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Red Hat's Quality Products

  October 12, 2004   Operations

Red Hat,

I am deeply distressed. I’m distressed about the future of Red Hat products. I’m distressed about what Red Hat has branded Red Hat Enterprise Linux. I’m distressed that it seems that Red Hat has left the path that so many of its products walked forsaking quality,usability, and its customers.

I come here to Red Hat’s Beta Team as a proud member seeking a solution to what is slowly eating away at the reason why I use and promote Red Hat products. This team sits here purposeless and unable to participate in a way that would make a critical difference. All of us have signed Red Hat’s NDA and, in earnest, devoted a large portion of their life and work to working with and testing Red Hat’s products. I am sure that many of us participate heavily in the Fedora Core project. However, that isn’t what Red Hat needs to insure that Red Hat’s products will always be of the quality that we know the Red Hat brand stands for.

Fedora Core is heavily used and has a completely open test cycle. Many people test, many bugs are found, many bugs are corrected, and patches take wing. In all honestly, Fedora Core is not a bad product, well tested, and of production quality.

Red Hat’s business model is not focused around Fedora Core. No box sets are sold and no support contracts made. It serves as a wonderful testing ground for Red Hat’s main product, Red Hat Enterprise Linux. RHEL is what I deploy in my place of work as stable production workstations and servers. Fedora Core is only used for experiments and testing. Red Hat’s stock holders care that Red Hat Enterprise Linux is a winning, competitive Linux distribution.

It is clear as day that Red Hat Enterprise Linux is not well tested. Its clear that products based off of Red Hat Enterprise Linux are tested even less. Critical bugs abound. Everything feels like a messy beta release not intended for public eyes. My job becomes painful as I learn each and every show stopper bug in Red Hat Enterprise Linux and some how contort a way around this bug without having to manually touch some 500 machines. This is not acceptable.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 3 Update 3: Upon a fresh install the office suite does not function. Show stopper, criticalbug.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 3 Update 3: A new kernel that renders several hundred machines unusable because of a sudden incompatibility with the Intel i810 video chipset. Show stopper, critical bug.

Not long ago a version of up2date was released that did not function if a Yum style repository was configured. This stopped a few hundred machines from receiving updates. High priority, security bug.

Red Hat Network Proxy Server: There was a very long period of time where I could not distribute source RPM packages through my proxy servers. This causes up2date to fail in a non-graceful way if it tries to pull a missing source package.

Red Hat Network Proxy Server: Advertised to reduce an organizations bandwidth and speed package downloads. In reality the Squid software that caches packages for the above two benefits is not configured by the RHN Proxy software. Without a proper configuration the RHN Proxy servers do not reduce an organizations bandwidth and package downloads do not see any speed improvements.

Its clear that there is a serious problem in testing Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Its betas only reach a very small audience. In fact, the intended audience is so small, apparently, Red Hat’s mirrors are not informed that there is a beta to make available. Therefore no one can download the beta except from Red Hat’s own FTP servers which greatly reduces its availability. Because of this critical bugs like the above abound.

Was this not one of the reasons a world-wide beta team was created? Why is this resource not used to ensure the quality of Red Hat’s main product? Why is its development procedure not open to us? Why is the product for hackers and developers more stable? I want to be able to test Red Hat Enterprise Linux so that my work is not as stressful and so that Red Hat has a better product to offer to the world.

Why can the Red Hat Beta Team not test Red Hat Enterprise Linux?

I implore you, Red Hat, to allow your flagship product to follow in the same paths of greatness that brought us all the incredible success of Red Hat Linux. Let the Beta Team help you create the best product possible.

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