaking his product self-righteously in "RedHat GPL" ticks me off, too. What he's doing has very very little to do with the GPL, and quite a lot to do with "profiteering".

If all the world's economists were laid end to end, we wouldn't reach a conclusion. -- William Baumol